Ecuador / View from the Roof

A View From the Roof – Loss of Freedom in the USA

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By Gary Phillips

Okay, friends, It’s time for a little heart-to-heart talk.  But first, a little about my background. . .

Back in 1973, I earned a degree in journalism from a small Minnesota college.  One of the required courses was called, “First Amendment Law—Freedom of the Press.”

It was taught by a practicing criminal attorney and was known as the toughest course on campus. Each year, (yup, taught only once a year) the professor would give only two A’s to the 40 or so students attending.

Well, folks, I got one of those A’s.

I loved the course and sucked up the information.  You see, at that stage in my life, I had the mistaken idea that journalism could save the world. I was right in that it had the potential to save the world, but potentiality is a long way from reality.

The one thing I did learn is that our founding fathers felt so strongly about the importance of free press that they said in very clear terms:  “Congress shall make no laws….abridging the freedom of the press.” How much clearer can you get than that?

So you can imagine how greatly incensed and shocked I was when I recently read articles about the U.S. Coast Guard issuing a “regulation” that prevented reporters covering the Gulf oil spill from coming within 65 feet of any booming operations, boom, or oil spill response operations under penalty of law, and a $40,000 fine.

Well, I guess the founding fathers forgot to specify “the congress and the coast guard” when they wrote the first amendment.

So what does this mean?  It means that one of the most basic freedoms of U.S. citizens as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution is toast. Toast–as in history, kaput, finito.

Now, if the coast guard can make a regulation that prevents reporters from reporting on the biggest environmental screw-up in the history of the world, then what else do you think they, or the pentagon, or homeland security, or the national guard, or the irs, or any other of the alphabet soup agencies can do to you?

I’ll answer that in case you’re stumped…..Exactly anything they want to do.

And what do they want?  They want to be paid by the highest bidder—the mega corporations.  And these mega corporations, most of whom are subsidized by your tax dollars–the oil industry, auto industry, health care industry, food industry, aerospace industry, arms industry, only to name a few–can now, according to a recent supreme court decision, take your tax dollars and invest them in political contributions to any cause or politician, just as can any individual. How can we compete with that?

If that makes you feel a bit uncomfortable, it should.   In fact, it better make you feel very uncomfortable.  Because in my estimation, as the old saying goes, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”

If you haven’t figured out that our country is being run by a corporatocracy that makes Mussolini look like a piker, then you’re not paying attention. Here’s a link that may help you wake up and smell the roses (or smell the corruption):

But the outpouring of shockingly illogical news continues.  A week ago I read that one of the most dangerous drugs ever unleashed against an unknowing public (aspartame), which, by the way, is currently in more than 4,000 food products, was hammered into approval by lobbyists for the food industry.

Here’s a quote about this killer.  You might want to put down your diet Coke while you read this:  “The FDA has approved the product for mass consumption, in spite of overwhelming evidence that aspartame can have neurotoxic, metabolic, allergenic, fetal and carcinogenic effects. When we question how such a substance has not been banned, one simply needs to look at the billions of dollars generated by the sale of aspartame each year.”   Click here to read the full article.

The same FDA that approved this killer drug had this to say about a law suit filed to prevent it from regulating the interstate sale of raw milk: “Plaintiffs’ assertion of a ‘fundamental right to their own bodily and physical health, which includes what foods they do and do not choose to consume for themselves and their families’ is similarly unavailing because plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to obtain any food they wish.”

What??? Have I fallen down Alice’s rabbit hole?  Am I in the Twilight Zone?  Believe me, I am not making this up.  Check it out for yourselves, please.

I grew up on a Minnesota farm drinking raw milk. It was normal, natural, and needless to say, I never suffered from any illnesses related to tainted milk, even when the cow’s teats were not super-cleaned before milking.

This is our country, the good ol’ U.S. of A.  Does “land of the free, home of the brave” ring a bell?  Do you think that freedom of speech, freedom of press and freedom of religion as ensconced in the first amendment to the U.S. constitution means that unelected Washington bureaucrats can tell us what we can eat and what we can’t?  I don’t think so.

