The Expat Life and Views on US Politics

Ξ March 25th, 2008 | → 14 Comments | ∇ -My Favorites, Costa Rica, Idle Thoughts, Life in Costa Rica, Living in Costa Rica, Politics, US Politics |

Oddly, one of the questions I get from readers asks me questions about my politics. Kinda nosey huh? They want to know if I follow the US political/economic scene, for whom am I going to vote… etc. Most of the time I do not answer as I believe that my blogs are supposed to be about Costa Rica and related topics and I guess my politics or personal views are not appropriate.

Lately, however, I see people who are just so unhappy living in the USA that their questions are not so much asking about my views as asking about if things will be better living here. Recently I wrote something about how I felt the USA was broken and needed repair. That was less a political statement than my observations from afar. Saying that, I guess if readers really want to know about life here, will it be better than living in the USA, will their life issues resolve themselves by moving here, maybe it is not a bad idea to address this.

So… if my personal opinions and politics are of interest, read on!

First, let me say I dearly love the USA. Not everything of course… but I have traveled this world and I have not yet seen a better country. Second, let me say in no uncertain terms, that moving to any country because you do not like the current administration, politics, social environment etc. will not change anything in your life. You cannot run away from yourself. It is the dumbest reason to pack up and leave. Moving here because you are seeking a “more simple lifestyle” is the number two stupid reason for leaving your country. Nothing is simple here as many come to find. Costa Rica is not better. It is just different. Whomever you blame for your current situation, I can assure you it is not George Bush, Bill Clinton nor any other US leader and leaving your country because of any politician is just silly.

So why move at all? There are many good reasons. Although Costa Rica is getting more and more expensive every day, it is still cheaper to live here than just about anywhere in the USA. A lot of 55-65 years olds are now discovering that they will not be able to sustain a post retirement lifestyle if all they have is their social security. This is sad, but when FDR set up social security and ever since, it was NEVER intended to be the sole source of income after retirement. So moving here because of financial necessity is certainly a valid reason for considering an expat lifestyle.

Another good reason is, I guess, the desire to live and learn a different culture.

Me? I made the mistake of reading a lot of Hemmingway when I was in my teens, and ever since, I had this desire to live like the characters in his novels, all expats living in France or Spain… drinking coffee in cool Bohemian haunts… you get the idea. Well it is NOT like that I promise… but for me, it is fun!

Regardless of your reasons for wanting to live elsewhere, I would urge you not to just sell the farm and move here. One of the largest movers of people from the USA to Costa Rica said the other day that he is now moving more than half of his customers back to the USA within a year. It seems to be a lot harder for women to adjust to the expat life… especially those with children and grandkids. They think they can adjust to not being there for graduations, proms, and the zillion daily events in the lives of their families, but many simply cannot live without family and friends.

Politics

To explain how I feel about the coming presidential election, it is best just to write about my thought processes. I am sure some will concur an others will not agree. I do not care. I have voted both Democrat and Republican over the years and I find no one party capable of producing anything special. For many years now, my choice was based on who I thought would do the least damage while in office. Sad.

One of my pet peeves is those boneheads who vote for a person based solely on one issue e.g. abortion, immigration, death penalty… whatever. The job of president entails so much more and to eliminate a good person from consideration because of his belief on one issue is just not intelligent. I am personally for gun control, against abortion, for tough (but fair) immigration, strongly against the death penalty (not in principle but because there are just too many screwups in the system sending innocent persons to death row), and for most environmental issues. Those are just a few and of course there are others.

Now saying that, for the first time, I will be voting almost entirely based on one issue. Guess that makes me a hypocrite! So be it.

