Sunday, 24 March 2019

NZ return and the horrific atrocity in Christchurch.

Hi to all,
We touched down early at Auckland just before 0500 on the 15th. March after about 3 years. What a day to choose! The PM later said that this day would be "a day that lives in infamy", but the first person to use that phrase was Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1941 and we don't think the Christchurch atrocity comes close to what happened then with the Japanese treachery at Pearl Harbour in Hawaii.The NZ PM is guilty of plagiarism in the most shameful and shameless way.
The other point we wish to make is that terrorism is not new, and perhaps the worst examples in living memory were the attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon which resulted in the deaths of over 3,000 people in horrific circumstances and seriously wounded 6,000 more. These attacks were perpetrated by Islamic militants in a blatant and cowardly attack on a Christian country for whatever twisted motives.
The Christchurch atrocity was carried out by an Australian white anti-Islamist terrorist who was able, due to NZ's lax gun control laws, to quite legally obtain the means to carry out his deadly agenda. 
In no way do we denigrate the seriousness and horrific nature of this awful deed, but we do think there should be a balance which needs to transcend the emotion - however understandable. And much more stringent checks of ANYONE who wishes to enter NZ - be they white Australian or any other race or religion.
But this event now appears to have been hijacked by "anti white supremacist" rhetoric from fringe elements who are using the event to advance their own left wing anti white positions. Therefore, in spite of the nonsense being promoted as blaming right wing white supremacists, we need to get some balance here - otherwise NZ will be even more divided along racial and religious lines than ever before. This common sense truism appears to have entirely escaped these activists - or has it? Maybe they are only interested in promoting racial disharmony in the hope that they can sow more seeds of enmity in the hope of advancing their own nefarious agendas.   
We also have to comment on the disgraceful comments in the US fake media. Apparently the NY Times has said the US deserves a leader of the same calibre as the NZ PM. The Washington Post and others are no better. We are sure that when such a thing occurred on US soil that President Trump did also rise to the occasion when In fact when there was an Islamic massacre of Jews praying in a synagogue in Pittsburgh last year, which killed 11 and injured 7. Trump responded absolutely appropriately. Except for the continued inaction as regards prohibition of automatic weapons. We know that this is a much more difficult and vexed problem to deal with in the US due to the 2nd. Amendment and the NRA, but somehow a start has to be made.  
There's another point - some reports suggest that the NZ PM should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize! This atrocity happened on her watch, so how she could be considered worthy of such an award is beyond us. Just appearing at funerals etc wearing a black hijab is nowhere near enough. She has handled the sad aftermath with aplomb and flair but that's just what would be expected of a national leader. She is just doing her job.
And now we read that the German Police have uncovered a terrorist plot in Frankfurt which was to be perpetrated by Islamists and was designed to kill as many "unbelievers" as possible. The opposite murderous ideology from Christchurch, but no less potentially horrific. 
Enough said.
We were somewhat concerned when we discovered the only bag we had checked through from Medellin fully wrapped, had come off the carousel at Auckland without a vestige of the wrapping that we had been very diligent in using. So we took the bag to the baggage "complaints" area and told them the story. We then opened it in front of cameras and it appeared that nothing had been added or stolen. However, this  always a risk and at no stage was the unwrapping explained. Our overall impression though of border security at Auckland was one of a lackadasical attitude - don't worry about it!! Probably after Christchurch this attitude might have changed somewhat?
