Archive Page 1
Top Five World's Healthiest Cities
BBC article that rates cities according to this rubric:
"...ranging from readily available healthcare to excellent mass transit to a commitment to improving access to green spaces."
The top five healthiest cities:
These locations heralded in the BBC article are rather expensive: Monaco average per metre cost for a residense is from €35,000 to €70,000 euros.
The 50 Most Violent Cities In The World
Business Insider has a ranking on the 50 most violent cities, and Latin America takes the lead.
The number one city for getting killed is San Pedro Sula, Honduras, which has 169.30 homicides per 100,000 residents.
Top Ten List Homicides per 100,000 people
- San Pedro Sula, Honduras had 169.30
- Acapulco, Mexico had 142.88
- Caracas, Venezuela had 118.89
- Distrito Central, Honduras had 101.99
- Torreón, Mexico had 94.72
- Maceió, Brazil had 85.88
- Cali, Colombia had 79.27
- Nuevo Laredo, Mexico had 72.85
- Barquisimeto, Venezuela had 71.74
- João Pessoa, Brazil had 71.59
And the most violent USA city is:
New Orleans, 56.13
USA: Best & Worst States to be a Taxpayer
The WalletHub site with a comparison of the lightest and heaviest taxes from state-to-state.
Red is the higher burden, green the lighter.
The Ten Most Expensive Cities in the World
(Also the ten least expensive)
Most expensive: #1 Singapore
Least expensive: #1 Mumbai
"While a mix of European, Asian and Australasian locations make up the majority of the top 10 list, cities in the Middle East and the Asian subcontinent dominate as the cheapest places to live."
Complete story article at the UK Indepenedent
Expat Brits in the United States
The UK Telegraph has a brief photo essay with interesting commentary (also from their readers) about the differences between living in Britain and living in the United States.
Most Efficient World Health Care Systems
More: United Kingdom comes in at #14, and Greece ties with Germany at #30. The United States is ranked #46.
Bloomberg rankings on health care efficiency
Move to France Immediately
A light-hearted, humorous article at buzzfeed on reasons (primarily food-based) to immigrate to France.
World Health Alzheimer / Dementia rankings
Amazing statistics on the amount of death from alzheimers / dementia per 100,000 ranking at worldlifeexpectancy. The top ten places where death is highest from Alzheimers / Dementia:
- United States
America drops to #12 on economic Freedom
"For 20 years, the index has measured a nation's commitment to free enterprise on a scale of 0 to 100 by evaluating 10 categories, including fiscal soundness, government size and property rights. These commitments have powerful effects: Countries achieving higher levels of economic freedom consistently and measurably outperform others in economic growth, long-term prosperity and social progress. Botswana, for example, has made gains through low tax rates and political stability.
...Hong Kong continues to dominate the list, followed by Singapore, Australia, Switzerland, New Zealand and Canada. These are the only countries to earn the index's "economically free" designation. Mauritius earned top honors among African countries and Chile excelled in Latin America. Despite the turmoil in the Middle East, several Gulf states, led by Bahrain, earned designation as "mostly free."
A realignment is under way in Europe, according to the index's findings. Eighteen European nations, including Germany, Sweden, Georgia and Poland, have reached new highs in economic freedom. By contrast, five others—Greece, Italy, France, Cyprus and the United Kingdom—registered scores lower than they received when the index started two decades ago."
Creepy trends in reading: Mein Kampf selling well as ebook
The theories abound on why Adolf Hitler's book (titled "My Plan" or "My Struggle" depending on how you translate the German title) is selling so well. But clearly there is demand.
"Trying to curb Hitler’s sales has proven a futile exercise worldwide. Since showing up in Asia 15 years ago, Mein Kampf has sold in excess of 100,000 copies in India. In 2005, the debut of the first-ever Turkish translation sold 100,000 copies in the first two months. And now, with the e-book revolution in full swing, readers are downloading Hitler everywhere."
Article at vocativ
The "ex-pat lifestyle" in Greece
More on the Greece Page
Joining the "Super Zip" of Washington DC - the highest earning, best educated postal zip codes
Article at Washington Post about the massing of wealth and education around Washington DC.
In the sense that education means high-end skills, then the District is a magnet and a cross roads for the wealth, influence and business-skilled of America (and the world, the city itself is a Babylon of racial groups and nationalities).
