Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Permanent Residency in Japan After One Year

The Ginza Wako Clock, Tokyo, Japan, Jordy Meow
There's a strong competition amongst countries to attract highly skilled labor, particularly those in STEM (science, technology, engineering, medicine) fields. Japan has made an interesting move in this game: highly skilled workers may be eligible for permanent residency in Japan after only one year.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

How to Move to Europe (or elsewhere)

It's that time again when people are upset at the results of the US presidential election and traffic to this blog spikes. I've written for years on different ways to move abroad, but I've let the blog go fallow as other priorities presented themselves. So here's a quick primer for those new to the topic.

Who Am I?

Your author at the São Jorge Castle in Lisbon, Portugal
I'm an American who's lived in the US, Japan, the UK, the Netherlands, and now France. My wife and I have considered other options, such as moving to Spain or Malta, but in all honesty, we'll probably stay here in France. Despite some problems, France is a pretty awesome place to live.

I started this blog simply because people kept emailing me to find out how to move abroad and other sites were too niche (how to move to Belize!), or scams (pay us money to move to this deserted island and be free!), or were light on details in an attempt to sell you something (buy my e-book on how to get a new passport!). So my emails got longer and longer and I learned more and more and eventually decided it would be easier to start a blog and point people at it than cut-n-paste from older emails all the time.

So let's consider why and how to move abroad.


If you want to move abroad because Trump is the president-elect, slow down. Moving abroad is a very tough decision, it can be very emotionally difficult, and the grass isn't necessarily greener on the other side of the fence. In fact, surveys conducted by Dr. von Koppenfels, myself, and others all tend to indicate that few Americans living abroad are doing so for political reasons (the number seems to be less than 5% of the 6 to 9 million Americans abroad). Also, while many migrants move abroad for push factors (war, famine, unemployment, etc.), those factors honestly aren't that serious in the US. Instead, if you're considering moving abroad because of Trump, I would strongly recommend asking yourself the following question.
Would I want to move abroad if my favorite candidate was elected president?
If the answer to that is a sincere "yes", you're good to go. Why? Because that's a pull factor. You want to move abroad for adventure, love, or work, not because you're running from something. In the long run, you're more less likely to be disappointed living abroad.

That being said, if you still want to move abroad because of Trump ...

The Basics

My friend Paul, hamming it up on top the Leaning Tower of Pisa
Next, be aware that other countries probably don't want you. That's harsh, but consider that I live in France, the most popular tourist destination in the world. If France were to suddenly let everyone move here, without restriction, our basic services would be flooded. We have what is arguably the best health care in the world, virtually free university education, and a fantastic social safety net, along with mind-boggling bureaucracy. That's expensive, so France, like every other country on the planet, usually tries to limit immigrants to those who are likely to pay more into the system than they receive. This means that you typically can't just buy a plane ticket and move. You'll usually need to apply for a work permit or a residence permit and most countries (not all!) are very picky about who gets those.

Second, you'll want to read why you'll say "no" to moving abroad. It sounds paradoxical given that you're here, but for most people, moving abroad is a fantasy. Were they to be hit with the reality, they'd be woefully unprepared. They don't have a passport, or they're in a long-term lease, or their partner says "no", or they don't want to leave their family, and so on. So if you want to move abroad, read that link and get your affairs in order. You can't leave if you aren't ready to leave. And for goodness' sake, get your papers in order.

Getting Out

So now that you've made the commitment, how do you get out? Mostly people leave via one of three routes:

  1. Marriage/Civil Partnership
  2. Citizenship
  3. Work/residence permit or the equivalent
First, let's be honest: maintaining a relationship is hard, a long-distance relationship is even harder. Doing so merely for the opportunity to move abroad generally doesn't work. Believe me, I've followed this topic for years. Maybe you'll travel abroad and meet the love of your life, but that's the exception, not the rule, and some countries are trying to even limit that. Unless you are very lucky, that's an unrealistic expectation. I have a French wife, but I met her while living in London. I didn't leave the US for her.

Second, you probably don't have citizenship in another country and can't get it. However, there may be options. If you have Italian ancestors, you might be able to claim citizenship in Italy. If one of your parents or grandparents was born in Ireland and had Irish citizenship, you might be able to get an Irish passport. Jewish ancestry might get you into Israel. In short, trace your ancestry and if you find a (relatively) recent ancestor with foreign citizenship, explore that country's laws. Many countries offer citizenship to their citizen's descendants.

During the ceremony
Your author and his wife, getting married in the Tower Bridge, London
But you probably don't have that route, either, so you're looking at a work or residence permit (or the legal equivalent thereof). If you're lucky enough to have high demand skills, particularly in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Medicine) field, read my five part "how to get a work permit" series. That will explain the basics that most people go through (and it's the route I took), aside from those who transferred with their work.

If you're young, or poor, or have little work experience, then you're probably looking for the young person's guide to living abroad. That covers a variety of options you likely didn't know about.

If you have a remote income (i.e., you work from home and can do your work from anywhere), there are a number of countries which will let you live there with a remote job if you can demonstrate financial self-sufficiency.

