Home / The Global Upside of Reaganomics

The Global Upside of Reaganomics

Please Share...Print this pageTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook0Share on Google+0Pin on Pinterest0Share on Tumblr0Share on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

By any objective measure, Reagan’s trickle-down economics has been a disaster for America’s economy … but there’s one facet of Reaganomics that, while it has cost America her industrial base and perhaps millions of jobs, has benefited my family and me in a way I didn’t expect. Unfortunately, few Americans have the opportunity I do.

When I first went overseas in the Navy, the poverty I saw reinforced what I’d always been taught: “America is the best place to live in the world.” This was what I learned at home and at school and in all the media I had access to, and outside of America I saw rampant poverty. Why would I want to live anywhere else? I wondered.

I think my first wake-up call was in Hong Kong in the mid-eighties. All of a sudden I saw a place in Asia that was as prosperous, as clean, and frankly safer than any place in America. At the time I thought it was only because Hong Kong was still under English rule. But then came Singapore and Dubai and Nagasaki and Perth and Bangkok, and I began to think that maybe, just maybe people live quite well in these places, too. Even downtown Nairobi, Kenya was comparable to downtown Seattle.

More recently I’ve put down earnest money on a condo in Taguig, a suburb of Manila. Now why would I want to live there? Because this planned city is at least as nice and clean and safe as almost anywhere on the West Coast and bears a strong resemblance to Honolulu … for less than $200K U.S. I realize that very few of us have that on hand, but don’t get the idea I’m rich — anything but! I’ve got a house in foreclosure and some hard choices to make — either keep the house here and work my butt off another 30 years to pay it off, or let it go and instead have a nicer place for less than half the price and work only when I wanted to. My decision? The Chinese rightly say that great opportunity is found in the midst of disaster. Two weeks from now – if all goes well financially – I go to Manila to sign the papers. I’ll still live in America for the time being, but – God willing – I’ll have a nice place to retire to.

What does this all have to do with Reaganomics? Well, think back – in the fifties and sixties the world’s economy revolved around America. This began to slip somewhat in the seventies, but when Reagan/Bush/Clinton/Bush took a chainsaw to the financial regulations that had kept America’s economy strong since the end of the Depression, our manufacturing base died a not-so-slow death and our national infrastructure was left to rot. Our industries – and the jobs that went with them – mostly went overseas, and though we’ll probably recover no later than next year, our economy may well be relegated to second place after China within a decade.

There was a time that our educational system was the envy of the world. Our colleges still are, but our K-12 system is a joke. Our infrastructure is dying on the vine. Our lack of social services has left our national life expectancy to lag behind those of Jordan and Bosnia. And HERE is why: we sat on our laurels. We were on top of the world and as long as our military was the biggest, we didn’t think we needed to compete any more. But now we’re being left behind – not just by Europe, but even by third-world countries like the Philippines.

I love America and I always will, but I have found that, thanks to Reaganomics and massive deregulation of our economy, there are now many better places to live. I wonder how many in the developing world’s new and burgeoning middle class realize the price the American people inadvertantly paid for Reagan’s misguided economic leadership, and the benefit the developing world has received as a result.

But macroeconomics is not always a zero-sum game. Perhaps those selfsame benefits reaped by the developing world will come back to benefit us, and perhaps they already have since the surest way to stabilize a nation is to make its economy strong. And it’s even better when this is applied to nearly all of east Asia. A better economy for the Third World as a whole means fewer wars, fewer rebellions, less drugs being manufactured — in other words, a safer, more peaceful world.

In the Navy there’s a saying: “If you’ve just got to f*** up, then at least f*** up in the right direction!” I think maybe Reagan did just that. Deregulation was meant to help America’s economy and instead dealt our economy a crippling blow, but unexpectedly benefited much of the developing world to a greater extent than anyone might have believed possible. Hopefully a few of the readers of this article can find an opportunity to share some of the same benefits that I’ve found, and all thanks to the man who began the destruction of the strongest economy the world has ever seen.

Powered by

About Glenn Contrarian

White. Male. Raised in the deepest of the Deep South. Retired Navy. Strong Christian. Proud Liberal. Thus, Contrarian!
  • Interesting take on the world view. I hope you report more once you get to your new home. Perhaps the grass seems greener elsewhere, or maybe it is indeed.

  • Good luck in the Phillipines, Glenn. Just be wary of the idea of “due process”. You take it for granted in the States – but you can’t assume you’ll get it overseas.

  • Good luck, Glenn.

    Tell me more about it. I understand U.S. dollar goes much further there. Any problems re-locating?
    I’d seriously consider it because here I can hardly survive. I wouldn’t mind the climate. And the ladies, I hear, are great.


  • The link to GloBal city is great. It’s beautiful – like the modern cities and architecture in Brazil. Simply breathtaking. For the stinking 200 grand. Amazing.

  • Cindy

    Hey Glenn,

    Wonderful that you’ve made an opportunity from misfortune. Is it really like Hawaii? Hawaii is amazing.

    I love the Return to Innocence song by Enigma on your video. I just put that on my site about two weeks ago. It goes nicely with the prospect of a new beginning. Even if it’s a ways off for you yet.

    BTW, did you know that the amazing chant in the Enigma song is an Ami Chant?

    “The Amis (Chinese: 阿美族; pinyin: āměi-zú; also Ami or Pangcah) are an indigenous people of Taiwan. They speak an Austronesian language and are one of the thirteen officially recognized peoples of Taiwanese aborigines. The traditional territory of the Amis include the long, narrow valley between the Central Mountains and the Coastal Mountains, the Pacific coastal plain eastern to the Coastal Mountains, and the Hengchun Peninsula.” (Wikipedia)

  • There’s a very twisted view of history being expressed in this article. Reagan’s idea of deregulation and what you describe are really not connected. Reagan’s idea was to lift the burden of excessive regulation on legitimate businesses. The abuse of capital and the lack of any kind of regulation of certain pet industries was much more a chacacteristic of Clinton economic policy than of the Reagan era. Had we just frozen policy with Reagan we almost certainly would not have the problems which we do now. It’s Reagan’s successors who created this mess, not Reagan.


