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Emmigration From US: 3 Articles [+Enemy of the State= the HONEST SchoolTeacher]

June 22, 2006 at 13:40:56

Don't Let These Ten Emigration Myths Keep You Trapped in the U. S.

by Ezekiel

When I began preparations to move from the U. S. to Europe a little over a year ago, I knew almost nothing about emigration. Never having lived or invested abroad, things like apostilles, FinCen and business visas were completely unknown to me as they may be to you now.

The first thing my research taught me was how many myths there are about emigrating. These misconceptions about the process of moving abroad are dangerous; if you believe them, they can discourage you from investigating the options for yourself and leave you trapped in a country that's gone over the edge of the cliff into fascism. Here are some of those poisonous emigration myths following by their antidote: the truth.

If things get really bad, you can always just pull your money out of the bank, buy a plane ticket and leave the next day.

Over the last 15 years, the U. S. federal government has made it much more difficult to leave America with more than the clothes on your back. Since 9/11, they made it much harder to leave at all.

If you want your life to be more than living on the run from day to day, it takes time and planning to emigrate. Learn how to move your assets abroad legally. Gather the documentation you will need to establish residency in another country. Research the options so you don't end up some place worse than where you are now.

It's already too late.

It's not. There are many restrictions already in place that make emigration more difficult, but right now, they are not enforced so tightly that they actually prevent you from leaving with your assets. It would not take more than a few days for it to become almost possible, but things are not there yet.

You have to be rich to move abroad.

As it is with anything else, money gives you more options and makes things easier. If you're intent on living the good life in Australia or New Zealand, then you'll need assets in the mid-six figure range, but if you're willing to consider a broader range of options, there are many ways to move abroad with a minimum of cash. Some examples:

  • teach English in China, Thailand, South Korea or eastern Europe;
You won't live like royalty, but you will have a roof over your head, plenty to eat, the ability to save a little if you're frugal, and the opportunity to travel and see more of the world.
  • go as a "retiree;"
More and more Americans are retiring outside the U. S. because it can be so much less expensive. You can get a "retiree" visa to Costa Rica by demonstrating $600 per month in income from a pension, Social Security or investments. That's just one example; there are others.
  • go as a volunteer;
Churches and non-profit agencies are looking for "volunteers" for programs around the globe. You'll have food, lodging and a visa all provided by the institution. And you'll be helping people along the way. Who knows? It could lead to connections and a job that will give you income and longer term residency.
  • start a company;
Many "emerging economies" encourage investment by making it fairly easy for foreign entrepreneurs to start the equivalent of an American LLC. Start-up capital requirements can be as little as a few thousand dollars with costs for document preparation and filling fees a few thousand more. Your new company will be able to hire you as an employee so that you can obtain residency and health care for yourself and your dependents.

As with any new business, there are challenges and risks, and you should plan on having 12 months living expenses in reserve as you get things up and running. The upside is that you won't just be running from an increasingly repressive U. S. government. You could be starting a new, self-supporting career in a beautiful part of the world where you've always wanted to live.

You have to be young to move abroad.

Middle class American retirees have been moving to Mexico and Central America for decades because of the lower cost of living. Europe is not as cheap, but some countries will let you "buy into" their national health care plan for less than the cost of Medicare B and with much, much lower prescription drug costs.

You can only move to a country where you speak the official language.

You need not limit your list of possible new homes to countries where you already speak the official language. English is currently the business language of the entire world, and there are few places where you cannot get by knowing nothing but the tongue you learned as a child. Of course, your enjoyment of where you live will increase when you become fluent in the local language.

This is especially true in Europe where the people who take orders at McDonald's in the Netherlands, Germany or Austria speak better English than 85% of us Americans.

I came to where I live knowing only a few words of the official language. My problem has been that so many people speak fluent English here that I haven't had enough incentive to really buckle down and learn the language of my new home.

The New World Order will get you wherever you go.

It is frightening how far the arm of the American government reaches, especially in financial matters, but one world government is not here yet.

