Wednesday, November 24, 2010

America—The Grim Truth

[Guest post by Anonymous. I was planning to write something a bit like this, but found that someone has done some of my work for me. Please give it a read, while I concentrate on the part of the topic that interests me the most: "What's Keeping You Here?"]

[Update: Judging from a lot of the comments, many people seem to think that the rest of the planet might not offer any good places for American former middle class persons to continue to pretend that they are successful. I don't find this particularly relevant; the life of a refugee is rarely comfortable. Some people even think that the US military is somehow going to be helpful moving forward, (by stealing other countries' oil, I suppose). I can't think of an occasion when it was helpful, being incapable of victory and a huge waste of resources. Apparently, to stay in the US is to stay in denial; perhaps that is what it takes to make the continuous psychological trauma of living in this country bearable. The one encouraging sign is that this condition is curable: not a single expat has voiced anything but complete and enthusiastic agreement with this article.]

Americans, I have some bad news for you:

You have the worst quality of life in the developed world—by a wide margin.

If 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.

I know this because I am an American, and I escaped from the prison you call home.

I 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 dread.

Consider 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.

This 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.

Let’s 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.

Of 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.

With 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.

If you think I’m making this up, check the stats on average annual vacation days by country:

Finland: 44
Italy: 42
France: 39
Germany: 35
UK: 25
Japan: 18
USA: 12

The 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 of you.

Of 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.

If 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.

All 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.

And 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.

But 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 socioeconomic draft system in the United States that provides a steady stream of cannon fodder for the military.

If 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.

If 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.

If 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?

If 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.

No, 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.

While 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?

There 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).

Equally 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.

Whether 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.

On 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.

Right 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.

I 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.

So what should you do?

You should leave the United States of America.

If 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.

You 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 countries.

In 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?

115 comments:

kulturcritic said...

Dmitry

Great find! What an articulate summation of the problems and the deceptions Americans have come to love and defend. And I am in complete agreement with the author about the coming fascist/police state here. My only caveat would be that perhaps we were never free, even after we through the British out, but always were enslaved by a system of government and laws established by the lawyerly landowners to protect their holdings.

DaShui said...

Oh, I'm gonna have to warn you about leaving ( but another passport is a good idea). The article is correct, living standards are dropping like a rock, however leaving is not a good option. Where are you gonna go? Americans don't speak foreign languages (Canada is OK). Americans don't have money (no Switzerland for us). Americans only have paper shuffling skills (although we excel at creative resume writing). Americans can't compete with many foreign workers in work ethic (Asian high school students study 8 AM to midnight). Europe(exception Germany) is almost in as a bad a shape as the USA.
And you will find out about "community", unless you marry a local, the local community will see you as a sheep to be fleeced.
So its better to try something new here, you may have a only a small chance, but its a chance.

kollapsnik said...

I posted this article a couple of hours ago, and I am bracing for a mini zombie apocalypse here at ClubOrlov. There will be no rest for the "reject comment" button tonight.

To save you poor zombies the trouble: there is no "typical hippie liberal anti-American drivel" for you here! Go eat brains elsewhere. That's all. Thank you.

slowcoast.ca said...

Thank you for this Dmitry. Thank you, Anonymous. It's sad to watch how quickly things are unwinding in the USA... and very few seem to be noticing it.

Michael H said...

Dmitry -- you've hit the big-time! You're on the Fed's (fictitious) reading list.

http://www.oftwominds.com/blognov10/Fed-VISA-statement11-10.html

See the entry for 11/16/10

the nomad said...

Pretty much spot on, especially the conclusion. I've done it. I can't even imagine living back in the US again. I mean, seriously?

lagedargent said...

Dmitry,
The reason I keep returning is your ability to serve any Salad of Doom in the savory dressing of your unique sense of humor.
This anonymous piece is well-written and definitely true. My daughter-in-law-to-be is an American refugee and fits the description almost to the letter. She had some American gay friends here and, on a short reconnaissance visit, decided to stay for good after meeting my son. Recently, I learnt there are 95000 American ex-pats in Holland already!
So, your anonymous pen pal is spot on. Only, I dearly missed the usual ironic spice to make this heavy dish more palatable.
All the best,
Ronald

Richardhg said...

For all the great things that America has done for the world, while many countries are political friends, they also have barriers to Americans migrating there. You may talk about New Zealand and Australia, but you can't move there unless you take a lot of money, or have essential skills. So if you are American, and thinking of an overseas destination, I would suggest visiting as a tourist for a while, meet some people, watch the life-flow of the place, and see if it feeds your soul.

leegrove said...

After several years of living abroad myself in various countries), and, especially, after 4 years of living in South Korea, I can, without pause, agree with the author. However, I would take it a step further: America is--NOW!--the equivalent of what was previously perceived as being "the third world"(all the negative connontations): poverty, education, government corruption (redundancy, I know), crime, exploitation, gross "income" differentials (and it's not "income" or "earnings" when we talk about Wall Street. It's "takings").

After the coming collapse, which, I believe, will be sudden and catastrophic, what remains of the population will not even be seen as a viable source of slave labor, due to the state of health (physical, mental)of the average American, not to mention the complete lack of intellectual ability--with respect to chronological peers from asian countries and India.
No, what's going to visit America is going to be one long, round-the-clock, hillbilly cannibal cookout; I see it being pretty much like the movie, The Road...

This is no longer "America"; there is a better place.
GET OUT WHILE YOU CAN!

russell1200 said...

It would be interesting to know where the author has lived within the United States to get an idea of what area he is comparing to "the rest of the world".

The United States has its good points and bad points. Comparing an enormous country of the USA size to small countries with relatively homogenous populations is not particularly relevant. It's like trying to compare California to North Dakota.

There are only a few other countries the size of the United States: China, India, Indonesia with a big drop to Brazil, Russia, Pakistan, Bangladesh.

All of these countries have problems. I am not going to say that the United States is "bettter" than them. But I will say that most Americans would prefer the "typical" life in the United States, to the "typical" life there.

You cannot compare the upper echelon of one country to the middle class of the United States. When you mention the Philipinnes or Costa Rica, you are simply saying "make your money in the United States, and then spend it else where", because relatively few people would be able to find work in those counties that would give them a safe comfortable lifestyle.

The closest argument is for the European Union as a collective country. But the European Union, unfortunately, is having some huge problems of its own right now. It is not clear how sustainable there situation is either.

However, having said all that, many of the authors points are valid. That we do not do a better job of trying to make life enjoyable (if not wealthy) for everyone is an embarrassment. Immegrants (granted a self-selecting group) have much lower health problems when they first get here than the typical American. By the time they have been here 12 years, there is no diffirence. We take our medication because we ARE crazy!

Moose said...

Anonymous is my new hero.
So many Americans are in total denial. People come to the local Transition Town meetings here and blast those locals trying to create a "soft landing." Personally, I don't think a soft landing is possible for a country that is already out beyond the edge of the cliff. Its only straight down from here.
All those 'patriots' are welcome to stay and be impoverished and abused by a plutocratic government that now has nothing but contempt for them. I'll be gone to a better life just as soon as I can get rid of my doomstead here.
Comment for DaShul: I'm 65 and I've just started to learn a new language. What, you think that's not possible?

Vronsky said...

"Where are you gonna go? Americans don't speak foreign languages"

Americans survive in Europe better than you'd think. Just takes a little courage. Recently, walking in Spain, I met an American girl who'd come over to walk the Camino de Santiago a couple of years earlier. Back in the States she'd had a decent job and a home of her own. She'd got about halfway along the Camino, then phoned home and told her family: sell everything I've got - I'm staying here. And she did. By the time I met her, her Spanish was pretty good.

I met a American in Rome - let's call him Phil. He was a schoolteacher who'd come over on a holiday and just never gone back. His Italian was very bad. 'Bad, but fluent' he would say. Everyone loved him - it was impossible to picture him back in the States - he was every inch a European. He had a way with words, even in a foreign language. Lunching beneath avocado trees somewhere between Rome and Naples, the Italian men in the company were saying that Sophia Loren was not beautiful but 'vulgare'. For her, they said, one hour is enough. 'Ma quella ora!' exclaimed Phil. Food and wine sprayed everywhere in laughter.

Give it a try. It's more fun than where you are.

Michael Dawson said...

One other thought: It isn't as if other wealthy societies aren't also in deep trouble over the arrival of impending limits. They often make much of their money by feeding the American maw and its equivalent trends in their own societies.

But my thought is how much worse a true crisis will be handled here in the USA, where it remains "off the table" to even talk about something as basic as single-payer medical coverage, and where potential reformers remain dutifully obedient to the Democratic wing of the ruling Business Party junta.

So, yet another reason to go expat is that it would raise one's chances of engaging in an adult response to our century's lessons about how to organize genuinely sustainable societies. Mad Max lives in LA, not Australia.

The big argument the other way, of course, is that emigration is a privileged, minority solution. It requires the worldview and the financial wherewithal to be able to risk a year trying to find a toehold in a "foreign" nation-state. People will be staying here, and new-model heroes will be needed.

Lance Michael Foster said...

Dmitry. I love reading your blog. You and Bageant are my heroes. You ask why some of us plan on staying. I will tell you why I am staying.

I have lived and traveled elsewhere. Not as much as I'd have liked, but I have done it. I lived in Nigeria for four months and got along great there. Even learned some Yoruba (I also speak some Spanish, some Mandarin, some German, and some other languages). When I went to Playa del Carmen, the Mexicans were sure we were Germans. Why? Because we were not as loud or rude as Americans they said. I am adaptable. I am an anthropologist. I am mixed American Indian and Euroamerican (the last of my Euroancestors came during the potato famine, but some were here at Jamestown and Henry Hudson). Members of my family fought in every war up to WWII. I am the first in my little family to graduate high school and go to college. I have two masters degrees, anthropology and landscape architecture.

But I am old (50), poor (a life of "fighting the power" tends to burn a lot of bridges), and married. I live in a town in Montana where most of my family lives. I don't have the money or inclination to move elsewhere. I make ends meet the best I can. I relate to the Russians in your blog, just sitting around, eating, sharing what we have.

I don't take any public aid, no help from anyone but family, who shoot game and I make soup. I teach a couple of classes part time in a local community college. I love these kids. I encourage them to learn what they are good at, to think for themselves. Grades are only grades. If they work, try, get better, that's what I care about. I use Jared Diamond's "Collapse" in class. These are students who don't fit the system as it is. Students with kids or not promising academics or home-schooled or what have you. I welcome them as long as they try. I talk with them. Some are farm kids who can weld from the age of 10 and do mechanics. Some can make stills, others are great hunters, one can make vacuum tubes from Mason jars. Great kids. they need encouragement, and I do that. I teach archaeology, nature and society (nature ethics and natural history) drawing and painting.

I took Master Gardening and am getting better. I am learning fermenting of all kinds. I am learning herbalism, not the fancy stuff you buy, but what you can find in the yards, alleys and hills. I can't afford doctors, so I doctor myself with teas and herbs. I even learned a little folk magic, a little water dowsing. My Native ways of healing and praying in the sweatlodge I learn from my 70 year old father. I am also getting better at storytelling, and singing some old folk songs. I will be here when my parents pass away and I will help bury them with my sisters and brothers. I will pass on what I know to my nephews and niece, and any other young person.

My ancestors fought for this country. Both sides during the Civil War. My ancestor Black Hawk fought against the U.S. too. I am this land, this land is me. That's why, whatever happens, I will die here and my bones rot into dust here. I am this land. I will live here and I will die here:

"We wed this land
and pledged our souls to meet its end."
- Kansas, "Cheyenne Anthem."

dp said...

A couple points:

1) It's a bit of a panacea to believe that you can just up and move to wherever you want. As Michael Dawson pointed out, that is a privileged solution. The reality of emigration is actually more nuanced. It requires at least some money, but also a fair amount of time... An example: a friend of mine moved to Spain 9 years ago, and is only next year qualifying to apply for EU citzenship... I myself have looked into emmigrating to Canada. Even if you qualify as a "skilled worker," it can take up to a year to even get your application looked at... Becoming a citizen, even longer. Assuming that you want to emigrate "above the table", there's more reality to the problem than just "GET OUT WHILE YOU CAN!"

2) Once you're on the road to becoming a citizen in another country, you'd better believe those immigration laws will be some of the first things to change once the shit hits the fan...

