so, why are you still here?

I received the following letter today and thought that the rest of you might find if of interest.


I’m only a visitor in you country. I’m a foreign worker on the fifth year of my six year work visa. I had the option to get a green card and stay here, but I don’t want to. I can’t live with the direction this country is moving in.

I thought rational Americans were strong and brave and willing to fight for freedom and liberty. Am I supposed to think that the government of the US is a reflection of its citizen’s wishes? Isn’t that what democracy, excuse me – a Republic is for? It’s still “We The People….” right? Why the hell don’t people in your country do something?! I guess I thought that people were trying to do something here, but the worst elements of Nazism keep springing up in your government and all Americans can do is ooh and ahh over iPods and the Monopoly game at McDonalds.

Let’s face it, the bulk of the US wants an Empire. An American Empire to straddle the globe wearing combat boots and pissing toxic pollutants on everyone else.

False premises on the War in Iraq, abuses of prisoners of war, redistribution of taxes from the wealthy to the middle class, rising religious fanaticism, unfair trade practices, negligence in disaster relief, declining foreign aid, Gestapo gulags around the world, rampant commercialism, no protection for wildlife refuges, ignorance of global warming (Kyoto), inflation, record fiscal and trade deficits, destruction of social security, coverups over politically motivated attacks on your own spies, arms sales to despots, subsidies to coal and inefficient automobile makers, dropping mercury emission regulations, blatant ignorance of science, lack of international cooperation – (coalition of the willing – ha!), the attempted coup in Venezuela, ignorance of the nuclear danger in North Korea, favors for pharmaceutical companies, energy companies, the awarding of non-compete contracts to Halliburton and other key supporters of the Republicans is pure pork. I could go on and on.

Give me some hope man. Why the hell do you stay in this country? It makes me think of the people living in Germany during the 1933 to 1938 period, as the signs got worse and the excuses had to get more extreme to cover up the glaring problems. What does Mark Maynard say to himself to justify his choice to live in the USA?

P.S.: Love the website. You’re a credit to your nation.

(And then he ended with an unlabeled link to a story about the the secret Eastern European prisons being operated by the United States.)

So, I was sitting here thinking how to respond and I thought that I’d throw it out to the group. (Why do you stay here?) I think I’ve written about it here before, but I’ve thought about migrating north to Canada. I’ve done the research and I’ve talked with friends that live there. I’ve even driven there and checked out a few of the restaurants. I think I’d be an irresponsible parent if I didn’t think about our options and have a plan in mind, should things get untenable here. As a non-indigenous American, I guess it’s kind of in my blood. I come from a long line of people who all took the gamble and left their native countries. My people left Sweden, Poland, England, Scotland and any number of other places around the globe. I’ve been bred to jump ship (when the time is right).

The truth is, however, that I still love America and what it historically has stood for. I know the reality wasn’t always so pretty, but, on the whole, I still believe the myth. I believe that this is a country where, by working hard and being bright, one can make something of his or her life. I think that this is a place of opportunity, where people aren’t judged for who their parents were or the class to which they belonged, but by their ideas and the content of their character. It would be na

This entry was posted in Observations. Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.


  1. chris
    Posted November 2, 2005 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    Well, maybe he/she will stay here if he knows that most of us agree with him. He does make me question my friend’s comment about how close we are to an uprising.

    I, for one, plan on going to Costa Rica with a girlfriend of mine in February. We plan on buying some real estate in case we need to get the hell out of dodge. But I expect, the closest I’ll get is clutching a plane ticket in the puffy hand of my rotting corpse, which will be found in my living room after the bomb hits, the flu wipes us out, rapture…whatever. Andromeda strain genocide we got coming.

    I currently know three different couples who are trying to identify countries that will give them or their unborn children passports, if they choose to give birth overseas. Did you hear me? There are people out there right now trying to find a country to give birth in so they can get a second citizenship!!! This, my friends, is a sad state of affairs.

