Perspectives Of A Russian Immigrant, No. 8

March 29, 2010 19:36

Kunin lived in the Soviet Union until 1980, working as a civil engineer. She is now a retired software developer living in Connecticut.

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Perspectives of a Russian Immigrant

In a front-page article last week in the New York Times, “In Health Bill, Obama Attacks Wealth Inequality,” David Leonhardt wrote:

“For all the political and economic uncertainties about health reform, at least one thing seems clear: The bill that President Obama signed … is the federal government’s biggest attack on economic inequality since inequality began rising more than three decades ago.”

I guess we did not get a message when we immigrated to the USA three decades ago.

I know immigrants from Argentina, France, Cuba, Czech Republic, Russia. We all came to America practically with nothing. Within three decades, when according to Leonhardt economic inequality was rising in America, we all accomplished what is defined as the American Dream.

How come “economic inequality” did not affect us? I think we were lucky because we avoided all government efforts to provide for the poor.

We all had one common story: We started from whatever job we could find to support our families. In my case it was a data entry position at $4.50 an hour. Then we worked our way up.

I know doctors who worked at the cash register while studying for the medical exam, engineers who worked as mechanics or maintenance technicians, and some of them worked up to the engineering career. We did not have any special treatment or exceptions. It was pure perseverance.

Did American medical care make it harder for us to succeed? In my case, being in America saved my life. I had a serious surgery 10 years after we came to America. The technology used for this surgery did not exist at that time in the Soviet Union.

Leonhardt writes: “Beyond the health reform’s effect on the medical system, it is the centerpiece of (Obama’s) deliberate effort to end what historians called the age of Reagan.”


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