Cheap Sleeps – Money Stretching Places to Live

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Cheapest Countries

to Live In

We’ve all been there. Sat at work on a spectacularly boring day, gazing out the window and dreaming about moving somewhere less resolutely meh. But it’s one thing dreaming about moving to London, or Paris, or Tokyo, and quite another turning up there, looking at the square feet of space your meager savings will buy and realizing that you haven’t thought this through at all.

 The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. While there are plenty of countries it will likely bankrupt you to move to, there are plenty more where even the most middle-of-the-road foreign income will see you living like a king. Here are 10 countries, gleaned from the annual Cost of Living Indexes published by Numbeo and Expatistan, where it’s cheapest to live in 2017:

10. Mexico

America’s southern neighbor is mainly famous in the north for sombreros, Tex-Mex, and drug violence. But as we revealed in a recent article, there’s so, so much more to the ancient home of the Aztecs than that. Aside from the long history and vibrant culture of Mexico City, there’s some 60-odd indigenous groups speaking a mix of languages, crumbling Aztec ruins, unique traditions from each Mexican state, and coastline galore. Oh, and did we mention it’s very, very cheap?

Numbeo estimates the cost of living in Mexico to be nearly 60% lower than living in the US. Outside the capital, you can rent a 3 bedroom apartment near the center of a city for an average of $480 a month. You can get a meal for two in a decent restaurant for twenty bucks. A transport ticket costs under 40 cents. Someone, get us to Tijuana.

Of course, this is all assuming you’re moving abroad with a US salary or pension. In terms of local purchasing power, Mexico sits somewhere in the middle of the list, meaning a local on the average wage can buy maybe half the stuff a local on the average wage in the US can.

9. Tunisia

It would probably be stretching the limits of acceptable writing to describe Tunisia as the jewel in North Africa’s crown, but we’re gonna do it anyway. The tiny desert nation is home to 10 million, all crammed into a handful of ancient cities that are staggeringly beautiful. This is the place where all the Tatooine scenes were filmed for the first Star Wars, which should give you some idea of how visually-arresting the country is. Then there’s the crazy affordability. The cost of renting a 1 bed apartment in a bustling city center? $160 per month.

On the other hand, Tunisia suffers a downside Mexico doesn’t: it borders Libya. Since the collapse of the Gaddafi regime in 2011, Libya has been a haven for ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and about a bazillion other crazy rebel groups, all itching to kill Western tourists. In 2015, an armed gunman trained in Libya attacked a five star hotel in Sousse, killing 38, including 30 Brits; making it the deadliest day for UK citizens since the 7/7 London bombings a decade earlier. As a result, the UK Foreign Office now advises against all but essential travel to Tunisia. The US government likewise advises extreme caution when visiting.

8. Moldova

Hands up: who can point to Moldova on a map? Eastern Europe’s least-visited country is a tiny sliver of land sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine, and locked in a perpetual war with its pro-Russian population. We don’t mean that metaphorically. Moldova’s eastern flank has been occupied since the early 1990s by an insurgent army who set up their own, autonomous republic known as Transnistria. Although the conflict is “frozen” (no one has been killed in ages), it is still a potential flash point in Europe’s poorest nation.

On the other hand, if you don’t mind Soviet architecture, cold winters, and the possibility of Putin annexing your living room, Moldova has a lot going for it. Aside from being crazy cheap – the cost of living is 62% lower than in the US – it’s one of the biggest wine producing nations on Earth, with over 200 km of tunnels filled with wine buried beneath one monastery. Plus, Chisinau is getting a reputation as one of Europe’s party capitals. Double plus, you get to say you’ve lived in Moldova. How many of your friends can say that? None.

7. Nepal

It’s the country where Everest lives. That’s all you really need to know about Nepal, a fascinating mountain nation that has been wowing travelers ever since they first set eyes on it. Sagarmatha, as the locals call it, is just the biggest of the world class peaks dotting this frozen, high-altitude land, each sheerer and scarier than the last. If that wasn’t enough, there’s also ancient Buddhist temples, mysterious mountain villages, and wild elephants you can ethically ride and oh our God yes, that’s actually a real thing. Shut up and take our money!