3) One look at how peaceful Europe has been until very recent times should dispel any illusions one might have about it being a "safe room" for waiting out Collapse...

A Sharp said...

I'd say that the U.S. isn't an isolated problem. Rather it's the culture of industrial capitalism/imperialism that's the problem. It's the root of all that the U.S. is under.

You can leave this country, which is the leader of this culture. But, you can't leave this culture. It pretty much covers this troubled globe.

Let's stand where we are and do what we can to end it.

Harry J. Lerwill said...

The collapse is certainly speeding up. A lot of people who have the skills to leave won't if they cannot take their families with them. A tough situation to be in.

I've considered moving back to the UK but the above challenges have given me pause.

Bukko Canukko said...

Wow! I didn't write this -- I don't write that well -- but I could have. It rings 100% true based on my experience of being an American expat political refugee from the Bush Regime and its Obamist successor. I have a couple of points I'd like to amplify on, too.

The anonymous author heaps well-deserved scorn on the raging rightists who will use their guns to support the fascism that is coming to oppress them. But he -- it's gotta be a he -- neglects the lame liberals who let it happen.

My wife and I have been frustrated at our left-wing friends who share our anti-corporatocracy sentiments, but they can't be bothered to do anything about it. We tried participating in politics, but even the Democratic Party in San Francisco was feckless. Our apolitical associates were more concerned with their sexual causes, spiritual mysticism or other impractical concerns, to make a difference. Fascism would not have triumphed so easily in the U.S. without the laziness of the Left. If we thought there was a fighting chance to fight the corrupt system, we might have stayed, but the battle is lost when one side gives up without a struggle.

Re: health care -- as someone who spends his work life inside hospitals, you don't know how refreshing it is to hear doctors making decisions based on what's best for the patient, not what's allowable under cost containment rules. The medical systems in Australia and Canada have problems, especially with waiting lists for non-critical procedures like knee replacements. But if you're badly hurt in an accident, or you're unlucky enough to have a chronic condition like diabetes or congestive heart failure, you get great care in the Great White North or Hot Sandy South, without a second thought. Americans don't instinctively know how good people there have it.

One thing I don't notice much of abroad is military presence, unlike America. It's rare to meet younger Aussies and Canucks with military service under their belts. (Lots of old ones who fought in WW II, though.) No camouflage convoys on the highways. Few Air Force jets ripping the skies or electric-fenced military bases squatting on the landscape. You don't realize what a militarized place the U.S. is until you live elsewhere.

Lastly, American culture has values that are worth carrying abroad. Maybe it's because I'm older, but the American myth I grew up with was that of a can-do nation, the shrewd Yankee traders and Tom Edison inventors. I'm not that brilliant, but I try to carry the "get 'er done!" American spirit with me. People appreciate that, especially in Australia, where they tend to spend more time figuring out the right way to do stuff, instead of just doing it.

The American character, forthright, open, friendly, is also appreciated. (As long as you're not too loud about it.) If you ARE lucky enough to escape, remember what's good about America. Be THAT when you're abroad, not the Ugly American. (Who, if you ever read that book, was the good character who helped the pseudo-Vietnamese people pump water with bicycle power.)

America is the New Rome. The Roman Empire fell, but Roman refugees helped spread their civilization in the dark times that followed. Some of you Americans can too.

hexsquared said...

No, I'm sorry, don't bother coming to the UK, it's absolutely jammed already - 150 applicants for the last crumby admin job I tried to get.
However tourists are welcome, you can come and see what's left of London after the riots really start, you may even get a discarded pepper spray canister as a souvenir.

archipelagian said...

I tried to leave. I left the USA in an attempt to get a real academic experience devoid of the obsession over tossing pigskins around, but it didn't help me any, and now I've returned to face my fate. I am young, but I still have no experience practicing any skills that have any unfilled demand, so no country worth living in wants me. I am a product of an industrial Prussian-style educational system that conditioned me for rote work that didn't exist even in my childhood. The main gist of what I learned in my foreign education is that we have already surpassed the limits to growth, and we're living on borrowed time and money. Nobody wants to hear this. Not Canada, not New Zealand, not Singapore, not Sierra Leone. That knowledge, as well as my luck to be born when I did, is why I couldn't stay abroad.

The human race has greatly overshot the natural carrying capacity of Earth. We are entering a catastrophe to our species unseen since the eruption of the Toba supervolcano. One can try to jockey for position in the upcoming bottleneck but much of the result will be left to random chance. The only question is the speed at which this catastrophe progresses. If I am lucky, it will be slow and those with the intelligence and intuition can adapt to it.

Emily Kane said...

Those of us who have graduated from college in the last 5-10 years (or who are freshly graduating) will not do better than our parents. That's the first and most widely agreed upon assertion of decline. But back in the 80s, they thought we'd have flying cars by now. Where's my hoverboard? I don't forsee a police state, at least not anytime in the next decade or so.

My feeling is that although on some level, there is a lot of truth contained in this essay, our decline will be a lot slower and maybe more numbing than we'd imagine. It's been that way with a lot of other societies throughout history. They rise, they fall. That's what cultures do. The ones who are pretty stable now have had their share of violence in the past - I was amazed when I traveled to Sweden how many seriously bloody wars they'd been in with Denmark (two countries I don't think of as being terribly aggressive).

And truthfully, there is bad stuff happening all over the globe. Bad bad bad. It comes down to which brand of bad you prefer. Hearing Germany's prime minister's remarks about how they can't handle being a multi-cultural society makes me really nervous. And I don't particularly care about how much better their standard of living is, there are enough things in China & South Korea that'd keep me away. I had an Italian professor once who is convinced that Italy hasn't seen the last of fascism - that it's in the national DNA. I'm not brain-washed enough to believe that the US is the greatest country to ever exist, but I can't personally think of any other place where I, being white, American born, and not terribly multi-lingual, would do a whole lot better. In the words of a great American, Tina Fey, "All of God's children are terrible," no matter where they live.

Lastly, there are a lot of horrible things here. But I can say this from a teacher's perspective, even with all of the B.S. we have to wade through on a daily basis to even get through to our kids - there is a lot still worth fighting for.

(And my fiance, who has already left, lived in Poland and Vietnam, and come back to stay, is unbelievably well-versed in post-apocalyptic literature, and I have a lot of hippie friends with great survival skills. I think we'll have some good ideas for living in post-collapse America. It'll be like Burning Man, but without the staggering entry fee.)

weeone said...

I think it would be a big mistake for someone to leave the United States right now. Unless you have family in another country that is relatively stable and can improve your present situation (by moving from a city to a farming community for example) then the best thing to do is stay where you are and make the best of it.

All of industrial civilization is going to collapse with peak oil and its not going to be pretty anywhere. The United States will try to use its vast military power to maintain access to oil and maintain control over its population.

The world is vastly overpopulated. How the large reduction in population is going to play out (i.e. who is going to go early) and where it will all end up is unpredictable at this point. Being a citizen of the United States with its large military power isn't necessarily such a bad situation.

kulturcritic said...

I hear alot of whining about how America isn't so bad, and other places are in the same or worst shape. Let us not be myopic and believe this is some cultural, national or political issue. It is not just the rise and fall of another empire. Certainly it is that, but its basis is more profound. It is the hammer coming down on the history of empires beginning with Babylon and ending with the "great American hegemony.

Our luxury brand of Industrial-corporatism may be the immediate cause of global (not just American)collapse, but this is merely the hyper-rational conclusion of a process of domestication, division of labor, and specialization that emerged with the birth of civilization 6,000 years ago, at the close of the Neolithic.

I believe that Anon and Dmitry are simply suggesting that the violence yet to be perpetrated here, in collapse, may be more overwhelming than most anticipate... so whatever you decide... make your preparation early and don't rely on the kind of strangers -- here or abroad.

Test Them Template said...

The author has a point: teaching English is a good way to acquire a livable income overseas.

I would recommend then to score yourself some sort of TESOL certificate; a CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching) is the best. There's a little bit of cost, but it will give you some basic teaching skills, it will enable you to obtain a better job than other would be unqualified teachers, and it may help you with immigration visas.

xbornstubbornx said...

I am facing a dilemma: I have a place to return to, with family and great friends, with the house I own. I could just buy a ticket and leave for good. But I don't want to. There are thousand other things that keep me from thinking of going back there. So, people, based on my life-long experience I do not quite recommend you to aim at Russia if you're looking for emigration. The grass is always greener on the other side. My personal choice would be Barcelona/Paises Catalanes at the mediterranean shore. The place is beautiful, inhabited by proud anarchists that successfully resist the Spanish police state. And the biggest point in favor of Catalunya is that immigrants are easily accepted there by the native catalonians, as long as they share values. And these values vary from the support of the quite corrupt local communists by the elders to downright anarchism, anti-racism, treehugging hippism an so on among anybody else. That's the place created for me and I'll be looking forward to moving there as long as such status quo is maintained there.

M said...

Bukko Canukko nails it: "Fascism would not have triumphed so easily in the U.S. without the laziness of the Left." I would go a step further and point to the New Left of the 60's-70's, whose self-absorption is a Baby Boomer trademark. (These days, however, their privileged, delusional offspring gum up the works nearly as much.)

When one considers that Boomers are probably the most materially-privileged generation to ever walk the Earth, the implosion of the Left isn't so surprising; a large group with cavalier views about both time and resources isn't useful in a crisis.

I wonder what it's like in a country without a huge generational ball and chain?

kulturcritic said...

@ M

As much as I hate to disagree with your succinct analysis; I would simply suggest that all political systems are fundamentally totalizing control mechanisms. When you have hundreds of thousands and millions of strangers huddled together in an urbanized society there are no other options to manage the chaos.

Do you think the communism of Stalin was any less totalitarian than that of the fascism of Hitler or Mussolini, or the theocracy of Teheran. Chris Hadges nailed it when he described what we have in the USA as "soft totalitarianism." It is all a matter of the propaganda you are fed. If it is a real slick marketing campaign (a culture of make believe), and they tell you what you need to be free and happy, then you believe them and slave away in their system to get what they give you (what they say you want).

Again, I don't believe this is a strictly political or cultural challenge, where it could be fixed, "if only we had done X differently" -- had better leaders, a more active liberal class, etc.
I think it is a more implacable problem, whose foundation was laid a long time ago.

TH in SoC said...

Interesting essay. I know my own situation: I am American but nonwhite, collapse-aware, and thoroughly depressed and disgusted by the idiotic response of American society to our present troubles.

Some days I'd dearly love to "get out of Dodge." But I already did that once, back in 2007 when I first became Peak Oil-aware and left Southern California. The move was quite disruptive. I still have family back in So. Cal., including a developmentally disabled sibling. Running even farther away just doesn't seem like something I can swallow right now.

What's my strategy? Well, I've been trying to make my neighborhood into a sort of enclave. There are a lot of immigrants here from various nations, and they are usually very friendly and welcoming toward Americans who are polite, intellectually curious and willing to be stretched a bit in their social interactions. I have opened my home repeatedly to hospitality, inviting Russian families over. I am trying to learn a foreign language. I am debt-free, and am using this to buy some time for myself so I can learn necessary and useful skills. I am teaching college classes as an adjunct and am working part-time as an engineer. (One shouldn't have all one's eggs in one basket!) And I blog about what I see going on around me (although lately I've been a bit too busy for that).

How well is my strategy working? I have found some solid cross-cultural friendships. Many of my immigrant friends agree with me that America is a messed-up place and that American culture is toxic. They are no longer surprised to hear someone like me saying this. From them I have learned lessons about simpler living and maintaining one's own culture in the midst of a larger, hostile culture.

Yet our little "enclave" is just one neighborhood among neighborhoods in a large city. And because our neighborhood is connected to other neighborhoods, it is subject to the same flux of doofus Americans that flows through the other neighborhoods. You can see it in the way people drive like beserkers down our residential streets. (In fact, the drivers throughout our entire city seem to have gone crazy lately, and walking or bicycling down the street is almost gambling with your life.) You can also see it in the American flags that fly from the front porches of so many rednecks whose driveways contain big SUV's with right-wing bumper stickers, and whose living rooms contain big-screen TV's.

Will I succeed in making my neighborhood into a sane and healthy enclave? Or should I just go with my urge to get out of Dodge? I have been wondering a lot lately.

