Love it or Leave it?

Yet another 4th of July approaches, a holiday on which we all commemorate America’s big, shiny image of itself by emulating what it does best:

Spend lots of money to blow shit up.

It appears this’ll be my last opportunity to celebrate independence. No, I’m not dying, or getting married again. (Redundant. Sorry.)

Nope. I’m moving to Costa Rica.

Why Costa Rica?

Why not?

That’s the short answer.

Come to think of it, that’s pretty much the long answer, too.

Oh sure, there’s Costa Rica’s clean water, stunning scenery, beautiful weather, welcoming people, rich flora and fauna, high literacy rate, cheap cost of living, peaceful history…

But other than that, it doesn’t have much going for it.

Whoops, almost forgot: It’s also had no military since 1949, choosing for more than a half century to take the money it would have spent for weapons to kill people and, well, blow shit up, and apply it instead toward foo-faws like education and, horrors!, socialized medicine.

Can you imagine such folly? Contrast that with the United States, the proud defender of every human’s fundamental right to watch America’s Most Vapid Videos and consume without conscience, and where $1.228 trillion will be spent this year on “defense” while 47,000,000 go without health care and the average high school student has the comprehension level of a tire iron (with apologies to the latter).

Yet I still want to leave?

Call me crazy.

Whatever; I can’t take it anymore. Actually, I began planning two years ago to move to Central America after deciding I could no longer abide the murderous cloud of American fascism. (I’m gone for good next April.)

Yikes! Did I just use the “f” word? Might the right rightly accuse me of hysteria by trotting it out and thereby insinuating corporate and Bush administration interests are one and the same? Perhaps, but let’s go to the source.

Benito Mussolini said it best (and he oughtta know, or did, at least, before getting hung up one day at a service station in Milan which, of course, made him late): “Fascism should…be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.”

Methinks Benito and our own little business-beholden, tinpot(ty) dictator have something in common.

Il Duce, meet Ill Dunce.

Unchecked corporate sway over government isn’t fascism’s only characteristic, of course; another is strident nationalism. No state’s immune. Huey Long famously said, “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the American flag.”

Meaning: keep an eye out. If you start noticing what seems to be a sheep-like obsession with the Stars and Stripes and its image begins appearing everywhere — like, say, on cars, diapers, etc. — there may be cause for concern.

Anymore, I can’t stand that flag. If I had any guts, I’d have burned one in public long ago.

Heresy, you say? I say hear this: do you think those truly in charge, the crony corporatists, give a crap about that damn banner or any other, for that matter? For them, the bottom line is the bottom line, vastly dwarfing piffling considerations like international law or what we once used for ours, the Constitution. (That’s for the nostalgia buffs).

Additionally, how many people, cynically goaded by the military industrialists’ self-interested stock (market) rally cry of “Above all: patriotism!” have needlessly killed and been killed in the name of that stupid piece of cloth?

“Stop right there, America-hater,” I can hear it now (and see it in my in-box), “it’s not the flag itself, it’s what it represents.”

My point exactly!

Because, anymore, this is what Old Gory, er, Glory, conjures to thinking people worldwide: unprovoked war, imperialism, torture, secret prisons, gluttonous consumption, disappearing civil rights (and just plain disappearing), religious fanaticism, unparalleled corruption, relentless propaganda, rigged elections, crippling racism and, as if that weren’t enough (actually, it’s only a starter list), Americans criminally left to drown in their own homes. (Anyone remember Katrina? The Bushies sure hope you don’t.)

“Why, you sniveling ingrate,” begins another common canard. (I love debating myself.) “If you lived in China/Afghanistan/Texas and spoke like that, you’d be getting deported/tortured/remarried right about now.” (Admittedly, that last one does send shivers up my spine.)

To which I say: And if my aunt had testicles, she’d be my uncle. (Although there were those family rumors about Aunt Lucille — “Lou,” for short; get it? — but never mind that now.)