Speaking of the $$$, Nepal’s actually kind of an odd one. Numbeo ranks it as a hair more expensive than Mexico, but Expatistan ranks Kathmandu as cheaper than any city in Moldova. So we’re adding it here just to be on the safe side.

However, before you leap on that plane, we should warn you that things aren’t all peachy. In 2015, Kathmandu suffered a horrifying earthquake that killed 10,000 and nearly leveled the city. The damage costs were equivalent to 50% of Nepal’s GDP, and reconstruction is still barely underway. Although locals would doubtless appreciate you adding your tourist dollars to the local economy, it’s perhaps still a bit soon to think about moving permanently.

6. Syria

Yeah. Syria.

We’re not exaggerating when we say Syria was once one of the most beautiful places on Earth. If you don’t believe us, check out these pictures. It was a land of mountains and winding rivers and valleys and ancient castles and cities that have been standing since the dawn of time. As the Syrian Tourist Board is currently at pains to point out, a stretch of coast about 120 miles long that has miraculously avoided the fighting remains wonderful. And it’s about 63% cheaper than living in the US, too.

 Of course, even the relatively safe coastline isn’t somewhere you should be heading anytime soon. Since 2011, Syria has been caught up in the deadliest civil war of the century, with an estimated 250,000 being killed and around 4 million being left homeless. ISIS, AL-Qaeda and other groups are fighting Kurdish paramilitaries, Assad’s regime forces, and about 100 other rebel factions as Russian jets scream overhead, dropping bombs. It ain’t a safe place. But even a war as awful as this can’t last forever. Perhaps in another decade or so outsiders will be able to go back in and witness the beauty of the Middle East’s most tragic country.

5. Azerbaijan

You didn’t expect a wealthy petro-state to be on this list, did you? Situated on the shores of the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan is an oil rich collision of east and west, a place where gigantic glass towers dominate the money-soaked capital, and emerging dictator Ilham Aliyev has made a hobby out of jailing democracy activists. About the size of South Carolina (or Scotland), the ‘Land of Fire’ is both a hyper-expensive Dubai of the Caucasus Region, and a place where you can rent an apartment for less than $150 per month.

So, what’s with this great contrast? Well, you know how New York and California seem to suck in all the money and energy, and London is like Britain’s NYC plus Britain’s Silicon Valley? Baku is like London plus every single other city that isn’t in terminal decline. The rest of the country is basically a rural world of farming sheep and kicking back and eking out an existence on the average wage of $260 a month, an amount that makes $150 for an apartment suddenly look like daylight robbery. Still, at least you get to live in a country that has a place called ‘fire mountain’ that really is a mountain that’s literally on fire.

4. Georgia

If you want all the excitement of living in the Caucasus region, but for some inexplicable reason don’t dig the idea of residing within driving distance of a flaming fire mountain, you could always opt for Georgia. The Christian flipside to Azerbaijan’s Muslim culture, the two neighbors are historic allies, largely due to a mutual dislike of nearby Armenia. The big difference comes with their neighbors to the north. While Azerbaijan and Russia have a cold yet cordial relationship, Georgia got invaded by Putin in 2008.

Since then, the tiny South Ossetia region has been under de-facto Russian control, in a situation kinda like that of Moldova and Transnistria. Only Georgia has the additional headache of another area like that. The unrecognized Republic of Abkhazia declared independence years ago, with Moscow guaranteeing its territorial integrity; meaning Tbilisi actually has control of far less of its 69,000 square kilometer territory than most similarly-sized nations.

On the plus side, Georgia is perfect if you like untouched wilderness, craggy peaks, and little mountain villages lost to time. And if you like your beer to cost 70 cents, which is really the important thing.

3. Pakistan

If you want a (potentially short) life of non-stop excitement, you could do worse than moving to Pakistan. India’s long-term rival, Pakistan is home to Karachi, the world’s most violent megacity, an unrecognized republic controlled by insurgents known as Balochistan, deadly terror groups, armed kidnappers, and the occasional mega-earthquake. It’s also a nuclear state that frequently tries to start wars with another nuclear state (India).

