Trying to understand Buenos Aires

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I corrected Nashorama on Menem. He had commented that he is a Muslim, apparently to ridicule the US for the good relations that existed betwen the US and Argentina during his two terms. As I said, Carlos Menem is a Roman Catholic by conversion.

I don´t see what difference if posters sign in with names as anyone can invent names. What matters is the contents of the postings.

No one surely objects to Nashorama´s enthusiasm, as he says, for Argentina. It seems though that Nashorama´s enthusiasm is linked to his utter contempt for the US. In the case of medical care, Nashorama has nothing but praise for the Argentine state system and nothing but venom for the US system. To me there is no relationship between the two. I think any reasonable person will admit that excellent medical care is something that the Americans do very well. People from all over the world travel to the US for medical care. How the Americans manage payments is another matter and one that is not related to medical care in Argentina. I know Argentina very well and I can tell you that care here in state hospitals is poor whether it be in Formosa or Buenos Aires. As another poster said, there are one or two passable (maybe) public hospitals in BA. That is a sad fact and insisting that care is better than it is is really very demeaning to the Argentine people who deserve better. Nashorama´s attitude seems very paternalistic to me. I can tell you that I´d rather be a welfare patient at a US hospital than a patient at a state hospital in Argentina. Nashorama can argue all he wants about that. I know the facts.

I have read through some of the comments by Nashorama and others in response and see a lot of misinformation by Nashorama. Orwell´s joke was stinging but he has a point that Nashorama has an authoritarian, know-all attitude heavily tinged with hatred of US citizens, Christians and social conservatives.

I´d suggest that Nashorama read a bit more about Argentina, from a variety of sources, not just those of the far left. He should also spend more time here if he is really interested as it takes more than a few months to understand this complex and troubled country.
Probably this isn't the right forum for this, but I can't help but comment about the US health care system. A poster here in my opinion paints an overly rosy picture. I don't doubt Argentina's system is also flawed in totally different ways.

However, in regards to the US system:

Over 45 million Americans do not have health insurance

Health insurance is the gateway to decent and affordable medical care

Health care in tied (in my opinion, an incredible flaw) to employment, so if you are unemployed or self employed you are out of the system, and there is massive trend for employers to stop offering insurance or offering it for amounts of money that workers cannot pay, so they opt out

Even the American Medical Association (hardly a bastion of socialists) states that tens of thousands of Americans die each year due to lack of health insurance.

True, emergency cases can be treated for the uninsured, but most of these cases never had to become emergency cases. So, a person might wait until they have untreatable advanced cancer before seeking treatment, they might have lived if treated earlier.

The foreigners seeking paid treatment in the US (aside from illegal alien indigents) represents a small wealthy elite.

If you do have any assets and are uninsured and must go to hospital, you are billed at a significantly higher rate for the same services as the insured, because the insurance companies have negotiated lower group rates. So, if you do have assets, you are in danger of being forced to spend to poverty.

The US government actively discourages people from getting lower cost medications from other countries, could it be the incredibly powerful pharma company lobbies?

The US spends more money than other country per capita for health care by far, yet over 45 million are completely left out.

The system discourages entrepreneurism among older people with preexisting conditions, because such people either cannot buy insurance for any price, or the price is shockingly high (can be over 1000 USD per month), or more commonly the price is high AND care for their condition is excluded.

The US system is clearly wonderful for the wealthy and the well insured. But this is kind of academic for the masses that are not wealthy and well insured.


" (GUEST)" said:
Mr Wolf...-

I have no reason to lie about health care in the US.
Fahchrissake, no-one is accusing you of lying. All I was trying to say was you may be suffering from some misapprehensions about the US medical system. And these misapprehensions are not unique to you: I have American friends in the US who think likewise. Since they hold cushy jobs, they've never been at the receiving end.