It's a big world and there's a lot more I could say, but that covers the the most important points. There is plenty of other information in this blog, including opportunities to buy residency or citizenship (usually requires a lot of money), what to do if you have a felony conviction, emotional considerations, legal implications, and more. I can't even begin to cover it all. So I'll just finish with my list of the top 10 expat myths.

Top 10 Expat Myths

  1. Expats are rich
  2. Expats hate America
  3. You need a college degree
  4. Everyone speaks English
  5. I'll learn the local language
  6. The world is dangerous!
  7. People in country X are rude/friendly/some other stereotype
  8. It's like a 24/7 holiday
  9. Life is better/worse in country X
  10. My kids will love it!
Explaining all of those would be a blog entry for each, but many of them are covered in this blog, somewhere. Use the search box and explore!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

US Trying to Prevent Americans Giving Up Their Citizenship

Certification of Loss of Nationality (Wikipedia)
I haven't written in this blog for a while, but this story is too important to ignore. The US is trying to solve its public relation disaster of the massive increase in the number of Americans giving up their citizenship by throwing up as many obstacles to renunciation as possible.

The Background
First, Americans back in the US frequently have a distorted view of Americans abroad. In fact, we know from extensive expat research (my own polling, the research of Amanda Klekowski von Koppenfels, and many others), that most Americans move abroad for love, work, study, or adventure. We're not rich, we're just average folks who happen to live in different countries.

Many Americans back home think we're ungrateful, rich sods who've turned our backs on the US. As previously mentioned, most of us aren't rich, polls show that few of us moved abroad for political reasons and we don't hate America. We get up, go to work, hang out with our friends, mow the lawn, love our children, and so on. Not much different from back in the US, except that the food's different, the language is different, the culture is different, etc.

So why are so many Americans abroad giving up their citizenship? Most of them will tell you the same thing: FATCA, a law designed to force international banks to report US customers to the IRS. Thanks to this law:

There are, at the present time, only two countries in the world who tax their citizens abroad: the brutal dictatorship of Eritrea and the US. Taxing Americans abroad was an old law instituted during the US civil war to punish Americans fleeing abroad to avoid the war (and paying for it via taxes). However, the law remained on the books but was largely ignored. Americans abroad were not told about it and they lived, retired, and died in blissful ignorance of this Civil War era law.

In 1970, the Bank Secrecy Act was passed and it contained the Foreign Bank Account Reporting provision (tell the IRS if you have a foreign bank about with more than $10,000), but this was a money laundering measure, not an attempt to enforce the Civil War law.

It was after the Great Recession of 2008 that the US government started searching for other sources of income that it realized it had largely been ignoring this old law on the books. Despite the complete lack of evidence that enforcing this law will work (the US Census Bureau doesn't count Americans abroad, despite repeatedly losing lawsuits over this), law makers are painting expats as billionaire tax dodgers living abroad to avoid paying taxes. Honestly, anyone who thinks I live in France to dodge taxes is an idiot, and as mentioned above, surveys repeatedly show that we're just a bunch of ordinary Americans — not wealthy tax dodgers.

The Government's Solution
All of the above has led to the problem of record numbers of Americans trying to renounce their citizenship. Previously, it had always been free to renounce your US citizenship. Go to a consulate abroad, fill out your paperwork, and wait for your CLN (Certificate of Loss of Nationality). In 2010, the US started charging $450 for allowing Americans to renounce. However, US renunciations continued to skyrocket, though the numbers appear to be seriously underreported. There have been reports of increased waiting times for various countries as a result.

Rather than address the root issues, the US attempted to contain the damage by raising the renunciation fee by 422% to $2,350! This puts it out of the price range of many Americans abroad, particularly those in lesser-developed nations, or those living paycheck-to-paycheck. However, this still didn't work. In 2015, there was a 20% increase in the number of Americans giving up their citizenship. From 2008 to 2015, the number of Americans renouncing has increased 18-fold and, as mentioned earlier, this is probably severely unreported.

So again, instead of fixing the problem, the US government has found yet another "solution." You can't legally renounce without an appointment, so since January 2016, the US embassies in Canada are simply not scheduling renunciation appointments. People are reporting delays of over a year to get an appointment. In Germany, renunciations are now restricted to the US Consulate General in Frankfurt, despite there being an embassy in Berlin and five consulates around the country. Here in France, they've restricted this to Paris and Marseille, despite an embassy and six consulates. If you've ever had the misfortune of wading through the consulate lines in Paris or trying to get an appointment, you know what a high bar they've set for letting Americans abroad renounce.

You would think that a politician might ask the obvious question: why are so many Americans giving up their citizenship? But no, no one cares. Americans abroad overwhelmingly say they don't want to do this, even as they're filling out the forms to renounce. Something has to change.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

New banking scam targeting expat Americans

The IRS has FATCA thrust upon them,
but I don't think they're too upset about it.
There's a new banking scam targeting overseas Americans and there's not much you can do to protect yourself. Yesterday the IRS issued a warning to FATCA-compliant banks stating that scammers posing as IRS agents are calling banks and requesting confidential account information of US persons for FATCA compliance.

