Right now though I want to tell you about a taxi ride. We took about a ten minute ride in a taxi driven by a very nice, middle aged, Australian. He had the stereotypical native Aussie look, for those of you who know it, big, brawny, round faced. As with most Australians we met he was also very kind and hospitable.
The entire ride was a soliloquy on the glories of Australia. Some that I remember include: The first state to give women the right to vote, the second social security system, a high minimum wage (over $15 an hour), health care for all. Most of all he said that there was not such thing as a working poor homeless person. The only homeless people are those who are mentally ill, and they try hard to help them too.
What was so remarkable about this was not the fact that Australia is a social democracy with all of the support for it citizens that this implies. What was remarkable to me, as an American, was the obvious pride our taxi driver had in the support that his country gives to its citizens. In the United States these things have increasingly been painted as undesirable at best, and evil at worst.
I'm not sure how we convert attitudes in the United States to a more enlightened view, but it was nice to reminded that it is possible.