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Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Unpopular Opinion: Politics and the global economy are broken

Call me a bleeding heart liberal if you want, but since mid-October 2019, Jeff Bezos' (owner of Amazon) fortune has grown by $80 billion. Based on the year-over-year change in his net worth, Bezos has made $152,207 per minute — and $2,537 per second. That latter figure is more than three times what the median US worker makes in a week.

There is something distinctly wrong with that. I am quite sure that Bezos worked hard to start Amazon and make it the success that it is today. However, has he worked so hard that he deserves to make in one single second, more than three times what one of his workers makes in a week?

I don't think so. While his employees are peeing in bottles to avoid being fired for wasting time going to the restroom, he has more money than entire countries and more money than he could ever spend in multiple life times.

I think it was Lincoln who said “A government for the people, by the people and of the people will never perish from this earth". Unfortunately that is not what we have in the U.S. (or globally really)

What we have is a billionaire and elite political class who control almost all of the economic pie and the rest of us are left to fight over the crumbs, hoping one day to reach the billionaire status yet having none of their advantages.

Politics (at least in the USA) are just as broken as the billionaire class. Our two party electoral system has failed us and the majority of citizens are governed by an elite ruling class beholden to rich donors and big business who have no inclination to care about the average Joe. 

Sadly, the game is rigged before you are even born. There are some European countries that start everyone out on more equal footing by using tax money to finance education and healthcare so at least their citizens can all have the same basic necessities covered. In my opinion, this is the least that any responsible government should do.

However, back home in the United States, there is a very strong sense of independence, pull yourself up by your bootstraps mentality. What we don't have is a basic social safety net to help people. 

In the United States, your health insurance is usually tied to your job (if you even have health insurance) you need to pay co-pays at the doctor, monthly premiums and pay for prescriptions along with deductibles out of pocket. An unexpected medical expense can easily bancrupt a family.

Addionally, higher education is very expensive. This automatically puts lower income people at a disadvantage.

I do not believe in governments giving out unlimited free hand outs to everyone and expecting nothing in return. But, people around the world should be able to live a life with dignity having their basic necessities funded by their tax money.

No one should live in a world where one man has more money than entire countries. Everyone should have the chance to create the next Amazon instead of being handicapped by circumstances right from the start.

There was a CEO of a small/medium sized tech company who was making 1.5 million dollars a year (not that much by CEO standards) while his employees had to get second jobs at McDonald's just to cover their basic living expenses.

He decided to cut his own salary to 70,000 usd per year and give every employee a raise up to 70,000 usd per year. Many people predicted his socialist experiment would bancrupt the company. However, now six years later, his company has expanded and grown and his employee turnover rate is basically zero.

This is what happens when everyone is given a fair shake in life. Good ideas and hard work should be rewarded but a CEO who makes hundreds of times more money than one of his/her employees, certainly is not working hundreds or thousands of times harder than they are. 

I can only hope and wish that Eliana will grow up in a fairer world than I have. I am not optimistic though. At least here in Spain we won't be bancrupted by medical or educational expenses. 

OK rant over. If you made it this far, thanks for reading and let me know your thoughts. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

My life in a nutshell

 I recently finished up my memoirs (for now, it's an ongoing work in progress that I plan to continue) and I have had this blog since 2009. I will publish my memoirs at some point but, they are more a gift for Eliana (and just for my own sake) than anything else. I want her to know about my life, her family and where she comes from.

However, I realized that I haven't taken the time to sum up my life in short form before so I thought I'd try now. 

I was born 3 months premature in 1984 with excess fluid on my brain and epilepsy (among other health problems) but against all the odds, I beat the doctors predictions and I was not in a vegatative state.

I had (and still continue to have) two great parents and a wonderful, normal childhood.

Fast forward to age 24 and after living a fairly conventional life in Texas, I decided to move to Australia in November of 2009 after getting laid off.

At that point, I think I had visited maybe 8 countries for short trips and I just planned on staying a year in Australia then heading back home.

Well one year in Australia turned into a second year in New Zealand then 6 months of traveling in South America.

By the time I was 26, I had moved to Thailand to teach English, I left there after a year and at age 27 I moved to Colombia which would be my home until age 34.

While in Colombia, I managed to get married and start living a real adult life. I had great friends and a great job (eventually) but all good things must come to an end.

When I was 34, Jenny and I decided to move to China. After living there for almost 2 years, we decided to make the move to Spain to be closer to her family. 

I was 35 when I arrived to Spain. After about 5 months of living in Spain I had a problem with the valve that controls the amount of fluid on my brain. I ended up having 3 brain surgeries to correct the problem.