But there is also a huge 'underclass' of people (hardly mentioned in the Washington Post piece) who work the restaurants, the building-cleaning, maids, nannies, and many other low-end jobs that make the bubble of high earning lifestyles manageable. Both ends of the 'zip code' scale need each other. But there's no doubting who has the harder time staying within job-commuting range in this area of opportunity in the United States.
Particularly telling are anecdotes like this:
Most of the houses on Overbrook Street used to look like one Brian Sherry grew up in during the 1970s. Now, he shares his childhood home of 1,200 square feet, with three bedrooms and one bathroom, with his wife, Lisa, and their 10-year-old daughter.
Up and down the street, mansions are being built on lots where much smaller houses were razed; two sold recently for about $1.5 million.
In the top drawer of a dining room sideboard, Sherry keeps a neighborhood newsletter dating, he estimates, from the late 1960s or ’70s. It lists the professions of Overbrook’s residents — a land surveyor, a Marine major, an interior designer, an insurance agent, a teacher, a lawyer, an FBI agent and an engineer. But also a bus driver, a hairdresser, a policeman, a maintenance worker and a secretary.
“Today, it’s mostly government workers,” said Sherry, a contractor. “There are six, seven, maybe eight lawyers. Doctors. Some of their kids go to private school. They all seem to have professional house cleaners and professional landscapers.”
The Washington Post article covers the possible and the impossible about being in the DC Metro area. It also underscores how far apart the different worlds are in the sometimes called "Capitol of the Universe."
IMF Top 15 GDP Ranking of Countries
16 People On Things They Couldn’t Believe About America Until They Moved Here - Thought Catalog
Deep article (www.thoughtcatalog.com) covering the experiences of 16 different people interacting with United States culture for the first time. Certainly not comprehensive, but interesting in an anecdotal way. Some examples:
- By and large, people do not carry cash. That you address your boss (and some of your professors) by some abbreviated variation of their first name.
- Tipping – Enough has been said about this, but I hated it too, so I’ll include it. Specially for services like a haircut. So I pay you for cutting my hair…..and then I tip you because you were gracious enough to cut my hair?!
- Obsession with fitness – I saw loads of people running/jogging on the sidewalks. A lot of people I knew cycled or ran marathons for 50 miles plus. This was a stark contrast though, to the average person I saw who was usually overweight.
- Many children, even in well to do families, work in fast food, car washes and do a lot of other things to get money and it is not an embarrassment.
- Walmart (and other big supermarkets) – So much stuff for so little price.
- Huge serving portions. I’m a big guy and love eating, but 50% of the time I could only finish half the food on my plate (how do you guys do it?!).
Thailand "is tops" for expat workers - WSJ
"The Southeast Asian country topped the latest HSBC Expat survey for best overall expat experience, particularly when it comes to setting up, integrating and finding friends. China, Singapore, India and Taiwan all emerged in the top 10, with Malaysia (No. 20), Indonesia (No. 31) and Vietnam (No. 32) still among the top 50.
The ranking, now in its sixth year, compiles surveys from among more than 7,000 expatriates from nearly 100 countries across the globe.
When it comes to economics, Thailand (No. 4), Indonesia (No. 6) and Singapore (No. 9) ranked among the best places to live for expats. Lower living costs and higher earnings potential, however, made Thailand the most cost-effective place for foreigners, while Vietnam and Indonesia ranked highly for presenting the best career opportunities.
...Asia is home to the highest paid expats in the world, according to the survey, with the highest proportion of expats earning more than $250,000 located in Indonesia (22%), Japan (13%) and China (10%).
In recent years Asia has seen some of the world’s strongest economic growth, and many emerging economies in Southeast Asia have drawn in an increasing number of foreign workers seeking better career opportunities with growth in their own economies remaining sluggish."
9% Have Considered Quitting Their U.S. Citizenship - Rasumussen Polls
A telephone survey of Americans by Rasmussen has shown that 9% of their participants have considered renouncing their citizenship and leaving the country.
A peculiar thing about this report is that they couch the information by saying "only 9% have considered quitting their citizenship" which would indicate this number is down from some other previous high, but no other data is provided. Certainly 9% is an awfully high number when extrapolated into a picture of the entire United States citizenry of 316,803,000 persons: 9% is 28.5 million people.
The trend line
The UK Daily Mail recently reported that the trend of Americans renouncing citizenship was way up, but the numbers they highlight for that trend is a miniscule amount - 1,800 people, almost all quitting because of tax issues from the clumsy 'Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act" (FATCA) legislation from 2010. But 1,800 people is barely a blip in a country of 316 million. However, 9% of the entire country is a completely different matter.
