Leaving America

I got a good laugh today at all the folks, mostly on the left, who were saying that they will leave the country now that Bush is re-elected.

I was a reluctant Bush supporter. As a Libertarian, voting for major-party candidates is seldom a satisfying experience. I am well aware of the baggage Bush carries - he is not a small government libertarian. He is, however, also not a trial lawyer, not promising to balance the budget on my back, and not assuming that terrorists are wronged freedom fighters we should negotiate with.

Anyway, for all the flaws of either candidate, a Bush or Kerry America is still the best place on earth. Period. Those of you who want to leave will quickly find that, for one, America has some of the freest immigration policies in the world - just try to get a green card or a work permit for Canada or France. Good luck finding a job in Germany or France, as the semi-socialist policies that you likely admire there keep unemployment rates in the double digits. And by the way, don't expect any welfare benefits if you perhaps are imagining a slacker paradise, for though we in the US may be generous and argue how many benefits to give immigrants, you aren't getting anything as a new immigrant over there. Oh, and if you find a job, have fun with that first tax bill. And for those who want to go the extra mile and be human shields in the Gaza strip or Fallujah, you will certainly have an interesting time as you discover that that "religious fundamentalist" Bush looks like Madeline Murray O'Hare compared to your new islamo-fascist buddies.

UPDATE #1

I know the above seems exaggerated. It is not. Go read the comments section at Kos or Wonkette or Atrios. However, for just one example, try No Right Turn which has this:

There's not a fuck of a lot separating Osama bin Laden's Islamo-fascists and Dubya's Christian fundamentalists - they even follow the same god. The only real difference lies in who they want to kill. There's nothing there worth believing in, and nothing to hope for, except maybe that they'll all kill each other so that we members of the reality-based community can get on with our lives in peace

Hard to know where to start. OK, for fun, lets compare Bush to the Islamo-fascists on the three areas that most tick off Bush's detractors. Remember that I am a libertarian, so "Bush detractors" on many of these issues includes me:

Gay Rights: In the US, gays can live many places openly with some but decreasing harassment. Bush does not want them to marry. In some Muslim countries, including Saudi Arabia, pre-invasion Afghanistan, and Iran, homosexuality is punishable by death. Lets see, can't get married vs. death penalty. Equivalent?

Women's Rights: For some reason, this is defined in our country as being able to have an abortion. I would have thought free speech, ability to vote, right to bear arms, etc. would be women's rights too, but that is not what people seem to be talking about when they say it. So, on abortion. Abortion today in the US is legal, safe, and readily available. Bush has attempted to put some restrictions on it, such as parental consent for teenagers and elimination of certain types of procedures, but has never publicly advocated making it entirely illegal. In most of the Arab world, abortion is illegal. And, if the pregnancy is the result of sex out of wedlock, the woman risks being stoned to death. In addition, women have virtually none of those "other" women's rights we have in the US, like being able to vote, drive, show some skin, have a job outside the home, speak freely, etc. A black man in apartheid South Africa had far more rights and freedoms than a woman in the Arab world. Lets see - restrictions on certain abortion procedures vs. the status of a slave and the likelihood of getting beaten or stoned to death. Equivalent?

"Obscene" or profane speech
In the US, people have an incredible amount of freedom to say about any jackass thing they want to say. People such as Michael Moore who skewer our leaders or like Larry Flint who produce pornography are not only tolerated, but feted and made wealthy. The one exception is that the Bush administration has been more aggressive in enforcing decency standards against broadcast TV and radio, in part because of the anachronistic way these were originally licensed. This has resulted in fines related to Janet Jacksons breast and Howard Stern' language. In the Islamo-fascist world, no dissent is tolerated, nor is pornography, bad language, or anything else unacceptable to the priests. In the US, priests can complain about your low standards, but can't generally make you shut up. In Iran, for example, the priests can have you killed for your speech or form of expression, and they do. Routinely. The Janet Jacksons and Howard Sterns of Iran are probably dead. Let's see - some restrictions on TV and radio stations using the 7 banned words and showing nudity or death. Equivalent?

I am sick of these moral equivalencies. As it turns out, I actually disagree with the Bush position on many of the issues above, but I think it is absurd to say that Bush is as bad as the Islamo-fascists. The tone of the piece is to somehow pitch this as a religious war, that it is just about Christians trying to kill Muslims. But go back to September 10, 2001. Not many people in this country spared many thoughts to the Muslim world. It was only after about 3000 non-denominational deaths that people got worked up. By the way, WTC attack 1 occurred long before anyone in the Arab world ever heard of W, and the September 11 attack was planned long before he was in office. I swear that people increasingly are trying to reverse the causality here - it won't be long before I read somewhere that the 9/11 attacks were in revenge for W's invasion of Iraq.

By the way, I can't resist one last quote from this same post:

A recent New Statesman editorial commented that having watched one great beacon of hope - the Soviet Union - collapse into a nightmare, the world could hardly bear it if the other one - the United States - fell as well.

Stalin? Soviet Union? Beacons of hope. Unbelievable. The far left increasingly calls itself the "reality-based" community. Does any of this match your reality? For more, see here. Hat tip to Kiwi Blog for the link

UPDATE #2

In my original post, I jokingly said that I was taking up a collection to help people by buying them airplane tickets out of the country if they so choose. Though it was a joke, I still took it off. It sounds too much like the old conservative "America, love it or leave it" junk. America is a better place for having the broadest possible range of opinion, and I would be sad to see this end.

UPDATE #3

This post turns out to be a warm-up for this more complete post on trying to keep some sense of perspective post-election

  • boo

    Minor quibble here, but Canada accepts more immigrants per capita than the US. Your larger point is still valid though.

