Tuesday, November 02, 2010

A Survey of Unlikely Voters

It is election season in the United States, and if you tune in to any of the local news programs/comedy shows you are likely to get an earful of commentary, opinion, conjecture and wild speculation on what the “likely voters” are likely to do. Allow me to save you the trouble: they are likely to go and vote. Who they are going to vote for doesn't matter: without exception they are going to vote for an American politician: a lawyer or a businessman, someone belongs to one of a few available political categories, all of them misnomers designed to confuse the public. There are those who call themselves conservatives, and who are in fact not conservatives at all but free market liberals. There are those who call themselves libertarians, but who either are not libertarians at all, or have somehow forgotten their anarchist-socialist roots, and who are in fact also free market liberals. Then there are the “liberals,” who are also free market liberals but aspire to being nice, whereas the rest of the free market liberals are nasty. But nobody here wants to be called a “liberal,” because in this topsy-turvy political universe it has become little more than a term of abuse. It takes a long time to explain this nonsense to visitors from abroad, and when you round out the explanation by saying that these distinctions don't actually matter—because no matter what these politicians call themselves they are all state-capitalists who have been exhibiting quite a few fascist tendencies of late—the visitors inevitably feel that you have wasted their time.

But if you try to explain this nonsense to a domestic audience, it will be you who will feel that your time has been wasted. US voters are easy marks for political tricksters, and it is probably something that just can't be helped. The neatest trick is getting them to vote against their class interest. A few generations ago we had the “Reagan democrats”: working class people who voted—not once but twice!—for someone who was anti-union and generally anti-labor. And now, a few decades of political progress later, we have the “Teabaggers”: middle-aged obese and sickly white people who are about to cast their vote for someone who will take away their government-provided electrifc scooters and their very expensive medical care. When the political tricksters fail and the voting public actually gets a little bit upset, it is time to send in the clowns, and so most recently a couple of late-night TV comedians have joined the fray, holding a massive rally to “restore sanity.” This new sanity is epitomized by the following family portrait: daddy is a “Conservative Republican” mommy is an “Obama Liberal,” the son is a “Libertarian,” the daughter is a “Green,” and the dog (the only one of them who is sane) is trying to run away. Meet the Losers: they are the ones who have no idea what class their family is in, or what their class interest is, and as far as their chances of making successful use of democratic politics to collectively defend and advance their class interest, well... they are the Losers—that says it all, doesn't it? All that blood spilled in the name of liberty and democracy, and to show for it we have a country of insane Losers and the odd sane stray dog, free to a good home.

But it is all a waste of time: the Losers may vote or not vote, they may flap their gums at the breakfast table or twinkle their toes up and down the street holding signs, where they may take part in peaceful protest or get teargassed and shot with rubber bullets—the result will be exactly the same. No matter who US politicians claim to be, all of them exhibit two powerful but conflicting tendencies: to bureaucratize and to privatize. The bureaucratizers among them wants to grow public bureaucracies, creating political machines and systems of patronage, and providing ample scope for pork barrel politics. The privatizers among them want to dismantle public institutions and privatize everything under the sun in order to shrink the public realm and to enhance the concentration of private wealth. These two imperatives are at odds, not for any ideological reason, but simply because there is an inevitable tug of war between them: big public bureaucracies expand the public realm, but privatizing the public realm shrinks it. All American politicians find it in their interest to both expand government and to privatize its functions. When the US economy is growing nicely, the two factions find that their wishes are granted, and they go merrily along enlarging federal and local bureaucracies while assisting in the concentration of wealth, making everyone they care about happy—everyone except the population, which is being steadily driven into bankruptcy and destitution, but that's just a problem of perception, easily remedied by an army of political consultants come election time.

This public-private feeding frenzy is called “bipartisanship.” When the economy isn't growing, the two factions are forced to square off against each other in what amounts to a zero-sum game. This is called “gridlock.” Currently the US economy is growing at such an anemic rate that unemployment (defined as “percentage of working-age able-bodied people without a job”—not the fake “official” number) is continuing to increase. Even this anemic growth is likely to be corrected down in the coming months. The future glows even dimmer: a good leading indicator of economic growth happens to be “discretionary consumer durable goods spending,” and the good people who have had their eye on it tell us that it has been trending downward for a few months now, and portends a GDP growth rate of around negative six percent, which, if it holds at that level and does not deteriorate further, gives the US economy a half-life of just under a dozen years. A continuously shrinking economy assures continuous gridlock.