Carla said...

firstly. wow. secondly having lived in america, england and australia (and 5 cities total in all 3 countries) I could not believe how fucked up america was (fully informed as well) and I could never live there again for more than a year...

are you familiar with bret easton ellis' "empire" "post empire" delineation of america? he believes America is a nation in decline since 911 (post empire) he refers to everything in america as empire and post empire.... I cant help but see EVERYTHING american that way now...

fantastic post! xo and glad you got out! during the bush administration particularly I thought left wing americans should have international refugee status

Carla said...

and to sum things up, I earn 75K a year AND have access to unlimited free healthcare, 32 days paid leave each year, 14 sick leave days the ability to get an abortion any where I want paid for by the government OR access to whatever contraception I require. Dont get me wrong I pay a shitload of tax but for me its completely worth it.

my father was gravely ill for 3 years and all we had to worry about was him getting better. I have been hospitalised 3 times, had extensive psychotherapy 80% paid for by the government (the government pays $75 out of $90 for 18 sessions PER YEAR).

Oh and the kicker? I am uneducated. I failed highschool.

I think left wing americans should have refugee status and be allowed to leave if thats what they wanted.

John Andersen said...

M said:
"...a large group with cavalier views about both time and resources isn't useful in a crisis."

So true.

It's important to separate our thinking and actions from those people and groups who would lull us into false security.

For many, if they're anything like me, this is hard to do.

Having a group of like-minded people seems to me to be the only way to get traction and move toward rational responses to obvious collapse.

One of the Remnant said...

This essay raises many issues which are worth discussing and thinking about - though some of the author's statements border on hyperbole. And he forgot to note the reflexive attitude of compliance which most Americans have toward "authority" - especially the police, who are indeed there to serve and protect (but not to serve and protect us the citizens, mind you). This, along with many of the author's other points, do not bode well for a peaceful transition to a post-peak world, to be sure.

As an engineer, I lived and traveled extensively throughout Asia, and it's not necessarily the utopia the author implies (there is a deadly serious meth problem in many SE Asian countries, for example), but I certainly think that a higher overall quality of life is indeed achievable in many places I visited - Thailand springs to mind, for example.

I also have very close friends in Switzerland, Germany and other Euro-nations, and their quality of life is often better, all things considered. Problem is: in most of these places, that quality of life isn't sustainable, because, as in the case of America, their politicians have made promises which simply cannot be kept, financially speaking. The recent moves to 'austerity' are an indication of this (and in indication as to who the real rulers of Europe are - to wit: the money and power elites, just like in America). The entire PIIGS bailout fiasco currently playing out is also a manifestation of this (indicating that banksters are banksters, regardless of where in the word one lives - this is a transnational set of folks). The European tax base simply will not support the generous social programs which have been implemented and which will be staunchly defended to the point of national insolvency. This has a lot more to do with the moneyed elites running various central banks than anything else, but also with governments effectively bribing citizens via claims on income that must come from future generations. Transgenerational tyranny is alive and well in both America and Europe, and it is simply not sustainable.

I would say Asia is a better bet for expatriation, on net, though certainly I saw lots of expats in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Uruguay, etc who are living well (particularly those who choose to assimilate into the local culture rather than living in gated and guarded communities). A lot of permaculture communities for expats are being built in Central and South American nations. But Asian nations tend to have very deep and rich historical legacies, which appeals to me. Of course, YMMV.

Bottom line: get out into the world while you can, explore and see for yourself. Spend as long in each region as you can, and try to immerse yourself in local culture to the extent possible while there, and especially try to get a sense for how you might make a living and what the cost of living in each might be. What do you have to lose? Only your illusions. :)

Dave said...

You're spot on. I left the US in 1994, for a contract working in New Zealand. I quickly realised that NZ *actually* was the country that the USA *claimed* to be. Truly free. Much closer to a real democracy than the US. And get this: almost no guns. A real land of opportunity. The "American Dream"... lives in NZ.

I've become a citizen. I've put down roots. I've started several companies. I've contributed to the public health/welfare system. I've joined the social scene. I've become active in politics and the business community. I've never regretted leaving the US for a second.

Irrational Athiest said...

Thanks for the advice. But I cannot afford a plane ticket, hell, a could barely afford a passport, how am I supposed to just up and leave?

I think this is an argument coming from someone who still have money and can afford to travel. Us lower class folks don't have those kind of options. We are already stuck and we can't do anything about it. It seems like the temperament of the article is blaming me for my predicament too. It just adds to my frustration.

milliepickle said...

I decided to leave the US in 99 and after 3 years preparation I emigrated to NZ with my two sons. I left because living in New Mexico as a single mom would leave my family with a very low standard of living. I did not have the illusion it would necessarily be easier elsewhere, but if I was going to go through the hard yards of single parenthood, I thought I'd rather do it in a place where we could swim in the ocean.
The good news is that part of the plan has been true. My sons enjoy a natural higher quality of life by virtue of the natural environment. I have had as much difficulty in NZ as I did in NM finding a job with a living wage, but it has not felt like a loss.
It has been much harder in every conceivable way than I could ever have imagined, and I am a pretty tough old girl. At a soul level I have never felt at home here. I blend more now than I ever did, but to a certain extent I will always feel displaced.
I do not regret the move, my sons feel this is their home and I have made a good life for them here, but it is not a panacea and in most circumstances I think it would be a wise decision to stay put.
My story of the USA I would call my home is of a bunch of people who are tolerant and are fighters; original,quirky, with a sense of humour that is as varied and nuanced as wine from different regions. I miss that so much. One of the things I struggle with here is how the benefits mentioned in the article are being eroded due to lack of fighters. Most people are accustomed to taking those things for granted, yet NZ has the most unregulated market in the developed world, vulnerable and without much activism. There is little political satire or vigorous analysis. Feistiness is discouraged. These things make me long for home. In between the bad stuff (Bush and Fox News) the places I lived in (Burlington, VT and Santa Fe, NM) called a spade a spade and made good changes at a grassroots level.
I hate to say it, but life is too good here and the populace too complacent...for now.

John said...

Curious. What is to keep the US from responding to a "flight from the dollar" as "economic terrorism" and threaten a military response?

Yes, it is insane but what would a desperate nation so accustomed to manufacturing its own reality do when all else fails?

I. M. Nobody said...

John,

You would deserve major points for accurate prediction, except for one thing. We're already doing that and have been for a long time. That's how empires work.

The key problem in the future will center on logistics. We are not even close to self-sufficient in materiel for war making. We would have to be able to conquer dollar "terrorist" countries and rebuild them faster than they were defecting from the dollar. And do this while experiencing ever increasing shortages of just about everything. I predict we will keep doing it, until we can't.

bart said...

Funny. The essay summarizes approximately what I thought in 1975. How nice not to be the outlier anymore!

About that time I went to live in Guatemala, England, Ireland, Italy and France. But after a while I decided to come back to the States and have lived the rest of my life here, in California.

Family is a big part of it. It is hard to live in another country without family, without a history, without a network.

There's a lot to like about other countries, but once you're over there, you realize how American you really are. As several people have said already, there's a lot to be said for (some) American characteristics.

As the article points out though, many things **HAVE** gone downhill over the last 30 years. On the other hand, some things are definitely much better. The overt racism and sexism has become less prevalent. The sexual repression is not as crazy as it was in the 50s and 60s. Even the food is much better, if you know where to look.

Political consciousness is much greater than it was. Information is on the Web and in documentaries that is miles ahead of what I grew up with.

I understand the appeal of running away, but I guess it is a question of where you want to take your stand. Hier stehe ich.

M said...

@ kulturcritic

Good answer; the same thoughts occurred while I was typing, and most every day. To reduce the problem to its core, we can't have 6.7 billion apex predators on Earth consuming finite resources without lots going terribly wrong. We're just getting started.

But within the context of political/social systems, which is mostly what this blog covers, America is a mountainous powder keg, a social failure of epic scale, and there's a huge generational facet that stands out. I have a good friend whose younger siblings are Baby Boomers and she has noted the same problem.

This thread, despite dreariness, is a stand-out on ClubOrlov. Discussing collapse isn't just a job, it's a dirty, tedious, thankless job. Salud, everyone.

PB said...

Aussie here,

I enjoyed reading this but am wary of being too smug. America isn't an island, and a lot of its political, social and economic values have found their way across the Pacific.

Australia is starting off a higher base (of social equality) than America, that's why countries like Australia appear to be paradise relative to $8/hr USA.

But we are heading in the same direction. Politicians and elites here have adopted the "Phillipines model" as well. State governments are selling off assets like it's going out of fashion, for no better reason than that they can. This is going to catch up with the population in a few decades time.

We aren't immune from tribalism either. The religious fundies here are just as crazy, but thankfully they're not quite as numerous. De facto racial segregation exists in the suburbs, and has shown the ability to morph into race riots.

Public schooling and public healthcare are still surviving, but are becoming 'second-tier' or last-resort options for those who aren't comfortably middle-class. There is a very worrying rise in the health-services industry which has ingratiated itself to both sides of politics and grows fat off government subsidies.

The main thing I agree with is the wages comparison. You can work in a bottom-rung service job here and make a comfortable living (say US$40K year). For most people, I think this is the deal-maker.

dozzob said...

Busted America....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IgiV30IoJUs

Tabitheriel said...

Great post! It's just what I've been saying for years, but no one listened to me.

I am a German-American, currently living in Germany, working as an English and music teacher.

I have two blogs: http://america-new-rome.blogspot.com

and

http://www.tabitheriels-blog.blogspot.com/

cracknoodles said...

As a merchant marine working for the last two and a half years on an oceanographic research vessel I have had a chance to visit and/or live in South Africa, NZ, Australia, Taiwan, Thailand, So. America and Europe. Every time I return home I carry with me the sneaking suspicion that the inhabitants of all of these countries, even the poorer ones, have a higher quality of life on a day to day basis Than do Americans. All of them. That maniacal feeling that they're constantly falling behind and they have to work harder, faster and longer to keep up is somehow missing from their lives.

Hell, even in Fiji, which is basically under martial law, I felt less uneasy about contact with the police than I would in Los Angeles. Friends who have slogged, snoot to rump, down the debt slave track for decades without ever raising their heads to get a sniff of fresh air love to hear stories of my travels whenever I return. One question they always ask is "What's the most dangerous place you've ever been? My answer is always the same....Detroit.

hawlkeye said...

It appears I reside outside the conclusions of this thread, which seems nearly unanimous: those who most correctly perceive American venality have already left the crumbling edifice.

But it would be a mistake to think that those of us who choose to remain are by that choice either representing or defending the panoramic spectacle of American Ugliness in all its many faces profound vulgarity.

Moving away from something that sucks is only half the equation; expanding that list ad nauseum, however sickening and true doesn't address the second half, the moving TOWARD something else.

What's keeping me here? I love the trees, plants, fish, animals, seasons, rivers, lakes and the people I know, not always in that order.

Why don't I consider leaving? Because I couldn't take my tiller.
Because I couldn't bring my seeds.
Shipping all my tools would be ridiculous. How could I afford to re-locate my kids at this point?

Most of these posters who already managed to bail these borders in time appear to be single and well-off enough to even consider the option. (Except for NM mama, good for you, NM is now Texas and no longer suitable for habitation, count your lucky stars, those big southern hemisphere ones.)

At this point in the arc of all we know to be pending, do we really have any time for this? The aim of any trajectory is hard to shift even with oil-bubble resources; I decided to be a food grower decades ago, and still have a lot to learn.

The wisdom thread here is deeper than strategy, assets or aptitude.
Where does your soul feel most at home? Even if you've never been there, it could be calling you to be there no matter what, to live or die. I knew I would feel at home in Ireland years before I visited, and it was true, I could have stayed. Glad I didn't.

Of course "America" is toast. But there are places here where non-typical Americans are gathering, where there is still water and decent topsoil, and not TOO many people to kill each other when the meds wear off and naked craziness gets rampant.

And yet during this re-assertion of geographic imperatives, I'm glad there are mountains between me and the Big Bad City, not that they're any guarantee against the latter insanity in full bloom.

There's no place on earth that's not a crap-shoot, although some are crappier and shootier than others...

Pick the one that feels like home and hope (and work) for the best.
(That line about "time to sit around and meditate" was a hoot!)

Loveandlight said...

