I didn’t postdoc in the US. When it came time to move to the next stage Mr and Mrs Juniorprof packed up and headed to the Great White North and landed in glorious Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The Quebecois taught me many lessons (but not much French, unfortunately). The most important, non scientific, lesson I learned was that taxes are not a bad thing — in fact, they can be a great source of pride.You see, Quebecers get taxed, about 33% on income and an extra 15% on all purchases. Sounds terrible right. Not really.
You see, you get something for those taxes. You get free, high quality health care. You get excellent access to education. You get an outstanding public transport system. You get immigrants that have free access to social programs that help them integrate into society. You get 1 year maternity leave (and dudes you get some paternity leave too)!!!
I, like most Americans, used to want to hold onto most of my cash flow to spend on some crap that I’d throw away in 3 weeks. Something terrible happened to me in Quebec that changed my mind forever. I had a nearly crippling back injury — in the weight room, most likely, so no worker comp or accident insurance. I got top quality health care (for free — didn’t pay a cent) and today you’d never know a thing happened to me (unless you saw me play basketball before and after). If I’d have had this same injury in the US with my crappy postdoc health insurance I also would have received excellent health care but it almost certainly would have spelled financial ruin for Mr and Mrs Juniorprof. You see, surgery and hospital stays and lengthy rehabilitation costs a good deal of money even if you have insurance here in the US and I would have paid, through the nose, to be able to use one of my legs again.
Back to the point. Even though Quebecers pay so many taxes they are proud of the system they have because it makes their lives less stressful and it improves the quality of life of the people they work, play and drink wine with. I believe that we can feel the same way here in the US but it takes strong leadership from the top to make it happen. Unfortunately, we do not have such leadership. You see, even within my own family, people who know damn well what would have happened to us financially with my little injury, they still want nothing to do with paying more taxes to offer a national health care system. Why? A complete and total lack of leadership on the part of our national leaders.
So, here goes… I WANT TO PAY MORE TAXES!! but you gotta put those taxes to work for the average American. I look forward to the day when I will get the same health care, for free, that my students, postdocs, our wonderful janitor, the dude that plants those pretty flowers outside the building and the guy that sorts through our recycling bin for cans-for-cash gets. I’m looking forward to having a female grad student or postdoc that gets pregnant and spends a year at home with her new baby. I would fucking love to take a bus to and from the bar so I don’t have to spend an hour looking for a damn cab at the end of the night. Let’s get some leadership in Washington so that everyone can understand that higher taxes can make us proud of our nation. Personally, I think Obama can do it, but I’m open to anyone that can make it happen. I just hope it happens before complete financial ruin sets in.