Although most if not all political commentators are on record saying that gridlock a bad thing, it is hard to find a reason to agree with them. Given the country's predicament, which of the two fruits would we wish this putatively beneficial bipartisanship to yield: the gift of more federal and local bureaucracy or the gift of more privatization and concentration of private wealth in fewer and fewer hands? Let us suppose that you are a big fan of government bureaucracy; how, then, do you expect the country to be able to afford to feed all these bureaucrats when the economy—and therefore the tax base— is shrinking? And supposing that you idolize the ultra-rich and expect to become one yourself as soon as you win the lottery; how, then, do you expect your riches to amount to anything, seeing as the vast majority of this private wealth is positioned “long paper”—currency, stocks, bonds, intellectual property or some more exotic or even toxic pieces of paper with letters and numbers printed on them. All of these financial instruments are bets on the future good performance of the US economy, which, by the way, is shrinking. A continuously shrinking economy is a large incinerator of paper wealth, and all these paper instruments are in the end just ephemera or memorabilia, like tickets to a show that's been cancelled. The bureaucratic contingent and the wealthy-on-paper contingent have enough paper between the two of them to feed the fire for a little while longer, but does the country really need a bipartisan effort increase this rate of combustion? If you enjoy being part of this system, and want to show your appreciation for it by casting a vote, you might as well vote for gridlock, because doing so is more likely to prolong your pleasure.

Cast your vote for gridlock, if you wish; your time is yours to waste. But what of all those who aren't particularly interested in voting? My informal survey of unlikely voters indicates that a surprisingly large number of them is thinking of leaving the country. Some days it seems like anybody who has a brainwave is thinking about running away. This is especially true of dual citizens who hold a US passport as a passport of convenience (it is one of the easiest in the world to get). For them it is more a question of “When?” It is also true of those born elsewhere, or have a foreign-born parent, or some other tenuous connection with another country. But there are many among those who are thinking of leaving who have lived in the US their entire lives, have barely ever ventured abroad, and are not proficient in a single foreign language! They don't know how to fit in anywhere but here, but they do know that they can't stay where they are. Finding these people a good new home seems like a bit of a challenge.

It seems that many of those who are clever enough to realize that voting here is a fool's errand also want to leave this country. But how many of them are actually successfully leaving? The answer (again, based on my decidedly informal and limited survey of unlikely voters) is that the vast majority of those who are thinking of leaving are failing to do so. This is rather unfortunate, because the planet can absorb only so many US expatriates. Should you decide to become one yourself, it would make sense for you to try to find yourself a chair to sit down on before the music stops. Even now the mood in many countries is turning anti-immigrant. The longer you wait, the higher your risk of becoming stranded in what remains of the US.

I will certainly have more to say on this topic—once the election fever has abated, Washington is safely gridlocked, and the bonfires of bureaucratic grandiosity and paper wealth are burning bright.


48 comments:

Larkin said...

Along these lines, I have a wealthy, well intentioned but useless friend whose parents have just sold all their interest in a bank. Without familiar connections or even knowing Spanish, they purchased a large estate in Argentina and are moving there. When I heard this, my eyes went wide. "They know something is up."

When you think about it, South America is a bit more isolated than Eurasia or North America and somewhat self sufficient. I had to admit that it was a good choice. If it was good enough for Germans in the 40's, it would be good enough for the Bankers. For awhile, at least.

I have always kept a passport but once you pass 55 other countries are not interested. You can't really blame them. The average American has less to offer than someone who is highly educated and hungry from India.

Americans may lament their mistreatment of Mexicans when the day comes to seek refuge in the Baja Peninsula. Most of them of Native American extraction would be right to be resentful. Many Americans live there now on soon to be worthless Social Security checks. What then?

How will Americans feel when the Canadians begin to erect a wall along our shared border. A rude awakening for sure.

As for voting, For the first time in my life I have given up. I had great hopes for Obama until I realized that like all the others, it was reality TV.

Larry Gambone said...

The sane Americans who want to leave can come to Canada. We have right-wing nut cases too, but not as many thankfully

EdgarBox said...

The question where will those young people who have a clue go?

forrest said...

You entirely miss the object of "privatization." (Should have read Theresa Funiciello, _Tyranny of Kindness!)

It is not at all opposite to "bureaucratication", but has the precise same purpose: "creating political machines and systems of patronage, and providing ample scope for pork barrel politics."

If the civil service does a task, the only scope for patronage is to put your good friend in charge of the serfs doing the actual work. If you privatize it, you can give the contract to his company... and entertain your fans with speeches about the 'efficiency' of private enterprise (able to charge less money for appearing to do the job than anyone it would actually take to do it.)

the nomad said...

I've already left, south of the border, and situated well.

You gotta stay ahead of the game.

I have dual citizenship and am seriously debating renouncing my US citizenship.

evillar9 said...

Many western countries seem to be going particularly right wing these days. The US midterms is a choice between kicking the can down the road and taking the country back to a worse time. The UK now has a right wing led government. Sweden just voted in many right wingers who are anti-immigration. Canada is Conservative led and generally pro USA when it comes to trade, war, and economics. Germany is led by the right leaning CDU and have been anti immigrant recently as well.