I perceive three things in particluar that make the USA the dysfunctional way that it is and has been for quite some time: 1) ignorance, both natural and willful; 2) narcissism, both individual and cultural; and 3) extreme social atomization: In no other developed country do so very many trudge through life in a state of severe and relentless social isolation!

rhmilo said...

This is extremely foolish advice. Yes, the standard of living is very low in the U.S., but the policies of the U.S. government have created so much anti-Americanism that an American emigrant is subject to the same type of treatment in the workplace that blacks in the U.S. often experience. Since bashing Americans is politically correct, the best recourse is to return to the U.S. Even worse is getting stuck with no way home. I'm speaking from experience - leaving the U.S. nearly 30 years ago is by far the biggest regret I have.

Alphonse and Sophia Houner said...

So many of the issues in the post are now in place in most of the countries noted. As the Canadians are wont to say current events in the United States are yet another, "American psycho-drama".

The United States is loud, noisy, raucous and at the front end of the runaway train called Industrializtion. China and India are fundamentally unsustainable and their branch lines of overall "progress" will rapidly merge into a universal downward "re-adjustment led by the United States.

Moving to another country may work for someone in the near term but a lot is to be said regarding the support of a close family and community that is familiar as we adapts to the ongoing change. That seems a surer long-term decision when you you consider ensuing generations.

RanDomino said...

I agree with the premise but not the conclusion. It's true that America is failing; but the answer is not to leave it, but to evict it. Don't remove yourself from America; remove America from yourself.

TH in SoC said...

@ bart,

You said, "As the article points out though, many things **HAVE** gone downhill over the last 30 years. On the other hand, some things are definitely much better. The overt racism and sexism has become less prevalent. The sexual repression is not as crazy as it was in the 50s and 60s. Even the food is much better, if you know where to look.

"Political consciousness is much greater than it was. Information is on the Web and in documentaries that is miles ahead of what I grew up with."

Here I must disagree with you. In this country, you have Ellen DeGeneris and Roseanne on TV. On the other hand, we have a prison population mainly composed of black and Hispanic men, many of whom were wrongly convicted. We have public school systems which overwhelmingly medicate and fail black children, especially black boys. We have a very strong revival of segregated school districts. We have documented evidence of predatory lending practices directed at minority communities over the last thirty years, practices which go unpunished to this day. We have a long record of selective policing of minorities in many cities, including New York and Los Angeles. And we have mainstream media who refuse, by and large, to report these things.

Fred said...

Everyone who disagrees with this lives in denial. According to our government, I am considered to be "rich" earning over 250k a year - AND NOT INCLUDING MY MORTGAGE, I CAN BARELY SURVIVE. That's right, I live in the NY suburbs living the so called American Dream - paying $700 a month to commute into NYC. Oh - you want to take someone to JFK airport - how about donating $19 in tolls. It's cheaper for me to drive to California, than drive 10 miles to the airport. Paying my absurd property taxes, child support, state tax, commuting tax, federal tax, back federal tax, absurd power rates, absurd water rates, absurd health insurance - when adding copays, deductibles and other "tests" which it conveniently doesn't cover adds 10k to the annual bill, absurd home insurances, absurd corporate insurances - all so I can live "the American dream." The education system which my daughters are enrolled in is disgraceful - entirely controlled and manipulated via kickbacks to schools boards and superintendents by the mega-publishers (I used to work for one so I know exactly how the game is played). Think he is lying about the "police state" - ever get caught in a speed trap - if only you had to just pay the ticket - no the industrial complex has designed the system to affect your "insurance score" and squeeze more money out of you. Credit system - another great joke. Miss one payment, might as well miss them all. One hit drops your credit score by 100 points. 3 years of great payment history - maybe raises it 30 points. Whoever wrote this definitely gets it and understands WTF is really going on. And even worse, I am about to be additionally labeled by the U.S. government to be "rich" - thus dooming me to even higher taxes - essentially forcing me into bankruptcy - which is inevitable anyway. In conclusion, take this writers advice and do what you can to get out of this country - or just quit everything and go on welfare - your lifestyle will probably improve.

Lance Michael Foster said...

See, I think a lot of the posts here show one of the essential problems. Me for me. Disconnection. But don't feel bad. Our economic system destroyed the family, beginning with industrialization, when people were considered as a labor pool: one needed here, not four. A new job in the city, sorry Grandma, you're on your own.

I guess for those that have the money that want to split, I have nothing to say. If that's the mindset, it's probably best for all of us if you do so. The Indian way was not to say anything bad. If money is making you unhappy, then quit your job. You will still be alive. Don't let "the American Dream" drive you forward in a life of misery. But if you think welfare still exists as a way to live off the government, a little more research is needed. I take nothing from the government or any charity. I make under 10K a year. I rent a shabby apartment, walk where I want to go or catch a ride sometimes, wear the same clothes I've worn for the last 10 years and mend them, cook at home (lots of soup and rice). Of course if I get sick I'm screwed, since I have no insurance. But everyone's gotta die sometime.

I think about the future. Here folks are talking like its all mainly about the American economy. Well, maybe if that was all that was facing us, and if one has more feeling for one's own future than one's native land, I guess I understand. But it's not just societal collapse we are facing.

We are facing the decline of cheap concentrated energy (oil), and that's something everyone is going to face, whether in Europe, Asia, or Latin America. Sure, Venezuela, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia might last a little longer. But not much. Coal and tar-sands require unbelievable amounts of water and we in the Plains are already facing drought and increasing demand from agricultural uses.

We are facing the chaos of global climate change, and who knows what that's going to do to patterns of storms, drought, crop failure, sea level change, and resulting mass migrations.

Societal collapse of the west with America at the epicenter (which will affect every other national economy in the world to one degree or another), unpredictable global climate changes, peak oil (not just for energy, but for pesticides, pharmaceuticals, plastics).

You can't get away. This situation will follow you where ever you go. You just have to decide where you are going to make your last stand, Custer. If in a distant land, cool, that's your call. If in your homeland, cool, maybe you and me can have a beer and play some cards while we wait for lights out. No one gets out of this life alive.

For me, I look at the faces of my aged parents, the brothers and sisters I have known all my life, the innocence of my little nephews and nieces (in the Indian way, they are also my own sons and daughters). I look at the faces of my students. Even if I were rich, I could not leave them. As Tom Joad said, maybe we don't each have a soul of our own, but just a piece of a larger soul. These are my people. My American tribe of many colors.

Native Americans made decisions not based on right now, what was just good for themselves, but how that decision might affect seven generations from now. Seven generations ago, my ancestor Black Hawk fought the Long Knives. He lost, but I am proud that he fought. I hope he will be proud of me.

jollyspaniard said...

I'll put in another good word in for Europe. If you're on a low or median income you're vastly better off. And if you're ultra rich there's plenty for you too. Some of the cities are beatiful and most weren't built around the automobile.

And perhaps most importantly Europe has some nice culture.

However there's a fascist streak rising in several European countries (Italy and France come to mind).

escapefromwisconsin said...

This essay strikes like a thundercloud. I've wanted to leave the country since I was a teenager. Over the years I've become ever more repulsed by what this country has become and how it treats its citizens (like me). I've been insatiably curious about the world outside America my whole life, and I'm fully cognizant that what the author of this piece says is true. I am now in my mid-thirties, aware that time is running out, and wondering what I can do about it.

I can't go into a lengthy biography in such a limited space of course, but in temperament and outlook I am more suited than most other Americans to function well overseas. I am a cultural chameleon. I watch travel shows incessantly, even though I get hardly any vacation time to actually do it. When I meet foreigners I converse with them about their country with ease. It's almost the only good conversation I get to have, Americans being unable to converse on anything other than the exploits of professional sports teams or the antics of television characters. Every foreigner I've met I've felt more comfortable with than my own countrymen, although you could argue that I'm dealing with a small sample. My gut tells me that's not the case, however. Plus there’s the forced patriotism, bellicose religiosity, gun worship, overweening consumerism, amoral careerism, constant aggressiveness, workaholism, reactionary politics, idiotic media, well, you know the drill.

Due to unfortunate life circumstances, I have nearly no family here, thus one of the most common constraints is not applicable. No, rather my constraints have been financial. Like many bright kids, I was encouraged to go to college and get a "career," not realizing that this would lead to a life of debt servitude. That was the beginning of my education as to what America was really all about - $$$. I began to become aware, and began daydreaming of escape for a variety of reasons - personal, cultural, economical, philosophical. But I had debts to pay. Lots of debts and very little income.

Focusing on my goal, I paid my debts, lived a life of thrift, and put a little aside. So, the rub. It seems like emigration is a classic Catch-22 situation. You cannot get a job in a foreign country without a work visa. Yet you cannot get a work visa unless you have a job! How have people overcome this? I see there are some "essential" skills that countries encourage, mostly engineering and medical related fields. Unfortunately the career I chose was to be an architect, a profession that there is a surplus of all over the developed world. Buildings are built by debt, and debt is vanishing and so is construction. Competing for a job in an international firm is difficult - you are competing with people who have unlimited resources for education, training, etc., from all over the planet. Although I love learning, my education has been stilted because I do not want to be a debt slave again, which is what more school would mean. Even if I were to apply to a foreign university, how would I support myself without a job? It's ironic - those who are on the downside of advantage would gain the most from departing the U.S., yet do not have the resources to do so. Those that can leave are those wealthy enough to enjoy a comfortable life anywhere. Every country is protecting its dwindling pool of jobs for its own citizenry.

escapefromwisconsin said...

Unfortunately, I have no family connections in any other countries, and although I have an abiding love of foreign languages and can speak phrases in dozens, I am fluent in none. I think a lot of us Americans here are chiefly looking at Commonwealth countries, where language is no barrier. As a long-time Anglophile, and given my entertainment proclivities, I feel more British than American anyway (please, Republicans, don't kill PBS!). I do not expect an easy time and I do not expect a paradise; one must adapt a realistic expectation free from idealistic delusion. I'm aware that things are tough everywhere now. Rather, I only wish to live in a society more in line with my values, in peace, with a modicum of leisure and a minium of fear. I do not think this unreasonable, and I am happily willing to contribute in what way I can, given my abilities, to any society that will have me. It is a fair bargain, after all.

So, I continue to dream, and this article goes to my heart. Should I give up? I need some help. Those of you who have escaped, please give us real advice, plans, help, anything. How can it really be done, given the difficulties? Practical advice and personal stories are appreciated.

And for those who can't or won't leave my advice is to use two freedoms we Americans have left that make this dying country somewhat livable - freedom of speech: speak your mind and be an example for media-hypnotized masses, and freedom of association - spend time with people who are awakened from the consumerist nightmare, have gotten off the treadmill, think for themselves and want to make a difference. Most of all,. spend time with people who have a heart - all to rare in this neck of the woods. You can find them, but it takes some work, and they're rather unevenly dispersed.

P.S> I'm surprised no mention of Nicholas Kristof's poignant columns in the NY Times recently. They were stunning. Kristof's main beat has been tinpot dictatorships and banana republics; he said that he no longer has to travel since the U.S now resembles those countries in income distribution and political corruption. In a follow up, he pointed out that we have traded places in income inequality with former military dictatorships like Argentina and Chile.

Craig said...

Dmitry: A ‘Spoiler Alert’ would have been very helpful here. Collapse minus the suspense is turning into a dull routine.

Believe me, somebody, somewhere has it ‘better’ than does our dear anonymous author, but that is hardly cause to piss in his Cheerios and rave about greener pastures in the neighboring valley, while convincing him he is a sucker for not fleeing his home. If you ask me, running away from our problems is a poor solution, not to mention a risk.

I lived in Belarus in 2003. The political and economic conditions there shared elements of the current American forecast: inflation, dictatorial politics, ubiquitous police presence, etc (no food shortages that I am aware of). I can’t speak for everyone’s attitudes there, but I can speak for most everyone’s economic condition: poor. Many were resentful of government, but I never witnessed the hopeless depression I am seeing here. I honestly doubt the average American has truly suffered through ‘tough times’ yet (minus the lady who cried when her cable service was interrupted for a day, but that is only a single example).

I have given much thought to returning overseas, but can’t do it. I think much opportunity to learn and grow is written in our future if we don’t give up first. My motto is ‘control that which I can, and accept that which I cannot.’ I think for anyone with two functioning hands, a half-functioning brain, enough skill to grow a garden, and a desire to teach others, this is about the best place to be. Perhaps this is a naïve perspective, but at least a sense of adventure is not lacking.

