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Saturday, March 31, 2007

PANAMA AND THE US

PANAMA VS THE US

I am now living in Panama City for the most of the time during the past year or so visiting the US only on occasion to take care of unfinished business. I plan to revisit the US less and less until I am able finally to cut that umbilical cord. I was born in the US solely by accident for there was where my parents lived when I was born.


I truly believe that everyone born into the world should have the opportunity to decide where to have made s/he would like to live not that at age 18 or 21 I would have enough or been sufficiently knowledgeable or mature to have made a different choice. I have often believed that we in the US are so US-centric that we are not aware that there is an expansive world out there where we could live and probably live happier.


I do not mean to knock the US which is by far the land of greatest opportunity, at least to be successful and make money. There is good and bad in every country. As our needs and desires change we should have the freedom also to change and live where we want. This is true freedom. There are too many individuals in the US who have large homes, an apparently good job, and a lot of money. Some are happy; others are not.


But the US is also plagued by much crime which is now extending beyond the urban areas and into the countryside communities. More men are murdering their wives to seek happiness with another woman relieving themselves from giving half of their property to someone who is not useful anymore. And let us not forget that many women are doing likewise to their husbands for such things as insurance money.


Youth is not spared from this murderous holocaust. Teenagers are killing their teachers and fellow students. The US is rapidly becoming a country of psychos. A week barely goes by without a report of a missing child who is soon discovered dead having been molested by individuals acting out their sick fantasies.


My only exposure to crime now is watching Fox News Television, one of the few US programs available on the tube here in Panama. After coming to Panama I used to watch 5-6 hours of TV programming. Is this not sick? Realizing my errant ways and what this behavior was doing to me, I now watch TV about one to two hours daily only to find out what is going on in the world. After all, there is so much of Anna Nicole Smith, Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, and Tara Conners one can watch with the constant video stream on the upper left or right part of the screen as the commentator is talking. I sometimes believe that Fox News, programming, an effort I once liked and to some extent still do, although preaching their wholesome ways, are in reality practicing voyeurism under the guise of their noble effort to bring us the news fair and balanced. Oh, give me a break!

But, be that as it may, I am weaning myself of my sinful ways and trying to enjoy Panama and its people.

One really needs to free themselves from the shackles of government. The US government claims to be a free nation, but I cannot travel to Cuba even though Cuba will let me in. Several years ago I telephoned the Cuban Consulate in Washington, DC, and asked if I would be able to travel to Cuba. They answered yes, but they also told me the US would probably not allow it. Both were true. I asked whether I would be safe in Havana. The Consulate person answered: yes probably safer than in New York City.

I then called the US State Department and asked them whether I could travel to Cuba. They responded no. I asked the State Department official whether he would agree that we were the freest nation in the world. He responded with an astounding yes. I replied that, if we were the freest nation in the world, why would the US not allow me to go to Cuba whom they considered not to be a free nation. Can you imagine he got mad at me and further added that, if I did travel to Cuba and they found out about it, I would be prosecuted? This anger expressed by the man only proved to me what the Jesuits at Boston College taught me almost 50 years ago when they stated that they were going to teach us logic but not to believe that they were doing us any favor because most people do not think logically. How correct they were.

Considering our free society in the US, just try to preserve keeping your hard earned assets for which you already paid taxes once from the government taxing you a second and third time, and see how free you really are!

I love the politics of Panama, and this is because I know nothing of the politics here. Ignorance is truly bliss and I am enjoying my ignorance.

I truly love and enjoy the Panamanian people. They are on the most part kind and they love American because deep inside, although they would not admit it, they realize they owe their freedom and independence from Columbia to Teddy Roosevelt who assisted them in this effort. And they may not admit it, but they also owe their economy and infrastructure to the US who built the Panama Canal. They together with the other South American countries could never have built it. And so, as I see it, the average Panamanian realizes how intertwined our countries are while they fiercely stick to their own independence. And this is good.

As a parenthetical side light, look at Mexico. Although they have one of the largest reserves of oil their national oil company cannot get it out of the ground. Ever during the time when oil was over 70 dollars a barrel and all the oil producing nations and companies were making tons of money, Mexico’s oil company lost money. The powers at be are so stupid they are unable to get the oil out from the ground and refuse to bring in foreign companies to do it. And so the oil stays in the ground and the politicians fight among themselves.

A similar thing goes on in the US. We have so much oil and much of it stays underground because politicians fight to appease certain voting blocks. But unlike Mexico in our country we have entrepreneurial (if I may coin a new word!) private and public companies which can do the job.

Here in Panama, the government is different. Realizing the great worth of the Panama Canal, they recently voted to add a third series of locks to handle the very large cruise ships and tankers which are unable to pass through the original sets of smaller locks. Panama will in the most part finance the new construction with current revenues from the canal and additional monies from almost every Panamanian bank and industry who wish to be associated with this great National Project. And who will build it. There are many who offered from the mighty US to countries at the other end of the world.

And this is as it is from where I am today! More to come later.

nicola michael c. Tauraso, M.D.

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