Every country seems to want a weaker currency compared to the US dollar, but the US dollar itself seems to want to get weak.

In the age of US collapse, where does the rest of the world fit in? and Where does Canada fit in since it is a neighbour of the US?

michael said...

Dimitri,

Love your stuff, always find something in it to think about. Just an FYI, in your RSS feed some of the words are run together, like this "withoutexception" Not sure what you need to do to fix it but you might want to look into it, makes it tough to read. Keep up the great thinking.

-Michael

Michael Dawson said...

You nailed this, DO.

Interestingly, at a neighbor's Halloween party this past Saturday, I found myself falling into an argument with a Romanian who had himself sneaked into the US a couple decades ago. His analysis of what ails the US now? You guessed it: Immigrants. How do they work their ruination? By visiting the Emergency Room!

You can't sneak in like that! Only WE can sneak in like that.

This common "interpretation" of current events apparently doesn't even require one's ancestors to have been the border-crossers!

what the Tee Vee taught said...

You remind me to do what probably "should" need no reminder:

enjoy life.

Beyond that, your writing is endlessly pleasurable: funny, caustic, and coherent. I am tinkering with old bicycles, of late — another pleasant activity — your words were largely the impetus for that renewed activity.

Thank you, sir.

weeone said...

I've been wondering why you, Dmitry, haven't moved back to Russia. It seems like an obvious move for someone born there. Russia should be self-sufficient in energy for decades if they curtail exports, which they will.

As for me, I was born and raised here in the good old USA and I will die here. I have prepped to the max with my homestead, gotten away from the cities, and will make the best of it. I don't expect to live forever. I did vote today because I had some time to kill this morning.

Sixbears said...

Yeah, I voted, but with no grand expectations. More concerned with the elections on the most local level. For example, I want to keep the worker drone who registers deeds in my county. The local office has avoided all scandals. Her opponent wants to change something that's working for some weird political idea.

More concerned about the guys who'll decide on how the local roads will, (or will no) get plowed this coming winter.

As for leaving the country??? Over 50 and not rich enough. Did buy a small sailboat, so I'm doing all I can to run off with the sea people.

thetinfoilhatsociety.com said...

I'll stay, for better or for worse. My family came from Ireland, but I was born here.

Besides. The Irish are in the same boat they've always been; first they couldn't stand together because of their tribal society issues and loyalties (much like the M.E. has difficulty coming together presently and for the same reasons), now they won't stand up together because the RC Church has beaten meekness and servitude into them.

I'll stay and take my chances as long as my children and grand children are here. I'm the only one who actually knows how to be semi-self sufficient right now, and I'm trying desperately to teach my DIL while there's still time and a faint desire.

I voted, because I feel compelled to do my civic duty even when I know the vote is fixed. You can't change a lifetime of training I guess.

Susan

Third Chimp said...

As a Canadian, I'm sure we'd welcome an influx of sane Americans (recently restored sanity OK too). Don't be surprised if you find us frantically attempting to re-inflate our real estate bubble, all the while busily separating tar from sand for y'all.

Melinda said...

Good post — I particularly liked the analysis of U.S. politics — but I wonder, are you leaving or have you left the U.S.? Also, I second Michael's comment about the RSS feeds. The lack of spaces in some words makes it hard to read.

PB said...

As others have said, you nailed it.

I would like to flesh out the privatisation/bureaucratisation relationship with ref. to Australia.

It all begins with a relatively-efficient public service provider, which usually runs year after year at a small loss. If there's any pork it tends to be in the form employing a greater number of coal-face workers than is strictly neccessary. 'Jobs for mates' and all that. At least this form of pork benefits ordinary people (blue-collar employment) and users (more staff, better service).

Corporatisation is the first step towards bureaucratisation (before privatisation). In this configuration coalface workers are increasingly made reduntant and managers are hired with private-sector salaries in order to establish 'best-practice' for-profit structure. Pork exists here, but it is redistributed from workers to managers (bad) with inferior service for the public (less staff).

Privatisation entails even further redistribution of pork from workers to bureaucrats. Highly paid accountants/consultants are required for sale or IPO of the formerly public assets. More coalface workers are laid off in 5 years time as employment commitments expire. Some workers are rehired at triple their previous salary as consultants. Service standards typically reach rock bottom following this point.

Better yet, the industry once monopolised by a public service provider is now a 'market'. The government must set up a 'commission' or regulator to 'supervise' these markets. The commission is populated by half-a-million per year bureaucrats who are typically ex-politicians or industry figures aligned to the governing party.

'Jobs for mates' remains, with benefits transferred from blue-collar workers to managers and crooks.

