Category: Politics

US Immigration: Even Hillary and Trump don’t get it

 

A message for the Presidential candidates: the problems of immigration go well beyond the issue of illegal immigration. With no caps on certain kinds of visas, and excessive and redundant vetting processes for the same group of people, Homeland Security budget and resources are being wasted, workload is overwhelming, and frankly, unnecessary; hard working people remain stuck in limbo for decades while problems at the borders continue to remain. Two approaches, both extreme and flawed in their own way, yet neither truly comprehensive or groundbreaking… And the reason? Because people don’t understand the full scope of the issue. People like me don’t speak up because we have too much to lose. But I lost it all once already and I survived. So I am talking, and hoping that one day my message will be heard by America.

 

US Immigration: I don’t get it!

Part 1 of a look at US immigration vs UK’s immigration because the latter are clear about what they want. US seems to be wasting its time and resources on meaningless rules instead of putting them to good use. And in the process, it is depriving its immigrant population of their human rights. An American once told me that if I am looking for ethical treatment I should just leave the US- is that America’s message to the rest of the world? 

Below is a transcript to the video:

The NY NJ bombing- I am sure everyone has their own opinion on the event and the suspect who is in custody. Reading about his background what most affected me was a report that alleged that the suspect’s father was opposed to his son’s “Americanization”. Now, this family was admitted as refugees and granted US citizenship by the government. So what I don’t understand is that how can one want to be an American, then become an American and resent being Americanized?

Clearly, the system is not working and the plethora of rules that are in place are either not enough, or as I feel, are excessive and ineffective. But I’m not here to point fingers, I just want to understand why all of this has made my life so painfully complicated. When I say ‘my life’ I am not literally talking about myself but about many others like me who are trying to legally immigrate to the US and are not opposed to being Americanized, in case we aren’t already.

I will not repeat the platitudes about US and immigrants. Despite its history, a country has the right to be for or against immigration. It is plainly obvious to me that the US is against immigration but why don’t they make rules that clearly send that message escapes me. I think it is fair to say that the US and the UK are two countries at par with each other, and since the Brexit vote it won’t be entirely unfair to say that the British don’t want immigrants. And yet, their rules are more straightforward and, more importantly, more humane than those of US immigration. I want to compare some of these rules to highlight not just how it is making lives complicated for those us who want to do the right thing, but also how the US government is wasting its budget on redundant and bogged down procedures instead of using it for border protection.

I don’t have any stats but speaking strictly from experience, most immigrants come to the US as students. Granted, a student visa is not an immigrant intent visa- that is to say that when you come here as a student, you don’t intend to settle down. You plan to get your education and go back to your country. But that is not always true. When I came here as a student, I wasn’t entirely sure if I wanted to stay or go back. Anyway, when you come as a student you don’t get exposed to the normal life, so to speak, and it is not then that one decides whether he/she wants to stay or leave. Now in the UK, a student has only 3 months after graduation to find employment or leave the country. Additionally, if they find a job, they convert to a work visa, a Tier 2 visa. But in the US, a student can get up to 3 years for “optional practical training” after graduation and during this time they are still on a student visa. Essentially, you have 3 full years to not just start a job but to start a life without even getting a work visa. Now in those 3 years one can definitely decide that they want to settle down here.

From the government’s point of view, if you know a student visa is your biggest source of immigration, why wouldn’t you cap it? Or take away the option of letting people stay on for 3 additional years after graduation. Forget the impact it will have on the volume of people coming in, but can you imagine the time it will free up when the officers don’t have to review all this extra paperwork? This is exactly the kind of disconnect that I don’t understand- saying one thing and then going out and doing something completely different.

The next thing I don’t understand- why is a migrant worker owned by an employer? In the UK, the employer issues a certificate of sponsorship which the applicant takes to the government, along with other documents, and applies for a work visa for himself or herself. Not the case here in the US; here, the employer applies for the worker. Now I fully support the idea of job advertisement and salary verification. The government must ensure that its citizens are not at any disadvantage. So the employer must advertise the said position and prove that it interviewed domestic as well as foreign candidates but picked a foreign candidate because he or she was a better fit. They should also prove that they will pay this person the same salary and benefits that they would have paid a citizen. But the employer’s role should end there. After this the person should be free to take these documents supplied by the employer and apply for a work visa independently.

