Thank you all for your very thoughtful comments. It's always good to hear other people's viewpoints.
First, Martyn: Wow. Yes, your rate of taxation is higher. Perhaps your cost of living is, too. I will take your word for it. Still, virtually every woman I know who lives in the U.K. has a home she has BOUGHT. Herself. I know only 2 women here in L.A. who have been able to do that. Here's a question: How do the Scandanavian countries pay for their myriad benefits?
BeeBee: Moving to the U.K.? Wow. It's an idea, but can you imagine the cost of moving? I am not young (in my 50s) so do have quite a few things I have accummulated in my life (like books!) which I would dearly like to have with me if I moved anyplace. Are you sure that I would get free healthcare if I moved there? Surely your country has laws against people moving there and immediately getting free health care, else it would go broke!
Joe and Steph: What an interesting posting! I really appreciate your taking the time! You said "we saved our hard-earned money." Well, yes, one may DO that, assuming one brings in more than one nickle beyond what it costs for food, shelter, health insurance, transportation, etc. Saving is not an option when one cannot meet even basic needs. Moreover, there are 2 people in your household who probably earn the living, and that makes it much much easier to save. I have never had that luxury. It's always been just me, a lone female, as the wage earner. Let us not forget that women in the U.S. still do not make the same wages as men doing the same job (73 cents to the dollar), so it is doubly difficult being a woman, let alone a woman alone. Then you might throw in age discrimination, which disproportionately affects women, since they are valued primarily for their youthful appearance, submissiveness, and willingness to work for cheaper wages -- all of which older women will not put up with, and the employers know it, and will not hire us.
As for "doing something about your situation," rather than complaining, well, I guess I just have not been working HARD enough! I have worked full time since the age of 15. I know no one else who has worked this hard for this long and ended up with nothing to show for it. I have a university degree, I have applied for every single interesting job I could, and I have been forced over and over again to stay with legal secretarying (for 43 years).
I'm awfully glad that you, "Joe and Steph," have the financial wherewithal to move out of any area if you didn't like it. I don't. As stated earlier, moving is an expensive proposition. The only person I know who is able to move at will is a young woman I know who has always been wealthy. Moving vans, trucks, getting together the first-and-last month's rent for a new place, etc. All that costs a heap of money. Of course, if you HAVE it, you move! I, however, don't have a sou. I don't have the money to move down the BLOCK, let alone to a different city, and certainly not to a different country! It's very easy to say, "If you don't like it, just move." Yeah, with my and how many others' incomes do I move?
It's lovely that "Joe and Steph" (a) have a brother who owns his own company and (b) work for a medium-sized company. However, approx. 90% of the employers in California are small employers who do not pay health insurance premiums for their employees. As I stated above, I have tried and tried and tried and tried and tried for 43 years to find employment with a company consisting of more than me and my one male employer. I have not succeeded. So, I am very happy for you, that you are "working people with good health care benefits," but that is far from the norm. It is becoming a privileged class, here in California anyway.
The statistics for health insurance unavailability in California are daunting. "The uninsured rate in California is 22.4 percent, well above the national rate (17.4 percent) and the fourth highest in the country. The numbers of uninsured vary significantly across the state, with Los Angeles County containing the highest concentration of uninsured individuals in California. Over a third of the Los Angeles County's 9.5 million residents lack health insurance coverage.1 In certain local communities within the County, the uninsured rate climbs to over 40 percent.2 Moreover, the County contains nearly half of the state's uninsured children (approximately 790,000 of 1.85 million uninsured children), with most uninsured children living in families at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL)."
In my opinion, tort reform in the courts is not necessary. From all the studying up on this I have done, it turns out that, for instance, there are less and less malpractice lawsuits against doctors (and less and less "frivolous" lawsuits), and in spite of this, the insurance companies (the usual suspects) are charging higher and higher premiums to doctors for malpractice insurance. The insurance companies are the culprits here, not the populace. The pharmaceutical companies pour most of their money into advertising and marketing while gouging the poor.
As for the government stpping in to pay the bill on account of serious injury, well, that may be true for serious injury. But what about my 2 (not incidentally single) girlfriends who lost their lives from cancer in their early 50s because they could not afford health care? They were turned away by every hospital and every doctor.
There are no boats going back to Cuba, Mexico, etc., because there is even more poverty, corruption, and authoritarianism in those countries than there is in the U.S. For now. But things are slowly changing, as I have observed in my 58 years. Moreover, people in those poor countries tend to believe what they see in all our films, which tend to portray Americans as rich and beautiful and happy. No one makes films about depressing themes, and I don't blame them! They're a downer! The films, however, spread a message the world over that this is THE land of opportunity, and everyone thinks they can be a lifeguard on Baywatch or a nonworking wife in Bel Air or something! Only a microscopically small percentage of women ever find themselves in the happy situations one sees on the Big Screen. But people in poor countries tend to believe what they see on film! This has been true for decades.
Yes, the U.S. will come running -- as long as there is oil to be gleaned from a world hotspot! Notice the U.S. didn't give a fig that over a million people were massacred by Pol Pot in Cambodia. Why? No oil, silly! There are many other examples.
For the average worker, the fact that the U.S. may be the leader in certain technologies just doesn't cut it. Having your friends die horrible deaths due to no medical care matters. The wholesale throwing away of perfectly fine workers under 65 should be an issue, but isn't. They are not eligible for Medi-Cal, Social Security, or anything else. And the unemployment numbers just keep inching up.
Going to the moon? Well, that's something to be proud of... I guess. Back here at home, most of us are terrified of what the microcosm of our little lives are becoming.
The U.S. needs to take care of its own before it even thinks of things like taking over other countries and sending spacecraft into the nether regions. While people are starving and homeless (there are over 10,000 homeless people alone in L.A. City), these other things should not be a consideration.
Just my 2 cents' worth and, again, I do appreciate very much other people's opinions. Makes life more interesting!
Here's to dreams of Corfu!