Linda, Jean's great friend, met us and transported us to her house at Hauraki Corner where we were to stay for the next 4 days. Great to be back and to be able to finally relax. The trip from Medellin had been almost 30 hours to Auckland including layover times at Bogota and Santiago, but that was alleviated somewhat by the fact that we had booked bulkhead seats which made the enforced sitting much more bearable.
Linda had some activities organised for us and the next day we went out to Glen Eden to have lunch with a bunch of older musos and their wives before a nostalgic time listening to old numbers that they had played in their heydays in a number of band groups in Auckland in the 1960's. Linda has had a lifelong association with these guys managing venues etc and it was great for us to relive the past.
The next day - St. Patrick's Day - we went to Hogans Bar in the Viaduct Basin and enjoyed the music and atmosphere. Must say though that we balked somewhat at the cost of drinks - $10-11 for a beer or cider. In Medellin in a restaurant that would be in the order of $3 maximum.
Then on Monday we picked up Tracie's car and that process all went well. The car was in perfect condition and we went shopping in preparation for the journey north. Very much appreciated.
We'd have to say at this point that we have been gobsmacked at prices for just about everything in NZ. Jim met a NZ'er in Countdown Whangarei who had lived most of his life in Canada and he said every time they returned to NZ they were horrified at prices and how they had always increased. Our perception is that Colombian cost of living generally is about one third of NZ's cost of living. We don't know how the average family survives here.
We drove north on the Tuesday and had a Jester mince pie in Wellsford (COP 11,130 in Colombian Pesos - nothing exactly equivalent in Colombia, but an equivalent cost would be COP 3,000 - NZD1.43 for a papa renella)  This was our first mince pie in a long time, but the cost so stands out to us. Once again about a third. We then arrived at the country property (Finca in Spanish Colombian) of our friends, Hamish and Sara at Old Parua Bay Rd.. As usual they are hospitality personified, as is Linda in Auckland. We are very lucky. 
Since then we have been in Whangarei starting the process of sorting our possessions and looking after 2 dogs and 2 cats. Not depressing from the animal perspective, but generally it's somewhat depressing - at least for JIm - as he would like to bring a couple of family oil paintings to Colombia plus a 1.5 metre half model of a ship which was used by his family in their island trading business in the late 1800's.. But none of it is practical to take to Colombia - it's all possible but the cost is problematic - mainly on account of whatever duty might be levied at that end, which is completely unknown. But there are many smaller items which will likely see us with 4 x 23kg suitcases between us when we eventually leave. So, it's a matter of sorting which items to sell and which to give away and which to take with us. Not easy, but we will get there as this could well be our last visit to NZ - depending on age and finances. It's not cheap to travel between S America and NZ.
Visited the Whangarei Farmers Market (Mercado Campesino) last Saturday morning but we were disappointed to find it a shadow of its former self. We well remember going there before we sailed away in 2011 in the middle of winter at 6 am. when it was still dark, very cold and raining heavily  - all dressed in our wet weather sailing gear to buy beautiful fresh veges and fruit. But it's nothing like that these days. We bought some things but now the mercado campesino in Medellin beats it hands down - and not just on price! But it was great to again meet Mrs. Joosten - who is now well in her 80's and who still mans a stall with her daughter. She is a Dutch lady who we knew well all those years ago. And Ursula - a German lady who with her husband runs an organic beef farm in the Hokianga. So good to make these great people's acquaintance once again. They are an asset to NZ and have been for many years.
Well, that's all for now - there will be another blog before or as we leave. Great sadness once again for the Christchurch horrific events.
Lotsaluv from us in Whangarei.........................
Jim and Jean