In fact, Pakistan is so fundamentally wild that its government recently issued a decree that all foreigners must stay within a single city unless they hire a security detail and inform the government of their travel plans, in case they wind up with a severe case of death. With advice like that, hearing that an apartment can go for as little as $77 per month likely comes as cold comfort.

Still, if you go happen to go out there, at least you’ll be in one of the prettiest, most historic countries on Earth. Aside from the mountains, there are forts built by the Mughals, old colonial relics from the British days, and some of the grandest Islamic monuments ever built.

2. Ukraine

According to Numbeo, Ukraine is home to the cheapest McDonald’s combo meal in the whole of Europe. You can get a Big Mac, fries and a drink for under $2.50. We’re not gonna say this is a good reason for you to pack your bags and head to Ukraine, but it’s certainly a reason… another being that life in general in Ukraine is 65% cheaper than life in America.

Not that this is much use to the locals. The average salary across the whole nation is under $200 a month. As a result, Ukraine only just misses the bottom 10 countries for local purchasing power, ranking under Zimbabwe, Moldova and El Salvador, and only just higher than Nigeria and Nepal. An average Ukrainian salary will buy you 26% of what an average American salary will buy you. Then there’s the not-quite-frozen conflict in the country’s east, which has killed about 10,000 in nearly three years (once again, as with so many on this list, Russia is involved).

On the other hand, if you can stomach the screaming inequality, unbelievably cold winters and territorial crisis, then Ukraine is almost breathtakingly beautiful. There’s its snatch of haunting mountains in the West, its two great, ancient cities of Lviv and Kiev, and, finally, its ridiculously good-looking citizens. If you need us, we’ll be booking our flights to Kiev.

1. India

This is it, possibly the cheapest country on planet Earth. India has mid-range restaurants where two people can eat world-beating food for under $10. It has taxis that will wait for you for an hour and charge less than a dollar. It has apartments for slightly over $100 per month. In the southern city of Thiruvananthapuram, utilities can cost only twenty bucks a month. With an income of under $1,000 a month, you can live like a freakin’ king.

It’s also, y’know, famously one of the most picturesque nations on Earth. There’s the Taj Mahal, the ancient city of Varanasi, the Himalayas, Raj-era hill towns, creaking old railway lines, the lush, tropical south, and the venerated, epic, eternal Ganges. You’ve got Bollywood, curry, tigers, ancient history, epic gorges, friendly people and a floating temple that is literally made of gold. Plus, Octopussy was set here. Man, we must’ve seen that movie… twice.

 Of course, it ain’t all fun and highly-choreographed dance numbers. There’s shocking inequality, extreme poverty, deadly diseases, sporadic ethnic violence, and the eternal possibility of nuclear war with Pakistan. But is it worth it? You check these pictures and decide for yourself. (The correct answer is ‘yes’.)

Cost of Living Havens

– WIF Economics

Japanese Silly Shopping Spree – WIF Around the World

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Frivolous

Ways to Spend

Money in Japan

Got some money burning a hole in your pocket? Then you should definitely visit Japan. The Land of the Rising Sun offers more bang for your buck than any other country on the planet. Whether you’re looking for something unique to eat or want a crazy way to spend the day, if you’ve got enough money, Japan has got you covered.

10. Hang Out In A Cat Cafe

cafe-of-cats

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who hate cats and those who love them. Fortunately for felines, Japan is one of the most cat-friendly nations on Earth. Japanese citizens love spending time with the four-legged fur-balls, but there’s one major problem: unless they’re married, have kids, and live in a condo, most folks can’t own pets. Japanese landlords are pretty darn strict and won’t allow cats in their apartments. So what’s a young animal lover to do?

