My cousin, Jeff Jones, send me this . . .
A union shop foreman walks into a bar next door to the factory and is about to order a drink to celebrate Obama’s victory when he sees a guy close by wearing a Romney for President button and two beers in front of him. He doesn’t have to be an Einstein to know that this guy is a Republican. So, he shouts over to the bartender so loudly that everyone can hear, “Drinks for everyone in here, bartender, but not for the Republican.”
Soon after the drinks have been handed out, the Republican gives him a big smile, waves at him, then says, “Thank you!” in an equally loud voice. This infuriates the union official.
The union captain once again loudly orders drinks for everyone except the Republican. As before, this does not seem to bother the Republican. He continues to smile, and again yells, “Thank you!”
The union thug once again loudly orders drinks for everyone except the Republican. As before, this does not seem to bother the Republican. He continues to smile, and again yells, “Thank you!”
The union guy asks the bartender, “What the hell is the matter with that Republican? I’ve ordered three rounds of drinks for everyone in the bar but him, and all the silly idiot does is smile and thanks me. Is he nuts?”
“Nope,” replies the bartender. “He owns the place.”
So, Obama won, has the world ended? I think not. My friend Renato Dean in Ventura was commenting to me the other night that real estate is starting to climb again in Ventura/Santa Barbara and noted that while a few years ago you saw mothers and children out begging for food at the stop lights, now there are fewer people out of work and the economy seems to be building steam. And although we have a long way to go, it is encouraging to see that the unemployment rate has reached a four-year low.
I know there is a fiscal cliff. And I know Republicans and Democrats don’t like to work together and just like to sit around having a big circle jerk or closing up shop and running back home to collect more contributions and suck up to the voters. But someone one Facebook posted this picture, and I think it’s a great place to stick our elected “representatives” so they can focus on getting the job done!
Let’s get EVERYBODY on board! “Obama Care For All!”
I don’t get it and I never have understood all the ins and outs and double-talk of medical insurance plans and I know lots of folks think Obamacare is the kiss of death. But it’s the law. And since it’s t he law I think EVERYONE should have Obamacare. Definitely the Obamas! Certainly the US Congress!! And of course the military and everyone else. If it’s good for the country then it’s good for EVERYONE and especially the folks in and connected to government.
Meanwhile in Italy, Lover Boy may be back!
I’d be SO happy to see Silvio Berlusconi back in power in Italy! Talking about Berlusconi in my Italy port talks always guarantees a laugh. I guess for Berlusconi it was a choice between going to jail or running the country. Italy being Italy . . . sounds almost as good as Panama!
One Other Observation . . . HSBC and the $1.92 BILLION fine paid by HSBC in response to charges it was laundering money for drug lords and terrorists.
According to QUARTZ . . .
It is 11% of HSBC’s $16.8 billion in global profit last year. At that rate, it will take a bit more than a month—41 days—for the bank to earn back its fine payouts.
It is a mere .07% of the bank’s $2.6 trillion total assets around the world. The bank doesn’t actually make money in the United States, but its subsidiary there helps it attract customers eager to move money in the United States or garner investment there.
It is more than a quarter of the $7 billion in bulk cash deposits the banks transferred from Mexico to the US in 2007 and 2008, which authorities in both countries fear was laundered from drug cartels; however, it is just 13% of the $15 billion in total bulk cash deposits the bank accepted from high-risk affiliates without monitoring.
It is 9.6% of the $19.7 billion in undisclosed HSBC transactions with Burma, Cuba, North Korea, Sudan and Iran between 2001 and 2007. These transactions should have met standards established by the Treasury Department’s Office of Financial Assets Control. In the wake of investigations into its practices, HSBC hired Stuart Levey, the lawyer behind US economic sanctions on Iran, to run its legal department.
It is .003% of the $60 trillion in wire transfers that HSBC didn’t monitor for money laundering red flags. Investigators found 17,000 alerts identifying potentially suspicious activity that went unreviewed.
It is 73% of the $2.6 billion in “bearer share accounts” hosted at HSBC. These corporate accounts are frequently used for financial wrong-doing because ownership of the company is assigned to whoever has physical possession of the shares. One HSBC client using one of these accounts was convicted of criminal tax fraud after hiding $150 million in assets and $49 million in income.
It’s about 2% of the company’s total income last year. For a New Yorker making the median income, that’s about $1,105.