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Introspection and summarising of our feelings in respect of experiences during a traumatic 2018

Hi to all,
As usual we hope that everyone's still in the pink.
Now that we've been in our Jardines de la Maria apartment for just over 4 months, we felt that some soul searching in respect of 2018 would be in order.
We never want to repeat a year like that - it was truly our "annus horribilis" year. But definitely a highlight was obtaining Colombian residency.
It started in Langkawi, Malaysia when we finally decided to ship TT3 from Phuket, Thailand to (first choice Genoa), but then fatally changed our minds to go to Fethiye, Turkey. We had been trying to sell the yacht for about 2 years, but even with substantial price reductions, nothing was happening. Living mainly on Langkawi was becoming somewhat boring and too "easy" - even the occasional visa runs to Thailand were becoming old hat. So we decided we had to try and make things happen - hence the decision to ship to the Mediterranean where we had (correctly) deduced that the market was somewhat better for classic wooden yachts.
All the details are in previous blogs, but we sailed to Phuket in late January where we prepared the boat for shipment and awaited the arrival of the m.v. Annegret. Apart from some annoying delays to the loading process, the experience with Seven Star Yacht Transport was perfect and all happened as it should.
However, our woes were just about to begin when we hauled out at a recommended boat yard in Fethiye, Turkey. This has all been well documented in previous blogs so we are not going to bore you with the details, but things became so bad with the Turkish yard owner and his English female partner side-kick that we felt forced in a terrible emotional state to make the very difficult decision to leave Turkey and abandon our home of the previous 9 years. Among other things, this involved several early morning dawn visits to the yard to remove personal possessions before the yard personnel arrived, because we did not want them to know what we were contemplating. We simply could not see an end to our enforced captivity by the yard, and in the meantime we were continually incurring more yard costs, accommodation and car hire, with no end in sight. It certainly crossed our minds that the crooked yard owner was scheming to steal the yacht and, if that was the case, he very nearly succeeded. Jim's brother, Alec, had organised listings for our old girl on Trademe and Ebay which in the end sadly did not result in a sale but happily though, due to a short article Jim wrote on the Cruisers and Sailing website, we made contact with a 2nd British buyer who visited Turkey and made the decision to buy her. The deal did not give us much money, but did involve him in meeting the yard costs and getting her seaworthy enough, after the hull had opened up during a punishing Turkish summer, to get her to Crete, where she is presently lying. We felt so relieved that it seemed as though she would receive the TLC she needed - hopefully that is about to happen right about now. Barry is knowledgeable about planked wooden boats and is another wooden boat enthusiast. He has an excellent wooden boat at a cheap price, but also got us and the old girl out of a nasty hole in Turkey.
We have mentioned him before, but must again express our gratitude to Murat Toplak, a yacht broker in Bodrum, without whose help TT3 would never have left the yard. Murat is a great guy and with great integrity.   
In the meantime (early June) we decided to return to Colombia much earlier than we had intended, but we were now homeless!  We had let our apartment in Medellin and it appeared that the earliest we could legally move back in was early November. We travelled via Werneck, Germany - just 2 hours SE of Frankfurt by train - to spend 2 restful weeks staying with Jean's old friend from Hong Kong days, Josie and her retired schoolteacher husband, Reinhart. A tranquil and most welcome respite after the events of the previous 6 months recovering from our emotional and financial scars. Their breakfasts are legendary - hams and wonderful German bread!!
We then flew from Frankfurt to Madrid which was really just a stepping stone for Medellin. We spent a day and a half and toured central Madrid, before flying on to Medellin direct by Iberia - arriving early July. It really felt like coming home when we flew in and were met by Mauricio - our property manager, Noelia's driver. Jean had contacted an agent we had previously met (David) who at very short notice had organised a one bedroom apartment in the Suramericana district. We stayed there a month and enjoyed the extremely eclectic neighbourhoods around there. By this time we were starting to feel a little more "normal" - whatever that is. In the meantime we had been invited to stay with Janet in "our" building as her husband, Hugo, was permanently away working in New York. Many Colombians live, or have lived in the US. During our time with Janet things were starting to move in the boat sale department - some morning emails were very discouraging, but then success at last. We can only wish the new owner the best of luck with her. We feel confident she is in good hands and maybe in the not too distant future we may see them in Cartagena when they come to the Caribbean. Jim's emotions in particular were fluid to say the least during this period and it all took its toll.