Medical expenses are the number one cause of personal bankruptcy in the US. Do you contest this? Do I have to cite chapter-and-verse? Let's be frank and 'fess up: The US medical system is inefficient and puts an undue burden on the mass of its citizens. This isn't to say that medical systems in other industrialised countries don't have their own problems; every country is having to contend with aging populations with their own special needs.

Postscript: Fullmetaljacquette's analysis of the US medical system is bang on target.


"gracielle" said:
"As for Argentina -- sigh -- your comments ring true. A socially and economically backward country living with the nostalgia of a past golden age."

I take this quote, not with the intent to admonish the writer personally, but as a sample of generalized thinking. This is a democracy and you are certainly entitled to your opinion. I merely want to add my grain of salt. My qualifications come from having been born in Argentina and spent 40 years happily living in San Francisco, California. Now I am back home to stay. And yes, I enjoy the benefits of dual citizenship.

I assume that most foreigners who choose to live here do so primarily because of the monetary advantages. Employment, or the lack of, does not affect you as the exchange rate favors many styles of living. Please tell me of another metropolitan city where you can afford to buy a home and/or land of this caliber at such prices. This city, compared to others in Latin America, is the closest to living in Madrid or Rome at a much lesser cost. Even when it was 1 to 1, it was still a great deal.

For this we can thank this "economically backward country".

I assume that the secondary reason for moving here is because there are many aspects of the culture which you can partake. I am sure that most of the people accept you, treat you reasonably well and you find some fulfillment in what you do here. Yes, you have to contend with corruption, "piqueteros", shady business practices, and whatever ails the rest of the population. But does it really affect you or is it that some of you have just nothing much to do with your time. The immigration laws are very flexible...come one, come all.... and leave when you want.

For this we can thank this "socially backward country".

You are a guest in a foreign country. Enjoy the time you have here. Learn to take the good with the bad as most Argentinians struggle to do the same. You never know when foreigners may be expelled from the country. Or worst yet, your bank account may no longer provide the buying power you now enjoy!!

I have heard diatribes from Argentinians but some of you guys weigh in with the best. In closing, I sincerely hope you stay and make it here. We can use a high dosage of diversity, but please leave the arrogance at home.
Well, jeez, if all I was interested in was my personal welfare -- whether material or cultural -- I'd be singing nothing but praise for the country. Money goes much further here. Hotel and restaurant service is obseqious. Shopkeepers are fawning and fall over themselves at the sight of a prospective customer. In these terms, Argentina is heaven on earth. But my diatribe isn't about me but about the mass of Argentinians whom I can see have trouble making ends meet.

I'm a foreigner here. A visitor. I'll be out of here within a fortnight. Does that mean I'm supposed to be oblivious to everyday scenes of heart-wrenching poverty that I can see even in idyllic Recoleta?

What's it with Argentinians? Why so touchy? The country went off the rails many years ago. It seems I can't get a critical word in edgeways without being reprimanded, pounced on.

Or am I supposed to be the stereotypical tourist, gushing fulsome praises about the historic buildings and wide boulevards (built, incidentally, in a past golden age), while remaining either deliberately ignorant or tactfully silent about social and political problems that everyone tries to airbrush out of existence for foreigners? Can't a visitor be a serious thoughtful human being who isn't just about himself but actually has a bit of empathy?



To Bigbadwolf - A critical word...or two or three is not what I read in your comments. And I quote... "a socially and economically backward country living with the nostalgia of a past golden age."

Yes, some may have a nostalgic memory of the good old days. But by now, it is rather cloudy. Perhaps it is the fuel that keeps them going in the hope that one day things will improve somewhat. If not for themselves, but for their children and grandchildren. But to categorize the entire country as socially and economically backwards after a few weeks of sightseeing seems rather callous and flippant.

Argentina has had 7 major economic and political crisis in the last 35 years. They have nobody to blame but themselves for their political and economic plight. To lay blame in the foreign policies of the world powers would be too simplistic. But the culture is far from being backwards. It has produced three Nobel Peace Prize recipients and countless of contributions in medicine, aerospace, engineering, etc. And a whole lot of ordinary people who strive to better themselves while they embrace their trials and tribulations.