But, as you point out, everyone that counts, the finance/consulting sector, the managers, the markets, the friends of politicians, is happy.

Brad K. said...

Michael Dawson,

Here in Northern Oklahoma (which was called "The Indian Territories", before becoming the state of Oklahoma, 'cause the Army dumped tribes from all over the US here, along with providing a haven for an astounding range of lawless and folk that were fugitives from the law), I have a friend that works the local weekly flea market.

On his van is a mural, a silhouette of a stage coach and four horses - being chased by Native Americans in full regalia. The legend, of course, is "America's first border patrol".

It seems back when the first ships came over - no one bothered to check their credentials with the locals, no one got approval to land and strip forests, bring diseases that threatened the locals, attacked the locals and drove them from their homes and lands, etc.

It is difficult to change, once the precedent is set.

Myself? I figure the border is the government's responsibility. The folk down the road? The live and work here as much as many others, they earn a paycheck, most of them, and pay taxes, too. Whether they are "documented" or not is a government problem. Not mine.

Heck, we have a President that won't show his original birth certificate. Or permit prosecuting voting fraud and irregularities if the harmed voters are white (see the Coates testimony to Congress, about directions and instructions given to the Department of Justice by the President, and passed on to the voting irregularity division.)

But I'm not bitter. Much.

Kevin said...

This post depresses me like no other. For decades I've dreamed of moving abroad, and once actually got it together to spend a year of study in Italy, with the idea of hooking my roots in there somehow and staying. But as it turned out, I hated Italy. I should have opted for France , whose language I speak well enough to start with, and which I liked much better, to judge from a few visits. But I never had the requisite cash, and as Larkin said once you're past a certain age the option is foreclosed unless you've got at least $80,000 US in savings, plus income (I checked with my local consulate). My choice of profession is against me there. Even the French don't really want financially strapped American artists over 50.

There's a French blog called "The View from Brittany" whose author once speculated that Europe will fall even harder than the USA, but I don't know whether that's likely to prove so or not. It would be interesting to hear your well-informed speculations on that.

I sometimes wonder: are the vast majority of my countrymen really as uniquely dumb among industrialized peoples as they appear, or is that some kind of politically generated optical illusion? Will their IQ observably increase once the television sputters out?

Kyddyl said...

Spot on! I was thinking of infesting the Kamchatka Penninsula so Sarah Palin can keep an eye on me. I'll take my chances with the bears. Failing that I may break into one of the for profit privatized prisons that are so popular in this country. Failing that the Great American West, as in mountains, is my native home. Good luck finding me. Bears here too, but better than the alternatives.

badnewswade said...

I guess some people really are just too stupid to run their own affairs. It seems democracy has failed the US. That nation is literally dying of stupidity.

RanDomino said...

"There are those who call themselves libertarians, but who have somehow forgotten their anarchist-socialist roots"

Is that what you really think?! "Libertarians" aren't from the Anarchist-Socialist tradition at all! They deliberately stole the word in the 1970s for their arch-capitalist philosophy. Real Anarchists have always despised them.

xbornstubbornx said...

RanDomino,
many ultra-lefts and anarchists in the old world openly call themselves socialist libertarians or libertarian communists, especially in France, where tradition comes from. But the tradition of the new world is apparently borrowing the words from overseas and changing their original meanings, whether it's football, liberalism or libertarianism. Genius of Milton Friedman and his army literally hijacked the term from the leftists.

Cleitophon said...

Well, Europe is not doing too good either. Insted of tea baggers, we have a growing number of nazis running about, drumbeating about islam! teh danish peoples party, austrian freedom party, gert wilders, british national party, Front national. On top of that we have tonnes of incompetent politicians who don't want to rock the boat and plenty of debt. we'll roll out the welcoming mat to any americans, if they can get past our immigration laws.

Patrick Dengate said...

When our daughter went with a friend to New Zealand to work and live abroad for six months, we told her -- only half jokingly -- not to fall in love with anyone there! We are afraid she'd end up living there (about as far from where we live as is possible to go on the planet). Now I wonder if she'll stay, or get stuck there, for some other reason??

Kevin said...

Thanks Cleitophon. I'll take what ignoble solace I can in that. Maybe if I join Le Pen's party and embrace Front National politics they'll welcome me with open arms. And if I paint some good conservative imitation Poussin pictures with a little right-wing politics thrown in, maybe they'll even buy my work for hefty prices and I can retire to the Riviera! Or buy a nice little farm house in Provence and raise chickens and goats. ;)

RanDomino said...

xbornstubbornx said...
"many ultra-lefts and anarchists in the old world openly call themselves socialist libertarians or libertarian communists, especially in France, where tradition comes from. But the tradition of the new world is apparently borrowing the words from overseas and changing their original meanings, whether it's football, liberalism or libertarianism. Genius of Milton Friedman and his army literally hijacked the term from the leftists."