See, the point is, I don’t live in those places, I live in America (at least until April). So it’s kinda always made sense to address injustices that happen here. Why suffer jet lag and gag down lousy airline food just to go protest them somewhere else?

And, boy, how so many have tried to address them here via countless protests, marches, rallies, donations, letters, e-mails, phone calls, articles, meetings, petitions, discussions (with those with brains), arguments (with those without; i.e. Republicans), etc.

Hell, some of us have even occasionally taken time to cast votes whether they’ve been counted or not.


Yet, where’s America? The wars rage on, the rot continues and, worst of all, no more Sopranos. (Thank goodness the Dems retook Congress. Else we’d be in a real fix.)

It’s almost enough to make a person want to flee to another country, one where when you mention how ashamed you are to be from where you’re from, they look at you for a long, gauging moment before saying: “We do not understand why your country does what it does.”

And you can tell by their look they really don’t, which is easy to understand because you don’t either.

True, Costa Rica’s no paradise; they still use paper ballots, undoubtedly traceable to some primitive superstitious belief in fair elections. Comically, this leaves them unable to “call” winners before polls close as is done in truly advanced nations, like the U.S.

Worse, expending effort to actually tabulate said ballots leads to embarrassing situations like the one Costa Rica had in February 2006 when its presidential election resulted in a virtual deadlock and the victor wasn’t known for weeks.

Sure, in the end they determined which guy got the most votes but can you imagine if we insisted on that here? Think of all the time lost to lobbyists in the interim that otherwise could have been used to bribe the appropriate office holders.

Costa Rica has other drawbacks: Its government is notorious for serving the people very slowly, unlike America’s which, you know, doesn’t serve them at all. There’s also mucho petty theft in Costa Rica whereas in the States, ripping people off is done on a monumental scale. Only it’s not called stealing; it’s called “corporate tax incentives.”

Yeah, Costa Rica ain’t the United States, that’s for sure.

Which is exactly why I can’t wait to get there.

Mark Drolette writes in Sacramento, California. He can be reached at: Read other articles by Mark, or visit Mark's website.

5 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Chris Crass said on June 29th, 2007 at 2:38pm #

    A damned fine plan. As for me, I’ve got my sights set on New Zealand. But maybe next wednesday I’ll take acouple of flags down to the Washington Monument and have a little “celebration.”

  2. Connie said on June 29th, 2007 at 6:34pm #

    I have been looking for a good way to sum up my current feelings about the 4th of July and now I have it. It is the day America celebrates spending lots of money to blow things (and people) up, by spending money to blow things up. THANKS! I envy you for leaving, and wish I could figure out how to do it. Peace.

  3. Terry Greenwood said on June 30th, 2007 at 8:02am #

    Maybe you ought to reconsider your choice of coutry in which to escape. After all, President Arias, who won a second term in February 2006, has pledged to balance the budget and to guide Costa Rica’s entrance into the Dominican Republic–Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR–CAFTA) with the United States. Not a good sign. The economy has been expanding for Costa Rica in part because the Government had implemented a seven-year plan of expansion in the high tech industry. The central government offers tax exemptions for those who are willing to invest in the country. Several global high tech corporations have already started developing in the area exporting goods including chip manufacturer Intel, pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, and consumer products company Procter & Gamble. Another bad sign. Pretty soon Costa Rica will be a puppet of the US. Why not consider North Korea, Cuba, Tibet or the Sudan instead?

  4. CH said on July 1st, 2007 at 2:35am #

    Good luck to you, Mark. I’ve never been to Costa Rica, but one of my friends who has said it’s a beautiful place. It may be within the American sphere of influence, but it still goes its own way when it needs to. I don’t think it’s ratified DR-CAFTA yet because of widespread public opposition and its social safety net is probably the best in Central America.

  5. Kapad said on July 28th, 2007 at 4:45pm #

    The grass surely is greener on the other side. I don’t really see why you are dissatisfied. I will be entering your nation in a while. You’re welcome to take my place in Sweden, the semi- dictatorship.