A few tips:

  • make sure your passport has several years left on it so you won't be dependent on renewing it as you're establishing permanent residency or citizenship abroad;

  • pay your taxes (remembering the $80,000+ exclusion on income for those residing abroad);

  • get your criminal report with apostille prior to leaving the U. S.--once should be enough;

  • behave yourself in your new country and refrain from telling everyone how Americans do things.

If you leave, you can never come back.

Nonsense. If the FBI, IRS or a roomful of creditors are after you, then they'll probably be waiting if you ever come back, but leaving the country does nothing in and of itself to make matters worse.

You don't have to renounce your citizenship to live abroad. In fact, the federal government has removed almost all tax incentives for ever giving up your U. S. citizenship and passport. So don't. Just establish residency abroad. If you have a special connection via a living or dead relative that gives you a leg up toward citizenship somewhere else, go for it and enjoy the benefits of dual citizenship.

If you do things right, dot your i's and cross your t's, pay your taxes and behave in your new country, you can go back anytime you want. Then again, you may just like life so much in your new home that you don't ever want to go back even if things work out for the best in the U. S.

I would be abandoning my family members who don't want to leave.

These situations present very hard choices for all of us, but remember this: a time may come when even your reluctant family members want to leave the U. S. If you have already established yourself abroad, it will then be much easier for your children, your parents, your grandchildren, your in-laws, to flee than if none of you had ever left.

To leave is to let "them" win.

The idea that is the United States lives beyond its physical boundaries. In fact, that idea may only survive elsewhere for a while. You can still vote from abroad if you think that helps. You can continue to express yourself just as I am doing. And the time may come when you will be a witness to the world of what has happened to America or be able to help others who try to escape later.

If you've never seen the movie "V," I recommend it. It's about a fascist takeover in Britain. At one point, the female lead, Evie played by Natalie Portman, recalls when her parents were arrested. As the scene plays on the screen of their being brutally taken away, Evie says in a voiceover:
My mother wanted to leave the country, but my father said that would be letting them win. (He thought) it was a game.

I can take my gun and head to the hills if it gets that bad.

Don't let the myth that you can play Nathan Hale or Patrick Henry stop you from doing what is best for your family. This is not 1776. When the "Swamp Fox" was harrassing Cornwallis, the British didn't have Apache helicopters and satellites that could pick out a license plate number.

Don't be trapped by myths.

People from Moses to Einstein have fled oppressive governments to make sure that freedom could survive. There are times when there is nothing that an individual can do to stop the slide to totalitarianism in his homeland, when the best thing to do is to make a tactical retreat and live to fight another day. Don't allow yourself to be trapped by a myth.

Ezekiel provides a free newsletter with information about emigration and moving assets. Subscribe by writing to

June 28, 2006 at 09:35:53

Let Me In (Two)

by Rachel Gladstone-Gelman

I could also say "Let me out." After a while, you are surrounded by four walls that just won't move.

Looking for employment to support an American family outside the U.S. is slightly more difficult than it was for Geraldine Ferraro to raise money for her Vice-Presidential campaign back in 1984. When searching for where to go, the issues are not juggled but handled simultaneously. You need to learn everything you can all at once while taking time along the way to digest it. Immigration forms, culture, regulations and employment. Some countries will really stop you in your tracks.

To give an idea of our internet globe-trotting for jobs, here's a list of most of the countries we gave any thought to: Canada, New Zealand, Finland, France, Switzerland, Mexico, Spain, Greece, Italy, Iceland, Denmark, Japan, Taiwan, Ethiopia, Sweden, Norway, Belgium and The Netherlands. Yes, you read that correctly. Ethiopia. There was a job opening in Addis Ababa. They never returned my e-mail. I also looked into the Peace Corps., but they don't allow children along even for the experience. A lot of anthropology professors would debate them on the power of such interaction.

I searched for teaching jobs. Canada requires that you be on their soil as a Permanent Resident or you can't get one. Computer jobs, even those tailor-made for my husband, went to others. And time and time again, in Europe, if you didn't have European Union papers, that was it. A very long job advertisement would scroll, containing perfect tidbits of information for what we would need. After making my way all the way to the end-Don't bother applying if you don't have EU papers, or working papers, or Native speakers with EU papers only.