Because what happens in the US is that since the employer owns a person’s visa they can withdraw it at any time, without any notice, without any discussion. So let’s say that if my employer terminates me today, the government expects me to leave the country tomorrow. What if I have a home, well, I can abandon it for all they care. If I have kids in school, too bad, they just have to drop out and repeat the year elsewhere. In the UK, if an employer terminates the employment, they notify the government who then review the case and give the person 60 days to either find new employment or leave the country. And note that the 60 days don’t start from the time the person was let go but from the time the government reaches a decision.

So then does the US hate its tax paying immigrants so very much that it will turn them into an employer’s property and leave them open to harassment and abuse? Or does the government think that employers are the epitome of morality and would never abuse this power? Because seriously, it can happen to a migrant worker that he or she walks into his manager’s office and the manager says undress for me or I will fire you. Perhaps the government thinks that we should walk around with wires on our person all the time because how else can we prove what is said to us behind closed doors? And we are obviously not given any time to say our side if an employer decides to abruptly terminate us. Manager’s word is final, notice period is not mandatory and the employer does not have the burden to prove why they revoked a visa prior to its expiry date.

Trust me, if a terrorist wanted to enter the US, he or she will definitely not follow this route. But in its misplaced efforts to tighten its grip on immigrants, the government has wrongfully turned the lot of us into economic slaves. Being owned by an employer does nothing to ensure that the person will not commit any crimes. So what is the point of this rule?

To conclude this part, if the US does in fact want to put an end to immigration, it needs to start at the source. Exploiting migrant workers is not the way to go about it. We are the hard working, tax paying, honest lot. In the next part, I would like to look at other aspects of immigration and continue the discussion whether these rules are more disruptive or beneficial.

Talk immigration? Or should someone have to die for a story to be heard?

Unless there is destruction, nothing seems to capture the attention of people these days. Someone carries out one act of destruction and it is all over the news- local, national, even worldwide, as long as there is enough casualty. It seems that the attention that a story will get is directly proportional to the number of lives it claims. There are millions of people out there doing good deeds every single day and yet that is not what dominates the conversation- the goodness of humankind that hasn’t yet perished. And there are others who are simply asking for a change, like me. But no one wants to hear a truth that doesn’t make them hate a group of people.

We are constantly fed fear and negativity by media and leaders alike, and then that same fear and negativity is used to sell us more fear and negativity. This constant cycle is perpetuating the prevalence of hatred because that is what fear does. We fear that what we don’t understand and we hate that what we fear. Instead of understanding the root cause of an issue and trying to eliminate that, we conveniently find scapegoats and go after them. “Terrorism is a problem“, they say, “Let’s ban an entire religion from the US“. Seriously? Haven’t you heard of the Inquisitions? Did people not act in the name of a religion then to execute barbaric acts? But there was more good than there was evil, and eventually, it triumphed. Similarly, don’t you think there are enough good people in every other religion too? Why don’t we consider joining forces with them to bring about a revolution instead of blaming them for the acts of another? We cannot eliminate hatred with hatred- eye for an eye sounds glorious but it is neither noble nor effective.

I am not a religious person. If Humanity were a religion that is the label I would have proudly worn but I am glad it is not so because organized religion leads to greed for power. So while I believe in the simple things like treat others the way you’d like to be treated, or live and let live, or never hurt anyone, I will not impose my beliefs on another, and I will not see people as the religion that they practice. My mission is not to revolutionize how we perceive religion. My mission is something much simpler- I want people to be AWARE, in this case, about immigration in the US.

I am quite tired of the same rhetoric when it comes to immigration- illegal immigrants. People on one side of the spectrum want to build walls, evacuate all those who are within those walls, and then build one final wall to seal everyone out. Do they really think they can survive in today’s world economy by living in isolation on this grand, heavily-protected island of theirs?

On the other hand, there are people who want to welcome everyone and grandfather many more and make everyone a citizen. Now, that is charitable but really, excessive charity is self-destructive.