Visit a cat café, of course! While the first café appeared in Taiwan in the late ‘90s, these kitten clubs have taken Japan by storm. Today, there are close to 150 cafés across the country, and they’re the perfect places for stressed-out office workers hoping to relax with their favorite animals. Cat cafés keep anywhere from twelve to twenty-four felines on staff, and while there are a few purebreds here and there, most are mixed breeds. Customers spend their time sipping coffee (which usually costs about $1.97 per cup), relaxing at tables or on sofas, and waiting for the kittens to come visit. Some people even sketch or take pictures of the cats, but flash photography is strictly forbidden (as is waking a sleeping cat, which sounds pretty wise).

Cat cafés attract people from all walks of life. Tourists, office workers, and businessmen all stop by to chill with the kitties. While most spend about an hour and a half, some spend up to six hours while others take off whole days from work to visit the cafés, hoping to escape the rigors of everyday life. Obviously, this can get pretty pricey. The Neko no mise café charges $1.50 for every ten minutes, and at the Calico, customers pay $9 for the first hour and about two dollars for every fifteen minutes after that. Still, if you yearn for feline affection and can’t own a pet, the cat cafés might be worth every penny.

9. Buy A Clone

clones

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I wish there was a Mini-Me?”  Well, if you visit Tokyo’s Clone Factory, your Dr. Evil dreams just might come true. Of course, this new-you might be a little, well, inanimate. Unfortunately, the Factory hasn’t discovered the secret of creating an actual clone, but they’ve come up with the next best thing. If you’re willing to part with $1,300-1,750, these techno-wizards can conjure up a doll that bears your exact likeness.

The process involves a lot of digital cameras and a 3D printer. After a client sits in a chair, she has her picture taken with multiple cameras, each one positioned at a different angle. When the photo shoot is finished, the technicians whip up a digital map of the customer’s head and print it onto the plaster that soon transforms into the head of a smiling (and much too lifelike) doll. The Clone Factory’s creations are extremely popular with brides hoping to memorialize their wedding day in 3D form. Of course, if you want to release your inner geek, you can deck out your doll in anime attire or Storm Trooper armor. Afterwards, you can take your doll home and creep out your friends with the 20-inch version of you sitting up on your mantle and smiling for all eternity.

8. Send Your Stuffed Animal On Vacation

Unagi-Travel

In the 2001 French hit Amelie, the eponymous heroine swipes her father’s garden gnome and sends it on a trip around the world, having a flight attendant photograph the little guy in front of famous landmarks. In Japan, Sonoe Azuma will do the exact same thing, only she charges a small fee and works with stuffed animals.

Azuma manages the crazy-yet-cute travel agency known as Unagi Travel. For $45, she’ll escort teddy bears, plush sheep and cotton-filled dogs around Tokyo, taking their snapshots in front of places like the Tokyo Tower and the Senso-ji temple in Asakusa. For $55, she’ll give toys a VIP tour of Japanese hot springs though chances are pretty good the dolls don’t spend much time in the water. And Azuma even offers her services to folks outside of Japan. She runs an English language website for clients in America and Europe where clients can consider purchasing tours of Kyoto ($95), Kumano Kodo ($55) and an enigmatic mystery tour ($35, no Beatles involved). During the trip, she keeps her clients up to date on their animals’ whereabouts via Facebook, and when the trip is over, she mails the toys and photos back home, free of charge.

While Azuma’s business sounds a bit, well, bizarre, it’s actually a source of comfort for many people. For example, her tours have helped people struggling with the loss of family members. Seeing their dolls traveling around Japan has actually lifted their spirits and helped them deal with their grief. Even more impressively, Azuma has inspired people to seize the day and make their lives extraordinary. She tells one story about a woman who suffered an illness that affected her ability to walk. At first, she was too depressed to go to therapy, but after she saw pictures of her toys traveling across Tokyo, she decided she’d visit those places herself and regained the use of her limbs. Ultimately, Unagi Travel is innocent fun and an inspiration for people who’ve given up hope of traveling themselves.

7. Hire A Friend For A Day

Hagemashi-Tai

Feeling lonely? Quite a few people in Japan have the blues too. In fact, over a million citizens suffer from hikikomori, an extreme form of loneliness where people lock themselves in their bedrooms and cut off all communication with friends and family. While most Japanese aren’t that lonely, many have trouble meeting new people. And that’s where rent-a-friend agencies come in handy.