  • Franco

    #6 — Dave Nalle

    “Reagan’s idea of deregulation and what you describe are really not connected. Reagan’s idea was to lift the burden of excessive regulation on legitimate businesses.”

    I concur Dave. Reagan’s economics worked all to well. In fact so well that it opened the door up for so much growth so fast that it lead to over confidences at all ends of the spectrum allowing for greater risk taking for the unchecked greed that jumped into all the prosperity.

    We all had clear warning signgs on the way up, first the Junk Bonds and Savings and Loans. Then after the ecconony recovering from that the Banking and Wall Street boys allowed the greed to take root on both sides of the political spectrum by our elected officials most assuredly because they themselves were making a killing with their investments. This caused ever more confidence in allowing sub-primes and credit swaps to grow that were milked out by the whores right up until the collapse.

    Learning from what Reagan truly got right, and then how this prosparty got abused are the 20/20 vision we need. To mix them together as this opinion pieces dose missing on both accounts.

  • pablo

    Roger #3

    I currently spend about half of my time in the Philippines. The people are gentle and polite. The cost of living is low, the ocean is fantastic, and the ladies as sweet as honey, as well as funny, charming, and oh so sexy. I write this to you, as an alternative to where you are living. For a sum as little as a thousand bucks a month, one can live here very well indeed. I have never been hassled by the cops, as I have so many times in the states. My plan it to retire here in the near future. If you saw my girlfriend your heart would drop, she is that lovely and sweet.

    If you want to know anymore about what it is like living here please don’t hesitate to ask.


  • Arch Conservative

    We currently have a complete lightweight jerkoff at the helm who intention is clearly to spend this nation into oblivion and I have to wake up to a Reagan hit piece?

    Thanks for nothing Glenn. I hope your attitude changes when you’re forced to wait in line for 8 hours for a stale loaf of “the People’s Bread.”

  • Pablo #8,

    Thank you for fielding my question. BTW, I lived in California (the Bay Area) for the past thirty years, and you know there’re plenty Philippinos there. They’re unassuming people and I’ve made friends with many. Great chess players, too. The only thing I hear, there’s still a great deal of crime and gang-related crime especially in Manila. I have no money to speak of and I lived in NY for fifteen years, so I’m not really worrying. Still, I have a question.

  • Franco @ #7:

    Pardon me, but you seem to be digging yourself, Dave and Reagan a hole here…!

  • Talking about revisionism. It was the climate which Reagan created which allowed corporations to say “Fuck You” to America, the American people, and the rest of the world. (Which isn’t to absolve the people after Reagan, because the culture of corruption was already in place). Now we’re reaping the consequences.


    “We currently have a complete lightweight jerkoff at the helm…”

    Yes, this lightweight jerkoff is far worse than the chickenhawk deserter whose place he took…

  • Baronius

    Glenn, this article is your usual collection of long-disproven liberal talking points. Even the most basic research would demonstrate that your statements are wrong. But I wish you good luck. I hear the country is beautiful.

  • Coming as it does from someone whose every post on here consists of unproven conservative talking points, that last comment is pretty amusing.

  • bliffle

    Regardless of Erroneous Baronius’ unsupported rebuttal, Glenn and the others are right.

    I have been observing this trend for about 20 years, and it has accelerated in the past 10 years. The USA is being passed by other nations, largely as a result of the goofy economics that the Reaganauts have inflicted on us.

    There are many places more hospitable and cheaper than the USA. Even in Europe, which is still a little expensive, but still full of opportunities for frugal reasonable people.

    We blew it. We had an opportunity to create a New Model of society and we squandered it on tribute to Greed and endless conflict.

    I too plan to move away in a couple years, though I hate to leave the SF Peninsula which I have enjoyed for so long. But many of the pleasures have been surrendered to the crazy overstimulated life around here.

    As for Reagan, I think he was just a fall guy whose personal delusions were easily manipulated by some rather vicious opportunists. Reagan first came on the scene here in the 1964 Goldwater campaign, when he made good enough speeches to convince us to run him for governor. But I lost enthusiasm when he doubled my state taxes.

    And then Reagan closed (most of) Agnews Hospital and “mainstreamed” the inmates, which created a huge homeless problem. We never had homeless and panhandlers before that. Now, that Agnews property which was thousands of acres, is Silicon Valley, North 1st. Street, 101 to Alviso and Milpitas. The large Edelweiss Dairy that helped support Agnews is gone, replaced by office buildings and thousands of expensive townhouses and condos.

    Now, our town areas are chock full of homeless.

    But a lot of personal fortunes were made developing the real estate. Those people can go live anywhere.

    Those of us who survive are stuck with the residue.

    Oh, and the parking lots of the office buildings are empty. For sale signs all over.

  • Baronius

    Like I said, basic research. Look up federal revenue by year, and you’ll find that Reagan’s tax cuts were followed by a great expansion of revenue. Reagan’s failings, and those of subsequent administrations, have been precisely where they failed to follow the principle of limited government.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Ruvy –

    When it comes to ‘due process’, there’s good and then there’s bad. The ‘bad’ is that there is a great deal of corruption at every level. The ‘good’ is that this corruption is found throughout most of Asia, and if one learns to work with it rather than against it, it’s not so bad. One simply needs to learn to not be so offended by the necessity to grease a few palms here or there; after all, when a policeman only earns a few hundred pisos a month ($200/month U.S. is not unusual), sometimes a little extortion is the only way they can get by.

    There are things one should NOT do – for instance, it’s not America, so do NOT discuss politics. Uh-uh, no way Jose.

    Also, it’s better if you have someone else driving, because if a ‘Cano is driving and there’s any kind of mishap, it’s automatically the rich ‘Cano’s fault.

    Most importantly, treat the locals with the courtesy and respect that you would want yourself…and knowing a little of the local language goes a long way.

  • “I hate to leave the SF Peninsula which I have enjoyed for so long.”

