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USA expats!

    I guess I haven’t said this out loud, but I have
always hoped to live as an expat for a while. No, it’s not because I
think this place is so terrible. People that tell me that they want to
move because they’re either ashamed of this country, afraid for it’s
future, or just think W is an idiot need to get some perspective. I
can’t help but think that life under Reagan was much worse, we were
actually afraid of nuclear war for God’s sake! Anyway, it seems as
though there is always some group that proclaims that whatever
president is currently in office is either a reflection of how far
we’ve sunk or will cause the nation to reach the nadir of its history.
They’re always wrong and life goes on…
    And to continue my little political centerist rant,
can anyone really think of a better place to live than here? We have
one of the highest standards of living in the world, where else are you
guaranteed freedom of speech and of the press? England? Nope. Canada?
Nope. Australia? Nope. Where else is there such a level playing
field(as far as jobs go) when it comes to minorities and women? Where
else can you have these things and get a decent job? That’s really the
catch isn’t it? Places like France and the various former British
colonies are nice in many ways but suffer from double digit
unemployment figures and rampant, repugnant government inefficiency.
    No, I am (as unpopular and as unhip as it may be) a
big fan of this country. It isn’t perfect of course, but I can’t think
of any other place I’d want to live long term. So why do you want to
live somewhere else Isaac? Well, I’m really curious, that’s all… I
was thinking of going to Egypt and I realized that if I asked a man on
the street, there would be a good chance that he wouldn’t know anything
about Romeo and Juliet, the Beatles, the French revolution, or Jingle
Bells. Not only that, he probably has a whole list of things of equal
importance that he can’t believe that I’ve never heard of. It’s like a
parallel universe, and it’s right on the same planet, how cool is that?
I can’t help but think a lot of the current trouble between the two
cultures is caused by these gaps in each other’s understanding of the
other. I’d expect the same kind of trouble with Martians and
Americans…
    I don’t like playing tourist that much. My plan for
several months in South America will whet my appetite. The three years
I could conceivably stay in Egypt is a much better arrangement. If I do
go for the full three years I can tell you one thing, I’ll sure be glad
to come back here!:-)

Isaac

3 replies on “USA expats!”

What do you mean about England and Canada not having free speech and freedom of the press? I’m curious, especially since Canada is so much more tolerant is other areas. (Like marijuana and homosexuality, to be specific.)

I know you were saying that the “playing field” is less level elsewhere, but it’s still not level here.

Also, are you so sure that Bushs foreign diplomacy skills don’t have anyone fearing nuclear war now? I hope that the worst is over now, but if theres another conflict that escalates to the same level as Iraq, I worry about what else he will do to alienate the UN.

And, yes, I would love to live somewhere that doesn’t worship violence, and believe that sex is evil. That seems like a much nicer place to live. When you add in that many European countries get 2-3 months vacation, starting at employment, even for low-level jobs, it seems even nicer. (But, ideally, I would have to admit that I would like those things to happen in America, so I don’t have to move.)

However, I would like to live in a foreign country for a while. I doubht I ever will, and that’s one of the reasons I’m so gung-ho for you doing it.

All right, I may be talking out of my ass concerning Canada, but I do know that there is no right to freedom of speech in England. They are a very tolerant country as a whole right now, but that is really just a whim of the government. If the government bans something, there is no recourse, unlike here where you could conceivably appeal to the courts on constitutional grounds. I am 98% sure that a similar system is in place for the former British colonies. Think about flag burning, there were laws against that here until the courts (rightly) judged it being protected speech.

The violence thing I can’t argue, Americans seem to love it for it’s own sake and I can’t think of any other place like it in the world… In the grand scheme of things, I don’t really think that American’s view of sex is all that bad. Sure there are some very vocal nuts, but I still think that we are in the top 10% of countries as far as sexual liberty goes (as if there was a way to quantify that).
As far as nuclear war goes, no, I have not heard any credible worries about it in at least 15 years. There are worries that someone will smuggle a bomb into NY or something but that’s a little different to armageddon. For some (admittedly weak) evidence, think of all the pop songs recently released worrying about nuclear war. I can’t think of any, but I can come up with a handful from the 80’s, it was an actual worry back then.
The trick about the vacation is that you have to hired in order to qualify for it. The high amounts of mandated vacation are one of the causes of unemployment. It effectively raises the cost to employers to hire people, so guess what, they don’t hire as many. That in addition to the much higher taxes causes quite a drain on the economy as a whole. On the surface it may seem as though they have it much better, but it is far easier to get a job here than it is in many of the european countries, and once you do get the job, you keep more of your money. Besides, there are jobs here with good vacation terms. My stepsister just finished her first year with Deutche Bank and she gets 6 weeks of paid vacation. No, not everyone can do her job, but that’s why she gets perks like that:-)

Isaac

I may get 6 weeks of vacation, but I’m also a zaibatsu-woman. Deutsche Bank owns my soul. Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s something incredible comforting about being owned by a company of this size and importance. They take care of their people. 6 weeks of vacation, gratuitous raises and bonuses (we hope – I find out for sure tomorrow), benefits to blow your socks off, paying for grad school, and offering massive free perks like a free doctor onsite. But, I suppose that the price is quite high. I mean – it is Wall Street for goodness sake. Most people work 10-12 hour days, and it’s not unheard of for the traders to spend all night working on deals.

What I wouldn’t give to be an expat. We were devastated when the transfer to London fell through. I haven’t really felt the same about New York since thinking about how fantastic it would be to work for a few years in London, get a masters from the London School of Economics, have P do a PhD at Oxford…yeah, we’re really bummed. This is the second possible transfer that DB has nixed for me – first to Tokyo, then this one to London. I suppose that’s what I get for creating such a single point sensitvity around my position. They can’t afford to lose me…well, at least they’re paying through their noses for the honor of my presence.

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