Here is how I view this years offerings:

Obama

I think he is generally a decent man. His push for change hits a chord in many people. I question seriously his general experience, his total lack of knowledge on international affairs, and most importantly, his judgment. His recent difficuties relating to the racist hate monger, Jeremiah Wright, a man he states was and is one of the leading persons of influence in his life. He continued and continues to maintain a relationship with the good pastor. As a sitting US senator, his should have done everything in his power to confront this animal and failing that, completely disassociate himself from him and his hate mongering. Can you imagine if any white presidential candidate (or for that matter any white person with a modicum of moral and ethical beliefs) attended services where attacks against the US were supported and racism against Blacks was preached regularly? I can not. Most people would instantly stand up and leave! Obama should have done that. As a senator, he simply can NOT tolerate racism, regardless of the source.

I can now see why Obama’s wife made her recent comments about forever being ashamed of the USA. She and Obama have been exposed to racial hatred (both Black AND White) for years, and neither, despite the obvious blessings both received from “white America” can have escaped the lessons taught my this “most influential figure in my life”.

Wright preaches racial hatred and separation to Black adults and children, and now comes Obama looking to make change and bring the country together. Huh? I see no way a man who supports an anti-white hate monger can possibly have the ability to resolve the many racial issues still facing the US. He should have years ago dealt with this man. He did not. Silence to me, is a form of support or concurrence.

Clinton

So now comes Hillary Clinton telling all who will listen that SHE has the experience to run the country. As far as I have ever been able to see, her experience is pretty much limited to sleeping with Bill (at times) while HE was president. Other than that, her only attempt at accomplishing anything while passing the years in the White House, related to her dismal attempt to establish a national health care plan, a total fiasco, even though Clinton’s popularity was at a high. As a matter of fact, she pissed off everyone! Even her personal staff hated her. So she is the one to pull the country together? She does not get along with people. Can you imagine Hillary as president working hand-in-hand with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, another person who alienates a LOT of people?? Oh yeah, I can imagine getting a LOT done.

Both of these people make enemies more often than my wife makes coffee.

The Clinton’s usual process is to change position on everything. Bill did it. Now Hillary is too. I recall early in the campaign her comments that she did not really care about the Michigan and Florida primary votes not counting. I HEARD the interview. She was most clear. Of course, at the time, she was far ahead of Obama and I suppose in her mind, there was just no way she could lose the nomination.

Well now, Obama has waxed her beans and HE has the lead! Now she want the Michigan and Florida votes. Says she always did! She does not want all those poor Dems to be disenfranchised! I bet she doesn’t! Oddly, she was the only candidate to campaign in Michigan as the other candidates honored the Democratic Nacional Committee’s warning about the early primary. Cool huh? So Hillary, knowing Obama did not even campaign in Michigan, now wants those votes for herself. How typically 100% Clinton. Nothing changes. The Clintons are good at this stuff, and I do not like it. I guess I also figure Bill had his presidency, and I cannot imagine what he would be doing if Hillary wins. Somehow, I do not see him on the golf course every day. I picture him spending a LOT of time hanging around the Oval Office and one time, for any president, is enough. No replays.

McCain

What an odd duck is John McCain.

He sure is not a Republican, at least not in the sense many have defined Republicans. He crosses party lines whenever he choses. He pisses off the “real” conservatives which may be his undoing. He is like the Republican version of Joe Lieberman, (one of my favorite politicians! I would have voted for him in 2000.). He makes enormously unpopular statements like “We’ll be in Iraq for 100 years”. Inflammatory surely, but probably 100% correct as we NEVER leave a country after a conflict. Hell, we are STILL in South Korea after 50+ years!

McCain seems to me to at least take a position even though unpopular. He supports our position in Iraq. NOT a popular position. I personally hate that we are there and wish we had not invaded, but we did. SO now, Obama and Clinton want us out NOW. Looks right on paper. Sorta like communism looks good but does not work in reality. However, neither Obama nor Clinton EVER address the major issue of what happens if we just pull out! Can you imagine the massacres? It would certainly rival the 600,000 South Vietnamese killed after we left Saigon. Further, can you imagine Osama and Al-Qaeda with those oil revenues that they would most certainly receive should we leave? Just what I want! A well-funded Al-Qaeda!

As Pakistan is very unstable and chuck full of Al-Qaeda (and Pakistan has the bomb, BTW), I now see Al-Qaeda with a ton of money and the bomb. Swell!

