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Sunday, April 30, 2006

Fooling ourselves

Everytime someone asks the inevitable WHY? question, Jorge and I fall back on a couple lame-o, but understandable to our audience, answers. It's always a good idea to keep your audience in mind. Let's take a look at some of these rote, hollow replies, shall we?

"Because we've been looking for someplace like Florida was when we grew up." Since I was nearly abducted as a child, I don't think that's quite true. Small town feel, maybe. Tourist and weirdo mecca, nah.

"We have no health insurance and Australia/New Zealand* has socialized medicine." Free medical care is a big plus, no doubt about it, but we could afford to secure at the bare minimum some Major Medical coverage if we really wanted to play that game.

"It was costly and difficult to obtain residency, and we don't want to lose it. As it is now, we could not qualify if we had to apply all over again." True and true.

The askers usually nod their head in agreement, at least to the second and third answers since most people around here have no idea what Florida was like when they were growing up Somewhere Else, and go on their merry way.

But that's only the half of it. No, actually that's only the 3/10ths of it:

Both Australia and New Zealand...

...are way the heck out in the middle of the Pacific. Isolation is a good thing. Except for allying themselves with the US, they have fewer enemies and are thus relatively safer from terrorist attacks. It's not a matter of IF, but WHEN. I prefer to keep my options open just in case.

...have plenty of beautiful, affordable agricultural land available at reasonable prices and economies strong in natural resources: Australia in minerals; New Zealand in agriculture.

...are generally more environmentally conscious and concerned.

...have lower population densities.

...are less politically correct when it comes to immigration policy. It's tough getting in. (Si, se puede! and all that, but you've got to be able to keep a handle on who's coming in these days, and who's already here over-extending their student visas, learning to fly airplanes, if you know what I mean.)

In addition, NZ has no nuclear facilities and forbids nuclear powered vessels from entering its territory.

As a bonus, NZ has way fewer terrifyingly dangerous critters than Australia.

* Sorry to lump all you Aussies and Kiwis together like that, I know there are distinct and proud differences between you, though you might be surprised how many people here in the geographically ignorant US think New Zealand is the same as Australia, and that Australia is all Crocodile Dundee. Then again, you might not...

After reading Vanity Fair's Green Issue -- the global warming article was a little shrill and alarmist, but also very troubling, especially the tidbit that even were we to cut greenhouse gas emissions 100% today, we would still have 25 years before the climate would stabilize -- and hearing Michael Pollan discussing his new book The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals on NPR, and reading numerous blogs on various environmental and self-sufficiency topics, and watching South Florida go through another fire season while the population skyrockets and rampant development causes the aquifer to dry up leaving wells with saltwater intrusion, I'm a little freaked.

We have been fooling ourselves. And possibly everyone else. We've repeated the same pat lines so often, we've come to believe them. Saying our six month mission to keep our hard won, expensive, residency alive is only partially true, and has been much easier for our families, and us, to swallow. Jorge, Mr. I Prefer Non-Fiction, has been reading The Grapes of Wrath and thoroughly enjoying it. He commented the other day, after comparing notes from his reading and one of my doom-and-gloom articles, that that is the reason we're doing this. And I realized then, with a bit of a shock, it meant we are going for a lifetime, not for the short term stringing out of our residency, but for our long-term future.

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