Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Canada – CCCVII. New York (3 of 4)

Education was very expensive; I remember being shocked when my aunt gave me the figures for tuition and books.  Rèmi provided me with additional information:  money was borrowed and would need to be repaid after he graduated.  Presently, he was studying for an Art degree; thereafter, he would need to go to law school.  Two degrees to become a lawyer!  Why?

A faculty of law in virtually any university would not admit you with just a high school degree.  You need a solid foundation to cope with the curriculum, with the exams, and in general with what it takes to become a lawyer.  That’s true for most professions; for instance, for medical school, you need to have a science degree, and very high marks, before you see the inside of a faculty of medicine.

People came to America from the four corners of the world; early on, the founders adopted the melting-pot principle:  Make it into a country that melded immigrants that came from all over the word, and transform them, over time, into bona fide Americans.

This was the theory, but in practice, it never worked perfectly.  So what were the repercussions for newcomers like Esther and Joseph?

In Brooklyn where they lived, Jews, Italians, Irish, and African-Americans lived side by side, and it was a very uneasy cohabitation.  I remember some of the comments made by Esther on this situation; but I will not repeat them here; suffice to say that no “melting” has taken place, and daily life was quite difficult.  Indeed, there was now a safety issue, and my relatives, at the expiration of their lease, were seriously contemplating moving to Queens, a borough which had a more uniform population.  The rent would be higher, but there was no choice in the matter.

Then there was the matter of the weather.  In Egypt, we dreaded the summer`s heat; in New York both the summer and the winter were feared.  The winters were cold and heating your home was an absolute requirement; but at least heating costs were included in the rent; summer was a different story; air conditioning was a must for New York was very hot and humid; Joseph cursed Con Edison (the electric company) when he received their bill; nor was he the only New Yorker doing so!

Rèmi completed my education when he gave me an overview of America’s political system.

The President is very powerful; same for the members of his cabinet; but this power is checked off by Congress; a system of checks and balances permeates the whole system.

Congress consists of two Houses:  The House of Representatives (435 representatives); and the Senate (100 senators).

Presidential elections are held every 4 years; representatives are elected every two years; senators every six years, but only for one-third of the Senate, thus there are senatorial elections every two years for those senators who had completed their (six years) term.

A presidential candidate can get a majority of the country behind him, and still be denied the key to the White House!  It goes by state, and each state (depending on population) is given a number of so-called Electoral Colleges; the idea is to give a voice to each state.

I remember telling Rèmi:  “This is really bewildering; such a system can lead to paralysis!”  He enjoyed my reaction very much, and went on to add more fuel to the fire!

A Democratic President can have a Republican Congress, or perchance only the House is Republican and the Senate is Democratic, or perhaps the House and/or the Senate can change color mid-term!

A Representative is on election mode at all times since there is an election every two years, and it takes at least a year to prepare for the next election!  It is not clear when does he have the time to serve his constituents, nor why would he want the job!

A President has veto power; and if he is at loggerheads with Congress a state of paralysis can ensue (and indeed, it happens often).

This system is largely duplicated in every state; one difference is that a Governor is elected for two years only.

Amendments to the constitution are possible, and indeed there have been 33, since the U.S. came into being.

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