    I don’t blame you there, Bliffle. There’s no place in America like the Bay Area if you can afford it.

  • But you’re right. The Silicon Valley is a shadow of its former self – more than half is abandoned, vacancies piling up every day.

  • Sounds like a foreign country, Glenn. And you’re not a “Yes” man. So who are you going to discuss thing with – aside from BC? Aren’t there any American expatriates there? There’s bound to be some.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Cindy –

    In Makati, Mandaluyong, and Taguig, it is much like Honolulu – but not Waikiki. The Philippines has world-class beaches and diving – but one has to get away from Manila for that. Let me tell you, one cannot really comprehend a true megalopolis like Manila (or Mexico City or Bangkok) unless one’s been there.

    For instance, the malls – I’ve yet to see a mall anywhere in Washington state that would comprise more than a small wing of a mall there…for such is what happens when you pack 12-million-plus people in a place somewhat smaller than metropolitan San Diego.

    But I would caution everyone – the life of an expatriate is not for everyone. I’ve met quite a few who came back to America…and why did most of them do so? They were bored! I’ve got to find something worthwhile to keep me busy there, or the same will likely happen to me.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    As I told Cindy, the life of an expat isn’t for everyone. It all depends on how well you’re able to adapt…and I strongly suspect that you’d do just fine since you’ve shown a tendency for tolerance and the ability to look past what you see, and I think you could avoid being too offended by the petty corruption that is part and parcel of everyday life there.

    But more than anything else, I think, you’d need to find contacts that you could trust. There’s thousands of retired U.S. military there, and there’s a significant online community to help expats in the Philippines. I would recommend that you Google the expat community there – and the retired Navy and Air Force community there – and they’ll give far you better guidance than I could.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Pablo –

    That’s been my experience as well. As long as one doesn’t go where one shouldn’t go anyway, or do or say things that one shouldn’t do or say anyway (all of which applies everywhere else on the planet), one will do quite well.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Arch-Con –

    Wait in line for ‘The People’s Bread’? My wife remembers those times…but it’s apparent that you can’t break free from the long-held American paradigm that happy, healthy, and prosperous lives can only be found in America.

    Dude – travel some and use your eyes, and see the amenities and technologies and social advantages that most of the rest of the developed world (and even much of the ‘third world’) has…but WE do NOT! There’s a whole wide world out there, Arch-Con – and you apparently have no clue just how far behind America’s falling…except for when it comes to the military.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Baronius –

    Like I said, basic research. Look up federal revenue by year, and you’ll find that Reagan’s tax cuts were followed by a great expansion of revenue. Reagan’s failings, and those of subsequent administrations, have been precisely where they failed to follow the principle of limited government.

    Your ‘great expansion of revenue’ was America learning to live on deficit spending – the federal equivalent of paying all one’s bills with credit cards.

    Remember what Dick Cheney said – “Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter.”

  • Glenn,

    I think it’s a great idea. Although to tell the truth, I think the locals would be fine as well. By nature, I’ve found all Fillippino (damn, the spell-checker’s fucked up) people to be highly intelligent, inquisitive and curious. I never had any problems with the natives – even when the French detested all GIs – for calling them “frogs” and other bullshit – I was always accepted into the “inner circle.” No one ever took me a typical “Anglo,” if you know what I means. First off, because I wasn’t; but more importantly, however, because I never projected that “I’m an American and I’m better than you” bullshit.

    Strange to be saying this on the pages of this here BC, where so many are going to just flat out deny what I’m saying (because of the arrogant bastard that I am), but that’s the God’s honest truth.

    As to boredom – if you like people, you can never be bored. And people will be people, no matter where you are.

  • Cindy


    I love Hawaii for the people as much as the outrageous beauty. The laid back, lower regulation living is also what I like. It’s probably changed a lot by now.

    But malls…oh my. I don’t even go to small malls if I can at all help it. Huge malls would send me running. I actually cried in a Home Depot and had to leave without buying anything. (Well, it was new to me and I was very overwhelmed.) My uncle said he often cries at Home Depot so, at least I’m not alone. 🙂

  • STM


    I’ve recently been to the Philippines. What a great place. Only 6-7 hours’ flying direct from Sydney, as opposed to up to 10 to Thailand, which seems to be where most Australians go to travel for their holidays now that Bali isn’t really a safe option.

    What I loved about the Philippines: Pristine areas (I spent a week in Palawan, on two really beautiful islands in Bacuit Bay), and another few days on a small island off the very southern coast of Cebu (with the hills of Bohol and the tip of Negros in plain view from the outdoor restaurant – truly amazing), before doing the usual tourist stuff: Manila and Boracay.

    I understand that there are great beaches just to the north of Manila, where many Filipinos head for the weekend, but the place generally is chock full of amazing stuff.

    The things I loved: the friendly people and the fact that nearly everyone speaks English (unlike Thailand).

    What I didn’t like: the poverty and the gap between rich and poor, and the corruption that’s brought that about.

    Meanwhile, I love Hawaii and could live there if I were ever forced to leave Giant Paradise Island (Oz 🙂 down here on the edge of the South Pacific … especially when those big winter swells are smashing on to some of the world’s best surf spots on the North Shore of Oahu.

    I do prefer my waves less crowded and less agro, however, but then everyone has to make sacrifices I suppose.

    The trick at all these heavily localised places is to blend in … and don’t start big-noting or taking liberties.

    Just like anywhere, in any situation

  • When in Rome, do like Romans do.

    But how poor is poor? How much worse can it be than the homeless in San Francisco?

  • Baronius

    Roger, that’s a joke, right? Have you never seen poverty?

  • I’m referring to the SF homeless. That’s poverty to me.

  • STM

    The reason it’s so bad is that there is so much poverty.

    What makes it different to places like San Francisco (or downtown Sydney, Australia, for that matter) when you are talking homeless, is that most homeless people in developed countries are that way because of substance abuse or psychiatric illness.

