Lots of people have sent me emails and posted about fleeing the country. One of the main issues on BIDER readers' minds is whether Fannie Mae knocks on your door when your home is on foreign soil. Well, I finally heard from someone who did it. He moved to Canada and he (or she) isn't coming back and is damn proud of his/her decision. It's nice to hear about it from someone who did it, successfully. Here goes:
Saw your blog post about bailing on America and thought I would give you my $0.02 worth.
From where I sit, the best thing for any smart-minded American to do is to leave the country. Let's see here, $14T national debt with a $1T+ annual budget deficit that is being added to said debt. In the face of all this, Mr Hope and Change continues to fight the dual losing wars in Vietraq and Vietstan and punts on first down on reversing the asinine Bush tax cuts for the rich. And we haven't even started talking about $40T in unfunded Medicare/Medicaid liabilities.
As a more practical matter, the improbability of upward economic mobility in the Land of Opportunity is well documented on your blog and elsewhere. By all accounts, nine-plus percent official unemployment is going to become the new normal for the foreseeable future. The real figure, which includes the long-term unemployed who have given up looking for work and the involuntarily underemployed, has been estimated to be as high as 25 percent. And here again, Mr Hope and Change has nothing to offer except extensions of the failed Bush policies. We haven't even started talking about so-called health care reform that is nothing more than a massive giveaway to the same rapacious insurance companies that caused the problem in the first place.
As you've probably guessed, I moved to Canada and am starting on my fourth year here. And I love it here. I frequently go back to the States to visit, but I breathe a sigh of relief when I cross that border back into the Civilised World. For starters, universal health care through the provincial Medical Services Plan means no worries about finding that elusive "job with benefits." Up here, benefits doesn't mean health insurance, eight paid holidays and 10 days of paid vacation a year. Since all of those are guaranteed by law, even a job at Tim Hortons (coffee chain (in)famous for "Always Fresh" reheated frozen doughnuts and tepid, truck stop-grade coffee) is a job with benefits. Here, benefits means employer-paid extended health insurance that covers dentists, head shrinkers (i.e., marriage and family therapists, psychologists and the like - MSP covers psychiatric care in full, infra, if you're really nuts), massage practitioners, quackopractors, nastyropaths, "doctors" of traditional Chinese medicine and the like. This is on top of MSP that covers all medically necessary services in full with no deductibles, co-payments or any other out-of-pocket expenditures of any kind. And everybody gets MSP - from the senior partner at one of the Seven Sisters right down to the lowest, most strung-out street derelict.
Of course, all of this has wrecked our economy, right? Wrong. Our unemployment rate is currently around 7.5%, a full two points lower than America's. Our resources sector is going great guns to produce enough fuel for the Hummers driven by American men with potency issues. Also, keep in mind that our rate is always 1.5% - 2% higher than America's because of how we calculate it.
There is also a lot of misinformation out there regarding the potential consequences of reneging on student loans and skipping the country. As student loan defaults are civil in nature, rather than criminal, it is absolutely not the case that a borrower will be arrested, imprisoned or extradited. Also, claims that "you'll never be able to return to America" are completely false. Any U.S. citizen has the absolute Constitutional right to freely enter and leave the country. The U.S. Supreme Court has also ruled that the government has no power to involuntarily strip anyone's citizenship for any reason. See Afroyim v. Rusk, 387 U.S. 253 (1967).
In fact, there is very little the government can do to collect defaulted student loans from a borrower who has left the country. Their usual tool - administrative wage garnishment, i.e., garnishment without due process of law - is not available. Such an order would not be worth the paper it is printed on outside the U.S. In order to collect, they would have to (1) sue in federal court, (2) take judgment against the borrower and (3) domesticate said judgment in the courts of whatever nation the borrower is living in. The Department of Education's current policy is to not pursue litigation at all against borrowers living in foreign countries. I attach a copy of their litigation manual for your reference. Oh, and U.S. student loans are dischargeable in Canadian bankruptcy.
Bottom line - there are many, many people who, like me, feel they have done the right thing all of their lives. We went to school, studied hard, started at the bottom and worked crap jobs for starvation wages. We did this all in exchange for the promise of a better life down the road. Those promises have turned out to be empty. We now have nothing to show for it but massive amounts of debt with little to no hope of ever repaying. We don't even have access to basic, affordable health care! Since they haven't held up their end of the bargain, I don't see why I can't opt out of holding up mine.
Moving to Canada
He/she even included his/her email in case you have any questions.
Look... I know it's a hard choice. You may feel conflicted about abandoning ship. However, everyone in this country (except for Native Americans) have it in your DNA to immigrate to greener pastures. You may think it's scary, but how did you great grandpa feel when he left Ireland during the Potato Famine? Or your mom and dad when they fled Vietnam via boat? What about your great great great, etc. Grandfather who fled England because of religious persecution? They did it, why can't you? There's nothing unpatriotic about making your situation better. You will always be an American.
Open Thread - Round two of shuddery-cold fever has me in its grip, so please use this threat to talk among yourselves, should you so wish.
10 hours ago