McCain is older than dirt… hell – he is older than ME. While not a huge issue, it certainly will be important who McCain selects as his running mate. How interesting would be a McCain/Lieberman ticket! Lieberman endorsed McCain last year and that to me meant something because of my respect for Lieberman. Never happen I suppose, but fun to think about.

So have you figured out MY one issue? National Security.

Hate or love Bush, the one thing most important to me is that there has not been a repeat of 9-11 in 7 years.

I have children and grandkids living in Chicago, certainly a potential target city for Al-Qaeda and other terrorists groups, so this year, I will vote for the person who I feel will keep them safest. My only concern.

Trying to placate Osama and his crew would be about as useful as was placating Hitler before WW2. Didn’t work. Won’t work. Whoever is in the Oval Office has got to be ruthless on defense of the United States. At this point, Obama and Clinton want nothing more than to pander to those who want out of Iraq, but fail to present solutions to what happens if we depart. In fact, over the years, the Democrats have generally NOT been strong on military issues (except another favorite, Harry Truman), choosing instead to place more money in social programs, a generally good idea, but that, like Communism, seldom works in reality (unless you live in Costa Rica, a non-target for everyone!).

At this point, it will likely be McCain.

Intelligent comments welcome!

 

14 Responses to ' The Expat Life and Views on US Politics '

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  1. Greg Peisert said,

    on March 26th, 2008 at 9:16 am

    Hi Tim;

    Really superb post. Thank you. As to the problem many wives have with the ex-pat life, I’ll just compliment you on your elegant solution (ML) and leave it at that. Well done.

    As to the politics, if enough U.S. voters are anywhere near as clear-thinking as your post in the months to come, we’ll be fine. It does look like it could be McCain and for exactly the reason(s) you outlined. And while security is and must be the overriding concern, the economy is also an important issue, in part because it indirectly impacts national security (albeit can be a delayed effect). China, however, is providing the latest obvious example. With rising economic power comes rising military influence.

    I don’t know if you saw the recent piece by noted playwright David Mamet in The Village Voice entitled “Why I Am No Longer a Brain Dead Liberal.” It is an entertaining and excellent piece, as one would expect from someone of Mamet’s caliber and accomplishments. The link is:

    http://www.villagevoice.com/news/0811,374064,374064,1.html/full

    Mamet is of course no “conservative” either, the title of his piece notwithstanding. He has apparently landed with those of us in the “independent thinking” group. Come to think of it, many of my Republican friends are extremely “liberal” on some issues (many of us, for example, believe the “war on drugs” is an excellent indicator of insanity), and many of my Democratic friends are exceptionally “conservative” in many areas of their lives (very strong families with conservative values, for example).

    All these labels seem to be little more than divisive mechanisms that serve, it seems, as weapons of convenience to make each other wrong, and to protect us from what George Will once characterized as “the unaccustomed torture of thought.” That is the appeal of your piece. You have unstintingly subjected yourself to said torture. I thank you for it.

    Enjoy. And all the best to you, Tim and ML! (I very much enjoy your blog!)

    — Greg P.
    Dayton, OH

  2. Jack said,

    on April 12th, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    Tim,

    Your piece is a good as it gets. Insightful, concise, perfect! You NAILED it!

    Thank you, thank you

    I trust you won’t mind if I send the link to my friends.

  3. Leo in Las Vegas said,

    on April 17th, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    I am visiting Costa Rica for the first time in about 2 weeks to meet my girlfriend whom I met on an internet site and we have been commmunicating via snailmail and telephone since about mid December. I am 56 semi retired mortgage banker after 24 yrs with Bank of America. Every Tico/Tica I have met in Las Vegas have been extremely friendly genuine people. Any suggestions when I come to visit. By the way your posting on the politics was dead on. As I have gotten older I have become a Liberterian . Give less government! I wanting to retire to CR for my new girlfriend and a slower pace of life where there are still family values .