    What you’ll see in places like Manila or Cebu City isn’t homelessness (most poor Filipinos have extended family networks) but a poverty that comes from quite a rigid class structure. There is a huge gap between the very wealthy and the middle classes and then a very huge gap between those and the ordinary blue-collar working people, most of whom really are on the poverty line. That is the majority of Filipinos.

    If you’ve never seen it, it’s hard to explain as one simply can’t explain it from the Australian or American perspective.

    When Glenn is talking Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore – and to a lesser extent, Bangkok, which still has quite a bit of poverty – you can’t really compare either even in Asian terms, as Manila is certainly the poorest of those Asian cities, and has the least infrastructure. Somehow, though, it seems to function in quite an orderly fashion.

    I guess the other side of the coin in regard to this is that one of the good things about being a successful former British colony is that a) corruption is minimal mostly, and b) at least you get a great public transport system.

    Apart from importing parliamentary democracy, rule of law and a good education, the Poms built railways wherever they went, AND sent in those double-decker London buses everywhere.

    As a former American colony, the Philippines got the law and education bit but not the transport. Democracy is alive and well, although we might not recognise it in the form it’s in as corruption has historically played a huge role in the governance of the Philippines.

    It’s got a lot more going for it than against it, though.

    Glenn’s right about the shopping malls, too.

    I really had to keep a tight rein on the credit cards as my wife and daughter hit a mall in Manila that is one of the biggest in the world.

  • I suppose I never experienced or seen that kind of poverty. The closest perhaps – some rural areas of the South. My first wife was a Southerner. Maybe the Appalachian “lifestyle” comes the closest – which I’m not familiar with. But I was talking more of the blacks in the South. There is some poverty (and it’s not drug-related); but there is also an extensive family support.

    Does this come any close?

  • STM

    Not even, Roger. Like I say, you have to see it to believe it.

    Although as Glenn points out, if you have a bit of money in the Philippines (our idea of a bit rather than a lot), you can live quite well.

  • Well, I’m going to have to inquire from a California friend of mine; he visits Philippines two or three times a year – just for fun. I’ll ask him about the prospects.

  • Clavos


    No one whose only exposure to “poverty” is what’s found here in the US can even imagine what REAL, grinding poverty is like.

    Poverty like that found in the favelas in Rio, or the paracaidista (squatter) colonies around the outskirts of Mexico City (both of which cities I’m thoroughly familiar with).

    The poverty in many places in Africa is also far worse than anything in the US. In fact, anyone on welfare here in the US has more income than a substantial portion of the world’s working population.

  • I guess you have to see it to believe it.

    Which should be the best medicine, I should think, to cure all those who happen to devalue the notion of prosperity we’ve all enjoyed and in part at least spread throughout the world – to visit some of those places.

  • Cindy

    Manila slum life in pictures.

    Little girl with Barbie, Manila slum. (Photo)

    Philippines poverty. (Photo Set)

  • Unfucking believable. I’d feel guilty living there.

  • It’s a sin that people are allowed to live under such conditions. I wouldn’t lose a tear if the whole human race was wiped out from the face of the earth and the world would have been better for it. We all share in the guilt for allowing such things to happen. Shame!

  • I’ve seen the favelas in Rio too, and have also visited the biggest shanty town in South America, Villa El Salvador in Lima, Peru.

    Here’s the thing about places like those: although there is indeed unfuckingbelievable poverty, it isn’t hopeless poverty. Villa El Salvador has a zoning scheme and a lot of community organizations to help the thousands of new residents who arrive each year find their feet and progress. There are some really quite distressing slums, but also some parts that are nicer and so developed that you’d hardly know you were in a shanty town at all. I felt as safe walking around as I would in the streets around where I live in Fresno – safer, in fact, than I felt in Miraflores, a relatively prosperous district of downtown Lima. We went into one quite high-end furniture store that wouldn’t have looked out of place in an English suburb. Like a lot of the larger squats in South America, Villa El Salvador has its own bus and postal service; electricity, water and other utilities are reaching more and more areas; and it’s now a stable enough community that the Lima city government now recognizes it as an official district – quite a contrast to Brazil, where the favelas don’t even appear on most maps.

    But even in Rio, being ignored by the government has helped the big favelas like Rocinha grow without interference and develop quite a resilient community – even if it is largely administered and policed by the various drug gangs, at least they keep things pretty stable most of the time.

    So in South America at least, things aren’t always quite as desperate as they seem.

  • I’m not concerned so much with safety as being surrounded by this kind of blight and being powerless to do anything about it. It’s almost beyond comprehension that the wealthier segment of the population (and yes, the government, too) can be so indifferent to the plight of their fellow citizens.

  • STM

    Clav: “Poverty like that found in the favelas in Rio, or the paracaidista (squatter) colonies around the outskirts of Mexico City (both of which cities I’m thoroughly familiar with).”

    Yep, that’s the kind of poverty you’ll also see in the Philippines, especially in the poor parts of Manila and Cebu City.

    It’s really sad, because Filipinos are quite stoic and just kind of soldier on and make the best of what they actually do have. But too many of them are literally scraping out a day-to-day existence.

    However, things are getting better. Probably not quickly enough, though.

  • No one in their right mind, if they lucky enough to land in America, should ever consider going back, unless their heart was made of stone. The only thing you can possibly do – is try to forget. Erase the image from your head.

  • STM

    I certainly wouldn’t discourage Glenn from going to live there, however. Every expat who goes there and spends some money is probably adding a few new jobs to the economy.

    All those new condos and apartment blocks and new suburbs being built around Manila are providing good jobs to a lot of people who otherwise wouldn’t have them, so it’s not necessarily a bad thing at all to go to developing countries to live the expat life when there is a beneficial return to the local population.

    There was a real-estate boom there when I was there at the end of last year, and the properties were being marketed in many cases to foreigners. Every time I went to the shopping centre someone would hand me a booklet about one development or another.

    And of course, the more money there is floating around the economy, the better things become in the long run.

    It doesn’t really matter how that cash is injected, just as long as it is.

  • Glenn will do alright. He won’t be exposed to the slums day in and day out. My injection to the economy would be a meager $800 a month, if that much. A local bar or tavern might benefit some from drinks and whatnot. That’s about it.