Current count of Americans living overseas
According to the Association of Americans Resident Overseas, there are 6.32 million Americans overseas.
Countries with more than 100,000 American expats
Israel & West NBank
Rasmussen web site here.
Getting Residency - see country information here
Embassy Link List - Washington DC
Top 10 Cities to Live in
The Economist Intelligence Unit has released an analysis that lists the Top 10 Cities of the world in terms of liveability and cost of living (and a variety of other factors). From the PDF report online:
"Earlier this year the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) teamed up with data sharing company BuzzData to host a competition offering users the opportunity to combine data from the Worldwide Cost of Living and Liveability surveys with other sources to provide a ranking of their own."
Here's the top ten for liveability:
- Melbourne, Australia
- Vienna, Austria
- Vancouver, Canada
- Toronto, Canada
- Calgary, Canada
- Adelaide, Australia
- Sydney, Australia
- Helsinki, FInland
- Perth, Australia
- Auckland, New Zealand
Over 200 hundred cities are ranked in the report according to numerous categories. For example, Hong Kong ranks highest for education, but poorly for "cultural assets."
Americans renouncing passports goes up 66%
Listed by the USA Dept of Treasury (online record PDF here) - 1,131 people officially quit their USA citizenship last year.
Global Peace Index
"Most peaceful" rankings for countries around the globe from the Institutes for Economics and Peace (offices in Australia and USA). Their 106 page PDF report is online at this link here.
- New Zealand
(The United States clocks in at #99)
'Least Corrupt' countries
Ranking of the 'least corrupt' countries from worldaudit.org:
- New Zealand
United States ranked #15.
Freedom in the 50 States
George Mason University has conducted research to compare various attributes of each of the American 50 states and measure them as to which are "more free" and "less free."
From the report:
"We ground our conception of freedom on an individual rights framework. In our view, individuals should be allowed to dispose of their lives, liberties, and property as they see fit, so long as they do not infringe on the rights of others. This understanding of freedom follows from the natural-rights liberal thought of John Locke, Immanuel Kant, and Robert Nozick, but it is also consistent with the rights-generating rule-utilitarianism of Herbert Spencer and others. "
Top 10 Most Free States
1. North Dakota
2. South Dakota
4. New Hampshire
Bottom Ten Least Free States
42. West Virginia
46. Rhode Island
48. New Jersey
50.New York State
American Institutional Corruption?
"Little surprise... that Americans hold the government and financial institutions in very low regard. Surveys by the Gallup Organization last year found that 60 percent of Americans believe corruption is widespread among businesses, while only about one in five has much trust in banks. As for politicians, 54 percent of those surveyed rated members of Congress “very low” on honesty and ethical standards."
The article on American corruption is derived from "Corruption Perception" polling data at Transparency International
Washington DC: On a path toward becoming the leading economic city in America
The impetus to open a branch office of an established business (or to move it wholesale right into the DC Metro area) is based on many factors.
The favored location is in Virginia, which directly borders Washington DC and is a "Right to Work" state which many businesses find attractive if they are fleeing union states. But the DC area is a harder area to find commercial rental space and because of competition for skilled labor, can make it harder to find qualified workers (a problem shared by the other entity bordering the USA capitol, the state of Maryland).
Washington DC itself hosts many small offices, but not full-flung businesses because of a combination of cost and the added pressure of DC government regulation, taxes, and the lack of affordable real estate (on the other hand, this is an issue that doesn't slow down the many large law firms which are headquartered in Washington DC.)
But if your business makes (or loses) money based upon government regulation, there is no choice but to be in the DC area, because you must maintain relationships with the political beings who make these rules. If a regulation favors a competitor, then either direct lobbying or the hiring of a lobbyist (one of DC 's lucrative industries) is necessary.
One more important industry is the legions of businesses that cater directly to government agencies and have been approved by the Federal GSA (Government Accounting Office) which opens up short and long-term contracts worth million, and billions, of dollars.
