Saturday, April 23, 2016

Where To Invade Next

I am a long time fan of Michael Moore, so was excited to get the chance to see his latest film Where To Invade Next when it opened here in theaters. In this film Moore "invades" different countries not to claim them for America, but to bring back their great ideas. This included things such as paid annual leave from Italy, healthy school meals from France, high performing schools from Finland, free university education from Slovenia, the rehabilitation of prisoners as in Norway, decriminalisation of drugs from Portugal, women's rights as in Tunisia, educating children about the horrors of the past as in Germany, and the prosecution of bankers that caused the GFC as done in Iceland.

As Moore learns about these great ideas it is pointed out that many of them first originated in America. While the United States has lost its way over time, affordable healthcare and the legalisation of gay marriage have happened in the last few years. In addition, presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders is bringing many of these ideas to the fore as part of his political revolution to take back the country from the establishment.

For me, many of these ideas are not as far fetched living in Australia. We have universal healthcare and I have four weeks of paid annual leave each year with my job (plus three months long service leave after 10 years). Women have paid maternity leave, and many of my colleagues usually take a year off work to care for their baby. While higher education may not be free, the Commonwealth's loan program means you don't have to pay fees up front and only begin paying back the loan as a percentage of your income when you start earning over $54,000. There are some ideas from the film that would be useful though, particularly confronting the country's treatment of its first peoples and the continuing racism that is a result of White Australia policy in the past.

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