Most will endure simply because they will be given no other choice. Those of us who endure with our sanity intact I believe will share one essential survival mechanism: a good sense of humor.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Nick said...

FYI The original location of this post was at http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article25166.htm and the original author's name is Lance Freeman

jpwhite said...

A well-written, point-by-point refutation of the American propaganda matrix. It didn't tell me anything I wasn't already aware of, more's the pity. But it will be a great pass-around piece for my more deluded relations. They just don't seem to understand my sudden passion for a life in Costa Rica.

I've lived in Everett, Washington for the last three months, and you can see the collapse happening here in real time. It's a Navy town, and this author's point that we are owned by the Pentagon is perfectly illustrated here. The U.S.S. Lincoln is home-ported here (a mile from the marina where I live), and the contrast between the shiny, well-kept warships and the urban decay that starts less than a mile inland is starkly apparent.

Many of the people here have gone almost completely feral in dress, speech, and manners, and their built environment is every bit the horror that Jim Kunstler describes in his books. But you could probably get any random passerby (with the exceptions of the hookers and recent evictees from their homes) to tell you that this is the "greatest country on Earth."

Come next March I will be sailing away from the "greatest country" and into a new life. Not sure what I will find, but I feel a strange confidence that whatever it is, it will be better than what I'm leaving behind. If nothing else, people in Central America have a lot of practice being poor, and don't have nearly so far to fall as Americans in a full-blown collapse scenario. And frankly, my fellow Americans are starting to scare me.

BlackDove said...

@Lance Michael Foster: After lots of thought, I'm with you, and others who prefer to stay in the US regardless.

I've been thinking about this for a long time, and moreso recently, as I see things slipping further into unsolvable and insurmountable problems. But I also conducted a "thought experiment" which goes as follows: assume the US is actually very well-off, but that I win the lottery. Would I still think of leaving the US for some foreign land? To be honest, yes, but my reasons have nothing to do with collapse. My mother is from Europe originally (and I have several ex-pat friends who moved there), I've visited Western Europe many times, and I simply like the lifestyle, and I think they have their priorities more in order. I would, however, visit the US a lot (which my imagined wealth would allow), as my family and roots are here. And that is the rub.

The thought experiment plays out much differently if I remove the lottery-winning part. I know how difficult it is for the *typical* Yank to move abroad and live even a remotely normal life without 1) considerable money, or at least a guaranteed income (like a pension); 2) a company to sponsor you; or 3) a spouse or future spouse who is a citizen of theoretical country. Most countries have much stricter immigration/residency laws than the US, and all of my friends who now live in Europe meet at least one of those criteria. Maybe Asia or S. America is different in that regard, but if a global depression happens, I think I'd rather not be in those parts of the world. And what if I was willing to, say, do a job "that Germans don't want to do" which are normally done by Turks (I know German fairly well and some Turkish)? Would I even be hired, or simply laughed at? I had a laid-off friend who tried to get a job at a factory here in the Midwest, and the HR person said in so many words, "you'd never do the jobs that Mexicans do for such pay." Needless to say, she never heard back from the factory, and I can't see the German HR person treating me much differently.

So as much as I love Europe, I belong here in the US, and even if I wanted to leave I really can't do so without forsaking most of my friends and all of family, including my significant other, who would never leave. I have a sneaking suspicion that, at the end of the day, most of us are closer to my situation than to anonymous's situation. And, as others have pointed out, when the energy prices go through the roof and the global economic system crashes, the EU won't be much better off.

I think Mr. Foster has the best solution: work and plan as much as you can to survive here. It's a better use of your resources, and as big as this country is, there are more places to relocate to if need be, which would be far less risky than going abroad. I think the whole "zombie apocalypse" version of decline is more fantasy than reality. In reality, it'll be unpredictable, and more complicated -- probably varying a lot from place to place. Learn skills that most people had 150 years ago (like growing and preserving food), stick with family and friends, stay away from large cities, and you may avoid the worst of collapse.

The Onion said...

Citizins United vs. The Federal Election Commission has legally entrenched the right of corporate money to nakedly and aggressively buy elections. Democracy, such as it is, is no longer possible in your country. The sooner you accept it, the better. The corporate takeover of Washington is complete.

Now the conditioning to suffer indignities at the hands of the TSA is your first introduction to the police state.

I know that the Nazi and Gestapo comparisons are thrown around with reckless abandon in internet discourse, but to all intelligent, rational and freedom loving Americans, I implore you now: look around you.

Your country is run by criminals. There is no hope. You are in Germany circa 1933. Escape. Do it now.

AUGUSULUS said...

I have lived for several decades outside of America. I live on what could only be considered a beggar's budget but I could actually cut my spending in half if I had to.
I support a local family in whose household I live who do all my essentials for me. I do not cook, clean, wash clothes, drive, or any other mundane tasks. For this, I pay them about $400 a month on which they live and thrive. It has turned out to be a good symbiosis for all of us.
Of course, do not expect me to tell you where I am. Only a fool would divulge the location of an earthly paradise. And anyway, you can't create a situation like this overnight. However there are countries where I have friends who live a rather luxurious lifestyle on $600 to $800 a month. We visit each other from time to time to laugh at those in the West who lead their lives under conditions of abject repression even while paying a huge price to do so.
Ta-ta!

kulturcritic said...

escapefromwisconsin-

Here is one possible idea.

I will assume you are a man and single; if that is the case then get on the internet and look up sites for Russian or other Eastern European women who want real relationships. Find one you can communicate with, one who is looking for marriage, but not a green card. Get an invitation (or take a tourist visa) to visit her in her country; let mother nature (or cupid, whatever)work its magic. Get married, get a long term visa, get a new life... with a new and loving family that has its roots well planted in the old world. (PS don't look for a woman below the ago of 29 or 30. The younger ones just want a free ride to the Spectacle, and all the material possessions to go along with it!!

Good luck! If you are female, sorry for opening my mouth.

Nick said...

Hang in there folks, America is far far far from the kind of total abject collapse into fascism that is being perversely projected here.

Yes, elements of all of the negatives do exist...but there is also a lot that is good about America's people that is being totally ignored.

The people who see the problems are *precisely* the ones most responsible and able to heal the wounds.

It's not so simple as just finding some idyllic foreign "paradise" where people are not motivated by materialism or ego.

If the only motivation y'all have is to save your own material asses; then how are you any different from what you claim to loathe in America???

If you truly have so much insight into what's so wrong here; then it's incumbent upon folks just like *you* to become part of the solution...part of a struggle to repair/heal/perfect our democracy and our collective spirit.

Running away isn't the answer.

Han Solo said...

Stay here and fight the bastards. That is the choice for those of us with too at stake to just walk away. How about standing up for your rights?

Moose said...

The question from many here seems to be “How do I find out about countries, and what its really like to live in them?” Here’s my advice:

1. Ask questions on expat forum web sites. The Internet has tons of expat forum web sites. Pick a country, type it into Google, and then add the word ‘expat’ and start searching. There’s tons of direct advice from expats already living there, and you can add your questions too for free. Considering that the U.S. dollar is facing collapse, my advice is to search for countries that offer very cheap living options.

2. Do in-depth research on the country or countries that interest you. Check for a reasonably low crime rate, a welcoming government, a reasonably low cost health plan (if you’re over 35), the present climate in different areas in their country, etc. Every country also has its own web site that will tell you everything good about the country, so ferret out the negative things about each country too, so you will have a realistic view of the situation. Make two lists: Reasons to go to country X, and Reasons not to go to country X. The more you study a country the more useful info you’ll find, and the more accurate your view of it will be.

3. If you have valued family in the U.S. then you must decide whether to be far away, or not. If you do decide to leave first get yourself a MagicJack and then you’ll be able to call the U.S. from anywhere in the world for $20 a YEAR through a telephone connected to your laptop. I just got one and it is unbelievably liberating. I call all over hell now with great abandon. That way you could afford to keep in contact, and your connections will often be clearer than in some local calls in the U.S. I have absolutely no financial connection to this device or company, I just find it the best gadget for travelers or expats ever devised, and they claim it’ll even work over WIFI, although I haven’t tried that yet, I use DSL.

Best of Luck

kulturcritic said...

@ Nick and Han Solo

Guys, I hear your pleas clearly. But, I would ask you to reconsider. This issue is not a national issue; it is not a political issue that can be fixed with the right people in place. It is a problem globally for the species as a direct result of the logic and machinations of industrial civilization. It is fairly well beyond fighting for or fixing. It has a momentum and a history that is basically on auto-pilot. The roots of this crisis are 6,000 years old. But the whole story – from its stunning beginnings in the ancient Near East nearly six-thousand years ago to the post-millennial American hegemony – the entire edifice rests upon a cluster of hypotheses about the world and how it works; about the logic of historical progress and the nature of reason itself. These assumptions continue to shoulder our commonsense understanding of life in civil society today, including our own personal histories, while thwarting any recollection of what was lost with the emergence of history and the story of civilization. America, in large measure, stands as benefactor and apotheosis of this arduous historical legacy. And our culture has done everything it could to destroy any remnant or memory of what came before.

So, what people are seeking here is not someplace to hide from the collapse, we all know it will reverberate throughout the planet. What folks seem to be seeking is a place that may be less impacted by the eruptions that certainly seem likely to occur. Why stand at the epicenter of an earthquake when there are less dangerous places to withstand the impact? Staying here is certainly a noble option, and I understand the man with indigenous blood running through his veins. But, getting out to survive the coming apocalypse is also a noble move.

Angry said...

I'll chime in. I left and came back, and plainly it was because I missed my family. I'm sad to hear so few people have relationships worth saving. For my family to visit me would have been in the neighborhood of 2k a head just to travel. No very feasible for most people these days.

I think about this stuff everyday, and I also think that soon we won't be able to leave but until then I want my children to know their family. Maybe it's dumb, who can say?

Lisa said...

There is a Russian saying: “The best place is where we don’t live”

I’m a first generation American; I came from dark streets and empty shelves of fallen apart Soviet Union. I came for the “better life”. Well, I have got it. I earn what is double the average in my profession, I have great benefits, and my mortgage is paid off in less than 10 years. I should be happy, should not I? And yet, I want to go back. If you ask me why – I will not be able to explain in short post. It is not material. It is that I see both sides. And I don’t like what is happening in here: public education is beyond bad; health care is disgusting. The tea-baggers scream “government’s fault” and threten with the “socialism” but all the governments in this country are all the same – servants to the big money.
And honestly, I was freer before.

This was the country of my choice, but I made a bad choice.

DeVaul said...

Some of you here have talked about your extended family networks or local communities that are very tight and supportive. Let me ask you this: where would you be if they had all just left when times got tough? Hm? Did they become what they are now because of good times?

My ancestors have been here for over two hundred years, and while I have serious reasons for leaving, I have decided to stay. I would rather die here than in a far-away land.

That does not mean I will not put my sons or my daughter on a boat and send them off to sea if that is the only way they can survive. I will, but I cannot just leave them or choose between them (my sons live with my ex-wife).

If you think your own life is more important than anyone else's, or if you are young and alone and have nothing to lose, then go. But if you can help others, especially innocent children, survive the coming collapse, then you should stay.

Yes, you may end up dead, but we all die anyway. I would rather die fighting the Nazis than spend my life running from them. There is no honor in that.

Star Ali said...

Hello. I am a 56 year old school teacher here in the USA, and it seems like I have struggled for that "American Dream" my whole life. Be it for good or ill, in my views, I tend to be a "realist," which makes me rather unpopular in many "social" circles here. Some of the things I talk about really upset people.

As an example of the incredible corruption and bias in the state of Nevada, for over 40+ years, the Nevada State legislature Senate has refused to tax the already existing and legal brothel industry here. The current situation in Nevada is the highest foreclosure rates in the USA, the highest unemployment rates in the USA, and the lowest ranking educational system in the USA. Something us US Nevadans are supposed to be real proud of-right? Much of Las Vegas, for example, is populated by illegal aliens, who don't vote. Are they a part of the problem or solution? Or is it select governance?

Much of the suffering endured by Nevadans has been due to the biases of the Nevada Lawmakers not taking a sustainable tax revenue of over one billion dollars are year! And all of this has been carefully censored, left out of the news media of any kind.

