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Showing posts from December, 2016

DEFEATING THE RIGHT - A EUROPEAN LESSON

Third parties have not had much success in the United States lately. Perot threw enough money at the Presidency to make things interesting in 1992. And Nader proved that a cranky gadfly could attract enough votes to be troublesome in 2000, maybe even influencing the result. But in a year when the nominees of both major American political parties were as popular as Aedes mosquitoes, the performance of the Bobbsey Twins (Green Stein and Libertarian Johnson) may have set third party politics back for years to come. They were terrible spokespeople for their causes.

Europeans, on the other hand, are quite familiar with multi-party elections leading to multi-party governments. In Iceland, the party that came in third in the national elections has been asked to form a government because the two parties that received more votes couldn't get it done. And I can't wait to see how Iceland's Pirate Party governs. (You can't make this stuff up.) But when I talk about a …

FRENCH VISA AND HEALTH INSURANCE FOR AMERICANS

The most expensive item in an American family's budget may be health insurance. But many Americans have no understanding of the true cost of their insurance because it's included in their employment package. Folks simply don't think about how much their employer may be reducing their salaries when factoring in insurance costs.

Before I retired, my employer paid for my health insurance but I had to pay to insure my wife. The cost, taken out of my every paycheck, came to about $6,000 annually. And even with insurance, there were co-pays and other out of pocket expenses. We were reasonably healthy (and still are, knock wood), but we each take a few common prescription medications - for blood pressure and cholesterol and the like, nothing exotic or costly. Even so, with regular visits to the doctor, periodic lab work, the drugs, and the occasional illness or injury, we normally spent an additional several thousand dollars annually in the States over and above the cost of the i…

TIPS NOT IN THE GUIDES FOR US EXPATS IN FRANCE

You're thinking of spending some time in France, either buying a holiday home or moving over full time. You've read a few books. You've bookmarked a few websites. You're proud of yourself. You are well prepared.

Not...

Important things, things that you need to know in order to live your life, do not appear in any guidebook. But saddle up, friends. I'm here to fill in the blanks.

1. They bake great bread here in France. Abundant variety. Baguettes warm every morning in every town. The breakfast croissants and pain au chocolat are buttery/flaky wonderful. Specialty loaves abound and each deserves serious consideration. But it's what you won't find that's frustrating. You won't find a decent bagel. You won't find even a half-decent bagel. (They say bagel bakeries have opened in Paris. I can offer no proof.) You won't find a properly cheap, squishy hot dog roll in which to put the Nathan's hot dog that you won't find here, either. So be …

OPEN LETTER TO MY REPUBLICAN FRIENDS

Dear Republicans, Although no longer resident in the United States, my wife and I follow the news closely. We do so by faithfully scanning internet sites that aggregate news and opinion. We believe that this gives us a broad view of current events from a variety of perspectives since Flipboard, for instance, draws from sites as diverse as Fox News and Huffington Post, CNN and Al Jazeera and Business Insider and Forbes. And every November, we vote.
My point? I’m at arm’s length from the hurly-burly of the 24-hour news cycle but I’m still a reasonably knowledgeable news junkie. I am aware of the outlier sites, the ‘alt right’ and ‘progressive’ sites that claim to be presenting the real skinny on current events. I just don’t pay them much mind. Take my opinions for what they are worth but understand that they are the product of serious thought and not from having drunk someone else’s Kool-Aid. 
Trump is my President just as GWB was my President and Obama was yours. I say this even thoug…