Ever since Congress passed this insane law demanding that every foreign financial institution on the planet obey US law, regardless of whether this conflicts with their local law, FATCA compliance has been nothing but a morass of unintended consequences. Helpless Americans are losing their bank accounts, some people risk becoming stateless, and the number of Americans renouncing their citizenship has skyrocketed. Further, it's not clear at all that the possibility of extra income from FATCA will be offset the extra costs of verifying compliance. On top of that, FATCA implementation has been delayed in part because foreign banks haven't received clear guidance from the IRS about how to comply. And now scammers are stepping up to help the banks "comply."

Everything about this has been lose-lose right from the very start.

And now some people are going to lose their life savings due to the compliance ambiguity. Please, if you live abroad, translate the IRS warning into your local language and give it to your bank. Make sure it gets to their security department (I guarantee they have one) and not just a teller. People are going to be hurt by this; let's help to contain the damage.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Grateful For High Taxes in France?

The grocery store by our home in La Rochelle
It's been a while since I've posted. We've been very busy with our company and I've been working other projects. On my Facebook page, I've made some comments about French health care, in particular referencing this post about cancer treatment in France. Once again, I received private messages from people talking about taxes in France, so let's talk about them after we explore a bit what this means.

The highest marginal income tax rate in France is 45% (though there's an idiotic temporary 75% tax on millionaires), but you have to be earning over $200,000 US to reach that point. Most people pay far lower.  In fact, while well-off people will pay higher taxes in France, lower-income French households will enjoy lower tax rates than in the US.

That being said, it's still worth noting that the US used to have much higher income tax rates and the economy boomed. And while one study of 65 years of data fails to show conclusive evidence that raising or lower taxes necessarily hurts or helps GDP, it showed that it does impact income distribution, showing that lower taxes allows wealth to accumulate in the hands of the rich. In fact, the US now has the highest income inequality since the 1920s and the US now has more income inequality than any other industrialized nation.

This wouldn't matter if everything were fine and dandy, but it's not. Half of Americans now live in poverty and the actual unemployment rate is around 13%, much higher than the official 6.7% rate that's reported. And the large number of children going hungry in the US is growing. Student loan debt is growing and the number of US students enrolling in college has been dropping, a guaranteed long-term drag on economic growth.

So what does that mean? We know that income inequality is correlated with higher crime rates. (note: it's not poverty that leads to higher crime rates, it's the disparity). Income inequality leads to a breakdown in social trust.

And it's getting worse.

Here in France, I pay higher taxes and while we're also caught up in the world economic struggles, life here is still pretty good. So what do I get for paying my taxes?
You know what? I'm OK with that. I'm OK with helping other people.

Yes, the French pay around 30% of their GDP for this, compared to 9.8% entitlement spending in the US (though these numbers are likely far from a fair comparisons). But you have to remember, the French people voted for this. This is a democracy. The French fight hard to protect their welfare state because they believe it's more fair and so far, the French have "hung in there" for a long time. France has some serious problems, but it's not going the route of Greece any time soon. When the overall world economy rebounds, France will too.

I'm happy to pay my taxes here. I often hear people in the US say they'd be happy to pay more if they knew they were really helping others. I'm putting my money where my bouche is.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

We're back from New York ... sort of ... (pics)

Doubtless you've noticed the lack of updates recently. This was a combination of a significant work load, lots of work last month to get out the survey results (and I still haven't posted the last part) and a business trip to New York, the latter of which was a huge amount of fun but left me a bit wiped out. I was only there for a day and couldn't get many photos and had to apologize to friends for not being able to meet up with them (you know who you are).

The New York Stock Exchange

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Overseas Exile Expat Survey Results — Politics

Today is part 4 of the Overseas Exile survey results. It's all about that subject we love to hate: politics. The answers may surprise you. As usual, click on the images for larger versions.

If this is your first time reading the survey, see also:

Starting off with the last US presidential vote, 63% of expats said they voted. This contrasts with 57% of the general US population voting.

234 participants by voting in last presidential election

However, only 27% voted in their last state election. This is unsurprising as many expats care about the direction of the US but they may find a less strong affiliation at the state level.

233 participants by voting in last state election
To my surprise, only13% of US expats felt politically close to the US, with a whopping 44% saying they didn't feel close at all. I've found US expats sometimes defending US policy and trying to be informal ambassadors of the US, so I expected that the "very close" percentage would be higher.

234 participants by how they feel about how close they feel to the US
Only 9% of participants felt "very close" to the current country they were living in, while 38% didn't feel close at all. Those who felt very close to their current country were generally outside of the US longer and did not plan to return to the US.

233 participants by how close they feel to their current country
42% of respondents felt they "definitely" had more economic opportunities outside the US, with another 22% feeling they had somewhat better opportunities. Only 20% felt they did not have better opportunities outside the US.

234 participants by whether they have more economic opportunities outside the US
And I saved the most interesting for last. Only 7 out of 227 (3%) respondents identified as Republican. 123 respondents (54%) identified as Democrat. Libertarians were well-represented, but I didn't break them down by traditional Libertarian and Paleolibertarian, though judging from responses, I suspect that few would have chosen the latter.

227 participants by US political party
Of those in the "other" category, their original responses were as follows:
  • 7 — None
  • 5 — Independent
  • 1 — Anarchocapitalist
  • 1 — General leftism
  • 1 — Independent (very left-leaning)
  • 1 — None. All are corrupt.
  • 1 — Reform party
  • 1 — Somewhere between D and R
  • 1 — They all suck
  • 1 — They are all thieving war mongers. No plane hit WTC7.
  • 1 — To vote is to support a failed system.
  • 1 — Unsure
  • 1 — Working Family
  • 1 — depends
  • 1 — liberal libertarian
And if you're curious, the two communists live in China and Slovenia.