"Since 2001, Washington has enjoyed the lowest unemployment rate of its peer group. Over the course of the entire decade, it ranked second in job growth, trailing only Houston. That wasn’t just because of the federal agencies and gigantic contractors of Washington stereotype. The region has also been a hotbed of entrepreneurship—much of it, to be sure, dependent on federal dollars. During the 2000s, it had 385 firms named to the Inc. 500 lists of fastest-growing companies in America, according to Kauffman Foundation research—by far the most of any metro area. From 2000 through 2011, according to rankings developed by Praxis Strategy Group, Washington’s low-profile but powerful tech sector had the country’s second-highest job growth, after Seattle’s. The region is also one of America’s top life-sciences centers.
Then there’s economic output. During the 2000s, per-capita GDP grew faster in Washington than in any of its peer regions except the Bay Area. Today, Washington’s per-capita GDP is the country’s second-highest—again, after the Bay Area. Unlike Washington, however, the Bay Area hemorrhaged jobs over the course of the decade. Related to Washington’s impressive output is its astonishing median household income, the highest of any metro area with more than 1 million people. A remarkable seven of the ten highest-income counties in America are in metro Washington. And during the 2000s, per-capita income rose in Washington faster than in any of its peer metros."
Sweden reinventing capitalism and socialism
Interesting article on the viability of socialist safety-net priorities and economic freedom.
"Thirty years Ago Margaret Thatcher turned Britain into the world’s leading centre of “thinking the unthinkable”. Today that distinction has passed to Sweden. The streets of Stockholm are awash with the blood of sacred cows. The think-tanks are brimful of new ideas. The erstwhile champion of the “third way” is now pursuing a far more interesting brand of politics.
Sweden has reduced public spending as a proportion of GDP from 67% in 1993 to 49% today. It could soon have a smaller state than Britain. It has also cut the top marginal tax rate by 27 percentage points since 1983, to 57%, and scrapped a mare’s nest of taxes on property, gifts, wealth and inheritance. This year it is cutting the corporate-tax rate from 26.3% to 22%.
....The Nordic countries have a collective population of only 26m. Finland is the only one of them that is a member of both the European Union and the euro area. Sweden is in the EU but outside the euro and has a freely floating currency. Denmark, too, is in the EU and outside the euro area but pegs its currency to the euro. Norway has remained outside the EU.
But there are compelling reasons for paying attention to these small countries on the edge of Europe. The first is that they have reached the future first. They are grappling with problems that other countries too will have to deal with in due course, such as what to do when you reach the limits of big government and how to organise society when almost all women work. And the Nordics are coming up with highly innovative solutions that reject the tired orthodoxies of left and right."
Complete article at The Economist.
Caution: On the other hand, Sweden has a extremely heavy-hand on homeschoolers, something taken for granted in many countries is absolutely verboten among the Swedes. Home School Legal Defense Fund
Safety in Mexico: Legends and Facts
The Lonely Planet web site on cutting through the violence statistics and making comparisons: is an American in Mexico safer than one in Houston, Texas, for example? How many Americans are murdered while in Mexico (and why?)
Particularly interesting are the anecdotes in the comment section which are full of stories on crime in Mexico, the majority saying it is rare unless you are in contact with the Cartel drug trade.
Speaking More Than One Language Could Prevent Alzheimer's
The NPR Blog on this statistical anomaly and what it might mean.
Attitudes Toward America - from around the world
Interesting polling numbers from PEW Research ("Image of the U.S."). While there are a lot of negative (i.e., less than 50% positive responses, especially in the category of "Is the United States considerate of other countries... only China and Brazil barely edged above the 50% positive mark) it is in the area of American movies, technology, and music that the higher positive remarks from people from around the globe.
For example, these are the Greek stats:
How does Greece feel about the USA? Pew Research
Polling results from 2012
Opinion of the United States: 35% Favorable
Opinion of Americans: 44% Favorable
U.S. Consideration of other Countries interests: 19% Great Deal/Fair Amount
Confidence ion the U. S. President: 30% Confidence
U. S. Anti-Terrorism Efforts: 29% Favor
American ideals and Customs: 25% Good
American Democracy: 29% like
American Business: 29% Like
American Music, Movies and Television: 62% Like
American Technological and Scientific Advances: 73% Admire
Pew Research web site with complete polling results.
Forbes article on the basics of why (and why not) for moving to New Zealand, an English-speaking island.
"...Getting a three-month visitor visa is a snap [for Americans]. You can renew the permit twice within an 18-month period.
...A big decision is whether to go for permanent residency. By remaining visitors, Americans escape a lot of red tape, but they are unable to work or take advantage of New Zealand's health care system."