Yes; in the original article the claim that the "Libertarians" somehow have "anarchist-socialist roots" is totally false.

Any hope of a correction, Kollapsnik?

The Onion said...

Americans should stay where they are and take a look at their surroundings. If you live in an area that didn't or could not have prospered during the late 19th century, then you should definitely move away from there somewhere that did.

Lance Michael Foster said...

I understand that some with money and connections will want to go somewhere else. People with no roots here. People with relatives or business deals elsewhere. Divorce, American-style.

My Native American ancestors lived here for 12,000 plus years and then faced genocide with the Columbian Exchange. They are buried in this soil. My European ancestors came here beginning in the 1600s, fighting in the French-Indian War, the Revolution, the War of 1812, the Civil War and WWII. The last of us came over in the 1840s. I don't have any relatives anywhere else. I am American and I will die here, and my bones will mingle with the bones of my ancestors. We all die eventually.

Cleitophon said...

@kevin: It's not just the racism of the extreme right that is gaining ground here. Even the state apparatus is beginning to employ excedingly totalitariian methods towards its populace. Take Denmark where I live, the police can now perform "preventative arrests", create "search zones", perform "mass arrests", tap telephones, email ect all without the need of a warrant or prior suspicion. Immigrants can be expelled for the slightes crimes without the courts being involved. The government recently proposed a new law that would make it possible for the tax agency to mirror all computer content with out warrant or suspicions of foul play (not even just budget related information, but all in formation). The division of power is totally eroded here. The executive branch always has a majority in the legeslative branch and now the judicial branch is being excluded totally. Since the judicial brance is powerless the government has seen through evermore unconstitutional acts. Scary stuff. Perhaps google translate can help you through this interesting article

http://politiken.dk/debat/ECE1078970/juraprofessor-stasi-er-kommet-til-danmark-/

But note that there are similar developments in GB, where the surveillance apparatus put in place is reminiscent of 1984. There is definitely a scary development in europe. In america people are scared of the government, but in europe the goverments are scared of the people and act correspondingly to control them!

Bukko Canukko said...

I didn't flee the United States until after I had lived here for the first 47 years of my life. (Started planning my escape the night of Nov. 2, 2004 when the Cheney Regime seized another four years of power.) I've been lucky enough to get work visas in two other countries. It's not easy, but it's been interesting.

Difficulties -- if you can't do a job that another country needs, they don't want you. I'm lucky -- I'm a hospital nurse, so my skill is in demand until austerity programs kill off the business of keeping sick people alive. If you've got the right heritage, such as Jewish, Irish or Polish, you can gain admission to a country for that. But it's expensive to uproot your life, and the culture shock of going to a new country, even if you've got things in common with the natives, is too much for many people.

Plus, as upthread commenters have noted, countries don't want you if you're old. You represent a potential medical expense to any socialized healthcare system. If you're more than 45, your potential new country can't get 20 years' work out of you before you're too old to be useful.

On the good side, it's less frightening to watch the charade in the United States from a safe vantage point outside. If I was still in America's borders, I'd be freaking. From a distance, it's like a sad circus where the clowns are attacking each other with baseball bats.

Not that my newfound countries, Canada and Australia, will be immune from the Peak Everything shitstorm that's coming. But the difference between them and other Western democracies vs. the U.S. is that the power structures elsewhere at least halfway cares to keep their citizens alive. Socialized medicine, some level of public welfare, whatever muddle-through is going to be achievable, other advanced countries will try. In the U.S., if you're not rich, you're surplus. Please go die quietly, and don't disturb the powerful. I've got a feeling that Americans will sheepleishly follow orders even unto that end.

hawlkeye said...

Expatriotism appears to be panicked tourism; the entire history of the USA is about moving on to "someplace better". Do Americans fleeing the States really imagine they'll be received with open arms by their new neighbors? They will receive contempt at best, and more likely just get popped like a giant white pimple.

Where is my home? Who are my people? Who am I now? These are all the same question, and the answers have to match each other or the schizophrenia just gets exported.

Fortunately, we have a real-life example of a peak-oil leader-type who dabbled in changing his permanent address. Just ask Mike Ruppert how things worked out in Venezuela for a glimpse of the welcoming party Americans face nearly anywhere else in the world.

Running away is a fool's delusion; there is no such thing as "away", and Americans who slurp up the world's goodies and then flee the horrible place for Oz or Disneyland will find their staggering arrogance rewarded according to local customs, about which they will remain clueles to their ignominious end.

steven taylor said...

I will be waiting to hear more of your analysis dimitry...keep up the good work..

Kevin said...