If you're wondering why Republican representation appears to be so low abroad, here are a few thoughts. First, my survey is likely biased due to the readership. How that plays out, I can't say, but Republicans may be over- or under-represented here. However, I've also written about the difficulty of finding Republicans abroad. This point is hammered home by this old post from the Republicans Abroad Facebook page:

Even though the Republicans Abroad Facebook page hasn't had an update for six months (as of this writing), one person told me that Republicans Abroad actually has meetups in Paris, but that's the only significant activity I've heard of. My experience with Republicans abroad is that they generally moved abroad as part of a work transfer (banking, oil, etc.) or for love. After living outside the US for seven years, I can only recall three Republicans I've met abroad.

Of the Republicans who answered this survey, six were male and one was female. They generally lived in Europe with the exception of Thailand and Japan. One was agnostic, the rest were Christian (compared to only a quarter of the expats identifying as Christian). And their reasons for becoming an expat:
  • Transferred abroad for your job
  • Adventure
  • Escape US politics
  • Adventure
  • Adventure
  • To seek work
  • Love
They were also generally upper-income and fully employed (I'll cover finances in a later post).

It's also possible that Republicans simply have little interest in online surveys or, perhaps, many Republicans are transferred abroad by their jobs and don't consider themselves to be expats. Who knows? It's a topic that I'm still trying to understand, but I'll add this one caveat: I've met a number of conservative Americans living outside the US, but there's a general level of disgust amongst them for the Republican party. It's entirely possible that they simply reject the moniker, though the general tone of comments made and my personal experience suggests that Republicans are simply less likely to move abroad and those who do sometimes start to lean more to the left.

Finally, we have the answers to how US expats feel about US politics and how the feel about their local politics. These are "free form" answers for which they can type in anything they want. The answers are generally depressing.