    And yes, we do ahhh over some seriously stupid shit. Someone else was recently ragging on our cult of technology. Just this weekend I was seriously contemplating the purchase of a Marc Jacobs handbag ($1200)?!?!?!?!

  2. Doug Skinner
    Posted November 2, 2005 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been thinking of moving too. My girlfriend’s father had to flee Lithuania when the Nazis took over; so she has that history in her background, and wonders seriously if it may be time to get out of here.

    We were thinking of moving to the UK. Her mother is English, so she could get a dual passport; and I have writing gigs in London, so it’s possible. My Brit friends tell me Edinburgh is lively and cheap — we learned, though, that the dollar has fallen so much that it’s not cheap for us.

    It may be that I’m simply too old and poor to start all over again somewhere else. It’s difficult enough to survive here. And, as another Brit friend pointed out, “What makes you think any other country WANTS Americans?”

    So, like many people I know, I keep hoping that the political climate will improve. They often do; look how the Italians turned on Mussolini. And for all the GOP crowing, only half the country is behind them.

    Meanwhile, American emigration to Canada is up; and Canada is getting pickier. A friend of mine from Chile is heading back there, since he finds Bush a bit too much like Pinochet. And when people jeer at me for not owning an iPod (which has happened), I jeer back.

    But, oh, I do hope for better times…

  3. mark
    Posted November 2, 2005 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

    I suspect that if things really get bad… I mean really, really bad… that the United States will split. We won’t let them have the whole thing. So, you’ll probably be alright in New York. Things might be a little sketchier here where I am, in the midwest, but I’m less than an hour’s drive from Canada and I think I have friends there that would put us up for a while… I have thought about going back to college and getting another degree though, so I’d be more attractive to other countries. (Net worth, education and experience starting and running companies are the things they generally look for.)

  4. Posted November 3, 2005 at 12:31 am | Permalink

    I don’t think it’s true at all that most Americans want an empire. Most Americans don’t want *anything*. For hundreds of years we’ve had, for the most part, a pretty good government. People have grown complacent, and it’s going to take a lot to shake them out of it. I still don’t understand why the *Iraq War* wasn’t enough.

  5. Dan from Austin
    Posted November 3, 2005 at 12:44 am | Permalink

    This may be pessimistic, but where is actually that much better on a personal and individual level? I hate what the Bushites have done and I hated most of what the Clintonistas did, Hell, I’m not all that fond of what any of our administrations have done since Washington refrained from becoming emperor for life. But, I am not ready to leave my country. I appreciate Mark’s exporation of why he resists packing up. I guess I feel similarly in many ways. America as an ideal (that is rarely (if ever) lived up to for sure) is worth fighting for. To give up and not offer any resistance would be wrong, I think.

    It could be my jingoistic A-merican upbringing, but I don’t think that the European or the Candian leaders even are all that much more enlightened than us. In fact, I bet that any of them would trade the US for its power in a second. However, since the US is the sole superpower (and we have leaders that absolutely suck) our bad side is much more prominently displayed and reviled. If we had the worlds 22nd strongest military, people would probbaly think differently of us.

    Hmmm.. It’s late and this is sounding a little bit like a (slightly) refined Charlie Daniels song…
    Anyway, I don’t think abandoning America is the answer. I don’t think that the analogy to Nazi Germany is apt (although I have been tempted to make it myself) If Alito gets nominated and there aren’t more indictments and convictions from the Plame affair and Iraq and torture continues without abatement, then maybe we can talk about fleeing. But, me I still think that there is hope. That the lumbering beast of the masses is waking up to the evl and corrupt rethuglicans.