That's very interesting information, Cleitophon. From this and other things I've heard or read, I get the impression that while the prosperous socialist democracies of northern Europe do take better care of their people than other countries, ensuring that few or none wind up homeless or starving or lacking in medical care, by the same token their governments interfere in the lives of individuals to a degree that would not be tolerated elsewhere. Not that I claim to be speaking from personal experience. Anyway, there certainly is no place on Earth that doesn't have its drawbacks.

That seems unduly grumpy, hawlkeye. Loathing and contempt for tourists strikes me as an unaimiable attitude, redolent of parochialism and xenophobia. To extend the same attitude even to the sort of Americans who wish to leave the United States also seems less than rational. And if it were really true that no one can improve their circumstances by emigration, far fewer people would make the very considerable effort required to do it.

Harry J. Lerwill said...

Always good to read what non-voters are saying about voting. Those of us who cannot partake in the system are free to see how ludicrous it really is.

One of my co-workers is very much taken in by the red versus blue distraction. He'll agree that the system is broken but insists that it is because the guys wearing blue spandex have the upper hand, not the team wearing the red spandex. No concept of 'stage managed spectacle.' Completely unable to see outside the Fox-branded box he is in. Another colleague has exactly the opposite color loyalty. They don't talk politics to each other...

Even though I have the option of leaving and returning to my homeland - Wales, along with my American-born family, I choose to stay. I'll likely move at some point in the next 18 months, but stay within the US.

The whole western way of life is up for review. The steps down The Long Descent are rather appealing at present when compared to the other options.

zhu said...

I'm beginning my 15th year in China. I like it here but it's not for every American. I've taught English, which everyone thinks their children need, and I've not been a Health and Wealth Protestantism missionary disguised as an English teacher. Such people are likely to be excluded sometime soon.

Learn the language and local customs of wherever you may go. At least in 3rd world countries, the police etc. agencies are likely to be corrupt and inefficient, leaving a fair amount of wiggle-room for people like me. As the common proverb goes "the mountains are high and the emperor is far away!"

Zhu Bajie

Noel said...

You don't need to leave to disconnect. The grass is always greener in the pasture next door. Parts of the good ol' USA will do just fine. It's a big place. If you live in Phoenix of course, you're toast!

Having relocated once myself (to the US, from W. Europe) I can tell you it's very challenging and takes years to really process.

If you want to disconnect from mainstream, corporate culture and the general craziness, then just switch off. 'Go Dark'. It's very much within your control. Tune it out as DO says. Stop answering.

If you feel you can't because of the job, the debt, the family, well, there you go. Time's almost up though.

I 'lifeboated' to Maui's North Shore and it's so very different from the mainland US. The 'outside' world and elections and celebrity and all the other bullshit seems like it's on a different planet or is vague nightmare I can barely recall.

Simplify, grow your own, ride your bike, hook up with dodgy compadres, surf, barter, exchange, be useful and enjoy the spectacle.

Cleitophon said...

@Kevin: In fact the history of Denmark is the history of a country that narrowly escapes despotism time and time again. This tendency goes much further back than merely the establishment of the welfare state in the 1930, and may be seen as part and parcel of the cameralist mode of state organisation. In fact the tendencies in denmark may be viewd as Neocameralism.

http://books.google.dk/books?id=sl7LM2WJPMIC&pg=PA34&lpg=PA34&dq=denmark+avoiding+despotism&source=bl&ots=Y1II021mCv&sig=zv9Ks_ZJDug4EzQthc3JVZcb8-I&hl=da&ei=lPHUTL3yEs_pOdTfjMoJ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBQQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false


As it is now the constitution sufferes from some severe drawbacks in regard to the division of power. It states ( in §3) that: "Legislative power is vested in the King and the Folketing conjointly. Executive power is vested in the King. The judiciary is in the courts."

Since the king/queen has no real power, the legislative and executive powers are one and the same, and now the judicial power is being usurped. In fact there have been informal rules in place to assure the fair uses of power, but these are being ignored. In fact there have been a number of cases where ministers have been caught lying or mismanaging their office, and there has been no effective check against it.

Thus we find a centralising government that attempts to run the state like a gigantic corporation or company.

But in fact, what interests me is that this is merely one case among many in the western world, where the states are centralising power and increasing control over their own populace.

Incidentally I think you are correct in your assessment that the more welfare you offer your citizenry, the tighter control you must have in regard to immigration and so forth!

hawlkeye said...

Aye, sure, I'll own grumpy, but not those other big words. I simply observe tourist economies to be vampiric, without true improvement to either party in the exchange, resident or visitor.

Many people live in ridiculous enviro-bubbles (yes, the Sunbelt) and really should move (if they have time). But most of the folks I know who want to relocate abroad have NOT thought through the very basic elements of "culture shock"; language, relatives, customs, skill-sets, etc. What's the local translation of "soft target"?

