Thursday, May 31, 2012

Ayn Rand and Identifying as American

   Jacob has been reading “Atlas Shrugged.” By reading, I mean listening to on Audible. Because I’m cheap, I’ve started listening to books on Audible too, even though I prefer to read them, so we don’t purchase two copies of the same book. I read “The Fountainhead” and “Anthem” back in high school, and I remember getting a little infuriated with Ayn Rand at the time. I thought she sounded so vain and selfish. I want to read them again to see how my perspective has changed. Jacob’s liking Ayn Rand, although he says she’s full of only half truths.

As expats, we no longer identify ourselves as “American.” More and more, wealthy Americans are choosing to discard their citizenship. One of the founders of Facebook just did this. People (read: government officials who want your money) acted like this was a scandalous and selfish decision to make. In fact, they are looking at passing laws making you have to pay taxes for 10 years retrospectively if you’ve already given up your citizenship, along with fines and fees out the wazoo if you decide to permanently emigrate. We’ve been told, ourselves, that we should be “proud” to pay taxes in the US even if we don’t live there, because many of our customers live in the US so we should pay our fair share. I find that argument ludicrous. No matter where our business is based or what nationality we were, we would have customers all over the world. We have Australian customers; we don’t pay Australian taxes. It reminds of this question I got in my newsletter from Lief Simon, an international real estate investor whose emails I receive:

QUESTION: “In my opinion, paying taxes is the price we pay for living in a free society. Who do you think should pay for bridges, highways, firefighters, police, schools, postal service, etc.? Somebody other than yourself, right? Those who benefit greatly from our way of life should certainly be paying their fair share, tax-wise. I do not agree with your philosophy of moving assets offshore to avoid taxes."


ANSWER: I think you're missing the point. The United States is the only developed country in the world that taxes its citizens (and permanent residents...Green Card-holders) on their worldwide income even if they live outside the country. The point is that, as you suggest, those using services should be the ones paying for those services. U.S. citizens living overseas aren't using U.S. services (except maybe now and then as tourists when they come and go). Why should they pay for them?

Another clarification is called for. Moving assets offshore has nothing to do with avoiding taxes. Again, the United States taxes Americans on worldwide income no matter where we live, so putting assets into another jurisdiction has nothing to do with our related U.S. tax obligation. It has to do with protecting those assets, from a frivolous law suit, for example.

Note also that schools are usually paid for by property or other local taxes. The postal service is a semi-autonomous entity that is going bankrupt and that should be allowed to do so. Highways and bridges could be paid for by those who use them directly, through tolls. And if the United States would stop wasting the lion's share of its resources policing the world and "fighting a war on drugs," then they could afford to continue to pay out "entitlements" to non-productive members of society without having to tax the productive ones out of existence.


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Although Ayn Rand called libertarianism too close to anarchy for her to support, she has nevertheless become a representative of the movement. Most permanent travelers that I’m aware of are libertarian. The way I think of libertarian is this: A Republican wants the government to stay out of economics but legislate moral matters. A Democrat wants the government to step in economically but stay out of people’s moral choices. A libertarian wants the government to mind its own business in economics and social/moral matters, that individuals and freedom trump government. I consider myself to be libertarian.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

7 Types of Mom I DON’T Want to Be

All of a sudden, there’s only a week left until my due date. There were so many things I wanted to document and now I’ve forgotten them. Like things about what kind of mom I want to be. That’s gone out the window as I’m now just trying to learn how to meditate, gather documents for the baby’s passport, arrange doctor’s appointments and pack hospital bags. I know it would be smart to freeze dinners, but we don’t have a very big freezer nor anything to store frozen food in…maybe I’ll do a lot of take out? Maybe Jacob will cook, or maybe I’ll not be doing anything else but lying around with the baby so I won’t mind making some simple stuff? We’ll see.

Anyway there were some things that I had decided before I ever got pregnant. This comes after years of analyzing and reading and thinking about becoming a mom, which has been a very cerebral rather than intuitive decision. When I become a mom, I thought, I didn’t want to be one of the following types of moms:

#1 The Serious Mom

It seemed to me that many moms took their responsibility so seriously that they forgot how to be carefree, spontaneous, and silly. Like all of a sudden the responsibility of caring for a baby meant they couldn’t be wild and crazy and adventurous anymore. I don’t want that. I want to live an adventurous and spontaneous lifestyle.


acupulco photo

Jacob and I have been on about 3 “babymoons” or “one last trip while we’re not parents.” Out to Utah for a month at 5 months pregnant, to Acapulco at an awesome hotel pictured above with some friends at 7 months, and to Puebla for Cinco de Mayo at 8 months.