So yes, we need to find a happy medium but you know why it is impossible to do so? Because we are not even considering the entire immigrant population when we are having these discussions. We are really only talking about people seeking asylum and refuge, and those that simply take it without asking by crossing borders illegally. Immigrants, like myself, are never part of any conversation. There is, of course, one person who wants to stamp Green Cards on to graduate degrees- now that is one obtuse idea if I ever heard one! Doesn’t anyone have any idea how many people come here to attend school on an annual basis? If all those people were given Green Cards, imagine how many more will start coming in and how many jobs will go to ‘foreigners‘ instead of the American people. Universities will not turn away international students because of the hefty tuition that they pay. I am sure that is not a stance American immigration wants to take because that would mean a radical shift in its policy, from closed-door to open-door, wide open door!

We need a more meaningful conversation about legal immigration in this country and it is my aim to start this discussion. I will not do anything extreme to get people’s attention. I can only hope that people would want to hear a sound argument to develop their own views. For too long they have been led into believing that immigration only means one thing, and that it is bad. But that is not all that there is to immigration. If talent is allowed to come in, as it should be, it should also be given some protection. If employers are made sponsors then they should be responsible to sponsor more than just a one-way flight ticket. Right now, the employers have way too much control over the immigrant workforce without any accountability for their actions, and that is a perfect breeding ground for exploitation and abuse.

It is impossible to put an end to immigration, not just in the US but globally. There are expat Americans living and working in other countries too. But a country can be wise in choosing who it allows to stay, and a country can be ethical in how it treats those who are welcomed here. The process of employment-based immigration is so long and complicated, if Homeland Security just simplified that, I am sure it would have enough surplus to enforce better border security. Those who come here legally get scrutinized repeatedly and excessively and are still deprived of their basic rights. Those who come here illegally have provisions to appeal for mercy. I don’t see the logic and how it is ultimately benefiting the economy.

I have no views on illegal immigration. It is not something I condone but I also think that on a humanitarian level, we have a certain responsibility towards those who are less fortunate. But I do have strong views on legal immigration. Those who have paid their dues deserve to be treated with dignity and that is not happening. What’s worse is that no one is even aware of it and people like me are silently disappearing each day. With my videos I aim to highlight the flaws of American immigration system through simple short stories. Through my memoir (order here) I want to share what specifically happened to me and allow the people to decide for themselves whether it was right or wrong. This is all that I can do.

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My Punishment for Loving America – “Go Back”

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In response to today’s One Word Promt ‘Punishment

We have all experienced punishment in life. We have all been punished by parents, teachers, siblings, colleagues, even friends and partners. Some of us have been punished by the law too. And in moments of utter despair, we have even felt punished by life itself.

I have never believed in punishment. I don’t think punishment teaches a person the value of doing the right thing, it simply instills fear of a certain consequence, thereby devaluing doing the wrong thing. So in comparison doing the right still becomes better but in absolute terms its value remains unchanged. The world cannot become a better place unless all people value the right things in absolutely high regard.

Right and wrong can also be subjective, and something that was considered wrong until yesterday may become right today, like same sex marriage. In my opinion, as long as an action doesn’t cause any harm to others and does not deprive them of their rights, it can be considered right. If a person chooses to marry another person of same sex, she or he is not hurting anyone nor is this person taking away someone else’s rights. People have a freedom to have their own opinion but they don’t have the freedom to enforce their opinion on others. So if they are offended by an action that goes against their belief, the action itself or its owner cannot be condemned for the offense.

I moved to America nine years ago and in so doing, I did not hurt anyone or deprive them of their freedom or rights. I lived here legally for those nine year, again, never getting in anyone’s way. But did I have the same rights and freedom in return? No. I have been forcibly turned into an illegal immigrant now who is too poor to live here and too poor to go back. Everything I worked hard to achieve has been taken away from me. I called this place home throughout my adult life but today I don’t know where to go or who to turn to. And what, you may ask, have I been punished for?

