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Everything posted by induna

  1. My wife and I are currently renting an approx. 90 sq. meter, 3 (small) bedroom, 2 (small) bathroom house with an absolutely killer view in San Vito de Coto Brus for $300 a month. It's very quiet and private. And the electric bill is just about 15 mil. So it is possible to live quite cheaply and, for us at least, well. Of course we are about as far from the GAM as you can get, and the closest traffic light is about 35 kilometers away in Ciudad Neily. For us this is pretty much ideal.
  2. I don't see these things as being intrinsically linked in any way. The position that "libertarians" (which is a term that has come to means so many different things that it is almost meaningless) such as those at the CATO institute take which asserts that they are inherently linked is based on ideology and not economics. The fact is that there is no such thing as a "free market". Capitalism as it is currently practiced in the West, and particularly as it is practiced in the US, is increasingly oligarchic. Fewer and fewer larger and larger entities are controlling ever greater portions of the world's economic production -- to the point where they have begun to entirely dominate the only other instituion that can control them -- the State. IMHO Costa Rica would be well served to keep as low a profile as possible in this particular global struggle. However, that is a decision for the Costa Ricans and not for cynical old soon-to-be-expats.
  3. Well, there is a scientific basis to the enumeration of the continents that is based upon an analysis of the plate tectonics and not politics. Be that as it may, it might be helpful to remember that Central America was always a part of the North American continent and not the South. In my opinion, the word 'American' is fine for naming citizens of the U.S. in the English language. Spanish has another word for this purpose, estadounidense, as has already been pointed out.
  4. Thank you all for the positive feedback. It's means a lot to me to know that we share the same concerns.
  5. Thank you, Eleanor. I admit I was a bit nervous about writing that post, but it's something I've been thinking about for a while. I just want to try to turn the perennial discussion about "Is Costa Rica for Me?" back to "How Can I Best be Ready for Costa Rica?"
  6. Here is a "Headline" from the "News" website today on which the OP's "article" was originally published: 'Costa Rica News – Well as you all know it is Monkey See, Monkey Do when it comes to Costa Rica’s government. USA passes a law then Costa Rica follows suit. This is an obvious, although hardly isolated, example of the worst kind of Gringo yellow journalism about Costa Rica and Ticos. It is on the surface offensive and is demonstrative of a type of casual cultural arrogance and ignorance that many Norte Americanos, and especially estadounidenses, seem to perceive as their birth-right. The rest of us must do our best to repudiate it. As Paul wrote earlier, there are good, not so good, and bad Ticos which can be said of any group. Before we, as US'ers (I've started to use this rather than American when writing about other places and peoples in the Americas), start generalizing about the relative quality of other cultures and it's peoples, it would perhaps be worthwhile to look at our own and at ourselves. I have thought a lot about why it seems that so many people from the US ( I am from the US) seem to turn so negative about Ticos so rapidly and so vehemently. I have come to believe that a major cause of this is simply Culture Shock with which many US'ers are particularly ill-equipped to cope. Many of us are culturally naive and poorly educated with respect to other peoples. We, in general, do not speak a second language, or do so only very poorly (some don't even think they should even in CR). Many of us have had little to no serious personal interaction with people who speak a different language or who have different cultural expectations. We have also been indoctrinated with the idea of "American Exceptionalism" and the inherent superiority of the American Way of Doing Things. All of these factors make it very difficult for some US'ers to work through the very real challenges and emotional stress involved with living in, and adapting to, another culture, especially one that speaks a different language. The patience, humility, humor, and self-awareness that are necessary to adapt and find a place for ones-self in a new society may be very hard for them to muster. Instead of adapting, they begin to focus on the perceived negative differences. So things that start out small -- not being able to find a certain thing, a strange bureaucratic process, etc. -- are worried at until they fester and color every experience they have. All of their problems become externalized and projected onto the perceived cultural failings of those around them. And, unfortunately, their education, experience, and cultural biases often only serve to support this idea that the problems they are having must be caused by the differences (inferiorities) of Costa Rican culture and the moral failings of Ticos. At this point it gets ugly. This is, obviously, an over-simplification. Many US'ers do very well in CR and there are also many negative experiences that are caused by others and that might drive someone away. It is also possible to criticize and/or dislike a particular cultural life-style without despising the culture and it's people. However I think it is important that people who are making the decision whether or not to move to CR realize that the greatest difficulties they face may be internal ones and that their ability to step outside of themselves their culture, and their expectations of others with humility and humor may be what makes the difference. Opinions found when reading "news" sites on the Internet or posts on news groups that are over-generalized and smack of bigotry -- that paint an entire culture or people with a single stoke while asserting the cultural superiority and/or moral righteousness of the author -- need to be taken with a huge grain of salt, at least. Those that promise an easy tropical paradise should also be ignored. The author of the piece the OP linked to, and of the one I quoted, is a writer of trash, and I frankly think that is being kind, whose spewings don't merit serious discussion. The greater question of what drives this type discourse by US'ers about Costa Rica and Ticos is one with which all his fellow citizens should be concerned.