How US expats feel about US politics:
  • Embarrassed
  • Disappointed, deceived, betrayed
  • U.S. politics is currently a joke.
  • Dysfunctional, fragmented, hostile
  • I hate politicians worldwide and they all pretty much make me sick.
  • It's idiotic and I'm glad to be away from it.
  • it's a mess. Until corporate money is out of politics I will try to avoid going home.
  • Absolutely repulsive, both main parties are butting heads all the time. Never really accomplishing anything, just shutting each other down.
  • Congress is a mess
  • I do my best to ignore it, but even non-US news sources can't seem to stop talking about it.
  • I'm rather ashamed of how polarized, arrogant, smallminded and self-centered the USA has become, politically speaking. I don't feel the US government represents me, or for that matter that it represents the majority of American people.
  • Don't pay much attention to it.
  • :(
  • It's not improving. It's soundbites and catering to the lowest common denominator, with no real difference between the two major parties. The amount of money involved in US elections would be considered corruption anywhere else. It seems like American debates are very self-contained, without reference to the rest of the world.
  • mother fuckers
  • The Tea Party is an embarrassing disgrace to America.
  • It's a joke
  • Not very good. It seems hopeless that the Dems and Reps will ever learn to work together for the common good.
  • Depressed. It seems so bitterly divided and ideological. Even my friends and family seem like they've drifted further from the center toward various fringes. Everyone blames each other for the current state of things, but don't seem to see the vitriol is the core of the problem. Cool heads and compromise are what's needed.
  • They're part of the reason I left
  • Apathetic
  • Badly
  • A total mess of people saying "I've got mine. Too bad for you."
  • Excuse my language, but perhaps it'd be best to cut off all the cocksuckers' heads.
  • I don't. To me, it's a bunch of politicians telling lies to people who want to hear lies. As someone who prefers to deal with reality, I don't waste my time reading the news about the US.
  • crap
  • It's a shitshow and only going to get worse. I wouldn't be surprised if they started rounding up leftists and putting them in camps like they did to the Japanese. But America was always right-wing and genocidal, so it would be nothing new.
  • I think that US politics is a joke, and that Obama is sociopath who belongs in prison. Before I knew this about him, I voted for him the first time he ran for office.
  • Completely nonsensical
  • 2 parties, 1 set of beliefs.
  • cess pool full of tea.
  • I keep finding myself apologizing for the craziness in the US.
  • Disgusted.
  • More akin to professional wrestling than so-called "leaders of the free world".
  • Frustrating
  • Meh. Not the least bit interested. I see the highlights on telly I guess.
  • Major train wreck. Please note that I did not vote in the last presidential election due to being disenfranchised by the state of mississippi- they refuse to send me ballots unless my lawyer requests them.
  • It is just a mess...
  • Awful. It's awful.
  • I feel the US is totally ignoring the 7 million of us who live abroad, and I'm so thankful for HR 597, a bill to establish a commission in Americans abroad. However, we Yanks abroad are terrible about coming together and being one voice for our needs.
  • It is a messed up system. It's embarrassing.
  • Being abroad, it's like watching two children throw a temper tantrum. It disgusts me how the US portrays themselves to other countries. It really is a nation divided, and that will absolutely be their downfall. Rather than democrats and republicans working together to fix things and save the country as a whole, they're fighting over who has the biggest cajones. Ridiculous.
  • A train wreck.
  • It's fucking crazy.
  • They are a disaster, but any one who tries to fool themselves it is better in Europe has not been reading the news. There are just as many whackjobs and idiots in power.
  • It is a disaster ruled by the greater polarization of both parties, an inability and/or unwillingness to compromise, and the persecution of the poor and middle class by the rich through political donation.
  • ugh.
  • dysfunctional and scary
  • Crazy. Arguing about non-issues and making everything a big deal without getting anything done. Shouldn't even be called 'politics', it's embarrassing.
  • We're fucked.
  • A complete disaster.
  • If you've ever watched the South Park episode Giant Douche Vs. Turd Sandwich it explains how I feel. Also, I'm definitely feeling like renouncing my citizenship to the recent NSA scandals.
  • I'm honestly totally disgusted by them. I do my best to keep up with the news but it's difficult to listen to what's happening.
  • Let's just say I'm glad I'm here and not there.
  • Gridlock
  • Obama is a lying bitch.
  • Myopic and delusional.
  • An improvement from the former regeim but not where I would want it to be. Would like to see more progressive liberal reforms.
  • What a mess
  • Embarrassing
  • It's a sh*tshow (excuse my French) In no other system in the world are there two parties so directly adjacent on the spectrum of political philosophy who are so adamant about not working with eachother. In Italian politics, you see Neo-Fascists working with Communist-leaning parties. In the US the Right Wing can't get along with the Slightly Less Right Wing. It's sickening.
  • Indifferent
  • frustrated
  • They are insane, bought and paid for by corporate interests, and too far gone to change.
  • Crazytown
  • Insane.
  • Garbage.
  • Republicans are crazy
  • Criminals bought out by corporate interests.
  • Embarrassed.
  • They suck, but politics suck in general.
  • The government is a disaster and all of our elected officials should be ashamed of themselves. I will strangle anyone who votes for an incumbent in next year's elections.
  • Run away
  • Shit's fucked up, but if everyone who thinks that jumps ship, then nothing will ever change--that's democracy. This is why I am unwilling to give up my US citizenship and voting rights.
  • I feel that they are selfish and arrogant. That the people in power currently believe that their actions have no consequences and that they are free to act without impunity.
  • Not great, not as bad as people on reddit, and particularly on r/Iwantout like to act.
  • I'm Embarrassed to be an American especially overseas. Because of the wars, NSA, lies, etc. I'm glad to see the libertarian movement is slowly gaining speed.
  • Ugh.
  • The two party system reigns supreme and isolates all others (by "others" I mean and an increasing number of young people). I'm hoping the downward spiral leads to revolution and/or true change. Maybe then I'll go back.
  • Same shit, different day
  • Disgusted. Each day I feel I made the right decision to leave and do not understand what is happening in the US. I feel bad for my family and friends which I left behind and worry how their lives will be impacted.
  • Disdainful
  • bad
  • I actively avoid US politics. I obviously can't help running into news stories about the US, and when I do it makes me never want to return.