Immigrants, as Mr. Trump would have you believe are lowlifes who commit crimes. Perhaps I was one such immigrant. But no, I wasn’t. I came here legally, I went to a university, I am a graduate and a certified Project Management Professional, and a volunteer with local charities- I am an honorable person. I am being punished for filing a discrimination complaint against an unscrupulous employer. My trial is next month but I am not even allowed to stay to attend that. But I plan to stay anyway. It will not matter if I win, because the goverment will still consider me illegal. But at least I will go back with some sense of faith in America. If not in its immigration system, at least in it judiciary system.

That is my punishment.

If you would like to know more about my story, or would like to support me by sharing my story, please consider getting a copy of my memoir, Foreinger, from Amazon (here). I don’t want America to hate immigrants without knowing the whole truth. I want people to know just how we suffer for wanting to love this country. I will go back but please don’t let me disappear.

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Legal Immigration: The Untold Reality

Excerpt Foreigner

Immigration has become a hot topic these days, thanks to a certain political campaign for the upcoming Presidential election. But I can hardly blame the politician or his campaign because if he has come this far it is because there are people who support him. This election has brought to surface a side of America that I did not think existed. I did not think there was so much hatred, bigotry and ignorance lurking beneath the surface, so much darkness behind a glorious exterior.

So many people think immigration is a problem in this country and that the immigrants should be sent back. But has anyone ever stopped to wonder that perhaps there might be another side to this story? There are people like me who did everything right and have still lost everything- I don’t even have enough money to leave if I wanted to! The immigration system has robbed me of everything I had worked so hard to achieve. And just because I followed the law, I don’t even quality for a Presidential pardon. America is forcing people to become illegal because, quite frankly, it is much easier that way than try to fight the good fight.

Read my memoir, Foreigner: the Urban Legend of a Legal Immigrant, to learn more about the lopsided immigration system and the many injustices built into its very fiber. It is a system of oppression that allows discrimination and exploitation to blatantly flourish. Ebook and paperback available on Amazon (order here).

 

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On War and Peace

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(Picture provided by a dear friend from her personal collection)

Most reasonable people in this world do not want a war. There are some others, however, who think in extremes- extreme zealots who want to forward their religious interests, and more recently, we have seen extreme xenophobes here at home, who want to drive out all foreigners and build a wall all around the country! All extremist philosophy is same at its core, whether or not it is endorsed by a government. Extremism creates barriers and a sense of disparity which amost always leads to violence. In Trump’s America, can you imagine how many people such as myself will be killed before every last one of us is driven away from the country, forced to leave behind much of what we own, and the life we once had?

I am fortunate to have lived in New York for majority of my time here, where I have never felt like an outsider. Even with the current state of politics and polarized opinions in many parts of the country, people in New York, both Democrats and Republicans have remained sensible. And when I was in Michigan briefly, things were much the same. During my stay there I met a number of long-time Republican voters who voted Democrat in this year’s primary. (Sen. Sanders won in Michigan). With the primary in New York approaching, I have been encountering similar sentiment around here. I met an old friend few days ago who has always voted Republican but this year she plans to stay out of it altogether. I shared my views with her about the Sanders campaign but whether I managed to change her mind remains to be seen. I met another Republican friend few weeks ago who didn’t have the usual aversion to Trump that is typical around here but even he wasn’t sold on his fanatical rhetoric on immigration. He is indifferent to the violence inflicted in the name of interrogation, but does consider himself pro-choice. We had a long candid discussion about each candidate’s policies and I could see that although he did support Trump to a great extent, he wasn’t one of those people who wanted me out. So, like many others, he has decided not to vote either.

Anyway, I digress. What I am trying to say is that extremist tendencies threaten the very foundation of a democracy because they are in exact contradiction to everything that a democracy stands for. Extremists are a small group of people with the loudest voice, and they thrive on attention-seeking tactics. Like it’s true for the current presidential race, the same is true for international outfits like ISIS. By no means are they the true representation of a country, a culture or a religion. They are simply a small group of radicals with obnoxiously loud voice and who will go to heinous lengths to get the world’s attention. Well they have it now.