    Not much happiness, I’m afraid, to spread around.

  • Cindy

    The people in the photos I posted above have a high rate of hunger.

    An estimated 100,000 in Manila alone, including many of whom are children, don’t even have those shanty homes, but sleep right on the sidewalks, or elsewhere outside.

    They swim in a river filled with disease and excrement, have no hope for jobs. They scavenge through huge garbage dumps. Live without sanitation, electricity, etc.

    There are health dangers from disease, fire, scarcity of food, and little hope for work. When there is work it is often under slave labor conditions. Child labor is rampant, along with child prostitution and pornography.

    Child Labor, Prostitution, Malnutrition Philippines (Video)

    Philippines Child Labor (Video)

    Child Pornography Rampant – Philippines

  • STM

    My wife is a heart/lung transplant nurse at a major teaching hospital in Sydney and works with quite a few filipino immigrants, who all consider themselves very, very lucky to have been able to start a new life in Australia.

    They like going back to the Philippines for holidays, even extended ones, but have all told her they don’t want to go back to live. Like the US, there is a large Filipino expat community, so they at least keep their language and culture alive and IMO, that really adds something to their new country.

    These are probably not people who are dirt poor in the Philippines, either, which gives you some idea.

    I’d say the people we are discussing in terms of poverty wouldn’t even be able to get on the queue unless by a miracle.

  • STM

    “It doesn’t really matter how that cash is injected, just as long as it is.”

    Obviously, there are exceptions – as Cindy has pointed out.

    The sex trade is alive and well up there, which is bad enough on its own, and it has some pretty nasty offshoots – especially those involving kids.

  • And the tragedy is – they’re all such bright, naturally intelligent people. What a waste.

  • pablo

    Regarding The Philippines

    I would never under any circumstances live in Manila. It is either a hell hole (pit) or some brave new world city for the rich. However that being said there are some 7000 islands here.

    As for the poverty displayed by Cindy that is real, although certainly not everywhere. Most americans seem to forget that billions of people on this planet live on under a couple bucks a day, thus poverty is rampant and ugly.

    The people over here have a quality about them that for the most part you will not find in americans. It is called charm. A sweetness that has been culled out of us in the states. Yes I do know what I am talking about, and I am not just saying it. When you see or feel this charm it is one of the most delightful human characteristics that I know of. You simply will not find this in the states.

    Yes there are beggars, and yes many women plying the world’s oldest profession. I am sure that there are pedophiles here as well, and people catering to them. Money talks, and as in most poor places money will buy you anything, including pedophilia, or a hit on someone. Nothing new about that.

    I find the filipino people for the most part very gentle and sweet. I currently pay about 300 bucks for a two bedroom house with utilities and wireless internet included. The cost of groceries, (yes they do have supermarkets here) is about 60-70% cheaper than in the states. I can take a cab (I am in Cebu) for a mile or two for about a buck.

    Roger I grew up in the Bay Area, and know it intimately. I wouldnt dream of living there again even if I could afford it. To me Amerika, and California are all too fast becoming an Orwellian state, with your every movement tracked. The cops looking for any excuse to roust someone. The prices over the top, the women scowlingly unfriendly, and it is not for me.

    I have NEVER been hassled here by anybody for anything other than some children beggars. I unfortunately cannot say that about where I come from in San Francisco.

  • Glenn,

    You and I track in our views – for the most part. Where we don’t defines where you are the ex-pat stretching his retirement dollar, and where I am the Jew reclaiming his home.

    What you tell me about the endemic corruption in South and East Asia tracks with what my friends tell me. Salaries are terribly low and therefore bribing officials is an art form. This is true in the Arab world as well. To the degree that Israeli officials are honest is often a surprise to Arabs living here.

    It is expected that one take the trouble to learn the language of the land, far more of me than of you. You do not have an emotional stake in a Philippine state, whereas I have an emotional stake in the building up of a Jewish country. It is kind of obvious that one treat the locals with the same respect that one expects. It’s in the Bible, dude. I don’t have to explain that to you.
    But I often feel that my fellow Israelis could use a good hard look at the “golden rule” themselves – Hillel expressed it this way. “Do not do to others what you would find repulsive to yourself.”

    As an American ex-pat, you are wise to keep your mouth shut about local politics. The same is true for Howie Dratch, who lives in Mexico and our friend Dan Miller, who lives in Panama.

    But I’m an Israeli citizen with responsibilities to the State of Israel. As a police volunteer, I am under oath to protect it against foreign enemies, a responsibility I take more seriously than a lot of our “leaders” here. I vote in elections. My sons are eligible to be drafted for the army and one is going in for sure. They haven’t decided about the other one yet.

    There is an element of resentment against “rich Americans” who immigrate here and seem to expect to be treated as kings for having done other Israelis the favor. One the other hand, the vast majority of American Jews who do immigrate here take a huge hit in their standard of living. Those who cannot adjust – and there are many – run back to the States. They are ones I really feel sorry for.

  • Pablo,

    That’s very encouraging. And that’s precisely my impression of the Filipino people almost without exception. So you think $700 a month will see me through?

  • pablo


    Yes it is very possible to live on 7 bills a month in the Philippines.

  • Well, as I said, Pablo, that’s very encouraging. I was seeing no future for me under my present circumstances and where I’m at. So in three or four months perhaps, once I get out from the hole I’m in, I should be able to move in that direction.

    Do you know any site where I could make further inquiries?


  • pablo


    I got fed up with living in the usa about ten years ago. Since that time I have lived in Thailand and in the Philippines. I like the Philippines more for reasons that I have already voiced. With over 7000 islands to choose from, and some of the sweetest women to choose from, to me (aside from the poverty) it is a very nice place indeed. Below are a few links to several forums about living there.

    I should also mention that the Philippines has a very liberal visa policy, and it is quite easy to stay there for an extended period of time at a reasonable cost. Also there is a big hubub much ado about nothing regarding it being dangerous for foreigners there. There are only a very few places on the island of Mindanao where this is the case.