    Let’s hope I’m right…

  6. Shanster
    Posted November 3, 2005 at 5:20 am | Permalink

    I think Bill Murray said it best in Stripes:

    “Cut it out! Cut it out! The hell’s the matter with you? Stupid! We’re all very different people; we’re not watoosie, we’re not Spartans. We’re Americans, with a capital A, huh? You know what that means? Do ya? That means that our forefathers were kicked out of every out every decent country in the world. We are the wretched refuse. We’re underdogs, we’re mutts! … We’re mutants, there’s something wrong with us, there’s something very, very wrong with us. Something seriously wrong with us. … We’ve been kicking ass for 200 years, we’re 10 and 1. Now we don’t have to worry about whether or not we practiced. We don’t have to worry about whether Captain Diller wants to have us hung. All we have to do-oo is to be the great American fighting soldier that is inside each one of us. Now do what I do, and say what I say. And make me proud.”

    If the day comes when our liberty is truly threatened we will fight like the warrior poets did at Bannockburn. They may take our lives, but they will never take our freedom!

  7. Posted November 3, 2005 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    Maybe you’re correspondant should think of NOLA when he wonders why people don’t leave, many of us who are that radical have been impoverished beyond what any other reasonable country will accept for citizenship. I have looked into Canada and New Zealand and I don’t make the cut because I havent been a good little cog in the machine here. This is true of many of my friends here also.
    Costa Rica however seems a very good bet. But one really must be able to buy land to really make it work. I have one friend who saved all his cabdriving pennies and bought in years ago. I think he’s a very smart man. Speaks fluent spanish too, he’ll do well.

  8. dorothy
    Posted November 3, 2005 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    what a great letter!!! it spells out all the things wrong with the reich wing’s agenda. when i was traveling in s.america last summer, i was advised to hide the fact that i was from the u.s. and not express myself in public, as anti american feeling is pretty widespread there. i can certainly see why. if i weren’t 70 and tired, i’d probably return to ireland—land of my grandparents.

  9. Kristin
    Posted November 3, 2005 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Mark? You *are* a credit to your nation. I don’t think I tell you that enough.

  10. pat
    Posted November 3, 2005 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    And we can choose to follow (or not to follw) the religion of our choice. We can disagree with our government and do what we can to change it – we have freedom of speech. We can all get a free public education that is as good as we can each make it for ourselves. We can go to the ocean or the mountains. Matter of fact, we can go wherever we want to. We can be pro choice or pro life. We can dress how we choose.
    With freedom comes responsibility and some of that responsibility is to fight for our freedoms.
    Generations before us that came to America had to work a lot harder for those well-earned freedoms than we do. Most of us take them for granted. It’s hard to remember to appreciate all that we do have and not focus on all that could be better. There is no utopia. Life is hard for the majority of people on this planet. We all have personal responsibility. There is cause and effect. Knowledge is power. Change is hard. Compassion goes a long way. I’m staying.

  11. Original Letter Writer
    Posted November 3, 2005 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    Ahhh! That felt good to get off my chest!

    Firstly, let me say; thank you Mark for posting my letter and thank you to all of you who took the time to read it and reply with your comments. I expected a more vitriolic counter-attack and a few more “USA! USA!” chants. You kind readers have surprised me with your open-mindedness to my critical letter.

    Secondly allow me to push the point just a few more centimeters further; most of the comments you gentle readers included included as part of their arguments many impassioned pleas for Americans to remember historic truths (eg. MLK was American) as a reason to stay and support the US. To me, this is like saying I go to Columbia University because Lou Gehrig and Alexander Hamilton went there. It just seems silly to draw pride and nationalism from having who happens to share the same federal government as you.

    Also, does it really matter that jazz and rock and roll were created within the federal boundaries of the US? Is that really a good reason to live here? Surely you know that you can be free to enjoy jazz and rock and roll in many other nations. How applicable is national identity to a musical artform?

    Thirdly, I hope you all found it as alarming as I did that most of the comments on this topic included people describing their “Bug-out” plans; their plans to evacuate the country. This is telling. Nobody who is in the throws of victory considers retreat.

    I guess I really don’t want you, gentle reader, to leave the US. Don’t give up the fight. I simply wanted to vent some frustration over the fact that so many of your fellow citizens don’t care what their government does – and this negligence has dramatic implications around the world. Keep fighting for a kinder, gentler government. Fight against poverty, rudeness, arrogance and ignorance.