  4. Tim said,

    on April 23rd, 2008 at 7:34 am

    Just think with your big head and not the little one. You are traveling a very dangerous road. You are a target under the best conditions and most assuredly if you met via the Internet. Laws here are ALWAYS against the man or the visitor, especially where women are concerned.

    Use EXTREME caution. Meet only in public. NEVER ask her to live with you… oh hell, you won’t pay any attention anyway… Good luck.

  5. Robert said,

    on June 9th, 2008 at 10:08 am

    As you stated, each of us has our own agenda when it comes to politics and electing a politician. Mine is the Environment. After enduring the insanity of the last Bush and his adamant denial that Global Warming exists I have no faith in the Republican party. My vote will go to Obama.

    I’m not a straight party voter. I think I fall firmly in the crack between parties. Some of the issues that both parties hang their hats on are not important to me.

    I refuse to believe one party is more loved by God than the other. I refuse to let my Preacher tell me who to vote for.

    I know I do not think like the majority. I believe in the death penalty, I believe abortion should be legal, I believe in stem cell research, I could care less if people of the same sex are married, everyone should be allowed to carry guns. Welfare should have a time limit and be an aid only, not a lifestyle, people should be taxed based on what they use. (Why should I pay taxes for a road I never use?)

    My brother and I voted Libertarian one year, during the news we saw there were 2 votes for the Libertarian candidate. We made a difference. LOL.

    I loved Costa Rica when I was there in 1998. It was my favorite place to be. If I could work there I would move there for good. Just know I am envious of you.

    I enjoy your blog and your writing style. Keep it coming.

  6. Tim said,

    on June 9th, 2008 at 10:58 am

    Well you and I agree on 5 of 7! Not bad.

    Still, Obama lost my vote when he said he would all but disband the military. That is the comment of someone totally out of touch with the reality in today’s world. Maybe 30-40 years ago, I could have voted for a trainee… back when the world was much different. Back when I was an optimist and thought the President could do anything. Sadly, all has changed. I am way too old to believe that and too old to vote for a person whose naïveté could cause the country to be weakened irreparably. I also learned long ago not to vote for anyone either too far left or too far right, and they just don’t get further left than Obama. Hell, he makes Ted Kennedy look like Ghengis Khan!

    However, as aid, we agree on 5 of 7 and you seem to at least have thought about your vote which places you miles ahead of the masses.

    Obama well may win. The mass media will see to that with lies and sound bites. The nitwits in Hollywood will use their star status and deep analytical minds to influence the hoi polloi 🙂

    Thanks for your comment.

  7. Jon Graham said,

    on June 19th, 2008 at 8:30 am

    Costa Rica is not the country it was 4 years ago when we moved to San Joaquin de Flores, Heredia. Prices for basic needs at the feria have gone up by leaps and bounds. Gas prices, like the rest of the world are climbing rapidly. My concern is that as the cost of living rejoins the marginally middle class to poverty, crime will continue to surge. We live in a nice neighborhood and have adjusted to having a community paid guard. That being said, we have not been robbed. I love so many things about Costa Rica from its friendly, good-looking people to charming customs, to an openness not usually seen in a 3rd world Catholic dominated country. Our local mini-super owner insists on shaking my hand daily and asking about my partner and our standard poodle. Maybe we are viewed as eccentic creatures, but we are welcomed. DO encourage people moving to learn basic conversational Spanish and then improve it. Your advice about renting first is excellent. We rented 6 months then bought and remodeled a house from top to bottom. Just finished the 2nd one in Rohrmoser and it was a challenge, but only small details remain. Keep up the good work and as a suggestion, update the feria prices as I bought french bread yesterday for 400 colones that I paid 250 colones for last year.
    Jon and Timo Montz-Graham

