- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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 socio-economic draft system
in the United States that provides a steady stream of cannon fodder for
- 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
- 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
- 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