As for The Netherlands, if you're in your mid-forties, you'd better hurry. The cut-off for a work permit is forty-five in Amsterdam. Belgium makes it workable if you have, well, work. Switzerland has schools all over the place but had no openings. Spain has issues for you to contend with if you have children in their school system, as is the case with Greece. And by the time I got around to Sweden and Norway, I had little energy left to look.

We focused on New Zealand, Finland, and then back to Canada. Competition for getting into New Zealand came in the form of a geological event. Huge numbers of those displaced by the tsunami went there. It led me to say, "I'll move over if you'll move over." After all, mine was a political disaster. It may not equate with the physical devastation from a tsunami, but it's bad enough. The onslaught, however, greatly affected paperwork and fees, something I was barely willing to work along with. I would ask myself, "Are you sure you want to do this?" every so often after catching my breath. Let's face it, this was a big move for a family to make. You have to be sure.

Rachel, her husband and three children live in New York. She has a Masters in TESOL, and her work has appeared in the TESOL Journal and numerous literary publications.

June 23, 2006 at 22:09:54

Let Me In (One)

by Rachel Gladstone-Gelman

Employment in New Zealand also requires a stream of paperwork which includes very specific information. If you're at all interested in moving there, get multiple copies of all your transcripts and certificates or diplomas, and tabulate your work hours for every job you've had. They want to know exactly what you mean by part-time. They look at all these numbers so as to figure out your pay. And you have to deal with the New Zealand Qualifications Authority. They're the ones who aren't aware when their own policies have changed. When I asked them about a large discrepancy, they were less than helpful. It led me to wonder just how good an idea it was to go further when trust was seeping through a trap door. That, along with their prime minister's praise of Bush as a leader, was that.

Finland's number came up. And it got attention. I went there for interviews twice. The second time, I knew that they didn't have an opening, but I was on a mission. Altogether I got three job offers that, when combined, could not provide enough hours to support a family of five. And we were flexible. My programmer husband applied for a job hauling ice in a gay bar. A job opening wasn't actually there, but he tried. Accumulating part-time jobs and/or working freelance are the most common ways to get started in Finland.

One of my interviewers in Finland was so happy that someone actually got on a plane. They'd received resumes from all over the world, but nobody ever got on a plane to go see them. Their reaction was worth the airfare. And I got a referral. Unfortunately, the referral was to someone who did need someone with my qualifications but was a less-than-reliable guarantor. The more we studied the situation, the more nervous we got. She wasn't the one to bring us over.

It's particularly helpful if you're single or a couple and can stay in Finland to hear about a job opening up while learning some Finnish. Columbia University in New York offers it but only starting in September. Berlitz offers it if you take out a second mortgage on your home. Then again, you may need to fly someone in to tutor you. Experience in mobile technology can also increase your chances of getting a job. In order to get pretty much any job in Finland, you need at least a Bachelor's and, in many cases, a Master's degree. Many Finns have PhD's, because it's easier to stay in school than to find a job and pay taxes.

Throughout this process, I scoured the internet for employment not only for myself, but for my husband. He's been a troubleshooter for many years, but Microsoft is an unpopular avenue outside the U.S. We looked into his attending graduate school in New Zealand because they like schooling their own workforce. He studied Java and C#, and reviewed JavaScript, HTML, CSS and SQL . Even Visual Basic, one of his strongest areas, didn't land him a job. Here we were, two educated people with lots of work experience, and we couldn't get enough work to support a family outside of our own country.

But the tide changed after I returned from my second trip to Finland. There was some movement in the Canadian company he works for and we got our break. We had come full circle.

Rachel, her husband and three children live in New York. She has a Masters in TESOL, and her work has appeared in the TESOL Journal and numerous literary publications.

