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A friend, on a social network, just commented on one of my posts, paraphrasing and de-identifying, “I don’t mind that we make it easy for Americans to come down here to my Uruguay, despite how hard you make it for us to come to the USA. But could we do a ‘Democracy test’ at the border?”

So true! It would be a great idea, as a modest proposal.  I choose Uruguay for a lot of reasons, and as some people say, perhaps Uruguay choose me. (Though I better finish getting all my docs for Migraciónes before they decide to change that!) But it’s a mostly socialist country, with actual Communist Party in its governing coalition party, the Frente Amplio, along with real Socialist parties and socialist and communist-leaning parties. It has free and low-cost socialized Universal Health Care for everyone, even new immigrants, if that’s all you can afford. That’s paid for primarily from the income and social security taxes and the value-added-tax (IVA), as well as the high import duties which flow into the country’s general fund.

Even if you choose to buy into the USA-style (everybody’s an individual, you can be rejected for individual “medical underwriting” or have conditions excluded or your individual premium greatly raised) “private system (of which only 2% of the Uruguay population are stupid enough to buy into), you are being subsidized by my and my neighbors’ direct and indirect tax payments. Most of us join the “mutualistas”, the cooperative non-profit medical societies, most of them secular, some like Circulo Catolico, religious-affiliated, and get our memberships for free if we’re working a job or paying our taxes as Uruguayan business owners or self-employed “independientes”, or are paying a reasonable, about $90 US per month membership fee if not (or if, in my case for this year, my income including freelancing is US based and attributed to my USA address, US paid, US-taxed.)

It has fiber-optic ultra-high-speed internet being trenched in front of every home in the country eventually; something already in my little beachside working-class and middle-class seaside town. The trench of buried Antel fiber got pulled to my casita a month or two ago, and it will be turned up and available to order on my block in a few weeks; a few blocks away it’s already online.  This is provided by the government monopoly fixed-line telecommunications company, Antel, where your bill payments actually go to the General Fund of the government. Sure, Google Fiber is faster, if you can get it. If you live in Kansas City or a few other privileged US locales. The big US telecom cabal conspired with the US cable cabal to stop bringing Fiber Optic any further in the USA. In Uruguay, the government runs the phone/internet company. In USA, the Phone/Internet Companies run the government! (Search “regulartory capture” if you want to know more.)

Voting is required here, if you are a citizen. Which I hope to be in 2-4 more years. In the USA, increasingly fewer people vote, districts are gerrymandered to make your vote meaningless on Congressional elections, big money from both the Big Corporatocracy you know, and those you never hear about, pours in to make your Senate choices meaningless, and you get a very limited set of Column-A or Column-B choices for President, all of which are totally the same on Corporatocracy and Military-Industrial-Complex issues.

You also get a clown-car full of entertaining but frightening idiots like Michele Bachman, Herman Cain, and already-appointed dynasty successors like The Next Clinton, The Next Bush, The Next Paul, The Next Kennedy, from America’s Ruling “Monarchy”.

Do you seriously think you choose those people? Do you seriously think that a disruptive, truly game-changing voice like a José Mujica (President of Uruguay and a former torture victim/political prisoner/freedom fighter, as well as an avowed atheist), or a Dilma Rousseff (President of Brazil and a former guerrilla warrrior like Mujica) or a Michelle Bachelet (former and likely next President of Chile and a former torture victim/political prisoner, as well as an agnostic) could get elected President in the USA? In its rigged, BigMoney, really Single-Party, low-information-voter, Theocratic-Christian-Fundamentalist system?

If you do, please explain that to President Gary Johnson or President Jill Stein. Who are far more “mainstream” than any of these Latin American Presidents, despite being excluded from any meaningful participation in the US Presidential Elections in 2012. Who also, despite being Libertarian and Green respectively, are closer together than some of the parties and people who comprise Uruguay’s Frente Amplio.

Back to the “Democracy Test” concept: Given the limited choices and barely-remaining democracy* in the USA, most of the USA populace is so uninformed and so inexperienced about how government that is responsive at all to the people should work, that the subset which “flees the US” is downright scary. And trust me, a good percentage of the US expats down here are that “flee the US” type. By no means all of them, but enough to scare me sometimes. Getting out of the USA because of “socialism”, because of “universal healthcare”, because, though they rarely admit it, “brown and black people” or “the Jews”, or “the Arabs and Muslims”, or “all the immigrants”, or “godlessness”. Or, more often, and most often not even clearly formulated in their paranoid little minds, all of the above.

Cluebat for you haters and idiots and hateful idiots (it often comes in combos): Uruguay has  socialized medicine, socialized energy, socialized water, socialized banks (the only one left that accepts US citizens is the government-owned one). Uruguay is officially atheist. Despite its own shameful history, and presence, of racism, it has people of color, thank God! Despite being atheist, it is possible to say “thank God!”, and worship in the faith of your choice, but you can’t put it on the money nor can you force your beliefs into the law.

So you’re probably picking the wrong country if you are “fleeing the US before the crash”. Even though Uruguay will still welcome you, and does not have the “Democracy Test” my friend suggested, perhaps you need to give yourself a Democracy Self-Test, before you decide to come here. Or come to pretty much any other non-US country other than the increasingly insular and frighteningly right-leaning Canada, Australia, and the other Axis-of-NSA Powers these days. But hell, even all of them still have socialized healthcare and higher taxes than USA. So maybe, if you don’t get it about how living in a country makes you a fellow citizen/neighbor/resident of everybody else, with responsibilities beyond your little fantasy freehold, maybe you should just stay home.

 * For you “It’s not a democracy, it’s a republic” utter idiots, “democracy” and “republic” are orthogonal concepts, not opposites. One can have a non-democratic republic, “republic” pretty much means “not a monarchy”. One can have a democratic monarchy, e.g. Spain, Netherlands, Belgium, Thailand, and arguably still a democracy, the UK. In case you missed your Social Studies/Civics class, and all you know of the US Constitution is what you hear from Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh: The US is supposed to be: Federal, Democratic (as in We The People), a Republic (as in Not A Monarchy), Constitutional (as in it has a written fundamental law, unlike the UK), and Representative (as in it’s not a Direct Democracy, as in a New England Town Meeting, or an Iowa Caucus – which are examples of Direct Democracy in the USA.) So it’s a Constitutional Representative Democratic Federal Republic. But because that’s one hell of a mouthful (and with all those words including “Democratic Republic” probably sounds “commie” to you), most sane intelligent Americans call it a “democracy”. As has pretty much every President, including your heroes Reagan, Bush, and Bush, or your heroes Carter, Clinton, and Obama. Stop being stupid please. 

  • Elwood Nose

    Voting is not required here for people who acquire citizenship other than naturally.

  • don quixote

    Your opinions noted. What are the test questions?

  • Sterlinguini

    Hi, I’m seriously considering a move to Uruguay and eventually trying to get citizenship there… However, stable internet access is a priority. Could you please comment on the current speed and stability in your area (and others if possible)? Thank you! It would be much appreciated 🙂 Cheers

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