Friday, September 03, 2004

Expatriate Games.

With the nation deteriorating daily under the leadership of George W. Bush and his neocon henchmen, the future is indeed looking bleak. And should they bully their way into another election "victory" in November, we can look forward another four years of them ruining America. In such desperate times, the best course of action for our little family's personal survival would seem to be to follow the example of so many of our forefathers and foremothers and go the expatriate route. The only question is, where to go? There are so many possibilities in this wide world of ours that it's hard to sort out exactly what benefits other countries might offer us. Let's brainstorm...

Pros: An old stand-by since colonial days (and especially during the Vietnam War), Canada offers a very comfortable "home-away-from-home" feel. Not only are the language and culture virtually the same (if you don't count Quebec, that is), it's already full of plenty of expatriate Americans. Plus, the streets are clean and the people are friendly.
Cons: The biggest drawback is also the flipside of one of it's strengths -- such overwhelming assimilation of American culture (and many of its attendant problems) that we might as well not even leave home at all. At least the winters are warmer here. Besides, a city the size of Montreal can't even support a Major League baseball team anymore. That's hardly a good sign.

Great Britain
Pros: No language barrier, easy access to European culture, and pubs on every corner. And let's not forget those sexy accents. Besides, I've always wanted to spend time in my anscetral home of Scotland.
Cons: Well, the biggest drawback would have to be the British government's complete toadying to the Bush party line. Living there would be a step up from living here, but not by much.

Pros: Another local favorite for expats, it's only a few hours' drive from where we live now, making it convenient to return home to visit family and friends. And although there's a language barrier involved with living there, it can be easily overcome by a combination of a lot of the locals speaking English mixed with all the Spanish we've picked up living in Southern California.
Cons: The shaky economy is a little worrisome, as are the overzealous border guards we'd have to face to visit the U.S. Plus, we probably wouldn't be able to drink the water.

Pros: Home to a rich culture (both ancient and modern) that we absolutely love. Friendly people, great food, awesome entertainment, a love of pro baseball... There are just so many upsides to living in Japan.
Cons: The language barrier here is probably the worst on this list (as it would be with any other Asian nation) because Japanese is just so far removed from English. Plus, there's also the whole issue with their traditionally closed society that's distrustful of foreigners, although that's changing with the younger generations.

Pros: A thriving, vibrant country with good weather, an active youth culture and the Olympic champion basketball team. It's also not that far from Antarctica, which could be pretty awesome (you never know). And as if all that weren't enough, it seems that everyone who comes from there is certifiably HOT.
Cons: Well, there is that history of political instability, but they seem to have cleared that up.

Pros: Um.... well.... It's in Europe, which is always a favorable destination. Also, my high school French might be able to get me through. Oh, and they make good cheese.
Cons: They're rude, hated Americans even before Dubya came along, they eat snails, and they have a history of not handling invasion particularly well.

South Pacific
Pros: Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Kiribati, Tonga.... There are a lot of little island nations out there where it's easy to escape from the troubles of the world on sun-kissed beaches.
Cons: Not only are they a long way from anywhere else, I also understand that most of these little islands are slowly sinking in to the Pacific Ocean. Damn you global warming!

Pros: They're friendly, speak English and know how to party. And, once again, there are those sexy accents. Like Japan, this is a country full of upsides.
Cons: While they may toady to the Americans, it's not nearly as bad as with Great Britain. Plus, you have those whole Christmas-in-summer thing to deal with.

New Zealand
Pros: Take all the good things about Australia, then add gorgeous scenery and a lack of overpopulation and you've got New Zealand. Plus, the country exists just far enough below the radar to stay out of trouble.
Cons: I'm hard pressed to come up with one, but there has to be something. Well, okay, it is awfully far away from our family and friends here in the States.

So, there are some good options out there. Of course, with the emergence of the world's globalized economy and culture -- not to mention America's 800-pound-gorilla position in it -- it makes it awfully hard to get very far away from the cancer eating the heart of our country. And that's enough to make you wonder whether the best option is to get out, or to stay here and fight the uphill battle against it.


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