    I have never received as much as a scowl from locals here, particularly when in public with my 19 year old beautiful girlfriend who loves me as I have never been loved. Does she ask me for money? Occasionally for ten or twenty bucks for clothes and such. The women for the most part (aside from the ladies of the night) are extremely romantic, funny, charming and monagamous. My only real complaint is the draconian marijuana laws that they have here, as I love the female cannabis plant.

    Roger if you would like me to contact you more regarding living in the Philippines just let me know and I will contact you via your blog as opposed to publicly on here brother.



    Living in Cebu Forum
    Cebu Living

  • Great, Pablo. My email address is listed on the navigation bar (on top) once you click on my URL.


  • Baronius

    Cindy, those are some very good pictures. The one aspect of urban poverty that you can never really capture on film is its scale. Americans sometimes talk about how the poor in our country can’t see a way out. In real poverty, it’s not an expression: you literally see nothing in any direction but filth, and people living in it / eating it / bathing in it / trying to sell it.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    To all, on the poverty in the Philippines –

    It is worse than anywhere north of the Mexican border, but not as bad as what I saw in Kenya. Most of my family there – with whom I am thankfully close – live in a semi-slum of eastern Manila. They live in a compound (where my wife grew), and perhaps 100 feet away as the crow flies is a railroad track. On each side of the railroad track is a solid wall of squatter shacks made of wood scraps and sheets of tin roofing stretching as far as the eye can see. No running water, and electricity is stolen from the overhead lines. It’s not unusual for a family with six kids or more to be living in a single room there.

    My youngest son has no problem playing with the squatter kids…and of course language is no barrier to kids.

    Part of what we want to do is to start charities – a midwifery clinic, a shelter for battered women, etc. – to try to help since social services are nearly non-existent (it’s deregulated capitalism run amuck, a Republican paradise). We won’t be living among the worst poverty, but no one can ignore it there. We can’t solve it, but we can try to help those we can reach.

    Just think – that, or foreclosure here.

    And Roger – $700 is only enough if you live out in the boondocks (which word really is taken from the Tagalog word for ‘mountain’: ‘bundok’ (same pronunciation)). In Manila, you’d need two to three times that much to live at the level of the local middle class.

  • Cindy


    Thank you. But, there are ‘real’ poor in our country.

  • Well, Glenn, According to the links Pablo had provided (see #57, on Ceba) $700 would do. I won’t be swimming in luxury, but I don’t care for that. Just simple living with place to work, some money for liquor and cigarettes, that’s all, visit a local bar now and then, and contact with people of course.

  • Cindy


    That’s great–your plans. Inspiring. 🙂 I’m very happy for you.

    (it’s deregulated capitalism run amuck, a Republican paradise)

    If you have any info, links on this, could you let me know? Thanks.

  • Clavos

    (it’s deregulated capitalism run amuck, a Republican paradise)

    If you have any info, links on this, could you let me know? Thanks.

    That’s his hyperbolic opinion, Cindy.

    There’s nothing even remotely resembling American-style republicanism in any Third World country, most are either dictatorships or oligarchies — some of the oligarchies include a patina of “democracy” to keep the peasants from outright revolution; the Phillippines are the latter, as is Mexico.

  • Glenn,

    I second what Cindy said and offer an apology. Evidently you do have an emotional stake in the well being of the country you are adopting, something not previously made clear in your comments.

    Again, Glenn, best of luck with your endeavors there.

    Or, as we say in the local lingo, b’hatzlaHá!

  • If only more Jews showed the good sense you and Pablo show – and would come home….

  • I always knew US was your true home, Ruvy. But explain it, please!

  • I always knew US was your true home, Ruvy.

    Sorry Roger, you have read what I have written all wrong. The US is the land of my birth, the land that I grew up in and lived most of my life. But Israel is my true home. This is the only place on the whole damned planet that I really feel comfortable in, the place I really do feel at home, in spite of all my complaints. And I feel far more comfortable in Jerusalem, the first true Jewish metropolis, than that fake Jewish metropolis, Tel Aviv.

    Truth is, I have no desire to got to America, even to see my family, most of whom live there. I could do more good explaining Israelite identity to Pathans in India.

    So, when I talk about a Jew coming home, I mean coming up to live in the ancient homeland. America was nice while it lasted, but all foreign places pall after a while.

  • …Or, as we say in the local lingo, b’hatzlaHá!


  • Cindy

    #64 – Clav,

    I don’t think he was saying it’s Republican…just Republicans would like it there, is what I got. Because it’s deregulated Capitalism.

  • Cindy

    It was a confusing sentence. Funny, we each took it differently. Looking back it could go either way.

  • Clavos

    Either way, Cindy, my point is there’s no such thing in any Third World country; they’re all either dictatorships, or at best, oligarchies.

    Neither fits the republican ideal.

  • Cindy

    Ahem, I’ll try again. I think he meant–if a Republican moved there they’d like it, because of the lack of business regulation.

    I don’t think he meant it was a Republic or anything like that.

  • pablo

    Glenn 60

    Glenn what you call the boondocks are for the most part called province life here. You could not pay me enough to live in Manila period, each to his own.

    Yes 700 dollars is more than enough to live quite comfortably out in the provinces in the Philippines. Roger I can buy very good cigarettes here for twenty cents a pack.

    In the provincial areas (which is most of the Philippines) it is gorgeous, fresh air, beautiful ocean, papayas, coconuts, guava, and lots of other lovely flora. I find some of the Philippines provincial areas to be more lovely than Hawaii, where I too have lived.

    So when I quoted 700 as enough to live in the Philippines I most certainly was not referring to Manila, which I personally abhor.

  • Cindy


    Also, I was reading something about a land problem (in the column of a photo). Something about the government owning land and only some people (in the slums say) getting ownership back?

    I’m a bit confused, but something like that. Know anything?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Cindy –

    One, you’re right in that their business regulation is almost nonexistent. Furthermore, they have to heavily tax imports because they don’t have a reliable system of collecting taxes from individuals or companies within the country. They do have a VAT, a ‘value-added-tax’, which if properly implemented, is a good system. However, in a place like the Philippines, enforcement of such is problematic.