While you’re up there in the states, scouring the grocery shelves for raw milk to no avail, there’s a woman who drives by my door here in Cotacachi, Ecuador, every day in a 1968 land rover selling milk that she and her husband milked from their cows that very morning.  Price:  $.50 per quart.  And nobody in the government says squat to her.

You can read Linda’s article in this newsletter about a wonderful organic raw milk dairy and cheese factory that uses “unpasteurized” (is it still legal even to use that word!) milk to make heavenly cheeses.  It’s only about five miles from Cotacachi.

Now I can return to the habits of my childhood and gulp down all the delicious, healthy, raw milk I want.  And I do.  Nobody tries to arrest me, either.

Folks, I hate to sound like a fear monger, but I think there’s a tsunami coming to the U.S.  The foxes are running the hen house and if anybody thinks that much changed after the last election, then just check out what’s (still) happening in Afghanistan.

Check out how the health care industry will profit from the health care bill.

Check out what the financial regulation bill is going to do for regulating derivatives.

Do a bit of Goggling and see how many thousands of people died this past year from FDA-approved drugs.

And if you think the FDA has a monopoly giving corporations what they want,  take a look at other regulatory agencies, like the Mineral Management Service, which was in charge of insuring the safety of the oil rig that blew up. How about the Securities and Exchange Commission that regulates the Wall Street mavens who were responsible for creating the “banks too big to fail,” and the subsequent multi-trillion dollar bail out?  Friends, the list is endless.

Since this is a column that is ultimately about Ecuador, I want to report a phenomenon that is occurring here in Cotacachi.  I can’t tell you how many times in the past two months someone has walked into our Eagle and Condor Internacional Real Estate office and announced, “I’m going to build a new residential development.  Will you sell it for me?”

There are only about 8,000 residents in Cotacachi, but at this writing, I have counted at least 350 – 400 units that are either under construction or in the planning stages–condos, single family homes, townhouses, mini-fincas (farms), and at last report, a 70-unit assisted living facility. I’m scratching my head, wondering where in the world the people are going to come from to populate all these homes.

And as soon as my mind goes there, that catchy little phrase from the movie, “Field of Dreams,” pops into my head—“Build it and They Will Come.”

In the mid- to late-1930’s, those who had eyes to see and ears to hear and the financial resources to do so, left Nazi Germany in droves until Hitler closed the escape hatches.  Most of them fled to the U.S. and survived. Is a similar thing happening today in the U.S., in reverse?

Truly, I don’t know.  My God, I hope I’m wrong! But one thing I do know is that you better keep your eyes and ears open and your passport current. 

However, just in case I’m not wrong, perhaps you might forward this column to any of your friends and family members whom you think could use a little wake-up call.

And that’s this week’s “View from the Roof.”

If you want to just “consider the possibility” that Ecuador may offer an escape hatch for you and your family, you may want to join us on our next Living in Ecuador Course and Real Estate tour set for Sept. 16 – 18th. Click here to learn about it.

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17 Comments

  1. Denise Guild says:

    I enjoyed your article and agree with a great deal of it. However , given those critical comments about the US -government , Constitution issues, Congress and taxes- I would like to see a critical appraisal on these same issues in the Ecadorean government.
    Many thanks,
    Denise

  2. While I agree with most of what has been said in this article, I believe that the stipulation of reporters being kept a distance of approximately 20 yards of any booming operations, booms, or oil spill response operations reflects more of a safety issue than an attempt at keeping reporters from doing their job. I would think that any reporter would be able to obtain the pertinent information needed for articles from a distance much further away than this.

    These type of regulations are usually put into place due to some specific incidents that have arisen from reporters (or others) who have pushed the envelope of common sense and either put themselves or others at risk by being in the way of workers or equipment who are attempting to conduct their work in a safe manner.

    I am all for Freedom of the Press, but having worked in law enforcement for 30+ years, have encountered many reporters and media personnel who have attempted to obtain their story with no regard to the safety of themselves or others. I feel that under specific circumstances, some type of regulation or manner in which to control the actions of such journalists needs to be implemented.

  3. Well, Gary, I agree that it’s time for Americans to develop a contingency plan. Whether that plan includes Ecuador is a personal decision. Your decision in that regard is clear based on your writings. It’s also clear that you hate the US.