    Thank you Mark for giving me a forum and highlighting the important issues for us daily.

  12. Posted November 3, 2005 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    It will go like every great empire went before it, first the intelligencia leaves ..

  13. terry
    Posted November 3, 2005 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    A lot of us tried very hard last election. I, myself, stood in a line with octogenarians in a Texas courthouse just trying to make some kind of a difference.

    And yeah McDonald’s may suck but we’ve also got Wendy’s, White Castle, Dairy Queen, Jack In The Box, Sonic, Krystal’s and Whataburger among others. Freedom of choice still exists. I like that I can get curly fries 24 hours a day. Food may seem trivial but my ancestors left Europe because they were starving and having meat once a week seemed like a beautiful dream to them.

    And don’t forget America still makes the best damn porn on the planet! Even the top porn stars of Europe make their movies here.

  14. mark
    Posted November 3, 2005 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, I can see how you might find it kind of stupid that I mention Jefferson and punk rock in answer to your question as to why I stay here now, in 2005… It makes sense to me though… All my angry diatribes aside, I really do believe this place is special.

    Believe it or not, there was a time when people all over the world looked to us as a beacon of hope, and a shining example of what men and women could accomplish when they were given the freedom to reach their potential. Yes, there were a lot of ugly, ugly chapters in American history (like right now), but that’s not the whole story. And if the people who gave a damn about things like human and civil rights left when things got bad, instead of staying and fighting for change, there would still be slavery in North America and women wouldn

  15. chris
    Posted November 3, 2005 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

    But doesn’t Japan have guilt free porn? Having done a bit of traveling, I can say that one of the things that I admire is the racial diversity. I hav not found that in Europe ar Asia. Oh Canada though, has plenty to be desired but you gotta have a cool million to invest before you can even think of citizenship.

    The birthplace of punk rock is actually enough for me to stay. Good lord those were some heady days.

    Also, not that I vehemently disagree, but what was wrong with the Clinton era? Those were some serious fucking salad days compared to now. Hate NAFTA, and Robert Reich was truly full of shit, but otherwise what gives?

  16. terry
    Posted November 3, 2005 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    I’d also like to add that Bush’s approval rating is at 35% now compared to the 50-51% “mandate” he had at this time last year so maybe the country is headed in a better direction.

  17. terry
    Posted November 4, 2005 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    And Japanese porn has that digital mosaic over the pubic area. Here in America we don’t censor our genitalia.

  18. A
    Posted November 4, 2005 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Regarding Canada:
    As a single individual you would need about $10k CDN as part of the qualifications to immigrate.

    You can also see if you might qualify for immigration by taking an online test linked somewhere here:

    It takes roughly 2-4 years to get through the queue for immigration, unless you are married to a Canadian.

  19. Original Letter Writer
    Posted November 4, 2005 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    In response to your question of my national origin I would like to offer the following: If I reveal my country of origin, I think that people may miss the point that I’m trying to make and instead turn it into a contest of what country is better USA or XXX? That’s not what I want to do. I respectfully decline to answer your question.

    My point in asking about what keeps an American that loves freedom, equality and liberty here in this country was to help explode the nationalistic myths that permiate this (and most other countries).

    Is America great because great people came here, were inspired by great institutions, struggled through adversity and formed a great society? Or is it just that America is accident of history and geography where conditions gave self-selecting adventurous, capable types the means to geographically seperate themselves in a land absolutely rich with natural resources during an era of the enlightenment? Maybe I’m just a glass half full guy but with the blessed conditions that have made available to the US over the past hundreds of years, it would be difficult to fail. Instead of looking around and measuring the US against others, I measure it against what it could be. I think most of your thoughtful readers do as well.

    So, in conclusion, I wouldn’t pat myself on the back for having a country that got rid of slavery nearly a hundred years after it was abolished in European countries or that you can get 24 hour curly fries – is that a worthwhile societal allocation of resources? Before you proclaim that the US is the bastion of freedom (noted by your freedom curly fries), read the Patriot Act and compare it to what would be legal in other countries.
    By the way, why do people lose their mind over “Freedom” but they don’t care anymore about “All men being created equal”?
    But I digress.

