Monday, June 19, 2017

An American Explains Why She's Thankful She Moved Her Family Out of the United States in Favor of Ecuador

These are the kinds of stories that we are going to hear more and more over the next years, as Americans continue to fall under the influence of the twin bugs (could be aptly referred to as viruses, as well) of "deregulation" and "budget cuts."

Unfortunately, it seems that these two perspectives have essentially dominated American politics for decades now, although I am not entirely sure why. People loved President Ronald Reagan, but that was in part, I think, because times were still relatively good in the United States back when he took over. When he entered office, American dominance economically, politically, culturally, and militarily remained largely unchallenged when he took over. Remember, we have since learned that the Soviet Union was not nearly as strong as it seemed to be back in those days, although Reagan spoke about them in exaggerated, lofty terms, since he was justifying his own desire for a greatly inflated military budget, while essentially looking to make cuts everywhere else. 

In the 1980's, America enjoyed an economic boom, and some relative stability. Many Americans credit Reagan with this seemingly blossoming period, although the first seeds of the decadence to come were clearly evident to those paying attention. After all, the 1980's were not know as the "Me decade" for nothing. Remember, this was the beginning of Americans hearing the fictional Gordon Gekko suggest that "Greed is good. Greed works." And despite the fact that they should know better, millions of Americans have subscribed to that viewpoint ever since. How else could you possibly explain the rise of Donald Trump to the presidency?

This is despite these economic policies followed by several Republican White House administrations since Reagan leading to the greatest economic crisis that the country faced since the Great Depression. The nation was in serious peril after nearly eight years of George W. Bush at the helm in the White House, and he had record low approval ratings not seen at the time for decades. He mishandled almost every aspect of his presidency, yet the collective national amnesia, which seems overly convenient and fueled by greed, had his approval ratings, and even nostalgia for the Bush presidency, rise dramatically within just a few years of his leaving office.

That, too, needs to be taken into consideration when one examines the 2016 election and tries to understand how Trump came away from that the official winner. 

Barrack Obama seemed at first like a dramatic departure from the emphasis on "deregulation" and "budget cuts" that each White House administration since Reagan focused on, both Democratic and Republican alike. However, Obama proved to be much of the same, as he actually kept an alarmingly high number of Bush policies intact for years. The changes that he made were, frankly, moderate, and they came after years of his being in office, at a time when the United States could hardly afford the tax breaks that largely benefited the very wealthiest Americans. 

Still, Americans are so set in their ways, that they actually viewed both Presidents Clinton and Obama as virtual communists and/or socialists, even though both men were actually more conservative in many key ways than Republicans decades ago had been!

And so that set the stage for the 2016 election, the most ridiculous and intellectually insulting election of our lifetime - and that is saying something! After all, Reagan won 49 of 50 states in 1984, despite how damaging his policies were. The 1992 election became almost like a circus act with the back and forth swings, and the in again out again involvement of Ross Perot. The 2000 election, and the controversies that ensued, were actually topped by the ridiculous results in 2004, when George W. Bush and the Republicans won a crushing victory despite all of the nonsense that they had been responsible for over the previous four years!

Yet, 2016 takes the cake, especially since the man to walk away the victor when the dust settled was the ultimate narcissist and man child president, Donald Trump. 

Frankly, it does not speak well of the American electorate, which seems rather childlike in it's own right!

Many people around the world began to lose faith over time in the United States. It is hard to tell precisely when this happened, but certainly, by the time that George W. Bush was pushing for his illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq, a significant part of the rest of the world began to view the United States in far more skeptical eyes than they had before. And it was not just the Middle East. Many western European nations began to view the United States with increasing distrust. Even Canadians began to view their southern neighbors as a bigger threat to world peace than Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

And with good reason, I would argue. The legitimacy of these views, and the irony typically American views at the time, began to become glaring, except for many Americans, who still could not see it. Case in point, I remember debating one guy, who was all in favor of invading Iraq. At one point during one of our numerous debates on the subject, he kind of jumped on me, figuratively speaking, thinking he had the checkmate. He asked me if Saddam Hussein's efforts to accumulate so many Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD's) did not clearly illustrate that he intended to use them. In turn, I asked him if the same logic would not suggest that this was true of the United States, a nation that spends far and away more than any other country in the world on defense spending.

He said nothing, and kind of teetered off.

But he is not alone. Indeed, many Americans just could not see this, could not understand how suddenly, the world had seemed to turn against the United States.

So much of what was going on was fueled by transparent greed. Anyone who was paying attention to the situation in the Middle East, and especially with Iraq, could plainly see that oil companies were hungry to get their hands on the oil fields. The Bush administration was filled with individuals who got rich in the oil industry. And then, there were all of those no bid contracts for security and rebuilding work. Some of the major players in Iraq were corporations that stood to benefit tremendously from the invasion, with Halliburton being only the most blatantly obvious of them.

Indeed, the rest of the world could see this, so why couldn't Americans? Even supposed liberal Americans who felt opposed to the war often could not see why the rest of the world was not just opposed to the invasion, but increasingly, to what seemed like the American mindset in general.

Over the years, it has become obvious that Iraq as just a symptom of the larger problem. That indeed, there is a mindset here in the United States that allows greed to run rampant, and to be justified with pseudo-intellectual efforts. The United States was the only developed nation (and still is) that failed to provide it's citizens with affordable, universal healthcare. Yet, when President Obama tried to make the healthcare fairer, he was met with unbelievable opposition by people who seriously believed that this was a first step towards communism/socialism/fascism (as if those things are all one and the same). People went so far as to slap the Hitler moustache on images of Obama, which was truly staggering, considering much of the opposition to Obama has proven to be racist, and Hitler's raison d'etre, above all else, was racial purity. In other words, Hitler would surely not have approved of Obama, either, yet these fools made it seem as if Obama was a student and admirer of Hitler, which is patently absurd and laughable.

