have the worst quality of life in the developed world – by a wide
you had any idea of how people really lived in Western Europe,
Australia, New Zealand, Canada and many parts of Asia, you’d be
rioting in the streets calling for a better life. In fact, the
average Australian or Singaporean taxi driver has a much better
standard of living than the typical American white-collar worker.
know this because I am an American, and I escaped from the prison you
have lived all around the world, in wealthy countries and poor ones,
and there is only one country I would never consider living in again:
The United States of America. The mere thought of it fills me with
this, you are the only people in the developed world without a
single-payer health system. Everyone in Western Europe, Japan,
Canada, Australia, Singapore and New Zealand has a single-payer
system. If they get sick, they can devote all their energies to
getting well. If you get sick, you have to battle two things at once,
your illness and the fear of financial ruin. Millions of Americans go
bankrupt every year due to medical bills, and tens of thousands die
each year because they have no insurance or insufficient insurance.
And don’t believe for a second that rot about America having the
world’s best medical care or the shortest waiting lists: I’ve
been to hospitals in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Singapore, and
Thailand, and every one was better than the “good” hospital I
used to go to back home. The waits were shorter, the facilities more
comfortable, and the doctors just as good.
is ironic, because you need a good health system more than anyone
else in the world. Why? Because your lifestyle is almost designed to
make you sick.
start with your diet: Much of the beef you eat has been exposed to
fecal matter in processing. Your chicken is contaminated with
salmonella. Your stock animals and poultry are pumped full of growth
hormones and antibiotics. In most other countries, the government
would act to protect consumers from this sort of thing; in the United
States, the government is bought off by industry to prevent any
effective regulations or inspections. In a few years, the majority of
all the produce for sale in the United States will be from
genetically modified crops, thanks to the cozy relationship between
Monsanto Corporation and the United States government. Worse still,
due to the vast quantities of high-fructose corn syrup Americans
consume, fully one-third of children born in the United States today
will be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes at some point in their lives.
course, it’s not just the food that’s killing you, it’s the
drugs. If you show any sign of life when you’re young, they’ll
put you on Ritalin. Then, when you get old enough to take a good look
around, you’ll get depressed, so they’ll give you Prozac. If
you’re a man, this will render you chemically impotent, so you’ll
need Viagra to get it up. Meanwhile, your steady diet of
trans-fat-laden food is guaranteed to give you high cholesterol, so
you’ll get a prescription for Lipitor. Finally, at the end of the
day, you’ll lay awake at night worrying about losing your health
plan, so you’ll need Lunesta to go to sleep.
a diet guaranteed to make you sick and a health system designed to
make sure you stay that way, what you really need is a long vacation
somewhere. Unfortunately, you probably can’t take one. I’ll let
you in on little secret: if you go to the beaches of Thailand, the
mountains of Nepal, or the coral reefs of Australia, you’ll
probably be the only American in sight. And you’ll be surrounded
crowds of happy Germans, French, Italians, Israelis, Scandinavians
and wealthy Asians. Why? Because they’re paid well enough to afford
to visit these places AND they can take vacations long enough to do
so. Even if you could scrape together enough money to go to one of
these incredible places, by the time you recovered from your jetlag,
it would time to get on a plane and rush back to your job.
you think I’m making this up, check the stats on average annual
vacation days by country:
fact is, they work you like dogs in the United States. This should
come as no surprise: the United States never got away from the
plantation/sweat shop labor model and any real labor movement was
brutally suppressed. Unless you happen to be a member of the
ownership class, your options are pretty much limited to barely
surviving on service-sector wages or playing musical chairs for a
spot in a cubicle (a spot that will be outsourced to India next week
anyway). The very best you can hope for is to get a professional
degree and then milk the system for a slice of the middle-class pie.
And even those who claw their way into the middle class are but one
illness or job loss away from poverty. Your jobs aren’t secure.