I find hopeful expatriates behaving more like tourists than new residents, despite their aspirations to the contrary. Most are pitifully unprepared to live where they ARE, much less where they want to GO. Ruppert's Venezuela story would be highly instructive to these runaways, would they only take it to heart.

But if they must go, good riddance and good luck with that. I'm more interested in those willing to collectively answer my first 3 questions; who among the neighbors will roll up their sleeves with me and grow into clan? Who is willing to define "home" with each other, with a definition much deeper than "equity"?

Expatriation reeks of manifest destiny; tourists are loathed wherever they go, starting with the Pilgrims, and few Americans know any better. I agree with the Onion about location criteria; our 200 years of "move on" must yeild to "hunker down" if any hope of true improvement can take root.

Ach, there's that hope trap again...

Moose said...

You don’t have to be young or rich to immigrate to another country, in fact in many other countries just Social Security is enough to allow you to live there. Some sort of health care scheme is always available for expats, but don’t expect their citizens’ free health care system to cover you.

I am 65 and definitely planning to leave just as soon as I can sell my doomstead here. It is mostly off the grid and in a very favorable rural location with many other advantages, but I have a very bad back now and can no longer physically maintain it.

Sure, I will have to learn a new language (I’m already studying it on the Internet) and must adapt to a new culture, but that’s OK. I refuse to remain in the violent circus that is gestating here in the crumbling U.S.

So if you are older and would like to leave, do lots of research on the Internet and you too will find a suitable country to move to, and no, I won’t tell you what country I’m moving to.

Mendur said...

hawlkeye said:
"Expatriotism appears to be panicked tourism; the entire history of the USA is about moving on to "someplace better". Do Americans fleeing the States really imagine they'll be received with open arms by their new neighbors? They will receive contempt at best,"

You might be right ... but there might be worse things here in the USA if things get *really* bad and, as Mr. Orlov said:
"The life of a refugee is a form of survival; staying and fighting an organized mob generally isn’t."

Do I *want* to go to another country to live? Not really. I grew up here and I kinda like it here. But *would* I go if I thought it meant the difference between living and dying?

Would *you*?

I. M. Nobody said...

Mendur,

Let me quote you something from a 1987 movie called American Harvest also released as Race Against The Harvest. The lead character said something like this to a young man that wanted to quit his custom combining crew because he felt their problems were too big for him to face. Every time you run away from something because it looks too big, you get a little smaller. Eventually everything is too big for you.

Do you imagine that the collapse of the biggest empire the world has ever seen is going to leave the rest of the world unscathed? Certainly you must have noticed that it is not going peacefully. That is not endearing us to our neighbors. Hawlkeye is right, running away and imposing on others is the pattern of our strain of humankind. Isn't it time we end that and make a stand? There isn't really any place left to go anyway and just maybe we could start growing in stature again, instead of shrinking.

Pangolin said...

There's so much silliness here that it's hard to sort it out. Escaping to an EU nation sounds like a good idea until you realize that their population densities are so high that the survival or tolerance of strangers in an oil constrained world has slim to nil odds. You would have to be strongly connected to an existing, well-rooted family.

There are tens of thousands of small towns, villages, and small cities where it might be possible to set up demonstration organic gardens and invite people to observe before a hard collapse. There are millions of places near you where a weed crop of sunchokes, sweet potatoes or potatoes could be started on verges, meridians, rights of way or other waste land.

These are places you can actually get to. Unless, like Dmitri, you have a sail boat already, in a berth, with good gear you're probably stuck wherever you are when the ball drops. Do you want to try and convince a small mob or a large mob that you can help them find lunch? What language can you talk fastest in? Those will be the factors that matter.

David Scott said...

I have thought about relocating to another country but family ties and health issues keep me in place.
I do wish I followed my Dad's advice when I had received my draft notice in 1970 and he offered to pay my way to Canada as he saw Vietnam as a nothing more than a miltary/industrial complex war and I didn't need to be sacarfice so a few could become richer.
So what now does one do?

Well, first vote your pocket book and for me from a working class back-ground it is democrat or socialist leaning independent. At least they talk a good game. But voting since 1972 I do not expect change.

Oil current stablized prices reflect only demand not supply and will go up and eventually become realtively unavalable to the many. But more worrisome to me is you can live without oil but you can't live without water and that crisis has not even remotly been addressed to any degree. If you think a gallon of gas is expensive wait until you see what you will be paying for a cup of water.

zhu said...

Re "panicked tourism", do something useful for the community you join, attempt to learn their language and don't be arrogant. Then you won't be a tourist, but a member of the community.

Personally, I never felt at home in the US and my abilities never paid for my beer and potatoes. Now I earn a living with my talents and benefit others as well.

hawlkeye said...