I appreciate your empathy but life will go on in BA long after you have come and gone. What we need is answers....not more chatter.

I am happy to hear you were welcomed as a visitor whatever your country of origin may be.


Howdy, folks:

Sorry for such a long post. It took me a while to finally write. I decided this was a better place to post as a new member than the new member page because of the name calling. I’m a temporarily retired ERN. I arrived last week to enjoy the summer and fall. This is my fourth extended stay in Argentina and my second visit using Buenos Aires as home base. By writing to the local Argentine consulate I got a 6 month visa instead of the usual 3 months. I’m enchanted with Argentina with all its flaws, virtues and its emotionally reactive, passionate people. And I love this baexpats site. However, I use it as resource on where NOT to go to find expats for company and conversation. Although I’m sure many of you are wonderful people, my experiences hooking up with expats for company and conversation in this country have been disappointing. The main reason for having bad experiences with the expats I have met is that they don’t speak or are just learning to speak Spanish. I’ve even met several expats who have been hanging on down here for years who see no reason to improve what little Spanish or Castellano they garble. If I want that sort of company I can stay home where I have plenty of monolingual neighbors who blare out “No problemo!” and similar Spanish bastardizations that basically underline how clueless they are. At least that’s my humble opinion. They always seem to have a new joke to tell that makes fun of Mexicans or people from the Middle East. Of course not all of my neighbors are so insensitive. Only the majority. But the folks on my street and in my town of Laguna Niguel are definitely very xenophobic even though many families have Mexican-American gardeners and house keepers.

My Spanish is far from perfect, but at least I can hold my own in a complicated conversation, whether on a noisy street, in a restaurant, or via telephone. So, I seek out and enjoy the company of the many friends I’ve made over the last two years who always hug me and plant a kiss on my cheek. We walk home at night/early morning down the street a bit tipsy with our arms over our shoulders in friendship. At home in the States such behavior is considered “way gay!” I hope Argentines never fall into the trap of being cold and unfriendly because uneducated goons think that kind of behavior is gay. Also, I’ve yet to meet a Argentine play the “Let’s do lunch” game, feigning friendship just to avoid having their personal lives disturbed. I’m certain there are those kinds of people here, but I haven’t met any yet. In my experience Argentines are serious regarding grand gestures such as inviting you into their homes for a meal or a weekend outing. This type of polite behavior should always be rewarded with a similar gesture.

After reading this thread started by bigbadwolf, I’m even more grateful to be here for the next few months. Nashorama’s remark about Jesus was shock. After all, what does Jesus have to do with trying to understand Argentina? Well, a great deal, actually. But upon reflection I’m afraid nashorama is correct, though I’d amend his comment to say Jesus is held hostage as the Savior of fourth quarter sales and not a patron saint. I’m told the same thing goes on down here on through New Years. At least I have yet to hear the maddening Christmas music Muzak started playing the day after Hallowe’en in Target stores. I need to go to Walmart here and see if it’s a world wide corporate phenomenon. So for me it is a great relief to be here and not in the States just to avoid the current debate real news and pseudo news outlets are forcefeeding the American public regarding Christmas versus Happy Holidays. Being here is an emotional and mental vacation from that dreariness. And being able to speak and think in Spanish also has a lot to do with feeling better. There’s just something about the language that makes more sense to me, despite the local slang of Buenos Aires that is often difficult to interpret.

My first visit here was a working vacation with my church group. We came here as volunteers to help out in Jujuy and Saltas, offering free vaccinations for the poor; many of them from Bolivia and Peru who live in Argentina. Argentina has a similar problem to that of the States. The poor of neighboring countries cross the northern borders of Argentina’s provinces in search of a better life.

