Expatriate Life in Europe, neither Shaken nor Stirred
Smoking Mirrors Ė March 11, 2010
Dog Poet TransmittingÖÖ
The other day the Virginia state troopers went out and issued just under 7,000 traffic tickets because of a budget shortfall. I remember a few years ago they came up with a stupendous $2500.00 charge for driving a few miles over the speed limit. Theyíre pretty serious in Virginia because thatís where most of the DC lawmakers and former intelligence operatives live. Itís a seriously conservative state and I am painfully familiar with it. I got arrested there for violation of the Marijuana Tax Act awhile back and had a few years of Ďthe old in and outí. What that means is that when I wasnít in prison, I was on the run because I refused to cooperate with the law enforcement process when I hadnít done anything wrong. It just so happened I was in the wrong segment of history, which was- and still is- controlled by alcoholics whose only real contact with the illegal drug industry is in being paid for facilitating the transport of said items across various borders.
Recently I drove around a thousand miles, often at over a hundred miles an hour, while being routinely passed by other cars. I might have seen a cop car or two. I remember passing one at a high rate of speed but that didnít come to anything. Itís only in Switzerland where you have to watch out for the cameras and a good GPS system takes care of that.
In either of my two regular locations here in Europe, which are about 1400 kilometers apart, I seldom ever see the police. In the northern location, I have seen police in my town under a dozen times in nine years. Iíve had one or two interactions with the police concerning things other than myself and they wereÖ friendly, cheerful and generally in possession of a certain amount of bonhomie. Thereís no fear in either location as far as the police go. Thereís one exception and that is the Guardia Financia here in Italy. Their story is a complex one and that will be bypassed due to space considerations. You can look them up. I donít do any business in Italy though so itís macht nichts to me.
Itís seems pretty simple to me. America is a rich country with, presumably, plenty for all. It has been called, The Land of Opportunity. What happened is that the super rich destroyed the manufacturing base because they could make greater profits by outsourcing just about everything. The super rich, who are the corporations, the banks and the people who run them, sucked the life out of the American Dream in order to get more and more of what they never have enough of. They employed armies of lobbyists and lawyers to subvert the legal system and then systematically gang-raped the American public while also spreading torment and Hellfire abroad. Thatís simplistic but it will serve.
Although I seldom go to doctors or dentists, I have full and comprehensive coverage of both for about 80 Euro a month. I donít pay for anything, except ten Euro if havenít been to someone in 3 months. When I had my kidney stone(s) last year, it cost me nothing for all the pricey checks and scans along with 3 days in a hospital bed on a painkiller drip. They wanted to operate so I said ďSayonaraĒ and went home and treated it myself successfully; with attendant pain management, of course. I now have an Ayurvedic solution to further occurrences soÖ onward and upward. People also have savings in Europe. Theyíre not living on their credit cards.
Not only havenít I been the victim of any criminal behavior anywhere in Europe at any time but I havenít even seen any. I saw one altercation (drunks) in a club, which I helped sort out and they were arm in arm shortly after.
Iím not saying you canít find plenty of trouble if you are stupid or looking for it. I know about the soccer yobs and so forth and so on. Thatís almost all UK stuff. The UK is more like the US in terms of crime and violence. Europe is a big place. Thereís something for everyone, whether it is to be found in a cathedral or on the Reeperbahn. Nobody thinks twice about how you find your religion; whether it be on a pew or up against the skin. Drugs are dealt with in an entirely different manner. Until last year there was a store in Switzerland (probably a number of them) where you could buy anything except Heroin or Cocaine and where much of the product was displayed in attractive counters behind glass.
Not everything was out in the open but it was nearby. Pressure from the US has weighed down upon that Swiss policy of tolerance and is now weighing down upon Holland and Denmark as well.
You seldom see homeless people in Europe and most neighborhoods are clean and attractive because most people are of a libertarian bent. Food is surprisingly cheap. Itís sold by the kilo which compare very favorably with American pound prices. There are places you can pay a lot for food but if you donít have a lot of money you can get food at very reasonable cost. Food prices here remind me of what they were like decades ago in the US. There are farmerís markets everywhere and truck farmers by the sides of the road with oranges for 25 to 50 cents a kilo and all sorts of things like artichokes for 50 cents a kilo and broccoli for 70 cents a kilo. Iím primarily a rice and vegetables kind of a guy with an Asian/Indian slant to it.
You seldom see hitch-hikers or people on the road. Just about everyone has a bicycle (even me). Trains and trolleys run everywhere and they are reasonable. You can take a train anywhere in Germany on a Sunday all day long and bring four people with you for 20 Euro. You buy your ticket for city travel from machines and it all works on the honor system. Occasionally they have people checking on the conveyances and if you get caught itís an Ďon the spotí 40 Euro fine for Ďriding blackí or Schwartz Fahren. If you mostly ride black, you probably make out in the long run but most people donít do it.
You weigh your own produce at the grocery stores and are trusted not to scam. If you make a mistake (intentionally or accidentally) itís just politely adjusted. They donít presume that you are of criminal intent. Itís treated as a mistake. I donít have the inclination to break laws here because they are generally reasonable and as for driving at high speed, itís just safer and handled with a wink and a nod. There are some places where you do have to watch how you drive (Portugal) so be aware.
Italy is a country with an epidemic red tape problem and nothing gets done if it canít be done in the most time consuming and expensive manner butÖ that doesnít seem to involve me somehow and no one ever comes around. If you know the right people and donít make problems; if you handle people and situations with care you arenít going to have problemsÖ usually. I canít account for individual karma.
Border customs people smile at me and wave me through and thatís just how itís been. It was never so in the US. Even at the airports it is nothing like the US. After my last visit to the land of the free, I decided not to return again and I generally stay out of airports altogether now. Trains and boats are fine and Iím not in a hurry. I have no schedule.
I donít drink usually. I donít care for alcohol but beer is seriously cheap and remarkably good. In the supermarkets you can get the best beer for about 50 to 60 cents the half liter.
When I was in Muenchen (Munich) you could see people sunbathing nude on the banks of the Rhine. You could see many nude sunbathers at the English Gardens there; no one paid any attention. Children ran around and played and parents were not concerned about exposed genitals. This isnít to say that there arenít freaks of various orders around but I didnít see much of that. People just arenít all that psychologically messed up over here and people are also not uniformly stupid either. They are bright, well educated and competent.
Maybe Iíve painted it all sunnier than it is. I notice a lot of depression in various places but that is a part of the nature of certain peoples. I notice this and that but overallÖ itís not so bad and the same can be said of many lands besides the land of the free and their collation of the unwilling. Most of the problems that I notice have to do with behind the scenes crap exported from the US through their subsidiary reps. People are basically okay if you leave them alone and donít try to squeeze them like grapes.
ÖA little something different for Smoking Mirrors.
Last updated 13/03/2010