Becoming an Ex-pat

Let’s all face the music playing in the long sad movie of the American nightmare economy. It’s being played like a garage techno tune mixed of ramming psychedelic death metal, adolescent gangsta-rap, Brittany Spears-like bop-crap and mulleted no-brain country music of the achiest breakiest disheartening kind. Politicians, corporate media and business people act as if they are Mafia that has gone legitimate and the Federal Reserve and Wall Street and the three branches of government is the new Las Vegas, Reno and Atlantic City. Actually, I’ll retract the inference from that line. The likes of Sam Giancana and the Teflon Don had more integrity than Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke, Hank Paulson, Lawrence Summers, Robert Rubin, Timothy Geithner and the rest of the crooks on Wall Street could ever muster in their best and brightest moments. At least the Mafia characters were respectable and honest about being crooks.

To Americans living overseas, expats we are called, watching CNN International (it’s still bullshit but it’s bullshit with more truthiness-like propaganda for the non-white foreign audience) one living life as an amoeba might get the idea that there’s actually a pretty decent American economy humming along towards future prosperity and wealth for all. All others with a brain fully understand that things at home really suck for most people and that the lollipop term Great Recession is nothing less than the early stages of a massive depression. Wages and jobs in America are gone baby gone. Just think about the insane numbers, trillions and trillions of dollars heisted from American taxpayers (and the rest of the planets inhabitants) and poof – it all just up and disappeared. And our elected politicians still give the banking crooks more money and cut their taxes. What a country!

That Americans aren’t in the streets in protest over the defense industry’s wars, serious talk of axing Medicaid and hacking up Social Security, and the endless rivers of lies and corruption flowing from politicians, generals, media, and CEO’s, is as puzzling to me as Glen Beck’s popularity was. Has America truly become a land of sniveling junkies and religious nuts beholden to a cultural philosophy as invigorating as a gross limerick scratched onto a New Jersey turnpike toilet stall wall? American culture is saturated with stinkers like Bill O-Really, Alan Douchewitz and Stephen Colbert (I know) instead of thinkers like Cornell West, Elliot Spitzer and the other Stephen Colbert. We’ve all got bi-polar brain spasms because of it our downward spiraling cultural discourse.

Back in the early 1990’s my wife and I needed to sell one of our cars to make ends meet. We were consumerist Dilbert-like slaves endlessly paying minimum balances and counting pennies at the end of the month while going to school and trying to find the next higher paying cubicle to work in. Neither of us were born into prep-kindergartens and summered on Cape Cod. We were pretty average working class heroes. At least I was. I guess that’s why we divorced and she went on to become a highly paid interpreter travelling around the world and I remained just another guy swimming with middle level management sharks in a manufacturing world of Sales Engineer’s and working seven days a week until the American dream got Enronned and Disaster Capitalism geared itself into high speed.

The buyers of the car were two men from India who were working in the Marlboro Massachewzitts area high-tech industry. They were on B1B visa’s that enabled them to work in America for half the wages of an American worker and also with minimal health insurance and probably no benefits. Being that they were paid as contractors the companies that employed them paid nothing into the Social Security system and probably paid no payroll taxes as well. They were nice guys; don’t get me wrong. I hold no bad opinion of them for doing what they had to do to survive. But the U.S. politicians and the corporations that used such a system to drive down American wages and outsource labor as a way to break unions and destroy the American Dream make me absolutely irate. That’s why I howl when I read about trade imbalances with China. All of the stuff we used to make in America is now made in China and other totalitarian countries. That’s not a trade imbalance. As the redneck South Park character’s in the aliens landing in their town episode said, “The took are jerbs.” And I don’t blame Chinese people because they didn’t take our jerbs; I blame the anti-American scum in Congress, in corporate offices and the elitist institutional breeding hatcheries like Columbia, Yale, Harvard and the University of Chicago. THEY took our jerbs.

Let me tell you about expats. The truth about ex-pats is that most of them have better lives overseas – than they could now have in America – and understand that the opportunities in America for them are mostly pathetic. Who can compete with ten guys from India all living in a 2-bedroom apartment and each making a third of the wages that an American would make on the same job? And who can blame the corporations for paying to rig and abuse the system governed by knuckle-pointing opportunists living high off the taxpayers’ hog? I can’t blame them unconditionally.

We Americans – all of us asinine voters who keep believing in the same bullshit year after year since 1980, tea partiers to progressives, allow the corporate media propaganda to divide us into sparring factions of skinny and fat assed jerks fighting over cabbage patch dolls and worthless Chinese made junk on Black Friday morning scrambles while throwing consumerist fits in Wal-Mart shopping holocausts. We are to blame for voting for the same old immoral corrupt slicksters with instantly irrelevant slogans like, “Yes we can.” We voted for cocaine brain addled ex-alchaholics like George Bush, crazy Christian fundamentalists who hide their God fearing fascist lunacy from voters, and the vacuous butler to the billionaires Obama. Don’t forget Slick sex-crazed Willie. He was more enamored with where he put his Johnson than he was with American people. Let me tell you, it wasn’t our pain he feeling. We need to stop these horrifying mistakes! We need third, fourth and fifth political parties in America. We really need to crash the two-party system and bang shit up.

It’s time for real change in American governance. We need to rage in the streets and demand our elected government work for all of us or change the way we are governed. Here is my idea: We should have a revolution and install a representative kind of government by the people and for the people. And, maybe, just maybe, we should demand that persons who are corporations should be prosecuted for breaking laws, that the wealthy spend time in poor-people prisons when they get convicted of financial crimes, and elected officials in federal government get vouchers for food and health insurance, less income and no lifetime pensions. Maybe then they will know what it’s like to be a real American.

We need to rethink what we are letting the wealthy do to our country. Let me tell you, to have to live in an third world country on a salary considered poverty wages for a family of four in America – while itself not a bad life – is nowhere near as good as living in the land of the less free than before the thing on 9/11 happened. Forget the home of the brave nonsense. Not everyone can be a hero for doing the job they chose to do. Got that Anderson Cooper? By the way, how many sons and daughters of millionaires do you think are fighting in America’s wars? If there are any, they’re probably there to keep an eye on the family defense industry contracts. We got work to do. It won’t take a village like in Secretary Clinton’s book, it will take a revolution or America will become more like China – without the jobs.

Ko Tha Dja is an educator and writer who lived in Burma for five years. His collection of stories about his time in Burma is forthcoming. Now residing in Vientiane, Lao PDR, he can be reached via his personal blog at Read other articles by Ko Tha Dja.