New Zealand has only 4.4 million people living there, generally in the northern cities.
In 2010, population estimates put the city of Auckland as easily the heaviest populated place in the country, with 1,397,300 people.
[Below: New Zealand from a NASA fly over.]
thelocal.se web site ("Sweden's news in English") has a succinct "ten tips for moving to Sweden" page. The highlights of the article are:
10 practical tips when you've moved to Sweden
1. Staying legal while in Sweden
2. Register with Skatteverket (Swedish Tax Agency)
3. Getting insured
4. Getting a resident ID card
5. Opening a bank account
6. Find a job or starting your own company
7. Find a place to live
8. Learning the Swedish language
9. Paying your taxes in Sweden
10. Getting a driver's license
This interesting website describes the differences (and advantages/disadvantages) of living in Australia from the point of view of an American who has been there for about ten years. Titled "Tips for Americans Moving to Australia " it is not about the legal mechanics of migration, but the experience of the Australian culture, and this writer has done a good job selling Australia as a good place to live.
The writer describes Australian attitudes toward politeness (a stronger element in Australian society than in the United States); honesty (apparently held as a more definitive virtue in Australia, versus the United States); and that Australians have a more benign expression of political differences between themselves.
There's a great deal more to the writer's description of the land (he compares the climate as similar to Southern California, though the sun is significantly more dangerous with too much exposure.) Altogether a thorough overview of one mans experience of the differences between Australian and the United States.
Below: NASA photo of the Great barrier Reef, Australia.
Economic Headache Department: "None Dare Call It Default"
Article at Wall Street Journal with a fairly logical doom-and-gloom projection of the American economic future: "A nicer term for what's about to sock the middle class is 'entitlement reform.'
Americans moving abroad for work the highest numbers ever recorded
From Washington Post article "Need a job? Move abroad":
"According to State Department estimates, 6.3 million Americans are studying or working abroad, the highest number ever recorded. What’s more, the percentage of Americans ages 25 to 34 who are planning to move overseas has quintupled in two years, from less than 1 percent to 5.1 percent. Among 18- to 24-year-olds, 40 percent are interested in moving abroad, up from 12 percent in 2007. "
Spain wants you: Residency for foreigners who buy houses
The Associated Press has this:
In an attempt to reduce the country's bloated stock of unsold homes, the government is set to offer permanent residency to any foreigner provided they buy a house or apartment worth more than (EURO)160,000 ($200,000).
...Spain is in the midst of a double-dip recession with 25 percent unemployment, though Rajoy said he believes Spain has managed to avoid a financial implosion and will start growing again in late 2013 and in 2014.
"I'm convinced that the worst is over," Rajoy told reporters after meeting with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.
More about Residency for purchase
The World's Most Dangerous Countries
"Terrorism and civil war haven’t stopped certain countries from promoting tourism and running tours. Is the risk worth the trip?"
Travel and Leisure Magazine on the most dangerous locations to go and hope to return from. Article online here with photo slideshow.
- Georgia (the country between Russia and Turkey)
- North Korea
- Burma (Myanmar)
The Island Where People Forget to Die
Remarkable story about a man diagnosed with cancer and given a short period of time to live who returned to the island of his birth in the Mediterranean, expecting to die. Instead, sleeping regularly (many siesta naps), working moderately outside, eating food from the local agriculture, and leading a very low-stress lifestyle, he has now lived decades past his original diagnoses.
More on the Greece Page
"U.S. Economic Freedom Ranking Tumbles Again"
"The United States, long considered a champion of economic freedom, plunged to No. 18 in new rankings published in the 2012 Economic Freedom of the World, an annual report co-authored by Florida State University economics Professor James Gwartney."
Free podcast on this subject at the Cato Institute website
Resource: Freedom House Org
Their website contains a plethora of information, with an effort at non-partisan analysis of the political freedoms enjoyed (or withheld) from an exhaustive list of countries from around the world. For example, their "2012 Freedom in the world" report provides a simple ranking system dividing countries by a criteria of three types: free, partly free, not free.
For example: Australia FREE; Columbia PARTLY FREE; Angola NOT FREE.
Reuters article: Poll shows many Americans would move if they could
Complete article here.
"Nearly 60 percent of Americans would move from their communities right now if they could, according to a new survey by the YMCA.
But with economic and other financial considerations preventing them from doing so, nearly two-thirds said they will become more involved in their community in the coming year in hopes of improving quality of life."