Temas Especiales

08 de May de 2021


Congress to battle over family values

The US-Panama free trade agreement is on hold. The US Congress has reserved the summer for a battle over family values. The Republicans ...

The US-Panama free trade agreement is on hold. The US Congress has reserved the summer for a battle over family values. The Republicans will object to this characterization. The Democrats aren't putting abortion or gay marriage on the agenda. They're going to debate health care reform.

Those who object to the "death tax" on inheritances passed down in their multi-millionaire families are going to face off against middle class families who don't get any inheritances because the US health care system strips their dying elders of all they have.

Those opposed to health care reform will find one of their loudest voices in the person of a millionaire pillhead who for years has championed the break-up of other people's families by way of draconian prison sentences for drug offenses. The rich go to rehab, the poor go to jail and should we be surprised that pharmaceutical companies that make families choose between buying medicine or buying food will be on the same team with Rush?

There exists a small minority of Canadians who can't see much difference between Stephen Harper and Kim Jong Il, and some of them will be brought in to bemoan the evils of Canadian health care.

But in Michigan, families thrown into crisis by the collapse of auto production will know that one part of the problem is that across the river in Ontario the same model car can be produced for hundreds of dollars less just because of the cost of US health care.

Corporate lawyers will blame attorneys who represent those who have been injured by defective goods or services. They would shift the cost of their clients' negligence and blame for high health care costs onto patients and their families, but it's not a good year for that.

The ideologues whose deregulatory fervor led directly to the looting and trashing of America's financial system will talk about socialist horrors and never own up to the suffering that their greed-driven dogmas have caused for so many American families. They will find their powers of persuasion curtailed.

Those who sent the Armed Forces into harm's way with insufficient numbers and equipment, and who when faced with a prolonged war tried to control the deficit by cheating wounded veterans, had better keep their mouths shut. Of course, they won't -- but neither will the families of disabled soldiers who bore the burdens so unfairly thrust upon them.

The religious fanatics will blame it on the queers. However, families devastated both by AIDS or other chronic diseases and by a health care system that piles an economic crisis atop any prolonged illness won't want to hear any such pious hypocrisy.

Yes, Congress is going to debate family values, and those who used that slogan while destroying so many families will discover that this is not 1994. Families that were scorned and devalued for all these years are far more disposed to defend themselves.

This debate will, through US expatriates and Americans thinking about moving here, have a direct effect on Panama.

Just as the US civil rights movement ended up having an unexpected impact in Panama, this summer's debate in the US Congress is likely to have even deeper indirect effects. People here will see American families turning their backs on ideas that Panama's political and economic elites embrace, and this will alter local equations.