Businesses like Hagemashi Tai (I Want to Cheer You Up) hire out actors who’ll take on most any role, from boyfriend to best man. For example, fake friends will show up at weddings and pretend to be buddies with the bride or groom. One single mom hired a guy to attend sports day at her children’s school, posing as their uncle, and one envious woman rented a phony admirer to make her lover jealous.

Similarly, Ossan Rental fills a very specific niche. The company’s name translates as “Old Guy Rental” and hires out a grand total of two men: founder and fashion expert Takanobu Nishimoto (46) and retired baseball player Mikio Sendou (65). For $10 an hour, these older gents will escort clients to shops, play games, and spend the day talking and offering advice. While Ossan Rental might sound a bit strange, their services are purely platonic (you can visit the site here) and, if nothing else, they help lonely people get and about and make actual human connections.

6. Bathe In A Wine-Filled Spa

Hakone-Kowakien-Yunessun

The Hakone Kowakien Yunessun isn’t your average onsen (hot spring). Located outside Tokyo, the Yunessun Spa Resort is only open twelve days a year, but it certainly draws a crowd. In addition to themed spas like the Ancient Roman Baths, the resort offers unusual pools filled with liquids that most of us usually think of as beverages.

For example, one emerald-colored pool is full of green tea which is supposedly good for your skin. Visitors who want something a bit stronger might slip into the coffee spa and relax in the biggest cup of Joe on the planet. (Employees actually brew the coffee in pots and roll it out to the pool in barrels.)  Of course, if you want an adult drink, there’s the sake spa which allegedly gets rid of wrinkles. Strangely, there’s a ramen bath which has plenty of pepper and pork broth, but no actual noodles. However, the most popular pool is the red wine spa, all of which flows from a giant Merlot bottle. And if you ever decide to visit Yunnessun, drop by on Valentine’s Day when the resort offers a sticky chocolate bath. Sweet!

5. Hire A Fake Priest

gaijin-priest

Christianity isn’t all that popular in Japan. While 77% of Americans and nearly 60% of Britons identify with the faith, only a measly 1% of Japanese believe in Jesus Christ. And that’s what makes Japanese weddings so incredibly weird. Nearly 90% of nuptials are done in traditional Christian fashion, complete with white dresses, Ave Maria and, most importantly, fake priests.

The fascination with Western weddings got started in the ‘80s, when millions of Japanese citizens watched celebrities like Princess Diana and singer Momoe Yamaguchi take their vows on TV. Since then, the number of Christian weddings has skyrocketed, only most of the priests officiating are white guys from the US and Europe. Of course, there are actual Japanese priests, but there are three reasons they don’t preside over most ceremonies. Firstly, there simply aren’t enough pastors to show up at every event. Secondly, most native priests aren’t crazy about this trend because most of these weddings don’t actually involve Christianity — couples are more concerned with image than Scripture, so religious themes are glossed over. Thirdly, most people don’t want Japanese priests, as many feel they aren’t “authentic.”  After all, if you’re going to have a Western wedding, you want a Westerner to run the show, right?

Sensing a golden opportunity to make quick cash, bridal companies started hiring out native-English speakers to work as priests, none of whom have religious training. In fact, many aren’t even Christians. All that matters is that they know Japanese, can read a few token verses and wrap things up in twenty minutes or less. For less than half an hour of acting, fake priests can make us much as $120 (according to a 2006 article). Of course, Japanese couples aren’t just paying the preachers. They’re paying for the churches as well. Quite a few hotels in Japan have Christian style chapels, and you can even find sanctuaries in strange spots like supermarkets. Without a doubt, it’s a bizarre trend, but hey, the couple gets their dream wedding, and the “priest” makes a couple of bucks. Everybody goes home happy.