We must make mention of all the help we received once we were back in Colombia. Astrid, our lawyer was wonderful in assisting us with our Cedulars de Extranjerrias which means we now have 3 year's residency which we can renew at the expiration of that time. This process also involved a trip to Migracion Colombia in Bogota, which was a welcome diversion. Astrid also helped us in opening a local bank account with Bancolombia, which was an experience indeed. Of course the language issue doesn't help but the convoluted way in which these banks operate on-line is something to behold.
Then there was Noelia who continued to manage the apartment until the new expiration date for the lease, which would allow us to move in. The tenants (a Dutch couple) were exemplary and it was just as we had left it. Somewhat of a relief. Noelia also helped us to set up the ability to pay various utilities on-line - again what a performance! They seem to delight in making Colombian websites something of a maze!
Medellin is such a friendly city and so many pleasant people. Even the 24/7 security guards at the building's porteria and we must make special mention of Jimenez who is always unfailingly cheerful. He tries his limited English on us and we respond with the same level of Spanish. Can be hilarious at times. All of this certainly helped our spirits. We are getting to know many of the stall holders at the Mercado Campesino where we go every Sunday morning to buy fresh provisions. The guy who sells jellied collagen for the knees - Jim always enjoys practising his Spanish there. And the young lady who has beautiful homemade Basil pesto and Hummus plus an array of other items.
We met our friend, Monica, there and she has lived in the US for a long time. She has come back to Colombia to care for her ailing father who is in his late 80's. Family ties and obligations are very strong here. The other day we went with Monica and her father to a clinic where they specialise in IV treament with vitamin C and other vitamins and additives as they deem necessary. Yours truly didn't avail himself of the treatment having had less than fond memories of the antibiotic IV's in Vietnam and Thailand where, without the prompt treatment (thanks to Jean), there was a reasonable chance of losing his lower left leg due to Cellulitis and Gangrene in a relatively short time. However, they all said they didn't feel a thing, so, in spite of not believing them, he'll probably try the vitamin IV when we return. Jean has been very sick with what turned out to be a bad case of H-Pylori infection and which was diagnosed by an Endoscopy. She'd also suffered 2 bad falls when out walking and hurt herself quite badly, so she's been in the wars. She had to go on a course of strong antibiotics but a subsequent test showed that she thankfully is now free of the pest. Jim had the same test and he is free of it too. She was still feeling rundown after probably months of having had it and the effect of the  antibiotics themselves and so decided to have the vitamin IV treatment and she says she feels like a different person. Dr. Mauricio Arias at the Clinica Las Vegas had been very attentive and organised all the HP tests we had done. Clinica Las Vegas is a modern hospital with an international office where they steer you through all the difficulties associated with an alien language. On that note, after 8 years out of NZ, we have finally organised some health insurance to cover against hospitalisation and/or surgery so feel a little less vulnerable. But since we are over 70, there is no cover available to us except through a local company (Sura), but it seems OK and Sura is part of a very major commercial group in Colombia. 
After staying with Janet for August and September, Jean travelled to Miami to see her family there and Jim went to Santa Marta to check it out. Then after 2 weeks Jean came back to SM from where we eventually returned to Medellin. A short stay in a hotel in Itagui (which raised some eyebrows amongst our friends and acquaintances!!) and we were once more back in apartment no. 804, Jardines de la Maria 1. 
One more problem started raising its ugly head - we had some Sterling investments, but with Brexit being such a shambles, we felt it would be prudent to sell. We haven't regretted that decision. Then there was what appeared to be something of a melt-down on US markets, so we sold all those assets (such as they were after 9 years of international yachting!). Unfortunately we sold at nearly the bottom, but at least we can sleep at night. We are now all cashed up (apart from the Medellin apartment) and looking for alternatives. The greatest difficulty now is trying to predict future market trends. Some commentators, with some justification, say there is a greater crash than the GFC of 2008 coming; others say the good times will keep coming. In the meantime we are just biding our time. A tax change in Colombia has all but ruled out further investments here, which otherwise would be a good investment. Interest rates are higher giving better returns and property values are buoyant, but the change to the Colombian tax regime has caused us to revise our ideas.   
That more or less covers our 2018/19 experiences and we are now looking forward to seeing friends and family in NZ. More blogs to regale you with all the fascinating details. We leave Medellin in the early hours (0400) of tomorrow and arrive in NZ on the 15th. via Santiago, Chile.
Lotsaluv from us in Medellin (for now)......................
Jim and Jean