    So my question is this. When are you going to surrender your US citizenship? If Ecuador is so much better than the US, that seems like the only logical conclusion.

    I suspect that you are one more American citizen-expat who bashes the US from afar, dong nothing to improve the US situation, while still enjoying the relatively easy travel and protection that his US passport provides. And keeping busy promoting real estate in a third world country.

    Talk is cheap, Gary. What’s wrong with the US is that US citizens talk too much and do too little. And take no personal responsibility for what’s wrong with our country.

    • Hi Serena,

      Thank you for your post. I don’t know where in my article you determined that I hate the U.S. Quite the contrary. I love my country. I served in the military in 1969 through 1971. I consider myself an American patriot. However, given the erosion of civil liberties in the U.S. (I have read that the so called patriot act nullifies at least half of the Bill of Rights) I am hugely saddened by what I see happening.

      I also consider that I am doing something about the situation in the U.S. by writing about it, and providing as much evidence as I can. Talk is not cheap. If you remember your history of the American Revolution, it was largely the writing of patriots like Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and others who stirred the populace to throw off the dictatorship of King George.

      I just returned from the U.S. for a three week visit with my family. I was quite appalled at the lack of awareness or concern that I found among many people about issues discussed in the article.

      I do not consider discussing the loss of press freedoms, the catastrophic economic and unemployment situation, the obscene profits being made by banks, and the control that major corporations have over governmental agencies as bashing the U.S. I am bashing those who are who are harming the U.S., and who are changing my country into something that is difficult to recognize.

      If you agree that it is time for Americans to develop a contingency plan, then you must also see the writing on the wall. What are you doing about it?

      Thanks so much for taking the time to voice your concerns. I encourage you to talk to your friends and neighbors about the problems, and come up with actions that may make a difference.

  4. Hey Demi,
    I need to disagree with a couple of your summations and comments. First, your assessment of Ecuadorian banks, and, really banks of other South American banks is historically OK , with reference to default. However, have you taken a look, lately, at the continuing default of American banks? Seems like it must be upward of 400 or so since the government caused economic disaster has taken hold. And, please don’t tell me how great having the deposits insured by the bankrupt federal government gives you peace of mind.

    Secondly, you criticize the Correa government for over promising with reference to social programs. Hello…have you heard of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.? Talk about unfunded liabilities! That ought to make you feel very secure living in the U.S.

    Moving money out of the grasp of the U.S. government is prudent and wise. Diversification is the key and very doable with much more safety than the American banking system offers. Exchange controls are in the future of America. And, we’ve all witnessed “people” controls in other countries during our lifetimes. Desparate governments do just such things. I just read this past week where there is an increase in U.S. citizens giving up their citizenship in increasing numbers…so what happens, the government is now charging $450 for the paperwork on top of the already draconian 30% tax on U.S. assets for leaving the country. Does that sound like a nation on an economically stable future track?

    Good ideas on real estate in foreign countries as flexibility is the key. But, real estate in the U.S. sure is taking a hit (once again thanks to government intervention in the housing markets) so why not just rent in the U.S.A?

    And, lastly, I can still fight for a better U.S.A., only from afar with my absentee vote. Not much else to do by staying here and suffering from the coming inflation and devaluation of the currency.

    Get ready to watch the darkness settle in on a declining empire. It’s all historical…no exceptions!

  5. Could not have said it better, myself, amigo, which is why I am moving to Ecuador, and becoming an EX-patriot of the US of A. Of course, I am moving a lot deeper into the woods than Cotacachi, which is looking more and more like Carmel, California, every day. If you want to come join me, folks, check out my Youtube page at Humptydumptytribe, where you will find all sorts of links that may be of interest to you if you agree with what Gary just had to say here. Smoke ém while you got ém, Gringos, the end is in sight!

  6. I would not advise placing your money in any Ecuadorian banks. If you do need to have a workable amount to bank with, then keep the amount low. Many of these banks do not have good ratings and Ecuador as a nation has a serious economic problem. It defaulted once before in its past, and it could well happen again.