I am very disillusioned with the direction America has taken ethically in our social/ political system. I am proud of American inventiveness and the "can-do" attitude. Everyday the USA turns more into a police state, which is something to worry about. Citizens are "monitored/supervised" on their medical care, finances, diets, political affiliations, internet use, even use of their possessions.

No citizen can fight it as they would automatically become traitors to the USA and subject to being in bonds. Very depressing situation with no easy answers, no easy way out.

Stephen Bach said...

I agree with the remarks of a previous poster: the problem is industrial civilization ... which has spread and is spreading to most areas of the globe.

Yeah, I know it's currently nicer in Europe than in the USA in many ways. But collapse isn't going to be limited to the USA.

If you want to do a good turn for humanity, and you haven't had children yet, get sterilized. If you've already had children, get sterilized (so you won't have any more). So yeah: just get sterilized. Let's get the human population down to maybe a billion worldwide. Then maybe that will be "sustainable".

kollapsnik said...

Hello zombies,

Your comments have been deleted.

Good bye, zombies.

Dead Metal Zero said...

Well now, this certainly seems familiar...

http://current.com/news/92825109_americans-have-worst-standard-of-living-in-the-developed-world.htm

And just look at that comment section...

Anyway, as for me, I'm pretty much stuck here. I'd certainly like to leave, but have not the ability to do so. Travel costs, and I cannot find anywhere to make the money to do so. The town's just too small and everyone swarms the openings like a school of piranhas whenever one opens up. Nobody wants a young college dropout with no work experience if they can get someone who knows what they're doing for the same salary.

In the meantime however, I'm trying rather hard to learn what I can about anything I can that could be of help. The family generally dismisses it, but occasionally I can get one or two to read an article here, or tell me about how things were done when my grandparents lived on a farm and so on. It's a decent insight now and then, and leads to interesting discussions, but I'm not entirely certain they take me seriously.

escapefromwisconsin said...

To all, you might want to check out Bob Herbert's column Winning the Class War in The New York Times today. Very apropos, and please read the comments, they are excellent. It's no wonder conservatives love to demonize the Times (for all its faults).

@ Kulturcritic: Ha! I'm not sure if you're serious or joking. I am male and single, and women in Eastern Europe do tend to be above average in intelligence and quite fetching. But a long distance relationship is devilishly hard to work out successfully. Believe me, I've thought about quitting my job, heading to a foreign country and trying to meet a nice girl. You can actually have an intelligent conversation with European women, and they tend to have nicer personalities (in my limited experience, ahem). If my job goes away, I hope to have enough saved to wander, and hopefully make some friends along the way who would help me find a new home. Is that just a fantasy? Still, not having a visa would put me at a disadvantage. Emigration is easier said than done.

When things get tough, some societies will pull together, and some will turn on each other. Which of these is the U.S.? Let's see, this week Sarah Palin is everywhere in a sustained media blitz. This is a politician who has built a political career by delimiting the "Real Americans" from, presumably, the rest of us False Americans, and exhorting said Real Americans to "lock and load." Typically when a politician starts speaking like this, it does not end well. And she is not alone.

The U.S. is more like Yugoslavia than Russia - seperated and divided by income, religion, race, ethnicity, geography, opinion, etc. We have more guns per capita than Afghanistan, and have a nasty habit of blowing away our fellow Americans even in times of relative social stability. The Internet forums of both the far left and right wallow in self-righteousness and seemingly relish violent confrontation. I do not think this will be the case in other countries. People in other countires have lived alongside one another in times of plenty and times of scarcity, and they muddled through. Americans have never known scarcity on that level, and I fear it may drive us over the edge. I have been poor my entire life, I do not mind it. I am much more concerned with being in a better mental space than with my material circumstances. It's a question of what kind of society you want to belong to, and what kind of opprtunuties you have there to have a modicum of contentment.

zhu said...

It's been 15 years since I came to China, to teach for a year. It's been 7 since I last visited the US (when my family refused to let me visit.) All I can say is I can't imagine living anywhere else, for all the chaos and insanity. I like the Chinese people, I love my students, I enjoy the feeling I'm in a modern Roman Empire.

I don't recommend it to most of you, as it is an alien universe. However, you would be wise to "flee the wrath which is to come." All those guys buying guns as fast as the stores can stock them, once Obama was elected? They don't want them to shoot beer bottles!

If you want to test the waters, it's not too hard to teach English in China for a year. Get'em to pay for your plane ticket, like I did!

http://www.abroadchina.org/ lists job openings. You can also post your resume. I would suggest you stick to public universities and stay away from private English schools.

Dave's ESL Cafe at www.eslcafe.com/ lists openings from all over the world. It also has forums where you can ask questions.


Zhu Bajie, alive in the bitter sea

kulturcritic said...

escapefromwisconsin

I am DEAD serious!! about meeting an Eastern European woman via the internet. Coincidentally, I met my wife that way. After 2 months of email and some telephone, we decided to meet in Moscow... the visa was easy. I went back on tourist visas 3 times. The third time we came back together to the USA (that was the tough visa). But now we have been married five years and she has a great family. PS. My grandparents were from this area (Russia/Ukraine), so the decision to come was a mixed blessing.

Now, mind you, this is no paradise...especially for a spoiled American like me... but I have gotten accustom to the changes.

Your biggest challenge may be money; all women here want a stable marriage, a man who can keep a job. But, they are just as interested in a man who is not like the standard issue Ruskii. So being American is a big plus. Just go to google, type in see what you come up with; there will be sites to explore. Just remember, find a woman 30 years or older!

At the very least it will be entertaining; at best, you find a soulmate and get outta dodge before the bullets start to fly.

Gail said...

I enjoyed the piece as well-written doomer porn but felt it was wildly optimistic since, as pointed out above, it neglects the true trifucta - economic collapse, environmental collapse (climate change + the dieback of vegetation from ozone pollution) and peak oil.

I would leave America to buy some time from the knuckle-dragging gun toters but I have family here that I love. There is nothing else to live for...and it would only be buying a little time. On top of extremely violent weather, there will be a food crisis, everywhere, and I doubt civilization will hold up anywhere for very long when that occurs.

Marta Gazzola said...

What shocks me is that even some Europeans dream about the USA as the country of freedom and equal opportunity.

The European Commission is getting dangerously more and more similar to the US government, voting is at historical minima, and people are no more in touch with the production system, i.e. we accept what is given to us without questioning nor getting informed.
Inequality is spreading, "meritocracy" and "liberalism" are still cool words.

Thank you for sharing the article. I hope some US witness can help changing direction before it is too late.

John Andersen said...

I agree with Gail. Moving may only buy a bit more time before the global collapse. Without cheap energy, the earth cannot support 7 billion people. Many, likely including me will die of starvation, wars, or disease.

The best option is to make the most of what we have now, and to create meaning with those for whom mutual affection exists.

Bea Eloise said...

Thank you.

Schwerpunkt International said...

This was a great post! While I am not certain that things will play out as described (who of us actually "know"?), the issues with this country are spelled out clearly - the United States is indeed not as free as we are taught and those are as clear a set of examples as I've read in a long time. Our MSM and educational system have focused our social discussion on race and gender, to distract us from "class" and economics. Lenin said as much about capitalists a long time ago... but.. ahem* Ah well....

Jon said...

As has been pointed out elsewhere (perhaps by Diamond, can’t remember) if 100 deer live in an isolated environment where there is sufficient food to feed 80 of them until the next growing season, it does not mean that 80 deer will be left standing when that time comes. Instead, all 100 deer will have full stomachs for 80% of that time, after which they will all starve to death before the new green shoots emerge.

Of course it won’t turn out that way in human society. Human beings are very clever, devious and resourceful-they sometimes even resort to cooperation to survive. As a last resort, of course. Some of our species will survive until stasis is reached after 90% of the available resources disappear. The question, of course, is: Who might those be? Probably not the ones you or I might think. I have to admit right now that I probably won’t be one of them. Oh, I have been collapse aware for quite some time now. I am just not collapse ready and certainly not collapse proof. I am slightly collapse inoculated. Unfortunately it will be some time before I know if the vaccine took.

Who am I kidding? I am one of those people who are being shoved ahead of the crowd with just enough vision of what lies ahead to be terrified, but not enough provisions or preparedness to fit it into my calculations. How does one prepare for a Thelma and Louise type chasm looming ahead? It is best to just dig in my heels and grit my teeth. Waterproof matches might come in handy, too. Oh, and salt. I hear you can trade salt for lots of things in a post everything world.

With the exception of some Peruvian tribesmen who have no words for petroleum, technology or the dollar meal, just about every place on earth will suffer the same drop in resource availability. The 10% who are the most clever, resourceful or just plain lucky will be the ones building the new renaissance. People will still be living in New York, Tokyo and London in a hundred years, or more likely the cities built on the higher elevations surrounding the marinas that used to be New York, Tokyo and London. There just won’t be as many of them and they will have strange stories to tell about the people who used to live there; how they worshiped the trickster god, Petro, who brings great wealth but feeds his children poison. Our gods, though much more austere, are at least reliable.

Here’s to the future. Not mine, of course, but for somebody equally deserving.

Jon.

Syd O said...

Not sure what to make of all this. Sure, America is detestible in it's global and domestic policies and we'd all like to see it get what's coming to it but most of the reasons of why America sucks are going to be non-factors in collapse.

I think the question we are looking for is susatainbility. Food systems everywhere will change. The problems with america's big ag and all it's health problems will be mute at that point. Maybe a warmer climate will be better for year round food production but keeping vegetables cool in the summer is another challenge.

Is single payer healthcare sustainable? No, no central healthcare system is sustainable. You need a govt not in collapse and someway to get the anesthetics, heart valves, organ transplants, cancer treatments and other drugs that make central medicine valuable.

Also, if there's no central govt who's going to do the survelience? If the US can't even control Iraq how will it control the US? I agree that America is doing some scary things but who will be sending up new satellites, importing new video cameras, manufacturing new servers for all this to run on. If America's economy is gone than so is the tax base to buy all that stuff. Perhaps if it's a long slow collapse maybe but definitely not in abrupt collapse. It couldn't even do Katrina properly. How is going to handle NY or LA.

Perhaps the US will splinter and end up looking nothing like it looks today. I doubt that the rest of the world will be unchanged. I find it hard to believe that as the US disintegrates other countries won't go down as well. Seems moving to another place might be a way to transition down ahead of time. You can always be poor in the US.

Yes, I've considered moving to a place with less pyschosis and a more hospitable climate than Amercia but for right now that's not on the table. For the reasons I stated above I can't seem to find a reason why uprooting yourself from the people and culture (yes, it's a bad culture but atleast I'll understand where people are coming from)to live somewhere else. It's not a given that I'll find Komyooniti there any easier than I can find here. There hard answer is that there's just no easy way out of it.

sharonsj said...

Everything you say is true, and I have read other blogs telling us to get out of Dodge. But this reminds me of the outer space solution to the next doomsday: our "space brothers" will descend in color-coded motherships to rescue the chosen and take them away to safety. However, your trip will be limited to one suitcase and no pets.

When I heard that, I said, "I'm not going anywhere."

I have the same attitude now. This is my home, my house and land, my belongings, and I'm not giving them up without a fight.

By the way, I have traveled extensively and can speak one foreign language adequately. I have a vast library of how-to books and, if pressed, could spin my own yarn and weave it into cloth, as well as preserve food and make liquor. I have plenty of friends who are also able to do the same things. Some Americans are still capable of being pioneers.

itsmerob said...

The UK is a bankrupt nation too. Over crowded with an ever growing nationalist movement. You prob wont be living under an extreme fascism here when the shit hits the fan, but you will never find a job. But, the population isn't armed so you will be relatively safe

ladelfina said...

Lots of great comments; I wish I could respond to each one of you.

I'll limit myself to recounting briefly that I moved to Italy before I became aware of Peak Oil, but I had still been yearning for a society that was less wasteful and more ‘human-scale’, and which lived more in tune with nature and the seasons. I arrived to find garlic from China being sold in the supermarkets, just like in the US.