Does this sound like a 5-year-old giving a quick, meaningless “I’m sorry” and then getting on with the play?
And now the mail . . .
Regarding “Thank You Washington” and the failed, so-called “War on Drugs” Jim in Calgary writes,
The benefits of “The War on Drugs” are to the Government and the Prison Industrial Complex…alone. This campaign has allowed to Government to expand its powers of arrest, search and seizure on the mere “suspicion” of drug possession. (So much for the Constitution) And the privately owned Prison system benefits tremendously from this revolving door system of laws that has little, if anything, to do with justice, and at a tremendous cost to the taxpayer.
There is no benefit in a “War on Drugs” to anybody else. In fact if we are to have a War on Drugs…let’s include the stuff pushed through by Big Pharma and the FDA. Much of which is so untested it must me advertised with disclaimers that include the term, “may cause death”…well so might Cocaine, but the Government hasn’t found a way to benefit from its distribution yet, so it remains illegal.
I’m not in any way advocating drug use and given the chance will counsel against it.
But if somebody wants to sit in their house and smoke crack until they are hiding in a closet shaking and paranoid…so be it. (One of the rights we have, is the right to be stupid.) But God help them if they break into my home in an effort to support their habit…
Ending the so-called war on drugs will reduce, not increase crime. Be Well, Jim
Cruising The Panama Canal . . .
Hello Richard, Like Pamela above we are going on a Princess tour that will take us via dugout canoe to an Embera village and I, too, am concerned about the safety of any food that might be served there – also, do you recommend any special precautions against malaria or any other mosquito-born disease for those traveling there? Might it be wise to consult a travel med specialist before leaving home on the east coast? Thank you in advance for taking time to reply. Tina Masington
Tina, you will love visiting the Embera Village, particularly if you do the all-day tour which goes to one of the remote, and more authentic of the villages. You probably won’t even need bug repellant, but I’d take some along just in case. Please don’t bathe yourself, fellow guests, or the environment with DEET unless it proves necessary, which it probably won’t. Visit a “travel med specialist” and you’ll come away with a much lighter wallet and a lot of expensive meds you don’t need. Save your money and spend it on Embera baskets! The food served is really a snack, not a meal, and usually includes some delicious, fried, freshly caught (speared underwater in the river) tilapia, and some fresh fruit, like Panama’s famous sweet yellow pineapple and water melon. Just enjoy! It will be the shore excursion of your life.
Hi Richard! Just found your blog… I am really enjoying your articles. Our family will be arriving in Panama on Sunday, December 23rd on a Princess Cruise. Just wondering if a lot of businesses will be closed because it is Sunday? Thank you for your time! ~Manships
I’ve been in the Canal, in Gatun Lake and on tour on Christmas Day. Two days before Christmas: guess what Panamanians will be doing? Same thing everyone else will be doing . . . last-minute shopping! I’d count on EVERYTHING being open for business!
And for all of you planning a Panama Canal cruise, don’t leave home without my book CRUISING THE PANAMA CANAL! It will give you all the information you need to know: the history, what to expect and what to look for, all about the tours in Panama. The quality of the Bridge commentary going through the Canal varies greatly from cruise line to cruise line and from ship to ship. Regardless, the book will give you everything you need to know. Also available from Amazon and on Kindle.
Panama is NOT for everyone!
One of the things I strongly recommend in my book ESCAPE TO PARADISE: LIVING & RETIRING IN PANAMA, is to come down and spend 3 to 6 months actually living here before you sell your house and furniture and make the move permanently. Rent a place, like the little Casita we have for rent on our farm, and see if it is a good fit for you. And by all means, read my book! $25 can save you an ENORMOUS amount of money and grief!
Dr. Henry R. Smith shared his experience . . .
My wife and I lived in Panama for six months, in Boquete, in Coronado, and finally in Panama City, seeking to experience the variety that Panama had to offer, the entire time hunting for a home. Sadly we never had the opportunity to meet you. I wish we had.
Boquete is beautiful, but too cold and damp for us. We felt the beach area at Coronado to be lacking in development and convenience; the beach was OK, much like CA beaches, i.e., not stellar. I am disabled, and as such Panama City proved a bit too difficult for me to get around, and my dedicated service animal upon whom I rely greatly was almost always treated with great disdain. While Panama City offers quite a bit, we missed many of the conveniences readily available in the USA. Plus we never got used to the Panamanian Banks being so difficult, and most workers being so uncaring and ineffective. I should note that we both speak Spanish, so it was not a language issue.