4. Buy A Fake Finger (If You’re A Criminal)

yakuza-fingers

The fake finger industry caters to a very unique clientele: members of the Japanese Mafia, also known as the Yakuza. Why would gangsters need fake fingers, you ask? It has to do with a bloody underworld ritual known as yubitsume. If a mobster offends his superior, there’s only way to atone: he has to chop off the last joint of his pinkie, usually the left one. If he screws up again, he’ll cut the finger off at the next joint. Hopefully the gangster will get his act together, but if not, he has to move on down the hand, lopping off appendages for every offense. It’s believed this tradition stems back to the days of the samurai, when an amputated finger meant a warrior couldn’t wield his sword properly and had to rely on his master for protection. Today, it’s a sign of criminal activity, and if a gangster leaves the mob, he’ll have a really hard time getting an honest job thanks to his stubby nubs.

That’s where people like Shintaro Hayashi and Yukako Fukushima come in. Both Hayashi and Fukushima make prosthetic body parts, usually for accident victims or breast cancer patients. However, as the government cracks down on the gangs, people like Hayashi and Fukushima are getting more and more business from Japan’s criminals. Some prosthetic makers (like Fukushima) only provide fake fingers for retired gangsters hoping to start over. Others, like Hayashi, are less choosy and will produce duplicate digits for mobsters who want to keep their identities a secret while at public events.

Fake fingers can run anywhere from $1,400 to $3,000. Sure, they might be pricey, but there’s a lot of craftsmanship involved. Made out of silicone, the fingers look one hundred percent realistic. They’re custom made, each finger specially crafted to appear as a natural extension of the hand. They also curve in such a way that the wearer can grasp items without actually moving his mock appendages. Some gangsters even buy multiple fingers to match the seasons (lighter tan for winter, dark for summer) and often come back to have their prosthesis repainted, especially when the color starts fading. It’s a lucrative business, and it’s the only time gangsters don’t mind getting the finger.

3. Dine On Dirt

Ne-Quittez-Pas

Japan is home to quite a few freaky restaurants like Alcatraz ER (a hellish prison hospital) and Alice of Magic World (care to guess the theme?). However, Ne Quittez Paz stands apart from its gimmicky cousins thanks to its boxer-turned-chef Toshiro Tanabe. A Gallic gastronomist, Tanabe runs a really classy joint and has a flair for French food. Not only that, he’s constantly searching for ways to transform food into art, and that’s what inspired his craziest creation yet.

For $110 per person, Ne Quittez Paz serves a full course meal with a special ingredient: dirt. The idea of consuming soil might not sound appetizing, but rest assured — Tanabe uses only the best. It comes from a company called Protoleaf, an organization that goes to countries like Sri Lanka and India and digs ten meters below the ground to find the real primo soil. Afterwards, they heat it up, killing all the bacteria, and then ship it to Japan where Tanabe uses it to make miracles happen in his kitchen.

If you order Tanabe’s dirt special, you’ll start off with potato starch and soil soup and a side salad sprinkled with dirt dressing. Your main meal would consist of an earthy risotto and sea bass, and to end it all, you’d dine on dirt ice cream and dirt gratin. (Try not to “soil” your clothes.)  To be sure, Ne Quittez Pas is a unique restaurant and probably the only place in the world that takes “surf and turf” literally.

2. Visit An Ear Cleaning Parlor

Professional-ear-cleaning

If your ears feel a bit greasy, chances are good you’ll reach for a Q-Tip. However, things are a bit different in Japan. For a small fee, young ladies will clean your ears for you. Ear care is very important in Japanese society. In addition aiding the auditory canal, it’s believed ear cleanings improve skin health and help weight loss. In fact, clean ears are so important that some consider it a mother’s duty to keep her kids and husband wax-free. But when those kids grow up, many frequent the ear cleaning parlors that have popped up all over Japan. Since there aren’t any government regulations, anyone can start their own wax removal business, and professional ear cleaners only need seven to ten days worth of training before they can start poking around in ear canals.

If you visited an ear cleaning parlor, you’d first enter a room decorated in traditional Japanese fashion. A young woman wearing a kimono would make you a cup of tea and chat a bit before sitting on the floor. After putting your head on her lap, she’d lay a napkin over your face and whip out her mimikaki. Essentially a pick made out of bamboo, metal or plastic, the mimikaki comes equipped with a special scoop for scraping out stubborn chunks of ear wax. Services generally last for thirty to seventy minutes and can cost from $32 to $100. In addition to the cleaning, some parlors offer ear massages and even ear divinations. By examining all the folds and flaps of an ear, workers claim they can actually predict your future.