  • Very dissatisfied and jaded. I don't think it's going to improve anytime soon, either.
  • self-destructive
  • It's a mess and it's embarrassing.
  • Train wreak.
  • Shit. Two-party system that just are one party (at the national level) that push private and corporate interests.
  • It's embarrassing.
  • It's soul-crushingly disappointing to see the juvenile tactics pulled by Tea Party Republicans in response to the Affordable Care Act.
  • it's a mess
  • It's a right fucking ballsup
  • embarrassed by them.
  • Disgusted. It's the only thing keeping me from moving back
  • I think US politics are going down the drain
  • Meh
  • There are problems, but I don't thinkt he country is going to implode or anything like that. I expect it to be more or less the same (for better or worse) when I return.
  • Bleh. No interest.
  • Ashamed.
  • Complete and utter shit. Our country is ran by greedy corporations with no thought to spare for the well being of the People.
  • Very cynical
  • Congress needs to be lined up and shot. In the legs, at least.
  • It's a mess, but so are all these other areas. I think we're making good progress towards a more open society and one that includes those from all races. With the age of the internet, openness is becoming a hot topic in the US. I actually find states like Washington and California to be far more progressive than most of the Euro countries I've visited. Don't even get me started on Asian countries and their conservatism.
  • suck
  • The US is a basket case that can't agree on anything, even if it meant its existence depend on it (and it does).
  • It's embarassing. The system is rigged to allow a choice between two parties who are equally bad for different reasons. People always point to China and India as examples of countries with serious political corruption, and they are, but the US has a significant problem of corruption at the very top. Lobbying is a bad idea, as is concentrating so much power at the federal level. Decentralized power makes it more expensive to fund corruption. also the current nonsense about Stazi era spy techniques and giving military tactics and equipment to Legal Enforcement Officers is disconcerting.
  • Idiocracy.
  • Idiocracy.
  • eeek.
  • So over it..
  • Overall, frustrated and exasperated. Almost every step forward (what I consider "forward", at least) seems either matched by a step backward or challenged again by (can't help but say it) Tea Party Republicans.
  • Both sides suck but I am liberal and I want my vote to count so I vote Democrat.
  • Not enough time or room to go into this issue.
  • Disaster and not enough people in that country care to take action
  • The U.S. Has become a repressive country.
  • A mess but at the point where changes might happen
  • It is what it is.
  • Like an outsider.... It's appalling.
  • Upset, worried, disappointed
  • Get rid of all the idiots in the Republican party
  • The government is not working due to stand offs rather than governing. Obama cannot govern as he would like because of extreme republicans,
  • Sick
  • Disgusted
  • What a mess.
  • It's a clusterfuck.
  • At the time of taking this survey, the Congress had just finished waging war against the Affordable Health Care Act, and anything else remotely related to President Obama. The resulting shutdown was disgraceful and irresponsible. Most of the blame rests squarely on the shoulders of the Republican party, whose members will do anything to trip up the Obama administration. I watch from afar and cannot believe the divisiveness and polarization in the US, with most of it spread by a large segment of the population that remains intentionally ignorant of the world at large. I am still very proud to be American, and I would never dream of renouncing my citizenship, but sometimes I scarcely recognize my country. It is very, very saddening at times.
  • I am appalled by the polarization and lack of civility in US politics.
  • It's based on the population being mostly uneducated and full of hate.
  • Not to good!
  • Broken!
  • disaster
  • *fart noises*
  • Discouraged.
  • It is a particularly low time in American politics. Americans have become so divided and agressive with those who don't think as they do. It also seems that Congress is not productive, and works harder for American corporations than for the well-being of the average American citizen. It is also time to limit the campaigning period for elections and money spent for such campaigns. In addition, it is time for the FDA to get serious about food inspections and labeling, and for Congress to stop enabling Monsanto. I could go on, but you get the picture.
  • They're horrible.
  • clusterf---K
  • Pathetic.
  • I'm glad Obama's in the White House. I'm disgusted with the Republicans, and with Wall Street, and big corporations that basically run things and pay their workers pennies. (McDonalds, supermarket chains, etc.)
  • BS
  • Embarrassingly disgraceful
  • Ridiculously partisan and a bit too far to the right.
  • It sickens me
  • A discraceful mess.
  • a complete mess
  • Disappointed. It has become too polarized between the right and the left.
  • worried
  • US politics are dysfunctional and highly corrupt.
  • right direction
  • The health care situation in USA is dismal. I had three babies in Canada and the only cost was paying the parking meter overnight. In USA I hear a kid costs thousands of dollars.
  • Hard to see my home country so bitterly and completely divided.
  • The US' reputation is awful because of the policies instituted and followed by the past two presidential administrations.
  • sickening
  • I have not been following US politics all that closely in these years but I am always happier when there are democrats in the White House. I think that the US has it's problems, but there is hope for the future.
  • Very depressed about the wrangling and unwillingness to seek solutions in common to the country's serious problems.
  • Incredibly frustrated
  • Make guns illegal
  • It's a huge mess which needs to be cleaned up.
  • Haters in american Government and racist in American politics.
  • In a word: disgusted. There's not much more that can even be said.
And how they feel about their local politics. I deliberately did not match these with the above answers to avoid providing too much identifying information. However, you'll note that many of the responses strike a more positive tone.
  • Ambivalent
  • I do not know enough to make an informed statement about this topic.
  • Dutch politics, and society as a whole, is *far* too racist. It feels like a socially acceptable version of Apartheid.
  • the adults are running the show and doing the best they can
  • Corrupt, incompetent thieves.
  • Looking pretty bad right now as new Prime Minister (Tony Abbott) is confirming the worst of my fears about him.
  • I am not pleased with the financially conservative bent of the current president, but she's at least a woman.
  • Not too much better, to be honest. A little too politically correct to manage the country the way it should be. Loving the relative lack of gun violence, though. Good law system there.
  • Not much better than US situation, however I don't have voting privileges and therefore don't worry too much about it.
