My cabbie is well informed and I'm impressed. It's true I have asked his opinion of the extraordinary events which were taking place in this country, but once the subject is broached his response is erudite and I'm with him. The general strike as we would call it, or 'Shut Down' as they are, is the making of history. Not wishing to belittle my fellow Brits, but just in case you have missed the point of the historic events making headline news this side of the Atlantic, I'll fill you in. Please correct me if I have misunderstood the finer detail...
The US Congress or Parliament is made up of two 'houses' - the Senate and the House of Representatives. A sort of version of the British Commons and Lords, but not - since both are voted in. Either house may be dominated by Democrats, Republicans, or any other political party. Obviously the President and the Democrats who won the Election are in power in the Senate, but the House is regrettably (in my and my cabbie's opinion) dominated by the Republicans. Both houses need to agree to pass a new law. They did agree when it came to pass the Obama Care Bill, or as the President himself calls it the 'Affordable Healthcare Act'. But the House now wishes to rescind the decision in view of the cost and the increased pressure on the national debt.
We in the UK know that President Obama's care bill makes sense. He was voted into power on the back of the pledge. It's a sort of NHS safety net for those who can't afford the astronomical cost of private health care - some say this is up to 30% of the population. It will also cost the country something - nobody seems very sure how much but in time, private health care costs should come down - so in theory it should benefit all including the hard working Republicans. Do we, the Brits, resent National Insurance contributions? Not really, we are used to them. Do we rely on the NHS - absolutely, without a doubt we would be lost without it. None of us will forget the legacy of Bevan and the same will apply to Obama and of course let's not forget Mitt Rooney, the Republican who first conceived the idea.
Last night I met a sales assistant whose life was devastated when she was accidentally knocked down by a passing car. Her injuries, very similar to mine when I had a near fatal head on road traffic accident 20 years ago, were shocking. But as she recovered, the mental strain of being confronted by an $80,000 medical bill was even worse. She was lucky to be treated due to the emergency nature of her injuries. But in this leading world economy, which has the arrogance to suggest their democratic ways offer a level of morality which should be emulated in other cultures, if you happen to need a lifesaving operation but can't afford private healthcare, you are in trouble. If Obama achieves one thing during his term it has to be his Affordable Healthcare Act. He was right; there can be no negotiation.
What on earth are the Republicans thinking? For God's sake, wake up to the fact that you are supposed to be God-fearing citizens. There are other ways of reducing the national debt, including reducing your defence bill (apparently 37 times higher than the next leading power), dealing with your obesity problems and litigious culture. Remember your Old Testament; do unto others as you would have done unto yourselves.
PS. Sorry I digress. Back to business advice very soon, but that just had to be slotted in in the circumstances.
Follow Laura Tenison MBE on Twitter: www.twitter.com/LauraTenison