But should the US go to war with every miscreant in this world and give them exactly what they are asking for- a state of anarchy? Absolutely no. With great power comes great responsibility and the right way to wield this responsibility is to bring together other nations of the world to collectively and systematically eradicate such threats, and consider war only and only the last resort.

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Sen. Sanders has the same views on Iran building nuclear weapons. Before we consider going to war, we must make sure we have tried every available option on the table. When all else fails, war becomes a necessary evil, but not sooner.

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There is a great cost of war that everyone involves pays, and not just during the war but for years afterwards. So instead of spending the defense budget on deploying our troops everywhere, I think it might be more effective to use that money at home, on national security- on keeping the US borders secure, keeping the US airspace secure, keeping the US waters secure.

But surveillance shouldn’t have to come the cost of people’s privacy. I strongly suport Sen. Sanders’ stance on government’s collection of public phone records. I just don’t see how it can be justified when we still keep hearing of attacks here on the US soil. Consider the attack in San Bernardino for example. After months of squabbling with Apple over its security settings, the government was able to access the phone with the help of a third party. But have they found anything that could have prevented this tragedy? My guess is no because if there was something that the government could use against technology companies, they wouldn’t hold back. So I fail to see the rationale behind this kind of surveillance. The intelligence bureau does a great job but it needs to evolve faster than it has ever had to before because of the world we are living in. And in doing so, it should not compromise people’s right to privacy.

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This post covers two topics from the Sanders campaign website/issues page. Please follow below links to see each item in detail:

War and Peace

and, War Should be the Last Option: Why I Support the Iran Deal

Thanks for reading!

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For more posts in the series ‘Bernie on Issues’ look under Current Affairs in menu 

 

Bridging the Gap

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(Pictures taken from campaign website)

Economy- it’s one thing we all care about equally and agree that something needs to change. But just exactly what needs to change is not so clear. We need more jobs, but how can they be created? We need a stronger middle class, but how can they be empowered? We need wealth to flow freely across classes, but how can we prevent it from recirculating within the top 1%? These are important but tough questions, and, quite frankly, I don’t think anyone has the absolute answer to this. But there are some points in the Sanders plan that I think might work.

‘Tax the rich’ is a common proposition we come across. But is that really a solution? And is that really fair? If I were that rich, I wouldn’t want to be penalized for it. Do the rich use public roads and amenities any more than an ordinary person? I don’t think so. Then why should they pay more for them? Taxing the rich seems like a reactive approach to me. What we need is to understand why only some people become that rich. If they did it the right way, they have every right to keep their hard-earned money as does any other middle class worker. Like I said in a previous post, I don’t believe in altruism, so I don’t necessarily condone the philosophy that the rich should carry the burden of general emancipation. But I do firmly believe that the race to the top needs to be fair and open to all, and below are some points that might level out the playing field.

Item 1:

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Making unfathomable sums of money is ok by me as long as it is done the right way. But sending profits overseas is not the right way. The latest hotspot seems to be Ireland as more and more companies are reincorporating there to avoid paying US taxes, a phenomenon called ‘tax inversion’.

I am no expert on Wall Street but the little that I do understand about speculation is that it tends to create bubbles by artificially driving prices up, and then down. The last great financial crisis can be attributed to speculation. Speculators make profit from price fluctuations thereby creating volatility and preventing long-term market stability. Besides generating revenue which will be used to fund college education, a tax on high volume trades, like the computerized transactions run by big firms, has the potential to deter some traders due to the cost involved. And such a tax is not a novel concept; it already exists number of other countries like the UK.

Item 2:

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I recently came across a shocking study released by Glassdoor. At the time the report was published, on average a CEO for a publicly-traded company was earning 204 times more than its ordinary worker. Let me repeat- 204 times more! And this is just the average. For some companies the ratio was upwards of 1500. You can read the full article here. How can this be considered fair by any stretch of justification? Granted that a big part of CEO compensation came from bonuses and stock options but why are these options not available to an ordinary worker? Why are the scales so tipped to favor those whose base salary is already high enough to run a small city? Can you imagine how many more jobs can these companies create if they stopped paying their CEO’s so much?!

While pay gap between the rich and the middle class remains something to be ashamed of, raising the minimum wage for those at the lowest rung of the ladder is one small step in the right direction.