  • I don't really know the Swedish political landscape that well, but I have a generally positive impression from what I do know of it.
  • This country has issues like everyone else, especially given the current unstable world climate. But I feel this country's government is held more accountable for its actions, and is likely more responsive because of that.
  • Conflicted.
  • Politics are influenced far too much by religion and there's also a rather insular view that comes from being economically powerful. I much prefer country #2 to country #3.
  • bullies
  • Headed in the same direction in the US.
  • Not very good; The Netherlands seems to be becoming more like the USA all the time. But it's still a coalition government and parties realize they have to work together to make things work.
  • Finland is a pretty homogeneous country so there isn't a lot of political drama. There seems to be a good deal of transparency, and the political discourse is mostly civil.
  • They're part of the reason I want to be in a different section of this country!
  • Apathetic
  • Mixed
  • No real leadership.
  • Chile and the U.S. are remarkably similar in that there is a two-party control on that nation, and no matter which side you vote for nothing ever really changes for the better for poor or middle class.
  • Fairly positive (at least, as positive as I feel about any government). The government mostly leaves people alone in their day-to-day lives, and I approve of that. There was a recent election of a new President, and there's some hope that we'll see some much-needed infrastructure projects starting. I'm also slightly positive on a personal level, since they want to improve the IT industry here, which may open up some opportunities for me.
  • somewhat less crap
  • Sadly gone way downhill since Mao's death, possibly beyond reform. China is steadily becoming imperialist, but while I don't support its turn down the capitalist road, I would side with China over my home country if it came down to it because the US is the number one force of destruction in the world today. I'm highly critical of Chinese politics, but not quite with the same angry dismissal I have of US politics.
  • Have no knowledge of it.
  • Not great, but more organized than the US
  • Lots of tribalism.
  • In total disarray.
  • Disgusted.
  • Corrupt and out of touch with working people.
  • Slightly less frustrating
  • Also meh. It's pretty ridiculous. I do rather enjoy watching the debates in the House of Lords. It amuses me to see a bunch of entitled people argue the fate of common people..
  • Switzerland is great.
  • I am not completely sure of all the current details of the Dutch government to be completely honest. I really am not a fan of politics.
  • They have more than two parties, so that's a start.
  • Ok, same as in the US
  • I need to learn more about it. But in general, things seem to work well and to be in the interest of the people.
  • All British and Scottish parties are retarded
  • I've only been here a short time, so I don't know too much. It seems....quiet? I suppose. Like things are mostly just running along here unaided. I may be wrong, but that's my current interpretation.
  • A train wreck.
  • Retarded.
  • Pretty shitty people hijacked Thatcher's funeral. I care what she did to Wales, but let her family grieve. Otherwise, Theresa May is a moron.
  • also ugh.
  • functional but closed to foreigners
  • Good question. Corrupt as all hell but everybody's so used to politicians being useless that nobody pays any attention to the government at all. It's mostly people mud-slinging and passing laws without mentioning them.
  • We're all fucked.
  • Fully functional.
  • Harper is just an idiot but not enough of one to mess too much up.
  • The Czech Republic is very corrupt, also, and I know there are a lot of problems here too.
  • It's a mess, but at least the average French liberal's political opinions align far better with my own opinions than what the average US democrat stands for. Also, in France it feels like some of those values are better realized here in the political system than all the posturing (and little results) that happen in the US.
  • Seems like a good system, but it's rather complicated.
  • Troubled between the royalists and the communists
  • Don't care.
  • Would like to get rid of the current regeim in the next election and replace it with a social democrat government (shift to the left).
  • Less of a mess
  • Even more embarrassing. Also potentially catastrophic for Kosovo.
  • I am pretty uninformed.
  • Indifferent
  • dissappointed
  • They are still politics, but there still seems to be accountability to the people, and flexibility for change.
  • Likely as crazy town but with a distinct kimchi flavor
  • Some bad points but overall a much better state.
  • I don't know enough to comment - one perk of living abroad (easier to stay out of political puppet games).
  • Much to learn, sad rightward shift.
  • The same, but to a lesser extent. They are held more accountable.
  • Better than the U.S.
  • They suck.
  • It seems to be going ok, they're about as obnoxious as any national government I guess.
  • Storm in a teacup
  • I don't like Merkel. I don't like how people like Merkel just because they think she's this nice motherly lady who's some expert leader. She's against extending rights to the LGBTQ community, she was complicit in the NSA's affairs until it affected her personally, she has called multiculturalism in Germany a failure... but she has this cult of personality; people call her "Mutti" (mama). It's really disappointing and I wish people would think a little more critically.
  • Of course they are selfish, but they are not without knowing that their actions will have consequences for them and for the country that they govern.
  • Shitty. Here for work, won't stay more than a year or a little bit more.
  • I don't follow them closely. It's almost hopeles here. Lots of corruption. I'm sure their on the wrong path.
  • Complicated but makes more sense.
  • Italy is a non-issue as far as politics to me. I followed it when Beppe Grillo was active, but he was also the same as all the others.
  • Corruption then, corruption now, corruption continues.
  • The situation is also having difficulties, but as I do not have the right to vote, I do not focus too much on the politics.
  • Neutral
  • most things were better ten years ago, was worse two years ago and will probably be much better ten years from now
  • It is still very complicated to me, I have only learned what they taught me in class. From what I understand, there are still many problems here and change is one of the things they have the hardest time with. I am sure when I find out more about it and get to know the language better, I will be disappointed, but I don't think I could ever be as disappointed as I am with America.
  • I admittedly don't know enough as I should, but I don't really find any politicians or governments likable. I'd say that the German government is at least less corrupt than the US.
  • corrupt
  • It's pretty bad, but not as bad as the US. I just don't like our current PM, but overall the system seems to work.
  • Also a train wreak.
  • Don't know to much, but lots of bickering over petty things.
  • Also, embarrassing.