Your company has no loyalty to you. They’ll play you off against
your coworkers for as long as it suits them, then they’ll get rid
course, you don’t have any choice in the matter: the system is
designed this way. In most countries in the developed world, higher
education is either free or heavily subsidized; in the United States,
a university degree can set you back over US$100,000. Thus, you enter
the working world with a crushing debt. Forget about taking a year
off to travel the world and find yourself – you’ve got to start
working or watch your credit rating plummet.
you’re “lucky,” you might even land a job good enough to
qualify you for a home loan. And then you’ll spend half your
working life just paying the interest on the loan – welcome to the
world of American debt slavery. America has the illusion of great
wealth because there’s a lot of “stuff” around, but who really
owns it? In real terms, the average American is poorer than the
poorest ghetto dweller in Manila, because at least they have no
debts. If they want to pack up and leave, they can; if you want to
leave, you can’t, because you’ve got debts to pay.
this begs the question: Why would anyone put up with this? Ask any
American and you’ll get the same answer: because America is the
freest country on earth. If you believe this, I’ve got some more
bad news for you: America is actually among the least free countries
on earth. Your piss is tested, your emails and phone calls are
monitored, your medical records are gathered, and you are never more
than one stray comment away from writhing on the ground with two
Taser prongs in your ass.
that’s just physical freedom. Mentally, you are truly imprisoned.
You don’t even know the degree to which you are tormented by fears
of medical bankruptcy, job loss, homelessness and violent crime
because you’ve never lived in a country where there is no need to
worry about such things.
it goes much deeper than mere surveillance and anxiety. The fact is,
you are not free because your country has been taken over and
occupied by another government. Fully 70% of your tax dollars go to
the Pentagon, and the Pentagon is the real government of the United
States. You are required under pain of death to pay taxes to this
occupying government. If you’re from the less fortunate classes,
you are also required to serve and die in their endless wars, or send
your sons and daughters to do so. You have no choice in the matter:
there is a socio-economic draft system in the United States that
provides a steady stream of cannon fodder for the military.
you call a life of surveillance, anxiety and ceaseless toil in the
service of a government you didn’t elect “freedom,” then you
and I have a very different idea of what that word means.
there was some chance that the country could be changed, there might
be reason for hope. But can you honestly look around and conclude
that anything is going to change? Where would the change come from?
The people? Take a good look at your compatriots: the working class
in the United States has been brutally propagandized by jackals like
Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity. Members of the
working class have been taught to lick the boots of their masters and
then bend over for another kick in the ass. They’ve got these
people so well trained that they’ll take up arms against the other
half of the working class as soon as their masters give the word.
the people cannot make a change, how about the media? Not a chance.
From Fox News to the New York Times, the mass media in the United
States is nothing but the public relations wing of the
corporatocracy, primarily the military industrial complex. At least
the citizens of the former Soviet Union knew that their news was
bullshit. In America, you grow up thinking you’ve got a free media,
which makes the propaganda doubly effective. If you don’t think
American media is mere corporate propaganda, ask yourself the
following question: have you ever heard a major American news outlet
suggest that the country could fund a single-payer health system by
cutting military spending?
change can’t come from the people or the media, the only other
potential source of change would be the politicians. Unfortunately,
the American political process is among the most corrupt in the
world. In every country on earth, one expects politicians to take
bribes from the rich. But this generally happens in secret, behind
the closed doors of their elite clubs. In the United States, this
sort of political corruption is done in broad daylight, as part of
legal, accepted, standard operating procedure. In the United States,
they merely call these bribes campaign donations, political action
committees and lobbyists. One can no more expect the politicians to
change this system than one can expect a man to take an axe and chop
his own legs out from underneath him.
the United States of America is not going to change for the better.
The only change will be for the worse. And when I say worse, I mean
much worse. As we speak, the economic system that sustained the
country during the post-war years is collapsing. The United States
maxed out its “credit card” sometime in 2008 and now its lenders,
starting with China, are in the process of laying the foundations for
a new monetary system to replace the Anglo-American “petro-dollar”
system. As soon as there is a viable alternative to the US dollar,
the greenback will sink like a stone.
the United States was running up crushing levels of debt, it was also
busy shipping its manufacturing jobs and white-collar jobs overseas,
and letting its infrastructure fall to pieces. Meanwhile, Asian and
European countries were investing in education, infrastructure and
raw materials. Even if the United States tried to rebuild a real
economy (as opposed to a service/financial economy) do think American
workers would ever be able to compete with the workers of China or
Europe? Have you ever seen a Japanese or German factory? Have you
ever met a Singaporean or Chinese worker?