  • W

    Equating Islamo-fascists with Muslims is not correct. Sure, many Muslims espouse the policies you describe, but it isn't because of Bush and Evangelical Christians that the U.S. doesn't. It's because of enlightened non-Evangelical Christians and non-Christians espousing principles of separation of Church and State that account for a better standing for gays, women, and potty mouths. A good libertarian understands that. While your point is correct, that there is little moral equivalency between Bush's faction and 'Islamo-fascists', your argument is weak.

  • Actually, you're wrong about Europe. Europeans have more freedom of speech, it's relatively easy to get a residency permit once you've found a place to live and some kind of work, and there is plenty of work available.

    The so-called double digit unemployment is highly overstated. Firstly, the US unemployment rate is kept artificially low due to the huge prison population and underreporting of long term unemployment. On the other hand, many of those who are unemployed in Germany, for instance are unemployed due to lack of skills (after reunification, factories closed or moved elsewhere) or because people don't want to "settle" for less paying jobs.

    Secondly, those who have technical skills or a university education can often find freelance work easily. I live here in Germany and do freelance teaching (English as a second language). I've met others who are doing computer programming or techie work. If you really want to find work, you can find it.

    Best of all, you can get low-cost health insurance (it's not "free welfare", as the Republicans describe it- it's low cost subsidized insurance that is paid monthly, with low-cost copayments), plus an excellent education system (University for 97 bucks per year!), excellent public transport, bike-friendly cities, NO SPEED LIMIT on the Autobahn, low crime rate, excellent beer and wine, friendly, English-speaking people, and a laid-back, mellow lifestyle.

    If you don't mind learning a new language (most universities offer crash courses in the Summer- mine was in Heidelberg, and cost 450 Euros), it's a great move.

    Just come with a tourist visa, scout around for a job, bank account and an apartment (most cities aren't too expensive), then go to the Auslanderbehorde, and tell them you want to apply for residency. Be polite, use your newly acquired German language skills, tell the nice lady that you hate Bush and you want to live in a country where you will have real freedom, and show her your job contract. It's that easy. After 5 years or so, you can apply to be a citizen, or you can just wait and see if America will become a democracy again. Or, just marry a German. There are plenty of cute, slim liberal German girls, and laid back ponytail-wearing German guys, with tattoos and pierced noses. What more could you want?

    There are millions of disaffected German-Americans who are thinking of leaving the Fascist States of America. Germany, meanwhile, has a huge population shortage, and needs some nice mellow people (who are not Muslim fanatics) in order to keep from being overrun by loonies.

    Every German-American ought to do as I did, come here, and try and find a nice German to marry, and have babies. This way, we can save Western Civilization, and tell George W. Bush: go to hell!

  • Phil

    Your information is 100% wrong. You couldn't be more jaded. I will just argue one point for now. You boast of our immigration policy and how easy it is to come to America compared to how difficult it is to gain citizenship to other countries. The fact that America allows the deaf, dumb and bline to enter our country (not to mention terrorists) and then fails to educate them in any way possible about American culture (i no speak english, but i U.S. citizen) is not something to be proud of.

    The fact that other countries make it difficult to gain citizenship is proof that other countries have higher standards. We are becoming a peasant country and furthering the gap between the rich and the poor.

    Thank You

  • Dan

    I have been struggling to become a successful citizen and contributor to this country for two decades. In my search for loyal friends, I have found none. In my search for honest business dealings, I have found none. In my search for competent leadership, I have found nobody.

    At a young age the tension and stress handed down to me was part of Republican wars and agenda (Regan-Bush). The result was destructive personality that led to my lashing behavior. In return, I received punishment handed down from a government to ignorant to correct its own shortcomings.

    Years later, I found a form of escape in sex and other mild leisure activities. Even still, I encountered misplaced bias and ignorance at every turn. Has anyone ever wondered about the murder and violence of those Republican years?

    To this day, I have to work much too hard to accomplish my goals. There is always a constant obstacle or problem. It is only recently that I have begun to realize that I am not the problem. All these years, I thought it was my personality, my attitude, my behavior that was the problem. Now I know I am not the person who needs to change. It is the majority of others in this country who need to change.

    The world has realized this truth for over a decade and after years of struggle, punishment, and ridicule, I am lucky enough to be awake from a spell cast by deceitful leaders, misguided teachers, and greedy preachers.

    God Does Not Bless America, because gods blessing would not have produced such dissent. Gods blessing would not have benefited so well the exploits of the devious.

  • Outta US

    I left the U.S. in Feb 2004. Best thing I ever did.

    I live in the UK now. The unemployment rate is lower here -- plenty of jobs. I get 41 days off a year (holidays and vacation time). Free health care, and the NHS isn't any worse than the assembly-line HMO my health insurance money got me in America.

    I don't have a car since there are plenty of trains and buses where I live. There are literally thousands of miles of footpaths in the countryside. No worries about some nutter pointing a gun at me if I go for a walk in the woods.

    More freedom of speech over here -- people actually discuss issues, not just name call ("stupid liberal" seems to be the limits of political discourse in the U.S.)

    Man, am I glad I married an English guy 20 years ago!

    I don't really know why we stayed in the U.S. so thanks GW for giving us a reason to leave!

  • Jerry

    I have been out of the US for over 8 years now, and have no intentions of ever going back. Life in Germany is more human friendly than that jungle scene back in America. I have spoken with many Americans throughout Europe who also say that they are not going back either. And as a famous American once said: " Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, I'm free at last!