    Basically, in my opinion, nationalism is stupid. The adherence to national and religious myths and stereotyping seperates us as humans. When we remove the bonds of feudalism in all its forms we will be able to do truly great things.

    Once again, thank you all for your comments. I very much enjoy this website and the intelligent discussion that it promotes. I really did mean it when I said that Mark is a credit to his country for dedicating his blog to such worthy topics. I can think of few better services one can perform for the betterment of mankind.

  20. Tony Buttons
    Posted November 4, 2005 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    If you were from India, you could tell us all about the Caste system and why it still exists.

  21. mark
    Posted November 5, 2005 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    Maybe you’re right. Maybe we were just lucky here. Maybe, as you say, it would be hard not to be successful with all the natural resources we had at our disposal. And, perhaps it has something to do with the fact that we’ve always attracted bright, hard-working immigrants. I suspect it’s something more than that though. More than the natural resources, the fertility of the land, and the fire that burned in our first-generation immigrants, I believe a lot of it can be attributed to the fact that American culture is accepting of risk and the challenging of the status-quo. And, along the same lines, it

  22. Jeff Anger
    Posted November 5, 2005 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think I’d trade Jerry Lee Lewis for fuckin’ Leonard Cohen. Anyone who wants to take off, there’s a plane leavin’ every other minute. As for me, I’ll fight the good fight for the soul, integrity and philosophical/physical landscape of this great country. Otis Redding could have come from no other place but the American south. Everything and everyone in this great nation is built on what was there before, good and bad. So, piss off , fair weather Americans.

  23. mark
    Posted November 5, 2005 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    I think you must have missed something, Mr. Anger. This thread, for the most part, consisted of people talking about why they loved this country and wanted to stay… With that said, I do think that Leonard Cohen for Jerry Lee Lewis would be a good trade… That doesn’t mean I hate America though.

    Please send my regards to the rest of the Anger family.

  24. chris
    Posted November 5, 2005 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t care where you were from until Terry suggested India, and well ya’ know, she has a point.

    Hey…I can see your digital mosaic!!!

    ALso, what is that in the center of that bullet proof plexiglass eye?

    And, hey Jeff, you wouldn’t happen to be related to Ed Anger would you? Unfortunately, I do not fall into the income bracket that would allow me to be a fair weather American. But you now what, I will take that moniker, though I find it more applicable to those Americans who are more usually conservative Republicans. You know, the ones who, though Christian, will never be their brother’s keeper, believe in social safety nets such as universal care or social security, or fell they should have to pay taxes for anything other than gasoline subsidies.

  25. mark
    Posted November 5, 2005 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    The flag pictured above is the one that flew over Fort McHenry, the one that Francis Scott Key wrote the Star-Spangled Banner about. It’s in the Smithsonian. That eye-like thing in front of it, I think, is some kind of pendulum of some sort. I haven’t been to the Smithsonian in years, but I think it’s some kind of calendar or time-keeping thing. I may be wrong about that though.

  26. Jeff Anger
    Posted November 6, 2005 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    Aye, when I say the good fight it is against the lyin’ sacks of shit that is the extreme arm of the Republican party that has hijacked the Good Ship America. And I am Ed Anger’s bastard hillbilly son that no one will claim not even my own mammy! I jumped out of her patty cake swingin’ and sometimes I connect, but most of the time I just hurt myself! Let’s get this gang of crooks impeached and tried for treason.

  27. mark
    Posted November 6, 2005 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    Tell us more about this “patty cake” of your mammy’s, Mr. Anger.

  28. chris
    Posted November 8, 2005 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    I can’t stop saying patty cake now. Patty cake patty cake patty cake. Well, if Ed is your Dad than Popeye is your other dad. That was some great visual writing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


BUY LOCAL... or shop at Amazon through this link Banner Initiative Non Local Blogger 2