The post by fullmettlejaquette on the condition of the health system in the States is amazingly correct. However, it is true that American hospitals cannot turn away emergency patients. If the patient doesn’t have a life-threatening problem, they are moved to a city/county hospital that depends on money from Washington to stay open. But if you’re uninsured and you can pay a small monthly token for the rest of your life, the attending physician and private hospitals will write you off as a tax deduction against earned income (for the physician) and capital gains (for the private hospital). By then you’re account will be sold to a private collection agency for so many pennies on the dolar and you will be hunted down with mean letters and phone calls at home until the burden of trying to manage all your debts forces you into bankruptcy. Bankruptcy in the States usually means you get to keep one residence and one car, if you have either. But states have different laws on what has to be surrendered to the local sheriff for sale. The guy in this forum who wrote that people aren’t forced into bankruptcy for high medical costs is living a fantasy. If you lose your job, you can continue to pay your insurance premiums for 18 months while you look for work. If you don’t find a job in 18 months you are pretty much screwed. I’m fortunate in that my insurance is provided by my Union. I have many friends who own successful small businesses and cannot afford personal health insurance and cannot offer it to their employees. The cost of individual private health insurance for a 50 year old man can easily be a minimum of $1000 a month with a $5000 to $10,000 deductible and then an 80%-20% split. After paying between the first $5000 to $10,000, you still end up paying 20% of your total health costs as your insurance company raises your premiums and works at finding some way to cancel your policy. This is considered a hedge against catastrophic health care. If you lose your health insurance and eventually do find a job before the 18 months is up, the insurance that may be available from your new employer will probably not cover pre existing conditions for at least one year and sometimes two years. God have mercy if you have a special needs child with Down’s Syndrome or some other disability or disease. All you need to do is go to Vons or Ralphs supermarkets and count how many glass begging jars are allowed at the checkout stands with a picture of some child or teenager who needs immediate medical care and info about the parents who cannot afford it, even if they do have insurance. Private insurance often refuses to cover long term pre existing conditions like organ transplants.

I think Nashorama’s complaint about guests not having login names has merit. The rabid comments the guests insist are Holy Scripture are just rabid and childish comments. If they had a log-in name at least others could send them a private e-mail pointing out what complete asses they are or how wonderful they are. But bashing liberals is the popular passstime in the States. I’m not surprised the same Ditto Heads are down here spreading their particular brand of hate while wrapping themselves in the US flag. I consider myself patriotic, which means all opinions are welcome for discussion. Even the opinions of the FOX News Network, regardless of its obvious agenda.

As for understanding Argentine culture, I don’t know how it is possible when you don’t speak the language. I feel sorry for you. Spanish is a rich, beautifully expressive and often poetic language. It’s never to late to learn.

If you want to bash, yell, and scream at me please send me a note. There is an option for sending notes near the login name of those who are members of this site. Use it. And if you can write me in Spanish, please do. I need to practice and polish up my writing skills.


"LagunaNiguel" said:
However, I use it as resource on where NOT to go to find expats for company and conversation. (skipped) The main reason for having bad experiences with the expats I have met is that they don’t speak or are just learning to speak Spanish.
It is not the first time I hear this statement and I find it kind of amusing. As would spending a couple of hours once a month with an english-speaking crowd will completely ruin your experience in Argentina and will make you to forget your spanish.

This group is not "foreigners only". There are agrentines who visit our meetings as well. And even if you get to know other foreigners, eventually you will meet their argentine friends as well. This site and our meetings in addition to other things just create new connection points for people who got out of their normal circle of friends.

People come here for different reasons. I do not see why a person who comes here for a couple of years, say, to write a book has to learn spanish especially if he can manage without doing it. Not knowing spanish definitely makes you too loose many things while you are staying here, but after all it comes down to a personal choice.

As to external attributes of local friendliness, such as ritual kissing and hugging each other, after a while it does not seem more exiting then a fake smile of a salesman back in the US.

I am going to close this thread, since it already contains too many topics and I am not sure how to split them apart, but you are welcome to start new ones as usually :)
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