From the poet Robert Hunter:

I spent a little time on the mountain,
I spent a little time on the hill
I heard some say better run away
Others say better stand still.

Well I don't know, but I've been told,
It's hard to run with the weight of gold
On the other hand, often heard it said
It's just as hard with the weight of lead.

Madame Karnak said...

Dear Mr. Orlov,

I was planning to leave the US, but due to the nitwits who run my state, it turns out that I can't because unless I pay exhorbitant tickets for non-existent offenses, I can't get a passport.

Let me explain. I got a ticket for not having insurance. The truth was that I did have insurance. When I tried to phone the court to tell them that I had insurance and fax the information to them, they would not answer the phone.

Eventually, I received a letter saying that I had to pay unbelievably large fine for this not-insurance ticket. I was in the middle of a nervous breakdown at that point. A breakdown that I now know was CAUSED by the medication that the local health center gave me. I know because I met a brilliant man with many degrees in science who told me all about FLUORIDE and FLUORINE and their effect on the brain, nervous system etc.

I detoxed from the medication, the accumulated fluoride in my body. I recovered my mental faculties. Now, I have to go to court to try to get this whole thing expunged from my record so that I attempt to find work either here or abroad.

Much of what you have written is true, but it does fail to mention the many policies of the United State's ultra-capitalist class that have essentially destroyed the minds and health of the citizenry as well as depleting the soil of nutrients. This is the primary reason that many Americans walk around in a fog. They are so malnurtured that they no longer produce the necessary neurochemicals to reason properly.

Their situation is made worse by doctors who diagnose non-existent mental illness and the provide medications that will complete the transition from human to zombie. Read Breggin's book, "Your Medicine is Your Problem" or the NAS book that excoriates water fluoridation.

Great blog,

MK

tommus said...

This is a nice summary of the futility of American electoral politics, but the idea of the "class interest" is a bit archaic, as is the idea of "America vs. the rest of the world"
Finance (where the rubber hits the road on planet Earth) is now almost completely globalized. Concepts like national borders, citizenship, etc. are becoming less concrete. However, they are firmly rooted in the subconscious identity and will take a while to adjust, with resistance of course.
Middle class first-worlders in general are beneficiaries of this global welfare/warfare superstate, whether they know it or not.
Differences in the governmental systems of developed nations are not as significant as we are led to believe (compare to Somalia or Afghanistan for proper perspective) All support a technologically high standard of living based on highly sophisticated division of labor and energy importation.
We are now in an era where global imbalances in consumption and wealth are being leveled out to ensure the continued growth and functioning of the global welfare/warfare state. The dynamic of the "haves vs. have nots" will remain. (BTW, here's a simple test: if you have the option to vote for the packaged corporatist/statist idiot of your choice, you are a "have" ... even if that vote never gets counted!)
This is a messy process, as is any form of organic growth. Many people and communities will be crushed, but just as many will prosper. Increasingly arbitrary national boundaries may have less and less to do with who wins/loses on this level.
If you want to protect yourself from whatever you think is coming, look out your front door. That is your "country" and your fellow countrymen are the people you see every day at work, the market, church, etc. This will determine almost all of your future, not some abstract political decision made by some bureaucrat you never met. Also don't forget, criminals don't respect laws, and bombs don't respect national borders. You can't run from human nature.
My guess is that most expatriates are reacting to a visceral disgust of "American society" (no judgement here, at times I find it disgusting as well) But is the grass really greener on the other side of the customs/immigration desk?
If you feel compelled to make a life change in your circumstances, do so without delay, but realize that there is no substitute for a community of people you know, trust, and speak the same language as. Also there is no substitute for a job you like, access to local food and energy, and some free time to develop some useful skills. This will serve you well even if there is no "collapse"
If you want to travel extensively, take up farming, join the rainbow people, stockpile weapons and gold, learn a new language, buy land in Patagonia, that's all great.
But if you are only trying to get the bittersweet aspartame taste of America out of your mouth, why renounce your US citizenship (DUMB DUMB DUMB! Can I make it any clearer people?) when it's so much easier to turn off your TV?

Lance Michael Foster said...

i'm with hawlkeye, pangolin, nobody, noel, harry, onion, tinfoilhat, and tommus- right wrong, dumb or not, i am stickin' it out.

i like what you said, david, the world outside my door IS my country and those are my countrymen, and if i don't like what i see, i should be the change i want to see in people. i took up the

and you, david, are right on when it comes to water. i am glad my grandpa taught me a little about dowsing for the stuff :-)

zhu said...

I figure that my grandfather was a Norwegian wherever he went and I will be an American wherever I live. China is a civilization, not just a country, and it has room for lots of ethnoi. Russians are one of the "official" ethnoi!