#2 The Worrywart

I didn’t want to start worrying all the time once I had kids. I wanted to keep my peace of mind. Consequently, I bought the book Free-Range Kids, How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry) which is about how ridiculous the worries of most parents are and how much pressure they put on themselves for no reason. Awesome, Jacob’s on board too, but now he reminds of the book every time I bring up some thing that I’m wondering about. Okay, okay, I guess I asked for it. I do think that becoming an anxious person because I am now a parent does not make parenting look so exciting, so I just want to be chill and understand that bad things happen but all you can do is your best.

#3 The Easily Offended Mom

I know moms get advice all the time, and lots seem to take it really personally and get defensive. I know that I don’t know anything about being a mom, and I’m open to anything and everything someone wants to tell me. However, it should go without saying that I will maybe not follow the advice, and just do my own thing. Of course I’m open to all ideas and then I’ll decide, but I don’t want to get mad when someone gives me a suggestion.

#4 The Mommy War Participant

I think it’s really unfortunate how much moms judge each other instead of support each other. From when to have kids, to how many, to wearing leashes in public, to stay-at-home versus working moms, to breastfeeding….moms have such strong opinions. This might seem a contradiction to #3, but the point is, I don’t mind advice; I just don’t want to get into “The One and Only Right Way.” I think every mom’s situation is different, and I don’t really care if other moms choose to do something different than me. It’s not my child. I want to stay out of the judgmental scene and stay on the “You go girl” one.

#5 The Relinquish My Dreams Mom

I don’t want to be the mom whose children becomes her whole life, the reason for her existence. I especially don’t want to suddenly only talk about kids. I want to stay interested and involved in politics, world events, literature, fashion, life in general beyond kids. I will out of necessity probably become passionate about child-raising, because it will become a major part of my life, but I don’t want it to be my end all and be all. I want to stay a well-informed and well-rounded individual.

#6 The Dud

I want to care about my appearance and stay fit and cute. I don’t want to change my style and start wearing “mom jeans.”  I want to lift weights and keep a young, fit, healthy body despite having pushed an 8 pound bowling ball out of my private parts. I want to get better with my hair and make up over time. I want to be a “with it” mom. I want my husband to be proud when he’s out with me.

#7 The Conditionally-Loving Guilt-Tripping Mom

I don’t know what my expectations for my child are yet. But no matter what, I want my child to know I love him. Gay or straight, Mormon or atheist, athlete or bookworm, punk or preppy, etc etc. I don’t want to be a mom to reject her child, even if he doesn’t turn out the way I imagined. I want to raise my child an independent, capable, confident, and free-thinking individual—which would of necessity mean that sometimes we won’t agree, and that’s okay.

Well, those are the seven types of mom I don’t want to be. We’ll see what happens once the baby gets here. Maybe I’ll review this list to remind myself of what I wanted, or maybe I’ll look at the list and be like, “Oh silly pre-child Kalli, how your priorities have changed.” Who knows?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Baby shower

I don’t know why it was so important to me to have a baby shower. It wasn’t for the gifts-not when we are non-traditionalists in that way. We haven’t personally bought the baby any toys or outfits. The baby won’t have his own bedroom. He doesn’t have a crib. We don’t own a car so we don’t even have a carseat.

I suppose I wanted one for the emotional support most of all. I wanted a group of women who would welcome me into the new world of parenthood, and a baby shower seemed like an acknowledgement of that. Several women from church offered to organize one for me, and I was so grateful.

I would have loved to have had more friends and family from the States there, but I was glad my mom and mother-in-law flew out to come. And I was amazed at how much support I received from the ladies from church.

It was “airplane,truck, and car” themed with travel postcards and games. The food was international.

When it was all over, I was speechless and a little teary that people would organize something like that for someone who was just “passing through.”

Traveling with its vulnerability means sometimes that you get taken advantage of (my cell phone was stolen here in Mexico for example) but other times that vulnerability makes you the recipient of total and undeserved kindness and it’s really wonderful to get to witness that. I just hope that I can pass it on.



Here’s the food with signs announcing which country they were from.clip_image001[4]

Here are the gifts, including an adorable “diaper cake.”


Cupcakes with taxi, bus etc stickers

Mom and Laura my MIL next to me as I opened presents


The ladies who came!

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