    Again, that is a Republican paradise, where there is little or no effective tax on the individuals or companies…and as a result, the civil servants (police, firefighters, government functionaries) wind up being corrupt because it’s very difficult to earn enough money honestly there on a government paycheck.

    Two, in reality it’s no different from here – if you don’t pay your property tax here in America, what happens? The government takes possession of it. So in reality, how is ownership of land here in America really ownership at all? All ownership is here is rental with extended benefits…

    …unless you live in a state that allows land to be ‘homesteaded’…in which case (if I understand it correctly) the government will only take over your property if they need to enforce ’eminent domain’.

  • “there is little or no effective tax on the individuals or companies…”

    So the upper classes have everybody else by the balls. Indeed, a Republican paradise.

  • bliffle

    Glenn worries:

    “I’ve got to find something worthwhile to keep me busy there, or the same will likely happen to me.”

    It’s a good time to indulge your hobbies, especially if they involve outdoor activity like walking and hiking, and natural life like native flowers, bugs and insects, etc. Everywhere in the world there are happy clubby friendly groups that have such hobbies. The people are fun and friendly, and they are easy to find. The best might be the Bird watchers.

  • pablo

    Glenn 76

    “So in reality, how is ownership of land here in America really ownership at all? All ownership is here is rental with extended benefits…”

    That is why the legal term is fee simple, as opposed to allodial.

  • Gosh, Pablo. You had me check the Wikipidia. These are feudal terms in origin. You’re a sharp cookie.

  • pablo


    Yep they are feudal in origin, which is exactly where we are heading back to again. The same is also true about automobiles. Fact is the state owns our ass, but most americans are too buck ass stupid to even have a clue about it. Just as most americans think that our god given rights come from the constitution when in point of fact they are actually constitutional guarantees. I was born free, whether or not a particular government recognizes the obvious does not change the fact that I was born free. I take my refuge in the almighty.

    I am still wondering about your take on the illuminati book Roger. Any thoughts?

  • Didn’t get to it yet, Pablo. Was too depressed about my present situation here until I’ve heard from you and Glenn about Philippines. It was like a shot in the arm for me, reigniting my belief in the future. I will get to it soon.

  • bliffle

    US Retirees have employed their SS benefit for retirement in cheap foreign countries for a long long time.

    As you see, a retiree with the max SS benefit (which is around $2200/month) can live well in most foreign countries. You just can’t live at all, probably, in NYC or SF. So move.

    Some countries offer special Visa/Passport privileges to US citizens who can show a regular income of a certain size, such as SS, sometimes called “retirado” or “pensionada” or some such name. Many countries LIKE to attract US citizens with regular income.

    With an SS benefit, even as little as about $700 you can live nicely in such foreign countries.

    Always fight in defense of Social Security and be vigilant to prevent privatization (which would make the fund evaporate). Do not believe the crap that some idiots put out that SS will be broke. Not at all. It will be there for you but you must be vigilant.

  • You’re telling me, bliffle. Of course. I would be a pauper without Social Security. I worked for it and I earned it.

    It’s good to know about “special preference,” as you called, for people with fixed but guaranteed income. I intend to pursue it.

    I’d rather stay in US if at all possible, but would need at least $100 extra weekly net income to be comfortable enough. Right now my sister pays for my apartment here (only $450.00 a month), but the utilities (like electric, sanitation and the Internet) add up to another $200.00. My car insurance and installments for the car I bought from her – you’ve got to have one here – is another $190.00 Still paying $100.00 for storage in California, not to mention fees for my weblog, and Sirius Internet Radio (no stations here); so it leaves me with little or no money for gas, cigarettes and liquor now and then. (Food stamps help). The worst part is, I’m five hundred in the hole – advance vs direct deposit – for which they also charge me $100.00 a month, not to mention a $39.00 fee for every overdraft.

    Sorry for this long sob story, but I feel relieved just to put it down on paper.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    Among the countries in Asia, the Philippines is probably the easiest to transition to. Of course there’s Australia that has an easy immigration policy, but it all depends on what you’re looking for.

    Also, you might check out Central America – specifically Costa Rica. I remember reading there’s a large expat community there.

    In any case you’ll undergo a significant culture shock, but IMO you’ll do fine in either the Philippines or Costa Rica.

    bliffle –

    I understand what you mean about hobbies, but for myself it’s teaching and/or writing, hopefully both because I do enjoy helping people in difficult situations. I think it’s not what one does, but what one gives that is more important.

  • STM

    We probably need more skilled migrants, and right now, Australia might be the most multicultural nation in the world (one in every four Aussies was born somewhere else) but the government isn’t making it easy anymore courtesy of the global financial crisis. They are shutting the doors a bit in terms of numbers.

    The other problem with Australia for potential migrants is that it’s one of the world’s most expensive countries.

    $A100,000 a year won’t get you that far in most places.

    The government recently worked out that in Sydney at least, a household income of $A150,000 a year (about $US110,000, although that rate really only counts on the currency exchange markets) doesn’t necessarily put you in the doing OK category – but, depending on a range of factors like mortgage payments and commuting costs, rather just – just – on the very edge of almost comfortable.

    Mind you, if you’re looking for a great lifestyle, living outside the big cities presents great opportunities in a warm climate for both lower-cost housing and sea-change or tree-change retirement.

    Plus, it’s one of the world’s most stable democracies, and safe.

    But like I say, getting through the door will be the drama right now. There’s no special dispensation for anyone, and the queue is very long.

  • Yes, Glenn. I would miss the Americans, as much as pain in the ass they can all be (myself included). There’s just a certain sense of energy which comes with most every interaction and I’m so used to it. Besides, we’ve got all cultures and ethnic backgrounds to fill in the picture.