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Christmas, health woes, travel, visitors and financial restructuring - and the start of our 73rd. years

Hi to all,
Hope that everyone is in the pink as usual. We, and particularly Jean, have not been so much in the pink. She has had a persistent problem with stomach wind and we finally persuaded Dr. Mauricio that she should have a definitive test for H-Pylori bacterial infection. The only way to do a serious test was to have an endoscopy which duly happened at the Clinica Las Vegas. The test itself was performed under a mild anaesthetic and was no problem but the stomach scans revealed a severe H-Pylori infection. This is a bacterial infection that something like 80% of populations have, but usually there are no symptoms so people never even know they have it. If left untreated in severe cases like Jean's, it can ultimately lead to stomach cancer and/or ulcers. Thank goodness nothing like those latter conditions was detected. So, kicking and screaming she was persuaded that a course of serious antibiotics was the only effective way to deal with it - however, she was resigned to that anyway! We're happy to say that she is very much better now, having finished the antibiotic course. However, all the internet research indicates that antibiotics are not the complete answer. They provide a springboard to recovery, but they need to be followed up by beneficial diet and an array of natural health treatments including water kaffir from a culture obtained from our friend, Monica, no dairy, kombucha, apple cider vinegar, coconut oil and Slippery Elm. Jean is a very assiduous researcher on all things to do with natural health and we have been buying items from the US via a shipping company in Miami (Caribbean Shipper) which organises on-shipping to Colombia. Then of course it was strongly suspected that Jim may also have it, but there were no symptoms. In his case however it was not necessary for an Endoscopy thank goodness - just a breath test which gave a negative reading.
Apart from that the knees play up at times but we are still mobile, which is the main thing. Even going down stairs is usually fairly pain free. We buy collagen from the farmers' market which is so cheap, so whether that's helping - who knows? At least it can't do any harm. In addition the new pool heater keeps the water temperature at a very comfortable 28 degrees C so there has been much swimming exercise. Jim walks in chest deep water for 180 metres and then swims the same distance. We'll miss the swimming while in NZ.
We made a decision to travel to NZ in mid March for 2 months for all the usual reasons and to finally deal with our last possessions in storage on our friends' Whangarei property. They are going to a wedding down south soon after we arrive on March 15th. so we will be babysitting their property (incl. 2 dogs and a cat) while we finally sort through everything. It will be a matter of deciding which items we will ship to Colombia.  
Jean's nephew, Vinay, finally left in mid January after 3 weeks and went down to a resort on Colombia's Pacific coast - Nuqui. Don't know what his plans are after that.   
We did have a quiet but pleasant Christmas with Vinay and our neighbour, Janet and her daughter, Erica who is about to start her legal internship prior to becoming a fully fledged Colombian lawyer. However, Jean could hardly eat anything due to the then suspected H-Pylori in spite of cooking a delicious meal for the rest of us. This included a magnificent Pavlova. It turned out to be quite an exercise because we spent at least an hour in a local supermarket trying to get the correct ingredients - mainly the correct sugar. They didn't actually have everything we needed so we had to make do to some extent and what with translating everything on the phone, we were inclined to flag the whole deal. However, we persevered and the result produced universal acclaim!
Then on top of the health issues of course there was the December financial markets meltdown which we are fully exposed to, apart from the apartment. Every day we watched the market declining and as we were invested through a UK based insurance company which in turn invests in various well-known funds, it was not a case of just picking up the phone and saying SELL!! In the meantime we had got rid of some Sterling funds that we had due mainly to concerns over Brexit, so that was something. Since then markets picked up to roughly where they were pre sell-off so we have issued instructions to sell those too. Anything British grinds along exceedingly slowly which is so frustrating - no wonder Brexit is such a shambles. Now of course we have to agonise over where we might re-invest. We were going to bring some funds to Colombia but their tax regulations took a serious turn for the worse on Jan. 1st., so that's out of contention.
One good thing which we have alluded to before - the cost of living in Colombia is so reasonable - we have fixed costs of around NZD600 per month and that includes health insurance for both of us, apartment insurance, cable TV, internet (20 mbps), landline, Body Corporate fees, electricity, gas and water, and property rates. Add to that cheap food in supermarkets and eating out and just about everything in between except clothes which are roughly equivalent to mid range clothing in NZ - as far as we recall from 2 years ago!
And finally we have the usual Trump comments. Last night we watched the State of the Union speech on Fox News and it was a triumph - despite whatever Granny Herald, being such a disciple of the Washington Post, might have waffled on about. Trump listed all the achievements of his first 2 years and called the Democrats out over many topics, including abortion. The most horrifying news we have seen recently concerns the fact that New York and now Virginia have voted to legalise infanticide. The Governor of Virginia is actually a paedeatric neurologist, so it is doubly horrifying. On top of racist claims against him, there are strident calls for his resignation by members of his own party, who one suspects are more concerned about the negative effects on their own re-election prospects than any real concern for murdered children. Then there is the deputy governor who is facing accusations of sexual harassment. How the tables have turned and what hypocrisy surrounds this vexed subject. Nice to see the socialist Democrat hypocrites getting theirs in spades!   
Trump has asked for Congress to pass legislation banning abortion over a certain foetal age - not sure just what that is. It remains to be seen whether Congress will pass such life-saving and humane legislation, or will they simply allow their hate for Trump to override humanity - just as they are doing with the southern border. Trump WILL get his wall built, and once again the Democrat opposition will throw into sharp relief their hypocrisy and lack of concern for protecting their country and its citizens. Just in the last week or so there was a seizure of a large shipment of Fentanyl (origin China) - enough to kill 50 million Americans. Then there are the sex and child smugglers, gangs, etc. The Democrats are prepared to sacrifice the interests of America for their own nefarious political ambitions.
Well, sorry for the politics, but the hypocritical antics of the Trump haters should deeply concern us all.
Looking forward to seeing some of you in NZ very soon now.
Cheers and lotsaluv from us in Medellin...........
Jim and Jean