are only two possible futures facing the United States, and neither
one is pretty. The best case is a slow but orderly decline –
essentially a continuation of what’s been happening for the last
two decades. Wages will drop, unemployment will rise, Medicare and
Social Security benefits will be slashed, the currency will decline
in value, and the disparity of wealth will spiral out of control
until the United States starts to resemble Mexico or the Philippines
– tiny islands of wealth surrounded by great poverty (the country
is already halfway there).
likely is a sudden collapse, perhaps brought about by a rapid flight
from the US dollar by creditor nations like China, Japan, Korea and
the OPEC nations. A related possibility would be a default by the
United States government on its vast debt. One look at the financial
balance sheet of the US government should convince you how likely
this is: governmental spending is skyrocketing and tax receipts are
plummeting – something has to give. If either of these scenarios
plays out, the resulting depression will make the present recession
look like a walk in the park.
the collapse is gradual or gut-wrenchingly sudden, the results will
be chaos, civil strife and fascism. Let’s face it: the United
States is like the former Yugoslavia – a collection of mutually
antagonistic cultures united in name only. You’ve got your own
version of the Taliban: right-wing Christian fundamentalists who
actively loathe the idea of secular Constitutional government. You’ve
got a vast intellectual underclass that has spent the last few
decades soaking up Fox News and talk radio propaganda, eager to blame
the collapse on Democrats, gays and immigrants. You’ve got a
ruthless ownership class that will use all the means at its disposal
to protect its wealth from the starving masses.
top of all that you’ve got vast factory farms, sprawling suburbs
and a truck-based shipping system, all of it entirely dependent on
oil that is about to become completely unaffordable. And you’ve got
guns. Lots of guns. In short: the United States is about to become a
very unwholesome place to be.
now, the government is building fences and walls along its northern
and southern borders. Right now, the government is working on a
national ID system (soon to be fitted with biometric features). Right
now, the government is building a surveillance state so extensive
that they will be able to follow your every move, online, in the
street and across borders. If you think this is just to protect you
from “terrorists,” then you’re sadly mistaken. Once the shit
really hits the fan, do you really think you’ll just be able to
jump into the old station wagon, drive across the Canadian border and
spend the rest of your days fishing and drinking Molson? No, the
government is going to lock the place down. They don’t want their
tax base escaping. They don’t want their “recruits” escaping.
They don’t want YOU escaping.
am not writing this to scare you. I write this to you as a friend. If
you are able to read and understand what I’ve written here, then
you are a member of a small minority in the United States. You are a
minority in a country that has no place for you.
what should you do?
should leave the United States of America.
you’re young, you’ve got plenty of choices. You can teach English
in the Middle East, Asia or Europe. Or you can go to university or
graduate school abroad and start building skills that will qualify
you for a work visa. If you’ve already got some real work skills,
you can apply to emigrate to any number of countries as a skilled
immigrant. If you are older and you’ve got some savings, you can
retire to a place like Costa Rica or the Philippines. If you can’t
qualify for a work, student or retirement visa, don’t let that stop
you – travel on a tourist visa to a country that appeals to you and
talk to the expats you meet there. Whatever you do, go speak to an
immigration lawyer as soon as you can. Find out exactly how to get on
a path that will lead to permanent residence and eventually
citizenship in the country of your choice.
will not be alone. There are millions of Americans just like me
living outside the United States. Living lives much more fulfilling,
peaceful, free and abundant than we ever could have attained back
home. Some of us happened upon these lives by accident – we tried a
year abroad and found that we liked it – others made a conscious
decision to pack up and leave for good. You’ll find us in Canada,
all over Europe, in many parts of Asia, in Australia and New Zealand,
and in most other countries of the globe. Do we miss our friends and
family? Yes. Do we occasionally miss aspects of our former country?
Yes. Do we plan on ever living again in the United States? Never. And
those of us with permanent residence or citizenship can sponsor
family members from back home for long-term visas in our adopted
closing, I want to remind you of something – unless you are an
American Indian or a descendant of slaves, at some point your
ancestors chose to leave their homeland in search of a better life.
They weren’t traitors and they weren’t bad people, they just
wanted a better life for themselves and their families. Isn’t it
time that you continue their journey?