Unless you are a neocon, conservative American, that is.

Nor was that the only area. Perhaps the election of President Obama allowed the world to feel that the United States was finally coming around, but now, the election of Donald Trump has revealed to the world that the United States truly is different, and in a way that the rest of the world not only cannot understand or relate to, but frankly, looks down upon. We are growing pathetic in their eyes, and with good reason.

Our reluctance to go with the rest of the world on healthcare is matched with our reluctance to work with them on trying to work towards a healthier environment and to combat climate change.

Indeed, many Americans are finally coming around, and beginning to realize that the bar has been lowered to such a degree, that the rest of the world cannot help but pity Americans, and what is going on here.

Frankly, they are right. The political climate in the United States would be outright laughable, if it were not so truly grim and tragic, because it is real.

Seriously, Donald Trump?

Indeed, even many Americans, at least those with an ounce of objectivity and intelligence, themselves had to begin to wonder what was going on in their country, and why so many of their fellow countrymen could not see through such a transparent clown like Trump.

And the values that Trump has pushed forward are ugly reflections on Americans in general. This was especially true for minorities, who saw a return to blatant, overt racism as a sign that all that talk about a post-racial society, and the nation having gotten past it's racist past, as largely the hot air that it always was. Many Americans rejected this rise of clear anger, hatred, and racism, including Wendy DeChambeau, the author of an interesting article about why she felt that moving her family out of the United States proved to be a god decision.

She and her family moved to Ecuador, and this was largely because the economic recession of 2008-09 revealed some painful, hard to deny ugly truths about the United States:

"In America, it seemed every third child was taking pharmaceuticals to treat behavioral issues, anxiety, or depression. High school students were unloading automatic weapons into their classmates. Opioid use was reaching all new highs. Bank executives were defrauding their customers and Wall Street was walking an increasingly thin tight rope. It felt like The American Dream as we knew it was all but gone, having transformed into a shadowy unknown. We fretted about what the future would hold for our family. We thought maybe, just maybe, a simpler lifestyle somewhere else was the answer."

So, the idea of trying to make a move elsewhere, of trying to create a life for her family and it's future in some other nation began to become a serious consideration, one that, ultimately, she and her family decided to try.

Of course, it was not without it's challenges, and certainly, she was not without doubts about her decision to move out of the United States and into a relatively small, and not overly rich, equatorial nation:

"I began to worry: What if the naysayers back home had been right? What if the United States really was the greatest nation on Earth and we were ruining our children's futures? What if we never could learn to truly adapt? What if my children ended up in therapy all because I'd moved them halfway around the globe?"

However, it did not take long for the benefits to begin to become evident. Her kids picked up Spanish within half a year, and the family began to become closer, to spend more time together.

And there were other advantages, as well, which perhaps many Americans would not necessarily view as an advantage - at least not at first glance. She began to see that her kids were no longer prone to being spoiled by a society that knew no limits, and which tends to focus excessively on the mindless consumerism that has run rampant and triggered a tidal wave of greed that just keeps on pouring over the land, and threatening to become an ocean:

"While they're still kids with wants and desires, runaway consumerism and material greed has passed right by my boys. When they do want something special, they're willing to work for it — like when my oldest son baked and sold cupcakes to earn money for that electric piano keyboard he had been eyeing.

"My kids have also learned to be patient. Living in a country where instant gratification is a laughable concept, you learn to develop some mad waiting skills."

While in the United States, subjects, including history, is taught in school, it feels much more alive in Ecuador, because everything is so hands on, and in people's real lives. Again, DeChambeau explains:

"Here in Ecuador, the world is their classroom. Both my sons have taste-tested lemon ants in the Amazon rainforest, trekked to the top of 15,000-foot-high volcanic peaks, and discovered pre-Incan artifacts buried in our horse pasture. Of course they attend school, too, but nothing beats an up-close and personal experience of the world at large instead of simply reading about it in a textbook."

And she talks about how Americans may talk the talk about pulling themselves by the bootstrap (the perennial  justification for cutting funds for all sorts of programs designed to help the poor), but in fact, most Americans feel a certain sense of entitlement. Ironically, that is actually especially true of those who tend to yell the loudest against the "others" who they feel get "government handouts." After all, these people actually believe that they can turn back the clock and "get their country back." They believe that, by doing this, they can "Make America Great Again."

But, in fact, it is easier to get past any sense of entitlement by going to another society where indeed, people do not expect much of anything, and this do not have that sense of entitlement that so many Americans have:

"Today I have two teenagers who I truly love spending time with. They're well adjusted, curious, and mature for their age. Maybe I just got lucky with genetically programmed great kids. Maybe things would have turned out just as well if we had stayed put. But I'm confident that life in Ecuador has molded them — more than I ever could — into the promising young men they've become.  

"Eventually my boys will return to the U.S. to attend college and build their adult lives. When they do, they'll have a leg up. In a world where the up-and-coming generation is castigated for their feelings of entitlement and inability to handle disappointment, my sons have no notions of being owed a thing."

I moved my kids out of America. It was the best parenting decision I've ever made. By Wendy DeChambeau, June 13, 2017:

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