  • I don't feel I know enough about my current country's politics to give an informed response. From what I've heard of Shinzo Abe and the LDP, their return to power is unfortunate. While I'm definitely disillusioned about politics back home, I *do not* feel I'm running away from corruption by coming here. The grass is *never* greener, but it is different. I think I like this variety of different.
  • also a mess
  • Meh.
  • horrified.
  • 5% better than the US. Canadians are way more ignorant of their own politics than the states (if that's believable)
  • China has a lot of room for improvement, no doubt. But as immigrants to the US believed in the US during the industrial revolution; I believe in China!
  • Meh
  • For the most part, I feel positively, but I also don't have an intimate understanding of the politics and understand that there are problems here as well.
  • Bleh bleh bleh. Keep me out of it.
  • Completely bewildered.
  • It's not that best but it's sure as hell the lesser of two evils.
  • I'm worried about it.
  • On the verge of the unknown. It's a micro-state that relies heavily upon being a tax haven. They've now promised to release the names of those hiding money in their country, so people are expecting the banks to leave town. After that they'll have some industry, but losing half of your main source of jobs will def. hurt the local economy. Most Luxembourgish citizens work for the government and funds will soon dry up.
  • Everywhere has their problems.
  • The ruling party is too entrenched.
  • Singapore's politics are very orderly. The country is so small the government is able to be very responsive. Corruptions seems quite low, probably in one part because the ruling family has significant financial resources already, and in another part because the island is so small and lacks any natural resources, there's little for large corporations to target. Elections seem to lack significant choice, but I'm actually inclined to agree with the ruling party's assertion that that is due to a lack of enough talent to produce multiple viable parties, and as such anyone with competent political skills tends to just join the ruling party rather than try to rock the boat by founding a new party.
  • Not for me to judge. I'm a guest.
  • Not for me to judge. I'm a guest.
  • even worse
  • Silly.
  • I'm only just learning about the most current issues, but many seem to be very similar to the U.S. There's even a new bill here that would pretty dramatically affect collective bargaining and I found that quite interesting after signing petitions and voting in Ohio to prevent its legislative efforts to weaken unions. And the tension between environmental protection efforts and development is quite familiar as well.
  • Both sides are terrible, imagine one side called The Tea Partiers and the other side called The Useless, ruining the country. Both sides are 20x more corrupt than in the US, which says much.
  • It appears to be slowly starting to follow in the footsteps of the US/Capitalist model.
  • Disaster but at least we can get 10% of the population marching on the street when the government starts to get really obnoxious
  • Dysfunction.
  • It is time for a shifting back of the current party's run.
  • haha Czech politics are funny and and their drunk president is always good for a few laughs.
  • Equally appalling.
  • The government is living up to the low expectations I had, even beyond.
  • Don't get me started
  • The economic crisis is causing some return to racism, extreme conservatism, etc. the governement cannot function well due to world wide economic crisis caused by a few wealthy who have taken over the power all over the world due to deregulation rules. People feel helpless.
  • Depressed
  • France is even worse.
  • It's also a clusterfuck.
  • I voted for Hollande because I could not abide Sarkozy and his corruption, but I am disappointed by Hollande's lack of backbone.
  • The political system encourages people to not want to be rich.
  • Unhappy
  • disaster
  • *louder fart noises*
  • Removed.
  • While I consider myself to the left in the US, I feel like a mix of right and left in France. Despite my leftist sympathies, for most French socialists, I am not left enough. While I support many of the social and cultural programs in France and am very grateful for its healthcare program, I sometimes feel that leftists in France think that money grows on trees and that the philosophy should always be give, give, give to every cause, while the American practical side of me questions where that money is supposed to come from and how there will be enough to support those programs in the future. I also feel very American when it comes to the French habitual love of strikes. I think such strikes very often shoot their nation in the foot, wasting tons of money and inconveniencing everyone. In my own way, I feel very attached to both France and the US, and am not happy when the well-being of either nation is in jeopardy. I have not lived in Tunisia as long, but I appreciate the country and its people, and wish nothing but the very best for it, too.
  • Much better than the U.S.
  • don't like the government, but it's the best one we have
  • More hopeful.
  • I'm aligned most with the left (SP), but since I can't vote I'm basically powerless. (I'm only allowed to be in a "registered partnership," which has different rules than if I were married and in a heterosexual relationship.) When I met my partner it would not have been legal for her to stay in the US (I'm a woman), thus the move to Switzerland. that's recently changed, but seemingly only on a case-by-case basis.
  • no idea
  • Socialist mindset and of course doesn't work, even in tiny Finland.
  • I feel it is going downhill fast.
  • I don't really keep track of it
  • Status quo.
  • Horrible.
  • a complete mess
  • The Dutch medical and social welfare are moving to the levels of the US.
  • disgusted
  • There is plenty of room for improvement, but I believe the system is much more conducive to self correction than the US system. There is however, a bit too much collective government in Canada.
  • wrong direction
  • I would never borrow money from China to pay for my house mortgage. I do not understand why USA would borrow trillions of dollars to finance wars.
  • Feel more positive about its multiparty system and its requirements that government representatives MUST compromise to get anything done.
  • Simply awful. I do not see things getting better in the US in my lifetime.
  • sickening
  • I feel that Italy's politics ruin the country. There seems to be no hope for change here and people seem much more resigned to accept the corruption and political ridiculousness. I don't think there is much hope for the future of Italy politically or economically because things get bogged down in corruption and bureaucracy.
  • Derisive. The French have their heads in the sand.
  • Unimpressed, but less affected
  • They made guns illegal. NHS. Welfare state. These are good things America won't have.
  • It's a huge mess which needs to be cleaned up.
  • Curing in some ways but money talks.
  • Generally, we're happy with Sweden, enjoy the quirks some things can come with, but also really respect the system. Yes, the taxes are astronomical, but there's little question that it gets put to good use.