My wife, also a doctor, loved the shopping! I don’t think there is an area anywhere in the USA that offers the extent of shopping, from the exquisite (expensive) level of Rodeo Drive to the bargain end of that continuum. She will never forget the day she purchased 20 items of clothing one day for $94, at the huge shopping center out near the bus terminal (sorry I’ve forgotten the name). That center is so huge one almost needs a taxi from one end to the other! Wonderful ‘mall,’ with theaters, restaurants, and all sorts of shops.
I understand why so many expats love it in Panama, but we also learned that “bargains” still exist in the US as well. We bought a beautiful custom home only 4 years old, 3600 s.f., all floors are marble or hardwood, a true gourmet kitchen, with an enclosed swimming pool, 3 car garage, built upon a .7 acre lot that creates a peninsula within a private lake, all in a gated community with 24 hr security, situated near Tampa, FL, for LESS than the cost of the many condos and homes we looked at in Panama. Our price range in Panama was $600K to $700K. We could not find anything 3500 s.f. or more for less, and homes had very small lots (3000 to 5000 s.f.).
We found a very nice home in Valle Escondido @ $650K that we liked quite a bit, as well as a lovely condo in Punta Paitilla @ $625K, but neither were new and both needed quite a bit of deferred maintenance to be taken care of; we obtained estimates from engineers between $50K & $100K respectively, to do the work necessary, but they would not guarantee the cost would be limited to their estimates. One engineer confessed that the Seller’s family and his family had been friends for multiple generations and that the cost would be much higher but that his friend would never forgive him if he gave us a realistic figure. I appreciated his candor, but the result was that I paid $650 for a report that was not of much value since he admitted that actual repair costs would be ‘something much higher.’
BTW your home was priced much less, we thought a great bargain. I think it was getting a new roof at the time we were there, and we liked it; but it was too small for us. Our new home in FL was priced at $625 and we bought it for $572K… and a five-hour inspection revealed it to be in perfect condition. A bargain compared to what we found within a six month search in Panama.
Summers in FL are hot & humid, but seemed like what we had experienced in Panama City; annual rainfall here is much, much less, and 9 months of the year the climate is perfect.
Isn’t it great that there are so many choices in the world… each to his own. God Bless.
And this from Jerry who is coming down to check out Panama . . . maybe an initial trip . . . and if he like it, then my advice would be to come back and spend several months here before actually taking the plunge.
Hey Richard, saw the dates of the retirement tour, My wife and I will be down in Panama during that time, but we already booked the local hotels, flights etc., maybe next time. We are coming down with my wife’s friend who is checking the status of her house, in the community that had a portion of a house fall into the river, she is hoping that she can get some good news from her local legal reps.. We will be down there to check out the country as our first part of seeing where we can retire with a good community, health care and weather. Reading your blogs shows the flaws that a country can, giving it a real information, vs. one sided Mary Poppins views that populate magazines covering expats life’s. Again have a happy life. Jerry
There’s a really sad note here . . . “We are coming down with my wife’s friend who is checking the status of her house, in the community that had a portion of a house fall into the river.” Unfortunately this kind of thing happens. There are two or three developments, what were to be huge developments, where presumably the developers had “deep pockets” . . . where the developers simply took off, when back to their home countries, and left everyone hanging. So this is why I try to tell it like it is and not deliver “one-sided Mary Poppins views”. Panama is wonderful! It’s been great for us, with a few glitches thrown in to keep life interesting, but it is not for everyone.
And of course there are lawyers. In Panama you can’t live without lawyers. Some are fantastic, are very ethical, and have lots of experience. But since there is no bar exam you can just go to lawyer school and hang out a shingle and pick up experience along the way. I’d do a lot of talking with other expats before choosing a lawyer, and find one who has been around for a while and knows what they are doing.
Christine wrote in response to “The Devil You Know vs. The Devil You Don’t Know“, which was about the legal system in Panama . . .
excellent topic Richard. The title should be Enter at Your Own Risk! I have had a bad experience with 2 attorneys so far. The one i am currently using seems good, honest and with came with a recommendation from a friend – of course that is no guarantee. One of the two ‘bad’ I will even all CRIMINAL attorneys – i have filed paper work with the DIJ. There’s another topic for you to cover, the DIJ. Thanks for all the information you provide us! Christine