Item 3:

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This point is almost reminiscent of the Civil Works Administration established during the Great Depression. The common consensus is that WWII led to the end of the depression but there are others who assert that war spending does not count towards national GDP. I am not an economist so I’ll let the experts debate on that but a government funded stimulus that creates jobs and infrastructure could only have done good things for the economy. If it worked then, it must work now too, right?

Item 4:

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This one is similar to Item 1 in regards to closing loopholes that are being exploited by big corporations. Policies need to be ever-evolving. Any regulation that is set in place will end up being exploited at some point, thanks to the cunning of those shrewd folks who are always looking for loopholes. Nothing is fool-proof. So when trade agreements start hurting us more than benefiting, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. NAFTA, CAFTA and PNTR are not only causing manufacturing to move to Mexico, Central America and China respectively, they are also contributing to the worsening exploitation of low-wage labor in these nations.

There are more items in the plan that I really like. Free college education is one which I would like to discuss in a separate post. Education should be based on merit, not affordability. And a good college education should not leave a family or an individual buried under an insurmountable debt. Youth employment program is another way to give everyone their fair share of opportunities. Everyone wants experienced workers but if no one hires an inexperienced candidate how can he/she ever become experienced?

I think the economy needs a lot more than this to be where people want it to be. And wealth distribution is only one small piece in the big puzzle. But there are two important things to consider: a) Rome wasn’t built in a day, and b) Utopia doesn’t really exist. We will probably never live in a world that is devoid of problems such as unemployment, poverty or wealth disparity, and I don’t mean to sound pessimistic, I’m only being realistic. Problems are inevitable and they will always exist. But it does not mean we stop striving towards something that is better than what we have today. A policy that is effective today may not be so tomorrow. Problems are the force that makes us think and innovate!

Well, that’s my two cents 🙂

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Love is Love

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(Picture has been borrowed from the Internet)

It’s been a long, hectic day and I’m only now getting around to writing something. Since I’m pressed for time, I’m picking an easy one for today- LGBT rights. And by easy I mean there is only one way to look at it. We are all people and we must all have same rights and freedom. So my views on this subject are identical to my views on women’s rights– why is it even a topic of discussion?

Who are we to decide what love looks like? I am a girl and I fell in love with a boy, yet everyone still keeps telling me it’s wrong. From an outsider’s point of view he wasn’t a nice guy. He didn’t treat me with kindness or respect. But it’s my life and only I know what we truly shared. I may refer to him as playboy but I don’t believe that he is one. He is just someone who is really scared. And I am ok with that. I still love him. It’s not a choice that I’ve made it’s simply what my heart truly and deeply feels. So how can anyone else say that it isn’t love?

Similarly, how can we, as a society, tell anyone what their love should look like? Just because two people aren’t of the opposite sex does not mean their love is any less meaningful. I respect the fact that different people have different views. For some, their view of the world and how it ‘should be’ is guided by various cultural or religious influences in their lives. But a mature society is where we don’t impose our beliefs on other people- we live and let live. And more importantly, we respect everyone because they are people just like ourselves.

All the barriers some of us adhere to exist only in our minds. We may look different on the outside but what it all comes down to is one simple fact- we are one species, Homo sapiens, and we all deserve the freedom to live our lives the way we want, love who we want, marry who we want.

Below is a YouTube link to ‘Love has no labels‘ commercial by the Ad Council. This video conveys the message so much better than what words could ever do. Just watching it brings tears to my eyes. I wish one day we can live in a world where we don’t just say that we’re all equal but actually practice it too. For that, we first need a leader who believes in it. Here is a link to Sen. Sanders plan to fight for LGBT equality.

 

Peace!