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Fwd: The American Nightmare

Hi to all
The attached email appeared in our inbox and we thought it was well worth passing on. 
We felt that the author's comparisons with what is happening now in the US and various well-known revolutions that have happened in times past are well worth examining. You will notice that the word "hatred" is used several times and is the only rational explanation for the vitriolic campaign being waged with increasing ferocity against President Trump by the Deep State.
That is the only comparison possible because social conditions in the US these days are indeed a far cry from those that existed in pre-revolutionary France, Russia and China.
The fact is that the Deep State is no less determined or ruthless than those earlier revolutionaries and is no doubt much more difficult to counter using the much gentler remnants of so-called Democracy, and hoping for satisfactory and fair election results in the face of vicious smear campaigns.
They are using the far left fringe elements of the Democrat Party to advance their own ends and they've also managed to tap into a well-spring of largely imagined grievance and dissatisfied entitlement - apparently mainly on the part of some female suburban dwellers if you can believe some commentaries!
The Deep State is particularly concerned about Trump because he is the only US President in recent memory to fulfill election promises and who is pursuing policies aimed at improving the wealth and security of his country and its people. His policies are a direct threat to the Deep State's nefarious collectivist aims, which are to destroy democratic institutions and establish left wing collectivist government in the US, and by extension in western Europe and in similar countries such as NZ, Canada and Australia, and they will spare no effort to unseat him to achieve those aims. The left promises unbounded benefits from their deranged policies, just as all other left wing revolutions before it, but it will fail abjectly, just as those others did. Look at Venezuela for a modern example.
In this they are aided and abetted by the rabid media and that includes the NZ Herald and most Australian media outlets as well as the well-known usual suspects of "fake news" - CNN, MSNBC and others.
We all no doubt have our reservations about Trump - his unpredictable decisions, apparently erratic behaviour, and for us his decision to totally withdraw from Syria. Our concern there is for the Kurds who have been reliable allies against ISIS. The Turks however regard the Kurds as mortal enemies and have been trying to exterminate them for hundreds of years. The Turks have form here - they almost succeeded in a ruthless genocidal campaign to exterminate the Armenians after WW1. Without a strong US presence the Kurds don't stand much of a chance 
But, apart from that, Trump's policies delivered with characteristic bluntness and directness, are fulfillments of his campaign promises and are aimed at protecting the USA, its economy and its people. The Deep State - a.k.a. "The Swamp" - hates this. Trump is a democratically elected President of the USA and this makes the present unrelenting campaign against him the antithesis of democracy. it is especially concerning as it is using the unwitting, ignorant and innocent support of the Democrat Party and its supporters.
Sorry to be delivering this message at what is supposed to be a time of peace and goodwill towards men, but having become more and more cynical about such things, and remembering even fairly recent historical events, we doubt whether such a time ever really existed. We should all be concerned with these accelerating trends if we cherish freedom as most of us have known it. 
Lotsaluv from us here in Medellin y esperamos que 2019 sea todo lo que desearia que fuera.
Jim y Jean