Prior to all my brain surgeries we found out that Jenny was pregnant. I was very happy, but during much of her pregnancy, I was in the hospital or in physical therapy relearning how to walk, talk, eat and drink again. My recovery was (and is still ongoing) but after 6 months of hard work I have regained almost all of the physical and mental abilities that I lost.

Eliana was born on December 14th 2020, since that point I have been motivated to get in the best shape physically and mentally that I can so that I can be the best father possible. She has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. 

Now, in April of 2021, amid the corona virus pandemic, I am looking for work again and still working on my recovery. However, I consider myself one of the luckiest men alive. I have now visited or lived in 45+ different countries, survived various brain surgeries, gotten married and had a daughter.

I am blessed beyond measure and grateful for every breath that I get to take. I look forward to seeing what the future has in store for me. I married a Saint in Jenny who took care of me while 9 months pregnant and when I was in the hospital for 12 weeks and I have super supportive family and friends. I couldn't do this life without them. For all these reasons and more, that's why I consider myself one of the luckiest men alive. 

Thursday, April 01, 2021


I wanted to write a little bit about motivation. I have had a long, hard six month journey to get better since I had my brain surgeries. Some people have told me that I motivate them and they are not sure that they could go through something similar to what I have been through and still be optimistic about life. I am flattered and honored that people consider me an inspiration. However, I think it is just a question of finding something worth fighting for and keeping that in mind while you go through your struggles. 

Everyone has problems that most people know nothing about. What I have been through has definitely been hard and I would not wish this on anyone nor would I want to repeat it. Although, there are certainly people fighting battles harder than what I have gone through. My motivation has been my wife and daughter. There were times where I wanted to give up, throw in the towel. The pain was terrible physically and mentally. I was unable to eat or drink anything and I couldn't even walk! I think anyone would be depressed in those circumstances. Especially with my facial paralysis that affected my speech, as an English teacher the ability to speech clearly is extremely important to me. 

There were times when I was scared and depressed not knowing if I would ever regain the ability to walk,eat,drink or talk correctly again. But especially after Eliana was born in December of 2020, I made the conscious choice to keep fighting. I was only 35 years old when this happened and I reasoned that I still have a lot of life left to live. 

I started off this journey six months ago unable to eat,drink,walk or talk. Eventually I was able to speak again and with intensive speech therapy and physical therapy I managed to regain my ability to speak and decrease my facial paralysis. I also managed to eat solid food again and drink water, juice and other liquids. 

I moved from using a wheelchair to a walker. I set a goal for myself that once Eliana was born in December I wanted to get rid of my walker and walk on my own. At first it was very painful and I was very weak from all the muscle and body weight I had lost during my operations. But Eliana arrived on the 14th of December and I did get rid of that walker!

But I knew that wasn´t enough. I wanted to be independent again. So I set another goal for myself. I would run on the treadmill and do five pushups. I wanted to be an active father in my daughters life so I knew I couldn't give up. Now I am up to 42 (and counting!) consecutive pushups, 11 pullups and I can run a fair distance on the treadmill. I really have come a long  way in six months. I am not 100% but I am getting closer. Really the only thing I cannot do is drive (due to my loss of lateral vision in my left eye) 

I still hate exercise but after exercising five days a week for six months I am probably in the best shape of my life. Now, I really value the ability to exercise and work at a normal, boring job. I had those things taken away from me for a time and I know it could happen again. Now I place a lot more value on being healthy and doing something boring like going to work. There are many people who do not have that luxury. 

I write you all this not to brag at how amazing my recovery has been, but to let you know that no matter what challenges you have in your life, there is always someone going through something and if you set your mind to it, you can overcome your challenges. You know who inspires me? ¨Team Hoyt¨ this was a father-son duo who ran marathons together (sadly the father passed away recently at age 80). The son was born in 1960 and his umbilical cord got wrapped around his neck and he had brain damage. The doctors said he would never walk, talk or be normal. But his parents refused to believe this. They eventually got him a computer that he could use with his eyes, to ¨talk¨ when his father was 36 years old and his son was 11, the son said he wanted to run a marathon. Obviously being paralysed he couldn't run but he wanted to experience it. His father had never run any long distances in his whole life.

But do you know what his father did? He trained for a whole year pushing a stroller full of concrete 26 miles. Eventually he started running full marathons pushing his son in his wheelchair and they ran marathons together until the father was 78 years old! They ran over 1200 marathons together. Prior to becoming a father I could never understand the love that a father has for his child, however now having Eliana, I can completely understand why he did what he did. Oh, the guy from Team Hoyt? His son who was supposed to be a vegetable his whole life, graduated from college and now designs customs computers to help paralyzed people like him. If that is not inspiring I do not know what is.

I want to end this, thanking all of you for your support. I couldn't have done this without you. I still have a ways to go to be 100% but i'll get there. Thank you for everything and just remember not to give up and keep on going.