June 26, 2006 at 06:59:03
From Cheerleader to Enemy of the State: An Interview with Judy Davis

by William T. Hathaway

The long, flouncy curls from Judy Davis's cheerleader days are gone. Her straight blonde hair is now cut short. Her large blue eyes stand out in a face pale from no makeup. Her soft Southern drawl has an undertone of determination. "It's taken me awhile, but now I'm glad to be considered an 'unsuitable influence.' That was how the school board justified my firing. That and 'deviating from the curriculum.' It's like they were implying I was a deviant. And according to their norms I am.

"I taught my tenth grade American history students about what the US has done for decades in the countries in which we now have terrorism. We've overthrown their governments, installed dictators, undermined their economies -- all to strengthen our business interests. Seen in that light, the terror attacks are revenge for what we've done to them.

"This was a history lesson, but it was also a lesson in cause and effect, explaining what has provoked so many people to such anger at the US. But the effect on me was that I got fired and now apparently blacklisted.

"One of the students had an uncle stationed in Iraq, and she reacted as if I had insulted him. She took it as a personal attack on her family.

"I reminded her that I wasn't talking about our soldiers, just about the reasons they were there. I wanted very much for her uncle to return safely home. But she insisted I had no business saying any of that.

"That led to a mini-lesson on freedom of speech in which the whole class took part. It was one of the liveliest but also most emotionally charged discussions we'd had. Several students were convinced what I had said were lies, and freedom of speech doesn't include the right to lie. They denied the US had abused these countries. They insisted the terrorists are maniacs who hate us for our freedom, hate us because we're Christian. We have to stop them before they kill us.

"While we were talking I looked in the corner at the American flag with its red for the blood of our brave soldiers. Every morning the students put their hands over their hearts and pledge allegiance to that flag in a ritual designed to evoke tender feelings of identification with our country. I saw the portraits of the Founding Fathers on the walls, all looking so wise and kind, just the father every child would like to have. I thought about all the patriotic civics classes that teach us how great America is but leave out much of our history, particularly foreign policy.

"I realized these kids -- all of us -- are being indoctrinated. We're brought up to view the country as an extension of our family and to react to criticism of it as a personal attack. We tune out the negative because it's too threatening to us. Rather than thinking critically, we're encouraged to react emotionally. One of the media's purposes is to keep our emotions stirred up so we won't objectively analyze the system we live under.

"Several students took my side, but for some of them that was because I was the teacher, the authority figure. But others had really thought about the issue and added ideas of their own that had never occurred to me. One African-American girl made brilliant connections between the kind of invisible colonialism the US tries to enforce on other countries and its domestic colonization of poor minority groups here.

"The discussion was an intense learning experience for us all. Its goal wasn't to try to change opinions but to clarify what we really believe and help us articulate that. We all benefited from it.

"Next day the principal called me in because of student complaints. My explanations didn't convince her, but she said if I apologized to the class and never did anything like this again, she could let the incident slide.

"When I refused, she said she'd have to bring the matter before the school board. The board -- made up of business leaders, a minister, and two retired educators -- interviewed me and issued a report saying my 'inappropriate behavior and recalcitrant defense of it' left them no choice but to dismiss me.

"Previous to this, my professional evaluations had always been excellent. Since the firing, I've applied for other jobs in the state and haven't got one interview. And there's a shortage of teachers in the state.

"This experience really changed me. I hadn't been radical before. I'd been a cheerleader in high school and college, was a member of a sorority. My parents voted Republican, and I had followed their lead. But those days are over.

"The incident made it clear to me how much thought control goes on in our society, how mentally manipulating the media and the educational institutions are.

"After being fired I had lots of free time, so I read books by Noam Chomsky, William Blum, and Howard Zinn. I learned more about how the power holders convince the people to identify with the country they live in and make them afraid of outside enemies. I learned how the global rich act in their own interests regardless of nationality, and how this keeps the majority of the world in poverty.

"Now I'm a waitress in a chain restaurant. That's been a good lesson in capitalism. I'm making a lot less money, but the government still takes a hefty chunk of it to kill people who might be a threat to them."

Hathaway: "What are you doing to stop that?"

Davis: "I've become an enemy of the state. I'm actively working to bring it down, particularly the patriarchal, capitalist form that we live under."