    I was most fortunate indeed having lived the last thirty years in the Bay Area, and multi-culturalism (however much I bitched about it at times) has grown on me. I’d really have a difficulty living in a homogeneous community, however nice and sweet. There’s something about the American experience which bring all those qualities to light – no other country like it. Not even Europe. The UK would probably come the closest.

    So yes, my heart would be broken; and I’ll do what I can to stabilize my situation here and hope for the best. And thanks for your support.


  • Are you kidding me, STM? Over $100,000 a year and you’re still in the “undesirable” category? Who in the hell makes that kind of money?

  • STM

    It’s nothing to do with being undesireable. They’re not going to keep you out because of that, Rog.

    Hopefully, as a skilled migrant, you’d be getting a job and earning decent money sdo it’s nothing to do with what you earn elsewhere.

    It’s just the amount you need as a household income to live in some parts of this country.

    $100,000 isn’t regarded as a big income in Australia … again, depending on where you live, of course.

    Example: The average family-sized sedan in Australia will cost you $30,000-$35,000.

    Wages here are generally high, including for blue-collar workers, but the cost of living is high too.

    Therein lies the conundrum.

  • Well, I’ve got a cousin in Sydney, so I may as well inquire.

  • bliffle

    Costa Rica is a wonder. Most people speak English, they have no army, people have a work ethic and education is REALLY important. There were 30 pages of schools in the San Jose yellow pages, and there are many many night schools. If you can teach you may have an advantage.

    But Costa Rica cut back on their ‘retirado’ plan, which required only a $600/month income. They got enough retirados to cut the program down.

    I think Panama is most favored now.

  • Then again, there are large areas of Australia where – if of course you have the knowhow – you can live quite serviceably on an income of precisely $0.

  • STM

    Well, yes … as long as you know how to find water, which of nature’s fruits and vegies won’t poison you, and can catch and kill your own dinner. (Kangaroo makes mighty good eatin’, but they’re hard to hit with a spear).

    Alternatively, you can live in a beach shack on the far north coast, grow your own vegies, catch your own fish and sign on the dotted line for the federal government’s fully funded “I just want to spend my life surfing and not working” program.

    Also known in Australia as “The Dole”.

    Not a good idea to put either of those on your immigration application form, however.

  • Have wetsuit, will arsesit.

  • STM

    Almost Doc … you don’t need a Wettie on the far north coast.

    A simple rash vest will do. It’s still nice and warm in the water up there over winter, mostly, and as you know, winter can almost be better than summer weather wise.

    I might head up there meself!

  • That’s as maybe, but you’ve mentioned previously your misgivings about Queenslanders being a bit bananas.

    I’ve still got the image burned into my retinas of the bloke I saw in Cairns walking around in what appeared to be a pair of women’s pyjama shorts. Put me right off my crocodile kebab.

    I’m not a fan of shorts at the best of times – even living where I do where summer temps can top 40 Celsius for weeks on end – although I did acquire my favorite pair at a Target in Hobart. You Aussies do seem to have mastered the art of the garment when it comes to geezers wearing them. They come down below the knees, thus concealing the most unattractively hairy parts of the Dreadful legs, whilst still being gratifyingly lightweight and cool.

  • STM

    We knows our shorts here Doc. I’ve got a pair of long floral print boardies on as we speak – from Country Road! No Target shorts for me mate …

    Forget Queensland, though, Doc … I’m talking about the far north coast of New South Wales.

    It’s close to the same temperature as south-eastern queensland. But the pace of life is waaay less frenetic than that long, long, endless, neon-lit skinny mega-metropolis that is the BrisVegas coastal strip running from the Gold Coast to the Sunshine Coast.

    In fact, even if you live near the Queensland/NSW border – you never need to cross it going north!

    My wife insists we do, however, when we’re up the far north coast for holidays as she’s a mad Queenslander (and gets really excited as we drive across the state line), like most of the rest of my family.

    Bad organisation on my part, eh?

    On a stinking hot humid 30C night, the kind favoured by large and hungry mosquitoes, she will sleep with a doona (don’t know the American for that) on the bed and complain that it’s cold.

    In Thailand, she sneakily turned the room aircon up to 28C/30C. Madness.

    Each and every one of them is affected by the heat and has had their brains fried at some point.

    Quite simply, white anglo-celtic folks were never meant to live in the tropics or on the edge of the tropics. Capricorn has much to answer for.

    I’m happy with sub-tropical.

  • jamminsue

    Hey, all of you – remember those economic rules – after a downturn the next great killer of economies is Capital Flight. Here is an example and no one seems to have noticed.
    Regan as savior? Trickle-down economy? When he first publicly said those words it was clear to me he did not like the taste of them and seemed a little embarrassed. He broke unions. Deregulated the S&L’s that worked out real good, remember? Ask anyone in Houston Real Estate during that time. As someone mentioned, took whole classes of disabled people from the SSI budget, creating a new set of homeless people. Local governments took up new costs in emergency rooms – all the mentally ill people that were cut loose with no other safety net, firemen to try to keep them alive in emergency situations and police to watch over them. Also part of the federal budget redirection was the federal hot lunch program in elementary schools calling Ketchup a Veggie. Here we are with a child obesity problem that is because of processed foods. All that money and borrowings went to pay for more nukes for his big play of “Chicken” with the Soviet Union. It sort of worked, but at what cost to the US and Russia? Oh, yeah and Star Wars, that was a big success, too? I seem to remember high unemployment and tent cities under the I-5 Bridge and other places in Seattle. I was stuck in a dead-end, abusive job and waited over two years to secure a new job. Those were the golden years….not.

  • pablo

    RE the above post:

    Not to mention Iran-Contra, for which Reagan should have been impeached. Not only were his boys importing cocaine to finance an illegal war that was forbidden by the Boland Act, he was trading arms for hostages, and making arrangements for the american hostages in Iran to be released in time for his assuming the presidency. Reagan spelled the beginning of the end for the American republic, and many of his cohorts were intimately involved with Bush the seconds illegal acts as well. Such luminaries as Richard Armitage, John (Total Information Awareness)Poindexter, Elliot Abrahms, and John Negroponte come to mind.