This has to be one of the more surreal settings I’ve written a blog in. I’m sat in the middle of a noisy Las Vegas casino surrounded by sirens, bells and in a haze of smoke.
I’m conscious that I’ve had something of a blog draught of late. I’ve not felt moved to write about anything and only want to do so when I feel I’ve something of interest and (hopefully!) value to say. Thank you to those of you who have enquirered when my next blog will be.
The purpose of this blog is to reflect on my personal perspectives of America as a tourist. Over the past few years I’ve been fortunate to visit Vegas (twice), New York and Florida. So whilst this doesn’t claim to be a scientific study I’m confident that I have a range of experiences from which to draw.
The good: Being treated as a consumer and the impact this has
I think the American attitude I have encountered is ahead of the U.K. for one simple reason: Here I am treated as a consumer and services are easier to access as a result. The consequence of this is that life is a lot more accessible. Granted, as a tourist I may be more outgoing than on a day to day basis but it’s definitely easier to get about. So there is a positive social by product..I can do more and see more as a result.
It feels as if America has embraced the social model too. Buildings are adapted to allow access so that as a consumer I can get in and spend my money. Though it is a subjective thing it feels a bit easier to walk tall as a result. My money is as good as everyone else’s!
Though much has been written about the purchasing power of the ‘purple pound’ in the U.K. I think we lag behind. Fundamentally, I would argue that disabled people aren’t generally seen as consumers and marketed to in the way that other consumer groups are. Sport aside, disabled people tend to be discussed as passive recipients of state welfare rather than as active consumers. That can (but not always) filter it’s way though to social and even political contexts as a consequence.
The bad: Insurance and healthcare
The consequence of being seen as a consumer has its negative side too. Insurance and healthcare is very much a product here and that has profound implications for someone with an impairment.
Getting insurance to travel to the states can be a mission. Every day life in the states would be impractical. I just couldn’t afford it. The health system appears to be very much a live issue in the election debates.
For the well documented pressures and shortcomings of the NHS in the hands of its political masters the principle of free healthcare to all at the point of need is a game changer and one we must retain.
I dread to think about the adoption of an insurance based model and its negative consequences in the uk.
As with so many things, I hope we can retain the positives and learn from the attitude described above.
I had better go and find my long stuffering wife and go and embrace my consumer status some more!