  7. Personally I think the best way to offset inflation in CR is to put as much money as you are willing to into colones. 6 month CDs are earning well above the rate of inflation. The CDs can help hedge against inflation in CR and, if you also have income in $ (social security), that will help to hedge against any major issues with the colon.I realize that you have to take hit to convert, but at 10% interest the cost of conversion is covered pretty rapidly. And if your going to be living in CR, you need the colones anyway. I think the other, and probably more important, strategy has already been mentioned by Eleanor -- live well within you means and make friends.
  8. Yes, they are, but not because of this year's pension obligations, or last year's, or the year before's. Their pension funds have now put them into a deep financial hole because they refused to properly fund them even when times were good and state coffers were full. Now that babyboomers are retiring and the states are being asked to pay what they promised to pay, they are in deep *&$#. What is unconscionable is that they are blaming their employees because the states have failed to plan for their obligations. This is not news. All of these states have been aware that the bill was coming due for a long time. If I were cynical, I would assume that they probably even intended to meet their obligations to begin with. If we make an agreement that you pay me $100 a month for 20 years and then I'll pay you $200 a month until you die, and then I take your $100 dollars to pay for my groceries, its my fault there's no money to pay you, not yours.
  9. As far as 'lavish' pensions bankrupting the states goes, the problem is not the pensions per se, but how the states have funded them, or failed to fund them. I work for the state of Arizona. Our pension fund is over 98% funded even though we have one of the worst budget situations in the country. The reason for this is that state law mandates the pension be funded and re-adjusts the contribution amount of the employees and the state semi-annually to account for what the fund is earning. Oh, and the state government CANNOT touch any money in the fund. Ever. The problem isn't greedy employees, it is that many states have simply failed to fund their pension obligations for many many YEARS, and, now that the bill is coming due. they are trying to blame the employees. In my opinion it is obscene to blame state employees for the financial mis-management of their respective legislatures. BTW, Arizona's annual contribution to the pension fund is relatively trivial and is easily met even in this environment. It is only when the funds are left underfunded for years that they become 'budget busters'. Social Security is almost exactly the same. The ONLY reason it is currently under-funded is because the federal government has been 'borrowing' from the trust fund for decades to offset the deficit. Now the baby-boomers are retiring and the situation is not good because we have been spending money that was supposed to be committed to the retirees. It is financial irresponsibility that has gotten us where we are, not excessive pensions. Healthcare, including Medicare, is a whole other ball of wax.
  10. I would just like to suggest that NOT having a "military option" might actually be a significant advantage. When the ability to engage in the typical bellicose posturing, which so often leads to the escalation of small problems into large and the lose of of life for no good reason, is removed, diplomacy, negotiation, and dialogue become the primary means of resolving disputes. Although these methods are often slow and frustrating (and provide little opportunity for politicians to posture), they generally lead to better long term solutions and avoid the bitterness and hatred of one nation towards another which always results from war and which can last for generations. I applaud Costa Rica's rejection of violence, or the threat of violence, as a means to "resolve" disputes.
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