I grew up in a suburb of a midwestern city. My childhood was pretty standard middle class. Like many of you folks on reddit, I went to college and graduated right when the 2008 financial crisis hit. I had a tough time finding an entry level job in my field so I took the first thing I could find which was a $10/hour paralegal gig. (Didn’t get any support from my parents and desperately needed money) Because it was 2008 and I was then living in a right to work state, my job didn’t have any benefits so I didn’t have health insurance or a retirement fund or anything like that. I was basically scraping by: no healthcare, barely any savings and living paycheck to paycheck.
After a few years of that, I applied for a Masters program in the UK and got in. As a student over there I immediately had healthcare and a lot of other discounts and things that helped me love slightly more comfortably. After I finished school, I got a job teaching in the Middle East. The university there paid for my housing and healthcare. I didn’t make much money, but with the two biggest expenses paid for, I had a lot of freedom. After some time, I applied for PhD programs all over (US, UK, etc). I got accepted to a few of them and took the best offer which happened to be in the UK again. I got free healthcare again, a stipend, and free housing. I took on some teaching for extra cash and was comfortable. Again, with the two biggest expenses paid for I didn’t need all that much extra money. In that time I met a woman from a Scandinavian country and decided to move to her country towards the end of the PhD where I got a visa as a cohabitant with her. Again, free healthcare. Once I finished the PhD, I got a job here making decent money. My job puts money into a pension fund for me and so does the government; 5 weeks paid vacation; six months paid paternity leave; healthcare; it was free to have a baby here and all child healthcare is 100% free; work week is 37.5 hours; my union fights for my rights and my union dues cover super comprehensive homeowners insurance.
At this point, I’d have to be crazy to move back to the US. I could probably make more money back in the US, but all of those other benefits would vanish. It’s not worth it. People always say: oh well those Scandinavian countries are small that’s why they are able to do all these things. That’s bullshit. The reason they do this is because the people actually hold their government accountable. Normal citizens know about the state’s budget and debate it. The newspaper debates road construction. Most people are in unions. And you know what because of all that, people actually trust the government. Now imagine what the US with the biggest economy in the world could do if they were actually accountable to the people?? The US used to be the shining beacon to the world. We took on the impossible. Now it’s just a sad, defeatist attitude. Everything seems impossible now and 99% of people are suffering in some way or another.
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