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First I Am a Human, Then a Woman

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I am a woman so this subject is extremely personal to me. Yesterday, a friend made a comment in response to my post that it’s nice to hear my views because I have an ‘outsider’s’ perspective. I was offended by that remark, and indeed I made no reservation in showing just how I felt! I am a person as unique as anyone else in this world. I think for myself, listen to various rhetorics, and finally develop my own view on a matter. I am entitled to change that view as I get more exposure but that I was born in India does not influence my whole personality. It can influence my interests, like my interest in immigration, but it still does not guide my perspective. My thoughts on immigration are founded in logic and ethical treatment of people. I agree with Bernie’s agenda because it speaks to those core values. If I weren’t an immigrant, I probably wouldn’t bother myself with reading the plan, but if I did, I would still end up supporting it because it sounds logical. Just as if I were an American, I still wouldn’t support the candidate with the most horrific views on immigration that sound dangerously similar to an ethnic purge. Any two people will agree or disagree from time to time. You might agree with some of my posts, not agree with others, but that’s because we’re different people irrespective of the skin we wear, the countries we’re born in, or the languages we speak- we’re different at an intellectual level. And while cultural differences have a role to play, it is not always the case. My thoughts on healthcare are independent of my heritage. I don’t think I even had a view on abortion when I was in India- I was too young and protected to have to think about it. At 30 years, I have something to say, and guess what, it’s everything that a 74-year old American man is saying!

When it comes to women’s rights, I don’t have a whole lot to say besides this:

It is a shame that a woman’s rights should even be a topic of political debate, like we’re animals and men of this world have to fight for our rights (read: PETA). We are human beings just as men are and if there is never a debate about what men can and cannot do, why should there be one for us!

But this damage wasn’t done today. It has been done over centuries and now we must try to undo it. We can only look to the future and we must ensure we build a better one- we must “go forward”. I agree with all the points in Sen. Sanders plan so I have only selected the top two to talk about in detail.

Item 1:

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Equal pay for equal effort- it is as logical as it can get and I don’t see any reason why anyone should be opposed to it. But much like my friend from yesterday, at a subconscious level, most people struggle to see everyone as equal. It is part of the cognitive process to identify a person’s physical attributes when we first meet them- man or woman, young or old, their race, etc. Our brains have evolved to register these nuances so that they can access the surroundings and any potential danger based on past experiences. It’s science and it’s all good. But there was a time when people let these differences determine how they treated the other person. After centuries of protests and progressive movements, we have reached a point in time where most people outwardly agree that people should not be treated differently. But subconsciously, they still end up doing it.

I was grossly underpaid at my former job. And I don’t say this by comparison to anyone else, but in absolute terms I was not paid enough for the hours of work I had to put in. It was a male-dominated workplace with a handful of women. So not only was I an immigrant worker which made me inherently unequal to my peers, I was a gender minority too. I don’t know how much salary my male counterparts made but it would not surprise me if it turns out to be significantly more.

Consciously or subconsciously, women are still not treated as equals in the workforce. Equal pay is more than inevitable, it is common sense!

Item 2:

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Women have a natural disadvantage over men- pregnancy. But had this been reversed, if men were the ones responsible for bringing a new life into this world, I wonder if the term ‘reproductive rights‘ would have ever come up! Again, I am not talking about the world we live in today but the world that set the stage for some of the issues we discuss today.

Personally, I would rather see an unwanted pregnancy terminated than an abandoned infant in an orphanage, or worse, in a garbage dumpster. It does not matter how the pregnancy came about- forced or consensual- the burden falls on the woman. There are no consequences for men, even when both parties had equal role to play. To those who say women cannot choose, I say, men shouldn’t be able to choose either. If the union leads to a pregnancy, the man must sacrifice his social life just as much as the woman does, and pay for child support until the child reaches the age of 21. I would like to see how many people will change sides then.

I know someone who accidentally got a girl pregnant when he was only a teenager. He did not marry the girl but decided he was going to be part of the lives of the girl as well as their child. He stayed true to his word. He does have a wife now, and kids from his marriage, but he still takes full responsibility for his first child. But how many such examples do you hear of? Most young men walk away from such responsibility. I know someone else who has a child from a previous marriage and the ex-husband refuses to take any responsibility for their daughter. She has had to take him to court several times just so he would pay child support. But a court can only force someone to pay, not to be a good father. This woman lost her job and was going through incredibly difficult circumstances. To have to be embroiled in lawsuits on top of that? Is that fair?

