The Streets Are Paved With Gold

With the ongoing media attention to the “Debt Crisis” in the US, coupled with many Bucharestians’ “emigration” to the States we thought it fitting to publish some bits and pieces of an interesting conversation we had with a fellow expat. A brief update first however: This debt ceiling fiasco is nothing new for the US – nor is the propaganda surrounding it. First off, the very idea of a “debt ceiling” is a bit ridiculous. For a debtor nation such as the US (and in general) a government has expenses and income (taxes for one). When the expenses exceed the income, as with any deficit situation, the shortfall must be financed by debt. Very simple. When this artificial limit of borrowing is reached, the limit is removed and borrowing continues. It is the way of a deficit system. What we see now, propaganda and otherwise, is simply a weapon of negotiation for one party to gain concessions from another. Without going in to much detail on this laughable farce, we can simply say that the writing is on the wall, and all involved will lose if this charade continues much longer. This is the impression the US wishes to leave on the rest of the World; that they themselves are too irresponsible and “silly” to be responsible for the repercussions a “default” would cause around the World. The U.S. is one large Ponzi scheme that his been granted the right to print currency and continue doing only what it knows best. So the US’s rating is downgraded to “still investment grade”. This rating is there BECAUSE they have the right to print currencies. At the end of the day, nothing changes other than the fact that the “U.S.” is now fast-tracking its own obsolescence. We’ll continue through time with this ludicrous posturing while the US works diligently to mask its true political issues and agenda.

That brings us now to the emigration of many Romanians to the land of opportunity and the home of the free…

Many individuals we come into contact with in Bucharest (not limited to this city of course – for those who wish to consider this an insult) suffer from severe delusions when it comes to the U.S. and all it has to “offer” based on what they read, hear, and see through the media outlets. For example, everyone seems to think that New York is a carbon-copy of Sex And The City, Miami offers a life filled with yacht parties and art-deco penthouses, the mid-west is a place for Cowboys and re-runs of “Dallas”, and best of all many still believe that Hollywood is a sure ticket to fame and fortune (apparently word never got out 60 years ago that this just isn’t so). Everywhere you walk in Bucharest nowadays is awash in venues designed in a way that they [non-locals] believe is “the way they do it there”. From clubs to restaurants, shopping malls to boutique shops; even simple conversations between Romanian Bucharestians make it subtly apparent that their entire “aura” is geared towards Americanisms. Recently in the media you will likely have seen that regionally-famous bimbo Monica Columbeanu (now Minican Gabor)has jumped ship with her oompah-loompah-esque sponsor Irinel Columbeanu for someone with “real” fortune; a Chinese millionaire with supposed ties to the film and modeling industry in Hollywood. Now Monica has a chance to take her brand to new heights (cough, cough). This “venture” in and of itself is a dream that many Bucharest girls dream about (the dream is slightly different for the Bucharest male, but shares the same concept). Work as hard as you can and claw your way to the top of what you feel is a mountain of fame, fortune, glory, and prosperity. We have an American University in Bucharest handing out degrees in Business and Marketing to anyone with a pulse and a pocketbook, and a local media that thrives almost purely on westernized gossip. Sooo, now the Los Angeles, California is the new “it” destination for the “who’s, who” of Bucharest (case in point – Oana Zavaranu is following in Monica’s footsteps – just watch ProTV for the latest American-Romanian gossip updates) we really were unexpectedly surprised when we had the conversation with an expat we’ll share in a moment.

This expat friend of ours has been living outside of his home Country of Argentina for close to 15 years now, of course with return visits home. He travels the World as we all do and as such has many interesting experiences and stories to share. We were having a general conversation that including many of the elements discussed above. This fellow comes from a very wealthy old-money family and in no way is he allowing money to drive his decisions nor his opinions. That isn’t to say that he is not able to look at life with a proper perspective, he simply is free enough from outside pressures to combine deep thought with educated decisions. For many years this expat was actually courted by the US. He was sent letters, solicited by locals in his home town that worked for the embassy, and even called on the phone. He was being solicited for the receipt of a U.S. Visa. The U.S. wanted him as a citizen. They wanted his money, the wanted his family’s respect, they wanted something from him. You don’t need me to tell you that this does not happen very much. When it happens, you can rest assured that most people would jump on this “opportunity” likely out of pure ignorance, insanity, or desperation. I don’t mean that in an insulting or derogatory fashion at all. I simply mean that if and when people explore the positives of other cities such as Bucharest, and make a factual comparison, they will realize that what transpired next in this conversation is not only plausible, but likely as well. The response this expat gave to all that solicited his entry to the US was shocking, even for us to hear. His verbal reasons were finally submitted in written form to the USCIS in response to the continuous letters they were sending him. He simply stated the following:

RE: United States Of America Visa –

1. Americans Are Terrorists. Your Country Is Not Secure.
One must not look far to clearly see that the United States is pushing the limit of global policing more and more; on an exponential scale. Your Country continues to theatrically rule the World with an iron fist. Sooner or later this will catch up with you as evidenced through the events of 11 of September. I have no interest in actively risking the lives of my family and myself.

2. You lie about your accounts to the World.
Although financial deceit is widespread throughout the World, the U.S. regularly misrepresents their economic standing with such panache and ease that only harm may come. This harm will not only come to you but to the others that depend on your integrity. I wish to not partake in this particular pastime.

3. Your Country is racist.
I find it very interesting as well as subtly amusing that you are courting me, a foreigner, to enter into your Country. Why is it that you wish for me and my family to enter when you are currently pursuing the deportation of many “illegal immigrants” as you call them who are clearly a benefit to your society? Why would any rational being believe their fate to be any different? It is also very apparent to me that personal freedoms are heavily controlled – controlled in such a fashion that as long as I comply to your ways of being and believing I will remain temporarily unscathed. Your Statue of Liberty claims “Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” yet due to current events at seems as though you have long since forgotten your very own promise.

4. The U.S. Is Far Too Strict On Business And The Pursuit Of Opportunity.
Your taxes are much higher than many are led to believe. Even your own citizens are highly unaware of the monetary contributions they unknowingly pay in to your system. Your Country has one of the most corrupt economic systems on the planet. This corruption is bribery and extortion at its very worst. I say this because what other Countries call questionable, your Country simply deems necessary under the guise of various laws and regulations. The cost of doing business, whatever that business may be, and the regulations one must comply with in order to legally operate said business, are far greater than I wish deal with. From a business perspective, the path of last resistance for me and my family is simply not to attempt such a venture in the first place. Taking this and the fact that your Country is racist into consideration, you can clearly see why I feel my opportunities lie elsewhere.

Thank you again for your consideration, however I feel that it is not in my best interest to accept your offer.”

Now, although this seems a bit harsh and “controversial” to say the least, it certainly contains a lot of points that are pertinent to how expats think and view cities and countries around the world. We all try to educate ourselves on the systems and ways of “target” destinations from a logical standpoint; the pros and cons if you will. While clearly this message points out the cons, it is reason enough to dismiss the invitation altogether as this particular expat did. Why put yourself in a negative or potentially negative situation if you don’t need to? Isn’t that why a lot of us came to Bucharest? Isn’t that why a lot of us travel to other destinations? There is a very solid handful of expats that fall within the group of people that are constantly seeking a “better” place to settle, retire, or just live life to the fullest. As we know, Bucharest is one of these places. There are things we love, and things that irritate us almost to the core. But we all came here for a reason, and rest assured, at the end of the day, we stay because we believe in what Bucharest has to offer.