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: International Man <>
Date: Mon, Dec 24, 2018, 9:07 AM
Subject: The American Nightmare
To: <>

December 24, 2018
Joel Bowman, writing today from La Condesa, Mexico City…

We trust you enjoyed your Saturnalia celebrations, Dear Reader, and that the past week was filled with gambling, libations aplenty, gift-giving and sacrifices at the Temple of Saturn, as was the Roman custom this time of year.

What fun! There is good reason the poet Catullus called this period "the best of days."

Keeping in the festive spirit, we'd like to take this opportunity to welcome you to our International Man's Best of 2018 Series, in which we take a look back at some of our favorite articles from the past year.

Kicking off this year's series is long time IM favorite, Jeff Thomas. In this article, which first appeared early November, Jeff takes a look at how the American Dream turns into the American Nightmare. Please enjoy his thoughts, below…
The American Dream
By Jeff Thomas
Many people in Europe and North America are shaking their heads at the rapidly-growing support in their countries for a transition into collectivism. At present, this advance is developing especially rapidly in the US.

Since the election of Donald Trump, large numbers of liberal Americans are beside themselves with despair and are responding with vehement collectivist rhetoric.

But, why should this be so? There have been many US presidents who were more conservative in their views than Mister Trump and, in fact, the Deep State, which unquestionably has more control over the future of the US than any president, is clearly moving forward with a collectivist agenda.

Yet, we're witnessing an anomaly that's not only unprecedented in US history; its ramifications and the rhetoric that drive it are often irrational beyond the pale.

A racist is no longer defined as someone who treats those of one race differently from those of another race. A racist is defined as someone who is Caucasian.

A sexist is no longer defined as someone who regards one gender as being superior to another. A sexist defined as someone who is a male.

A warmonger leader is no longer defined by aggressive behaviour. A warmonger may be defined as a man who attempts to maintain peaceful negotiations with other leaders.

And, predictably, Mister Trump is, therefore, by definition, a racist, sexist warmonger.
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The speed at which this Orwellian rhetoric is being adopted by the hoi polloi of the US is alarming and, for those of us who are non-Americans, residing outside the US, the US is rapidly losing its image of respected world leader and resembling instead a perverse circus side show.

But, why now? And why is the reinvention of America occurring so rapidly?
The new American Dream is one of collectivism. Tragically, it's a dream that always ends the same way.
Well, let's have a look at history and see if there have been similar occurrences.