Hathaway: "Would a matriarchal, socialist form be better?"

Davis: "I can't say for sure. That's not a question for our generation to answer. I don't think we're going to be the ones to build a new society. Our job is to weaken this monolith so it will eventually fall. We need to undermine it, to chip away at it however we can. That's probably going to be a lifetime assignment for us. The generations who come after us can decide what to build in its place.

"Planning a new society at this point seems to me to be just daydreaming, a waste of time. First we have to break this system's power. Otherwise our descendants will still be living under it."

Hathaway: "That sounds awfully pessimistic."

Davis: "I'd call it realistic. It's clear by now that this system is not going to allow basic changes. Only superficial reforms come out of congress, and they're often reversed later on.

"Both major parties are tied to the business establishment, which wields the real power. The Democrats tolerate an occasional eccentric like Jesse Jackson or Howard Dean to create an impression of progress, but they don't have a chance of achieving power. The establishment uses them to channel public discontent into dead-end streets, to convince people if they wait another four years, the system could change. But it never does. Liberalism maintains the power structure by stringing people along with hopes for a better future."

Hathaway: "But what's the alternative?"

Davis: "Direct action. There are all sorts of nonviolent ways to undermine power."

Hathaway: "Such as?"

Davis: "Depriving the corporations and their government of money is a good start. That can be done by refusing to buy things, by tax evasion, by work sabotage. Corporate and government resources are limited. Every dollar they have to spend keeping things running here is a dollar they can't spend killing people overseas.

"Making concrete suggestions about this could get me put in jail these days, so I can't be too specific. But each of us has gifts for resistance, and I think we should use them to toss monkey wrenches into the works. I have a few personal projects that mean a lot to me.

"Doing something as nonviolent as voting for a minor party deprives the major parties of votes and shows how illegitimate they are."

Hathaway: "What if that helps someone like Bush get elected?"

Davis: "I think this idea that Bush is the problem is a red herring. It is used to distract us from the fact that US aggression has bipartisan support. It helps perpetuate the system by focusing on personalities rather than policies. Bush's crudity just makes more clear what US policy has been for over 200 years: Empire building. The other presidents did it less blatantly.

"Thomas Jefferson was the founding father of imperialism. He said we should move in to replace the fading power of the Spanish empire in Latin America. And we've done that, sometimes by conquest, sometimes by working through their local elites.

"The founding fathers were just rich men looking after their own interests. Just like our current rulers are. We need to knock these patriarchs off their pedestals.

"The current batch are masters at recruiting women to serve their interests. Most women politicians are offering us the same old system dressed up in a new outfit, just patriarchy with perfume."

Hathaway: "How do you think we should oppose patriarchy?"

Davis: "Both men and women have internalized patriarchal assumptions and have been brought up to think of them as 'natural.' We need to root these implanted concepts out of us. Art can do that. Lesbian and gay cultures can do that. Some psychotherapies can do it.

"But at some point this process almost always brings us into opposition to our fathers, and that's scary ground, particularly for women. Before women can change, we have to confront the part of ourselves that's still desperately seeking our father's approval. As long as we unconsciously want to be daddy's little girl, we're going to support the system."

Hathaway: "It sounds like you've gotten over that."

Davis: "I'm still working on it, and it's painful. But you know what? I actually have a better relationship with my father because of it. Now I know him more as an actual person, rather than the projection of an internalized myth. But that too has been a long process."

Hathaway: "None of this -- the political and personal change -- is easy, is it?"

Davis: "No, it's not. But it's worth doing. It's necessary. Things can't go on this way. We can't let business run the world. We can't let governments keep killing people."


Interviewer's note: Judy Davis contacted me because she liked the anti-patriarchal elements in my new book, SUMMER SNOW,, and because we've both gone from supporting the system to opposing it. We exchanged e-mails and phone calls, and this interview comes from that material.

She is currently consulting an attorney about suing the school board and asked that her address not be included in this article. I can be contacted at

William T. Hathaway is author of the novels SUMMER SNOW and A WORLD OF HURT.

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