Today, Italians in the Po Valley of Parma (where Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and Parma hams come from) continue inexorably in selling off tracts of farmland in order to build new empty commercial RE ventures to add to the last couple of decades’ worth of still-empty CRE ventures. The monetary-industrial system is forcing cash-strapped farmers to sell off their fields to gravel companies, because cement is deemed more valuable than pastureland, cows or cheese, believe it or not. (Those who can understand some Italian, check out a WWF documentary called “Il Suolo Minacciato”). http://www.ilsuolominacciato.it/

In ancient times, armies would salt their enemies' fields. What does it say about us that we are rushing to salt (poison, pave over, pour toxic dispersants on) our very own fields? See also fracking, MTR, etc.

It’s a world-wide sickness. And an implacable problem, as @kulturcritic points out more than once. It's not *only* over-population and its related resource extraction... worse, it's the fact that the overpopulation and resource extraction are actually *driven* by the nature of our chosen monetary system and by the nature of capitalism itself, which is the material analog of the more-conceptual fractional-reserve lending scheme.

Just as money/debt must mathematically increase exponentially in order to generate the necessary future interest promised, so must resource extraction increase exponentially in order to generate the future material profits promised in profit, interest and dividends: the latter are the physical expression of the former. And this is the case with or without an expanding population! The laws of mathematics impel it and will continue to exacerbate our existing resource problems until we recognize that this is—literally—gasoline being thrown on the fire.

The false worldwide economy is not only competing with the real worldwide economy, but is actively destroying the real economy, at a time when we can least afford these ever-more-outsized levels of waste and ruin. (con't.)

gildone84 said...

"Anonymous" raises some good points, but there is a lot going on at the grassroots level in many areas of the US. There is a growing number of people who are trying to create an alternative system-- local food systems, local currencies, co-ops, etc. Since Anonymous doesn't live in the US, he wouldn't necessarily know this. Most of these things are in their nascent stages, but you have to start somewhere.

As for me, I qualify for and have obtained an EU citizenship (Italy), but we're simply in no position to pick up and make a move of that magnitude. My in-laws and father are here and they need help from time to time. They are not moving,ever. Most importantly, their grandson needs to get to know them and spend time with them. Other relatives are here. The few friends we have are here.

I realize America has tons of problems, that "this is what collapse looks like" and that we really aren't "Number 1" like so many of my countrymen think. Sometimes, you just have to make the best of it where you are, build your lifeboats where you are. Part of me wants to go, but a bigger part of me tells me to stay.

hexsquared said...

http://www.zerohedge.com/article/leaving-america-redux-sovereign-mans-next-steps-guide-expats-waiting

ladelfina said...

(con't.)
Another example of [capitalism obligating exponential waste] would be the foreclosure "trash-out" people, whom I saw filmed putting thousands of dollars' worth of new furnishings into dumpsters. The structure of our economy does not just allow this to happen, but requires that it happen. And no-one sees fit to consider this, much less acknowledge it or address it. We are asked to accept it, to sleepwalk through it, and worse, to respond to its depredations by "going shopping" in order to further "stimulate the economy". The economy does not need a stimulus, it needs a sleeping pill, for Christ's sake… a tranquilizer dart.

The more debt there is, the more waste there shall be, because paradoxically the debt conjures up spending and waste, just as the market for MBSs called forth real-estate over-expansion and bad loans (rather than the other way around as is commonly assumed).

Now, most people do realize in a general way that we are in a hole and we must stop digging, but all that both the experts and the citizenry want to do or know how to do is to dig holes. The economic and ideological system (the "freedom" of individualism and of "making" money) that most people of the world have come to embrace, and to which virtually all people are now connected whether they like it or not, is itself intrinsically evil and destructive. Political systems like communism, socialism, and so forth are evil to the degree that they are subject to certain defects in human nature, but the evils of capitalism are physically, materially, *mathematically* inherent to the system itself.

As such, any politics which accommodates capitalism is going to be subject to capitalism's inescapably destructive mathematical laws, which is why we will likely not be able to seek relief in any but the most far-right or far-left enclaves: so extreme that they eschew capitalism altogether. Only then will there be a true possibility of addressing resource issues honestly (although these societal formations will have their own undesirable aspects, no doubt).

I come to this conclusion not by way of ideology, but by recognizing the physical impossibilities, not just of fiat money systems but of capitalism itself, given a system of stable inputs much less shrinking ones.

--
Despite being in what some people might consider an enviable location, I am actually considering a move back to the US, but only as a more economical place to find hawlkeye’s “water and decent topsoil”, which is what it’s ultimately all about. We have some family and some friends on each side of the ocean, so it’s not an easy call. But I am worried, too, about the powers behind the scenes which are not only shoving Sarah Palin down America's throat, but which are clamoring for war with Iran, Korea, and now even China, as I.M.Nobody alludes to.

Lance Michael Foster said...

There is an article worth reading by Sharon Astyk about whether or not to adapt in place or migrate somewhere else ASAP:
http://scienceblogs.com/casaubonsbook/2010/06/when_you_should_not_adapt_in_p.php

God Is Red said...

As an american, one who is half Native by "quantum" (I will refrain from stating my anger and resentment of what it is like to be treated like a pedigree animal, or having to hear talk of 'Columbus Day'), I will state what anonymous so eloquently touched on and few seem willing to talk about. I just wished I could in "50 words or less"

First, the arrogant, flagwaving national chauvanists who think country can and should be judged by the size and might of its military and its ability to blow up, maim, kill, or otherwise exploit weaker countries need to get off your brainwashed testorone poisoned shallow minds and sit on the blisters of the flames of ignorance your have burned your ass on over the last few decades, I would argue the last few centuries.

Being "number one" will be viewed by the ability of a country to provide a decent standard of living for its people in conditions that are safe and dignified, by the quality of its ability to provide a clean and safe environment, by the health standards, life expectancy, infant mortality, and by quality of education of its people

In this regard, the US is failing miserably and seems like it will continue on the path of self destruction and only then will priorities change. Too little too late. Getting used to living in 'third world' squalor and misery is not something learned late in life and not something taught in schools. You are in for one hell of a time, literally

God Is Red said...

The Grim Reality is that the US government has accumulated an ACTUAL debt of 128 trillion. (The "official" figure that the government and the talking heads in our "fair and balanced" corporate media will admit to is a mere 12.8 trillion, which like other "official" figures the whores in Washington and their faithful lackeys in the mainstream media can fudge by not including medicare, vet's benefits, etc and thus like the ACTUAL poverty and unemployment rates, hide or sugar coat the magnitude of the disaster they have created)

Remember the words from Dmitry's interview on RT (available via youtube). "Inability to grow the economy resulting in levels of debt that have to be taken on at a completely unsustainable rate". With what little spare time I have, I have been collecting visuals (video and pics) of the collapse process in the US, to drive the reality home.

Sometimes words are not enough. Pictures speak louder. Will have a link to my visual as well as verbal documentation of the collapse process soon

AMT said...

Dear authors,

I follow your posts with interest, and although overall I agree with your appreciations at this particular one (I'm Spanish but have spent some time abroad), you should notice that Europe is not heading to its brightest times. In fact, I would like to attract your attention to a significant fact just happened in Spain: in response to a flash strike by air traffic controllers, our Government (supposedly a Lefty one) has decreed "state of alarm" for all Spain and submitted the controllers to military law, under penalties according to military code. The funniest thing about all of that is that controllers decided to go on strike because in fact they had already done more hours than those agreed by their contracts, but this same Friday the Government was preparing a decree for erasing the extra hours without any compensation. Hence, Spain is not so far away to become a dictatorship, and I feel that Europe will also follow the same path.

Regards,
Antonio

Lordbud said...

So many Edgar Cayces the world has never known. The grim truth is everywhere. All the people clogging your sidewalk, your roads, your places of congregation...the Grimmest Truth, is that there are too many human beings on this finite planet. Not a few too many, but far far and away too many. All for the love of money.

kollapsnik said...

Things get a bit ridiculous when people who live down the road from each other attempt to communicate with each other by posting comments to this blog. Comments should be about the post, not about the commenters. If you want to meet, first on the etherwebs and then maybe even in person, then email me directly, and I will attempt to make the connection.

zhu said...

"...the policies of the U.S. government have created so much anti-Americanism that an American emigrant is subject to the same type of treatment in the workplace that blacks in the U.S. often experience."

Americans are still popular in China. I was here when the US bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, and several other diplomatic incidents, and nothing bad has happened to me. American movies are the main source of info about the US, and they usually flatter the US.

Zhu Bajie, alive in the bitter sea

zhu said...

"What shocks me is that even some Europeans dream about the USA as the country of freedom and equal opportunity."

Lots of educated Chinese think like this, and argue with me when I tell them otherswise. Movies like "Sleepless in Seattle" and "Ghost" are cult movies in the PRC and mis-inform people endlessly. My students also download sit-coms like "Gossip Girls" and assume that's the way it really is in the USA. I occasionally show students movies like "Taxi Driver," (Bickell's sh*thole apartment is almost identical with my last one in the US) but they refuse to believe.

They also assume that they would count as White people in the US and are sometimes shocked when I tell them more realistic things about race relations.

Zhu Bajie

zhu said...

"I believe that Anon and Dmitry are simply suggesting that the violence yet to be perpetrated here, in collapse, may be more overwhelming than most anticipate..."

Well, that's what I figure. The USA is a violent country at the best of times, and vigilante attacks on minorities or dissidents is an old tradition. Read your Mark Twain!

Zhu Bajie

God Is Red said...

So now we have Obama trying to play like the new FDR, somehow thinking he can substitute low paying, temporary construction jobs to rebuild roads and bridges that few,if any, cars will be travelling on, for a manufacturing base that has been exported.

There are major differences between what the media are still calling a 'recession' and the previous Great Depression.


First and foremost, peak oil hadn't hit, and the country wasn't 128 trillion dollars in debt. Second, I believe roughly 20% of the population lived on farms, whereas I believe that figure is now less than 2%.

The grim future is that the retirement system is doomed to fail. Most people do not yet realize it, but their retirement money is gone. Nor do they realize that the car they are currently driving or the next one they buy will likely be the last one they ever drive.

The US dollar has been in steady decline. No longer backed by gold, as a medium of exchange, the dollar continues on inertia as long as people trust that this paper money has value.

As the US dollar has been the de facto, standard issue currency of international trade since the end of WWII, which most importantly includes the oil trade, when trust in the dollar wanes then ceases to exist it's lights out for an industrialized america. We need to import 2/3 of our energy needs from countries that hate our government for its sordid past (assasinating foreign leaders, overthrowing legally elected governments, bombing people into the stone age, wars of 'liberation', and bullying in general). The reserves of these countries peaked around 2005, with their reserves in terminal decline, they will likely be more than glad to take commodities, gold, or other currencies and see Uncle Sam and his war machine brought to its knees. It is not a question of IF, it is a question of HOW SOON. The clock is ticking..

God Is Red said...

People needed to hear this. The US is not so number oneish as we have been lead to believe. The irony of this article was that I was seriously going to ask which Rosetta stone(s) I should buy....Hunan, Hindi, Russian?

Two things stand out after being jolted by reality when I read the 5 stages of collapse roughly 2 years ago.

One is the extent of the denial out there. The wishful thinking usually goes one of 3 ways "we are too big to collapse", "technology will save us", to the more hopeless "God would never allow this to happen"

The other issue which I believe will be perhaps the single greatest factor in a collapsing/post collapse country is the extent of racial tension in this country.

I am half white so and feel I have looked objectively at this situation.

I could write an entire essay with specific examples to prove my points but basically, the tension is everywhere. When a member of this or that race says or interacts with someone from the other race, the first thing that goes through people's minds is that it was based on skin color. That seems to be ingrained in US culture for keeps, and will make for a very bloody situation when the shit starts to hit the fan.

God Is Red said...

To illustrate, just think back to the media circus that lead up to the OJ verdict

That was one event where everyone seems to remember exactly where they were at that time. I was finishing my nursing courses at a local college when the verdict was read.

Campus security had shut off all the cable televisions on campus to avert what they feared could escalate into conflict.

Someone had a radio on, and I was not so curious to hear the verdict as to study the reactions of people.

The Afro-american students rushed outside because they probably feared their white classmates and teachers seeing their reaction, which was sheer jubilation, a scene that was repeated across the country. The reactions of the white students ranged from shock to anger to tears.

Some seem to have forgotten that just prior to that, the LA cops who had Rodney King attached to a leash on a chain were acquitted by an all white jury after they savagely busted him with night sticks. We all remember the riots the ensued.