In the late 18th century, the French people observed the American revolution and admired the revolutionaries, who removed the aristocracy and led the then-new United States to greatness. France was heavily in debt and the country was ripe for revolution. All that was needed was a charismatic hero who would tell the French people that they were entitled to be raised up – to rid themselves of the rich aristocracy, embrace collectivist concepts and they'd be on the road to the land of milk and honey.

They found their hero in Maximilien Robespierre. But good times did not follow. Instead, what was delivered were purges, assassinations, brutal dominance by the new leaders and, finally, economic collapse.

Similarly, after a particularly bad patch of national indebtedness, the people of Russia overthrew the aristocracy. The people happily awarded power to the Bolsheviks, who promised the healing balm of collectivism. What they delivered was continued poverty, oppression and economic deterioration.

Chairman Mao did much the same in China, first convincing the people that they were oppressed by the evil rich and promised the equality of collectivism. He delivered, instead, a two-class system of small numbers of oppressive leaders and large numbers of poor workers. And, of course, he also delivered more uniform levels of poverty.

In Cuba, the people were understandably terrified of dictator Fulgencio Batista and the regime of violence and indebtedness that he'd created in Cuba. Enter the charismatic Fidel Castro, who made no real promises, other than to end the dictatorship and make Cubans equal. The people of Cuba were so enamoured of him that little in the way of violence was necessary to implement revolution. When the revolutionaries marched toward Havana, there was so much celebration along the way, and so many government troops joined the rebels, that Mister Batista simply hopped on a plane with bags of money and disappeared.

Even before collectivism could be implemented, the hero began the purges, assassinations and brutal dominance. As always, collectivism seemed promising initially, but eventually led to complete economic collapse.

And yet, in spite of these and other examples of charismatic leaders who tout the panacea of collectivism, then deliver uniformly disastrous results, we now observe an otherwise informed nation of Americans vehemently praising the repeatedly disproven virtues of collectivism. How is this possible?

Well, let's ask Tulio Hernández, a sociologist who's living in exile in Columbia, having escaped increasing poverty and persecution in his native Venezuela, once one of the richest countries in the western hemisphere.

How on earth did Hugo Chavez con his people into throwing away their prosperity, in favour of the promises of collectivism? Mister Hernández says that this was no accident, but a carefully crafted plan intended to appeal to the basest emotions of Venezuelans.
"According to Chavez's logic, some people are evil – traitors who wish for bad things and oppose everything good. Before, they were not seen as adversaries, but as enemies of Chavez and the nation. They needed to discredit these enemies – eliminate them politically and morally, and, if necessary, eliminate them physically. Venezuela hadn't experienced ideological expressions of hatred like this before. The people held grudges against the upper class and politicians, but hatred, as an expression of ideology, is a new phenomenon. Hugo Chavez sowed hatred, by dividing the nation into revolutionaries and reactionaries… into defenders of the nation and traitors."
The reader might wish to read that paragraph again, but, this time, to imagine Mister Hernández as an American in exile, describing the irrationality and rhetoric of those promoting collectivism in the US. In this light, he's describing exactly what's taking place in the US.

The playbook this time around is the same as it has been in the past.

  • Wait until national indebtedness and other political failings have created worry amongst the populace
  • Blame the aristocracy and create a constant barrage of anti-aristocrat rhetoric
  • Convince the people that their leaders are not only incompetent, but evil
  • Create a massive campaign to discredit the existing leader in every way (incompetence, corruption, immorality, etc.)
  • Put forward a charismatic hero who will focus on regime change, whilst promising only vague solutions
  • Implement a takeover and, with the help of public anger, create purges and assassinations and institute the dominance of a police state

The Deep State in the US has achieved the first two of these steps and is well-along with the third and fourth. What now remains is the introduction of a charismatic hero and the implementation of the final stage.

The American Dream of resourcefulness, industriousness and self-reliance is very much on the way out. The new American Dream is one of collectivism. Tragically, it's a dream that always ends the same way.

Jeff Thomas

Missed some Jeff Thomas articles? He's been writing for International Man for many years, every Monday. Here are the most recent:

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