  8. Suyana said,

    on June 23rd, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    Tim, You seem to have a bit of knowledge about which folks will do well moving down to Costa Rica. I’m curious to hear any suggestions you may have for us. My husband, one-year-old son and I may be moving to CR within a year or so. My husband is from Peru, moved to California with his entire family as a teenager. I was born and raised here. We’re pretty unattached to the luxuries of city life and are looking to detach from all of the stress and materialism here in the states. We’re both hard workers. But we feel we spend all of our time working and never get to “live”. I work full-time as a Quality Analyst at a Hospital and he is a skilled Jeweler. We’re not attached to our trades here. We’ve considered possibly opening a Peruvian Restaurant near the coast on the Caribbean side, or maybe opening a jewelry shop, also selling other art artifacts, clothing, etc. from all over Latin America. Still brainstorming here. Ideally we want for me to take care of my son at home or live above our business. Any suggestions for getting started? He of course is a native Spanish speaker, and I understand most Spanish, at least in context. I am actively learning. Thanks for any input.

  9. Tim said,

    on June 23rd, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    I suggest you first go to http://www.therealcostarica.com and read carefully the section on “Working in Costa Rica” Use search to find it.

    Second, I suggest you go to http://blog.therealcostarica.com select the category “moving to Costa Rica” and read that very very carefully.

  10. Jerrelli said,

    on June 29th, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    Very insightful look at the 2008 race! Since Bush stole 2 elections already (Fl fiasco in 2000 and Ohio fiasco in 2004) I figure it likely he did not do this out of a lack of desire to hold the office…Given the Constitution allows for a President to “suspend” the elections if we are at war (yeah, it IS true, read it and weep) and since we will always be at war while he tries to start a new one someplace else almost weekly…chances are he will suspend the elections, remain in power, pull Bin Laden out of his hat as a diversion with a long drawn out “trial” and then never reinstate free elections…so much for freedom. Do I recall correctly? Did we not impeach Nixon for lying to the American people? I dearly love my country, am a staunch patriot, did 2 tours in Viet Nam, and all that, but I fear my government.40 years ago every country loved the USA now nobody does at all…Politics and Government are killing us… (read that U.S.)

  11. cj said,

    on August 30th, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    It’s 7 months later and ALL has “changed” in the US I’m afraid …and I’m not alone.

    I’ve been looking at CR for several months and you have the best site and I thank you for your honesty.
    I lived in Florida around 25 years…I’ve seen 1 snake and he was more afraid of me, no alligators.
    There are lizards but they eat Palmetto bugs so they are welcomed in my home…ants yes but I kill them (absoulutely no regrets) on the whole my home is almost bug proof.
    I moved to North Carolina and find tiny little spider and webs all over in an out of the house; I take them down spray white vinegar in all corners and most stay away for a short while (week or more) BUT if you miss a section they come back within a day….CR critters sound horrible as do people crossing streets…dangerous! So I’d definetly need track shoes and keep my eye exams up to date.

    I was looking to retire to CR… I’m on disability but after reading here, which is by far the best site for info, I do not qualify.

    Would income from a sale of a home with the money in a bank count towards retiring in CR? Of course that would mean to permantely rent…
    So, CR isn’t for me..what a shame! I think many Americans want to leave now and more will later.

  12. Donm said,

    on October 28th, 2009 at 10:22 am

    Tim, your political views are quite entertaining. Never have I heard so much nonsense repeated so often. As I recall Bush WAS on duty for 9-11. How can we forget that? And forget the nonsense about “faulty intelligence”. He went on vacation after he had been given the now famous briefing; “Bin Laden determined to strike in US”. Saudi’s attacked us for the Air Base on holy land and we ditched it. Yeah, Bush kept us safe.

  13. Tim said,

    on August 18th, 2010 at 10:28 am

    Well now you have Obama. Feel safe? LOL!

  14. Carl Thompson said,

    on November 4th, 2010 at 8:52 am

    Hi: I just visited, and am still reading on retiring
    in Costa Rica. This has to be so far the best and
    most extensive site I have seen. I have a very good
    Costa Rican friend who is inspiring me to move there, taking into consideration all things mention-
    ed on the site,particularly the legalities. I speak
    fluent Spanish so communicating should not be a problem. I would like to know if the site is available in Spanish, so I can send him the link to read also.

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