When austerity conditions are imposed due to lack of jobs, chronic budget shortfalls resulting in slashed or eliminated social programs, we will see millions of very pissed off, destitute people with nothing left to lose.

If some kind of safety net is attempted, it will likely be paid by those who may (or more than likely, may not) be working. Unable to afford ever increasing out of pocket expenses for the 'luxury' of healthcare, and struggling against higher fines, fees, taxes, and stagflation, they will revolt against those whom they see as getting special treatment.

The racial factor is a time bomb waiting to explode, unfortunately

Bill Reiswig said...

There is some truth here, and I am sure it is fun to read and write. There is a special brand of American anti-intellectualism embodied in the tea-party types genuflection to corporatism that kills our hopes of good public health care or schools. America's addiction to oil is extreme, and it will be a disaster going forward. Our political system and media are broken.

Lets not kid ourselves that europe is not equally broke, however, or that Canada is less oil dependent, or that Russia less corrupt. It's true too that it matters what region you live in. I live in Seattle, which at least aspires to better transit, has a more localized food system, and seems more politically aware of the real issues at hand. I don't kid myself that America doesn't have GRIM issues facing it, but there are many many good neighbors here.

Shodo said...

Too many people just seem to be thinking about their personal lives. Aren't we responsible to do something? I recommend Derrick Jensen's Endgame (both volumes) and committing to taking action.

God Is Red said...

The sad truth is that when people get to know each other, they can better understand each other and get along. I work in a racially mixed environment. We work together and respect and care about each other as we are united for a common purpose, taking care of the sick and injured, caring for those who cannot care for themselves. We do not see in colors.

This harkins back to what Dmitry said on his RT interview. He saw the collapse of the former USSR and has given us valuable insights as to how we can mitigate our inevitable collapse.

The ideal is like the picture you see on a packet of seeds. The reality is what grows. Dmitry has given us some ideals....to get to know each other, to change our way of thinking, this sense of what is yopurs and what is mine, to share responsibilities, for starters. Now the reality is what we make it by our choices. The time to start preparing is now

TragedyOfTheComments said...

If you read between the lines, "typical hippie liberal anti-American drivel" means "devoid of falsehood."

Thanks Dmitry for taking on the herculean task of moderating this blog. We see thoughtful voices from all across the political spectrum and I for one am very grateful.

Blockhill (NZ) said...

one way to obtain access to another country is to marry one one of their citizens.

Lauren! said...

I stumbled across this blog post on tumblr and let me join the chorus of ex-pats in wholehearted, enthusiastic agreement.

My husband and I finished college, had no health insurance, no jobs, nor prospects. Grad school costs more than my parents' house and I, as a photographer, was disillusioned with the state of the industry and also the treatment of art in general in the U.S. (that's another story)

We were able to get visas to move to Paris for a year and teach English, and decided to give it a trial run. I'll admit we're unique in this aspect since we're both fluent, having lived in France previously.

My parents are card-carrying conservatives, and my whole life it's been socialist Europe this, and damn the VAT tax that. I was amazed how quickly my moderate political views began to sway left. During the strikes over retirement reform, I realized the hilarity that America calls itself a democracy but "oppressed socialists" have more freedom and actually care enough to march in the streets when the politicians don't suit them. The shock that would come over people's faces when I told them I didn't have health insurance back in the U.S. was strange, the unfamiliarity and uneasiness with guns, the fact that I was actually protected against shady landlords in Paris without having to shell out for a lawyer--it was, to say the least, eye-opening.

And the funny part is that Americans pay about the same amount of taxes as the average European, (Not Sweden, obviously) and what do we get for it? A military that lets 18-year old delinquents spend millions blowing up crap for "training," one that polices the entire world so other countries can lay back and spend their tax money on things like healthy babies.

I've always believed in the idea of America, but now it's just an idea. The government is so corrupt, so unfixable, the country to large and divided in ideology, the system ruled by meaningless precedents and corporations that it's sinking and sinking fast.

Anyway, my husband and I have been surprised by how well things have gone for us since we've been in Europe, we have jobs and visas lined up again for next year, we're thinking about grad school again(because it costs next to nothing) and it's SO refreshing to tell someone I'm a photographer and NOT have them say, "Oh! You can make money at that?"

Adieu America.

P.S. We both grew up in southern California, so things must REALLY be bad if we're jumping ship.

Paul said...

America has long had a history as a violent, materialistic society; and I mean, even in comparison with the histories of European and other countries.

Violence is not confined to physical actions, nor, of course, does it take its origin from them.

Unsurprisingly, its proximate source is to be found in the country's commercial and governmental establishment. Its ultimate source is the blind depravity of the whole ethos of the country whereby, after WWII, the very Senate was loathe to take action against lynchers of African Americans - lynchings evidently still occuring in the middle of the 20th century.

Such a backward country cannot be a benign place to live in even for caucasians, because badness is not self-contained, it cannot be rationally controlled, it cannot be resorted to without harm to the perpetrator.

The UK, which apes the US, thanks to its own history of vile government, with its two-party, 'first past the post' election system - save during what the French call Les Trente Glorieuses, the three decades after WWII, is the disgrace of Europe.

michigan native said...

Just as the late Malcolm X noted, violence is as american as cherry pie. It is just when the violence serves the interests of the "haves" and keep the "have nots" in their place, it is rationalized, even glamorized by the the government and its institutions, like the media, the schools, that joke of a system of justice, and the "forces of law and order"

As such, the ruliing class recruits the working class to go over to fight, kill, and die for their interests both at home and abroad. Hence, the troops went to Iraq to first rid us of the imminent threat of weapons of mass destruction, later changed to a "liberation" mission (Saddam stopped doing what he was told and tired of US sanctions against his country, started trading his oil for Euros instead of the dollar).

Now the latest chapter from the book of defending hypocrisy abroad, and even more pathological, a "humanitarian" mission in Libya because the evil dictator there (notice how the US media label anyone third world leader as a "dictator" when they don't do as they are told, yet all these years the media referred to that dictator in Egypt as "president" Hosni Mubarak?)decides to steer his own course and start trading his oil in a unified Africa for a gold based dinar as opposed to worthless paper dollars.

From the desperate acts of an empire in decline abroad to the increasingly police brutality of its people at home as evidenced by the beating deaths of homeless people, pepper spraying and beating peaceful protestors at occupy movements all over, the US has always been bathed in generous applications of violence and unfortunately, probably always will be...before, during, and after it collapses.

The original author of this blog could not have been more accurate. Try to get out now, while you still can. I will go down with the ship as this was the land of my ancestors, but the rest of you...take a good look around you. Those boarded up strip malls, the despair of people digging through trash cans, the ubiquitous presence of undercover cops wanting to fine, ticket, or fee you to death along with all levels of government with their taxes. This house of cards of collapsing and as the price of food and energy continue to rise, so will your plummet into third world helldom. This is not just another recession that is going to go away, there will nt always be more oil, and technology, along with patriotic slogans and flagwaving and bombing campaigns will not save you. Get out of denial and either fashion your life boat or jump onto another ship that is buoyant and not about to plunge to the bottom

Lance Michael Foster said...

Exactly, Michigan native. This was the land of my ancestors too. I'll die here and go into the land. But if you are young or have money or kids, you should consider your options.

= =

From the mountains to the sun, Life has only just begun.
We wed this land and pledge our souls to meet its end,
Life has only just begun
Here my people roam the earth, in the kingdom of our birth,
Where the dust of all our horses hides the sun
We are mighty on the earth, on the earth

You have come to move me, take me from my ancient home,
Land of my fathers I can't leave you now
We will share it with you, no man owns this earth we're on
Now the wheels are rolling hear the howling winds of war
It's my destiny to fight and die
Is there no solution, can we find no other way, Lord let me stay
Under the endless sky and the earth below
Here I was born to live and I will never go, oh no

But we cannot endure like the earth and the mountains
Life is not ours to keep, for a new sun is rising

Soon these days shall pass away, for our freedom we must pay
All our words and deeds are carried on the wind,
In the ground our bodies lay, here we lay

Cheyenne Anthem, by Kansas

Lance Michael Foster said...

lol, I pasted and copied the lyrics...the last few words should be - here we'll stay

michigan native said...

Well LMF, if it's any consolation, the irony in all of this is that people who thought they conquered and subdued nature are going to learn that they are very much at her mercy and will have to learn to treat her with more respect.

Simpler hunter/gatherer communal/tribal types of arrangements based on more cooperation and simple barter will replace the big cities with their sky scrapers and factories bleching out poison into the air and toxins into our water and this insane system where everybody seems to be out saying "let's make a deal"complete with all the muggings, B and E's, attempted rapes, and senseless shooting that seem to be occurring with greater frequency.

I see the old ways of our ancestors being the ways adapted not necessarily by choice but by survival as the ways a post collapse america will morph into. So this land was and always will be ours, in spirit.

I recently turned 48, I have many relatives in Michigan's northern peninsula, some live on the reservation in Sault Sainte Marie, others are scattered throughout small towns like DeTour, Drummond Island, Cedarville. They all have lived a life more or less self sufficient for many decades, those stoic "yoopers" as we call them (people from the UP...those of us who live in these rusting, dying areas around Detroit are called "trolls") chop their own firewood, plant their own crops, some hunt and they all like to fish and the water up there is actually clean, you can eat the lake trout, perch, salmon, etc and not worry about acumulating a hefty dose of mercury or other toxins/carcinogens.

When I visit there, they treat me like a long lost brother, they tell me I should be up there with them, but our jobs (my wife is a social worker at the U of M and I am a ICU respiratory therapist/nurse at 2 local hospitals, 1 part time job at a nursing home) keep me weighted down here. I feel trapped, but when our jobs go away (the healthcare profession is starting to collapse and these tea party people want to gut medicare while they increase defense spending, so that will be the final nail in the coffin of the healthcare industry), then I have an escape.

I was thinking of investing in a sailboat, I used to be a tug deckhand with my father so kind of know what I am doing. The soil along the shoreines are very fertile and untarnished by industrialized farming and the water is very good for sailing (except Lake Superior..you have to be careful else the wind kicks up out of nowhere and your are faced with 20-30 foot swells)

Beautiful poem by the way, it cheered me up as I have to go back to work tomorrow and contend with state inspectors and the usual nonsense

bon said...

The most valuable education I ever received was provided through my own sense of adventure and wonder leading me to travel and learn the ways of people in 2nd and 3rd world countries and their values and principles. In my case the middle east was the example. While looking beyond what I deem as obvious flaws I took stock of their value of a simple life-style, collective nature within a strong culture and an incredible resilience to change because of these very foundations.

osmanliansiklopedisi said...

Thank you for beautiful blog :)

michigan native said...

Everytime I revisit this blog, or even the 5 stages of collapse, I am simply blown away at how each passing month seems to confirm the dire warnings. 3 friends, around my age, 49, committed suicide. All had been unemployed, one was facing eviction. Men too proud to beg.

Now the "liberal" president Obama has passed the "national defense authorization act" which essentially gives the federal government dictatorial powers to allocate resources as they see fit. They can arrest and indefinetly detain anyone at anytime with just cause, due process, or legal recourse.

Toss in the fact that the "department of homeland security"has purchased hundreds of million rounds of hollow point bullets, and it becomes rather obvious that they know full well that the shit is going to hit the fan, that collapse is imminent, and they are going to go to any extreme to try to force the citizens they are supposed to represent to keep their place in line as they are marched off to the slaughter house. They will try to force states that will want to secede to remain part of their rotten, corrupt, greedy, despicable, and out of control system.

In sum, get ready for hell in the US. Racial tensions, civil war, gang wars, curbside justice by the "forces of law and order" as it becomes every man for himself. We already see this "I got mine, so fuck everyone else" mentality, and the new one, I don't have mine, so I don't want anyone else to have it either". Hundreds of millions of destitute people with nothing left to lose.

Shodo said...

Lance Michael Foster - You and others expressed what I think: we have responsibility to do something about this. You are in Montana with your seeds and gardens. I'll be passing through eastern Montana this summer with the Compassionate Earth Walk, a sort of intentional foolishness pointing toward a saner way to live. (Keystone XL, Great Plains; website www.CompassionateEarthWalk.org) It would be great to visit.
Dmitry, I always appreciate your stuff. this was excellent!