“What’s it like being from a Third World country?”
Many Americans, both at and outside of AU, tend to ask me this question time and time again when I tell them I’m from Brazil.
I try not to take it personally. It is easy to see why many Americans assume Brazil is the Third World when they look at our corrupt government that openly steals from their people. Often my response to such questions about the corrupt Brazilian government is that Brazilians suffer from long-term memory loss and repeatedly vote for corrupt officials to take office.
But to AU students I then pose the following question: “What’s it like living in a corrupt city?”
While American government officials do not openly take money from the people, recent news has exposed that Congress is not corruption-free. This poses a challenge to the American people, specifically AU and other college students, who now may also fall victim to this long-term memory loss that plagues many countries with corrupt government officials.
The New York Times recently published an article in which it was discovered that Amgen, the world’s largest biotechnology firm, scored a great investment return with congressmen and senators who play a major role in federal health care financing. A provision was inserted into the final “fiscal cliff” by Senate aides that allowed Amgen to evade Medicare cost-cutting controls by delaying price restraints on a class of drugs used by kidney dialysis patients. The delay will cost the Medicare program up to $500 million over a two-year period.
Chair of the Senate Finance Committee Senator Max Baucus, D-Mont., and ranking committee member Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, are notable supporters of the delay. However, there is good reason to suspect that other factors were involved in this support, considering both senators have political and financial ties to Amgen, as does Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell , R-Ky., who praised the provisions.
An editorial written by the Times shows that Amgen paid $200,000 in “bribes” (campaign contributions) to Baucus, Hatch and McConnell in exchange for a $500 million benefit - indeed a great return on investment.
Many who commented to both the Times article and op-ed demanded these senators be charged or impeached, and questioned why no measures had been taken.
However, what the editorial and American citizens did not ask is what we the people can do to make sure corruption like this does not keep occurring.
McConnell is currently serving his fifth term in Congress. Hatch is currently serving his seventh term, while Baucus is at term number nine.
While I agree that these senators must be charged, we as Americans must also take responsibility for who we vote for and allow in Congress. Allowing a corrupt senator to serve nine terms reflects poorly on the people who got him there.
Here at AU, where we have recently regained our spot as America’s most politically active campus, we represent the future of American voting. It is up to us to become informed of what is going on, remember what these senators have done, regardless of whether they are blue or red, and make sure they do not get elected again. Afterall, the $500 million lost could’ve helped alleviate college debt issues that most of us are currently facing.
As Americans, we must hold on to our long-term memory, remember to do our homework, become informed and bar corrupt officials from our government.
Julia Greenwald is a sophomore in the School of Communication.