Women are equal contributing members of the society and should be treated as such; I am with Sen. Sanders!

P

 

 

Universal Healthcare Anyone?

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(Image taken from Bernie Sanders official campaign website)

After publishing my post yesterday, I had an idea. In the coming days, I am going to do short summary posts on specific Bernie Sanders campaign issues and share relevant examples from my personal life. I am calling this series of posts (including Twitter handle), #Bernieonissues. If you have a story of your own, please leave a comment here or on Twitter and I’d be thrilled to feature a guest post! Yesterday’s subject was immigration and you can follow this link to read the post.

Today, I want to talk about healthcare. I already gave a little gist of my opinion on the subject yesterday but today I want to discuss few specific points. Full plan can be accessed on the campaign website using this link. So let’s begin.

Item 1:

 

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I cannot stress enough how much I support the idea of universal healthcare. Sure, those who argue against the concept don’t want to encourage free-loaders in the society. That is a fair and valid concern, but on the other end of the spectrum is a society where each man is for himself. This is the beginning of improportionate wealth distribution and accumulation. Those who can accumulate more wealth are entitled to better care. As a nation, I don’t think it is an environment we want to foster. I am generally a supporter of the Ayn Rand philosophy of objectivism and I don’t condone altruism. As much as I like the notion that each one should get what they deserve, when it comes to running a country, an extreme stance like that cannot be taken. We must share the burden of healthcare, even if it means letting some people get away with a free ride. It is practically impossible to determine what each individual deserves in a nation of over 300 million people. We have to strive towards a goal that would benefit most, if not all. A socialist approach to healthcare, hence, is a clear winner.

Item 2:

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I know first hard the consequences of linking any aspect of a person’s life beyond income to the employer. In my case, my whole life is linked to my employer but that’s something I already covered in my immigration post. By the same token, linking healthcare to employer simply makes people more vulnerable and open to exploitation.

When I suddenly lost my job, I lost medical, dental and vision coverage with it. When I urgently needed a root canal procedure due to an abscessed tooth, I was left feeling helpless. Small as may be, I had still paid monthly premiums for better part of last year for my dental insurance. Just because I was no longer eligible to be part of the employer’s group plan should not mean that I be left without any coverage. I looked into private plans but I couldn’t get immediate coverage. All of them required that I wait 6 months if I wanted the procedure to be covered under the plan. How can someone live with a rotting tooth for 6 months? I ended up paying for the procedure on my own but at a time when I already didn’t have a source of income, an extra expense of this magnitude came as a severe blow.

Item 3:

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As an extension of the previous point, I was left at the mercy of private companies when my employment ended. I am not a citizen so although I have been contributing to the social security system for 9 years now, I could not seek unemployment benefit. Although I have paid into the Medicaid system for 9 years, I cannot sign up for Obamacare. It’s somewhat of a deviation, but under Sanders immigration plan, there is provision to allow immigrants access to universal healthcare. Legal immigrants are the furthest thing from free-loaders, we are the ones who pay for the free-loaders. But going back to the subject of single-payer system, it goes back to the core philosophy that healthcare is a right, not privilege. So there should not be any disparity between what the rich and the poor can afford. Letting private insurance companies run the show makes it all about profits and not the common good. Premiums can vary, copays can vary, coverage can vary, even the providers in various networks can vary. The world of healthcare is already tainted with avarice. Removing private insurance providers is only the first step in the direction.

Item 4:

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This is simply the manifestation of everything else that we have already reviewed before. Having a federally-administered plan that is independent of employers and private insurance companies and that provides same coverage across the board, from general healthcare to emergency care, across medical, oral, vision and other facets of health and wellbeing means we, the people, don’t have to worry about copays or deductibles, or look for a provider that’s in a certain network. I will not get into the details of how this plan gets paid for. It is a very straightforward and logical taxation system that is touted to save money in the long run. A step-by-step breakdown is included in the plan link to which can be found at the beginning of this post.

In conclusion, this type of healthcare system has already been in place in most developed countries and has proven to be a successful model. It’s high time America implemented something that has been tried and tested instead of experimenting at the expense of its people’s health and wellbeing.

P