    It does not have enough revenue to pay its bills or to realize the many social programs that Correa wanted to implement. Yes, they are overbuilding in Cotacachi and this may very well result in bringing down the price of real-estate there(similar to what happened in Florida). My advice? Never buy for a year or two or three. Rent and evaluate your impressions of the place where you want to live. If you buy, you may be buying a place that will take years to sell- if ever.

    When the time comes for you to pass on, how convenient will it be for your spouse to sell and leave? Many of my friends who had gone to South America to test the living had decided to move closer to the US and are now in Costa Rica, Mexico or Belize. The elderly need to think of all aspects of convenience when planning for contingencies.

    By they way, many people seem to be unaware that there are still many,many places that are beautiful and very affordable to retire to in the USA. Yes, there is such a thing as an Exotic Domestic Experience! Just do you home-work and you will see. And you can still be around to do your part to protect those rights that the carpetbaggers and scumbags in the US Congress and other institutions are attempting to obliterate.

    • Hi Demi,

      Several of the major banks in Ecuador, such as Produbank, Banco Pichincha, and Banco Procredito, have AA+ ratings by Bankwatch Ratings, as associate of Fitch ratings. I would say that this is better than many U.S. banks now. My local home town bank where we have some deposits in Minnesota was closed by the FDIC about 4 months ago. This was a shock to us.

      As long as the price of Oil remains fairly stable, Ecuador will have a positive balance of trade. If oil shoots up, Ecuador is rolling in the dough. And many of the social programs Correa has promised have come to fruition. We just heard last week that it is now possible for Ecuadorian citizens to get mortgage loans at 5% interest, and a $5,000 matching grant to build a new house.

      One of the new proposed developments in Cotacachi is a 70 unit assisted living facility. I can guarantee you that the price will be significantly less than a comparable facility in the U.S.

      Of course, Ecuador, like any country in the world, has its faults, risks, and rewards. But Linda and I are still paying less than $200 per month rent, and we buy all of our fruits and vegetables for a week for $15, which usually includes 24 roses for $2. Free medical service is available to me and most Ecuadorians if I want to avail my self of it, or if I want to go to a private hospital or clinic, most services are available at less than 20% of comparable costs in the U.S.

  7. For me it looks like this article was written about Russia. Absolutely similar situation. Unfortunatelly, Ecuador is a long way off…

  8. very much appreciate the sincerity and importance of these views – I am on sovereignman’s newsletter also. Getting money out of the US is a tricky one for me – I have also read not to put money into Ecuador banks – as well – the recommended international banks like Jskye require a large amount – what about us little guys who don’t have the large amounts to get out of the country – but it is still important for us?

    • Quite a few people, including a few Ecuadorians I know place their money in Panama banks. Banco Pichincha, which is an Ecuadorian bank, has a branch in Panama. However the bottom line, in my estimation, is that it is all fiat money anyway. Ecuador uses the U.S. dollar as its currency. As long as the dollar maintains some sense of stability, (in other words, no major bottom falling out crash) Ecuador and its banks will be fine.

      There have been many meetings between South American countries to discuss the formation of a pan-south American currency modeled on the Euro. The only way that I see these countries would do that, is if the dollar crashes. However, I think that this new system is ready to be implemented on short notice.

      While the U.S. has been mired in one war after the other, China has been extremely active in establishing trade relations with most South American countries. South America has huge and varied natural resource treasures–oil, gold, silver, copper, agriculture products, and an inexpensive work force, only to name a few. In this moment, I feel much more confident about the economic future of South America, and hence about South American Banks, than I do about the U.S.

      I checked last week and I can get 5.5% interest on a 6 month CD at one of the strongest banks in Ecuador. How does that compare with your bank?

  9. FollowsTheWay says:

    This is a worldwide cabal that just happens to be focused on destroying America right now. Ecuador (nor anywhere) will be safe from its clutches. Our only hope is to get a bible and get on our knees. Watch and pray my friends.

  10. While it’s important to keep your eyes and ears open and have your passport current, if you have any hope of surviving an escape, you had better also have money outside the USA.

    If wait to bring your money with you, you’ll find that it’s too late. Get it out now. Come visit and open a bank account here in EC. Even if you’re not sure that EC is the place for you, get your money out to somewhere.

    For information about planting “multiple flags,” visit this site and read everything you can…

    http://www.sovereignman.com

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