It probably won’t come as a surprise that most ear salon clients are men. Many claim they’re seeking out these peculiar parlors because having their ears cleaned reminds them of their childhoods. However, there’s often a sexual element involved, and workers are allowed to walk away if they feel threatened by the customers. Sadly, sometimes things get out of hand, like the 2009 case when a woman was stabbed to death for rejecting a client’s advances. Fortunately, these incidents are few and far between, and ear cleaning parlors continue to exist on the bizarre border of nostalgia and sex.

1. Buy Crooked Teeth

tsuke-yaeba

Any single ladies in the audience with crooked teeth? If so, you should buy a plane ticket and fly to Japan. Overcrowded mouths are all the rage in the Land of the Rising Sun, where snaggletoothed girls are considered super cute. In fact, they’re considered so attractive that many are intentionally wrecking their smiles in the name of beauty.

This toothy style (known as tsuke-yaeba) became fashionable thanks to celebrities like pop singer Tomomi Itano, whose naturally twisted teeth made guys go nuts. Inspired by their idol, trendy teens (and even women in their 20’s) started visiting special clinics where dental beauticians built some truly bizarre bridgework. For $400, dentists will glue fake ivories onto real teeth, giving the impression that the molars are shoving the canines forward. And if a girl is unsure about this new look, she can just buy temporary teeth. However, lots of ladies decide to go with permanent caps.

Evidently, this fanged fashion is so popular that there’s even a girl band where the members all sport tsuke-yaeba. But what is it about crooked teeth that make them so appealing? According to the guys, these multi-layered grins make girls more approachable. Their imperfections make it easier for dudes to strike up a conversation. On top of that, crooked teeth are often described as “impish” and give girls a childlike quality that some guys go for. (They must love Kirsten Dunst movies.)  While tsuke-yaeba might sound strange to Westerners, is it really any weirder than Botox injections and fake tans? Remember, beauty is in the eye in the beholder — or in this case, the mouth.


Japanese Silly Shopping Spree –

WIF Around the World

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 188

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 188

…The American people have a clear choice between nominees; On one hand you have a sitting Vice-President in Sylvia Freelove and the other, a dogmatic antithetical in Roy Crippen…

 Roy Crippen is trying so hard to prove that he is a different sort of politician.

Today the USA   

Tomorrow the Milky Way 

Crippen/Walker

Astronaut/Straight Talker

***Neither one of the red/white/blue slogan configurations will matter much in the final days of the 2032 Presidential Campaign, with the voters’ blurry-eyed from all the campaign ads nagging them at every turn.***

Way back in 2020, thanks to a 3rd party (Libertarian L-Rand Paul Kentucky) push for fiscal sanity, private funding for national elections was taken out of election process. Gone are the days when one candidate can outspend his/her way into office. As the middle-class dwindled into insignificance and a certain 5% of the population controlled 99% of the wealth, the temptation for someone to finance their way into power is stripped away.

This leaves candidates to their own devices, i.e. merits, accomplishments, policies, and promises. For the most part, to the credit of most office-seekers, the dirty noise of misinformation and mudslinging is no longer an effective tool in influencing voters.

In the case of Pete Sanchez, he was catapulted into office by an ethnic majority, a phenomena that was interrupted briefly by one-term reigns in 2016 and 2020, mainly because neither incumbent administration had the mind to curb spending or maintain a clear vision to justify a second and final term.

Sampan by Dominique Charles FOUQUERAY

Some lessons come hard and if it had not been for the financial & sociological collapse of China, Standard Mandarin would have been spoken in every school, Oriental food would be the national cuisine, and the Yen would supplant the US dollar as the world currency. Fortunately for us, unfortunately for China, the combination of Communism and Capitalism is a lethal mix; planned cities with no people living in them, infused with the truth about life in a free society teamed up to sink their Sampan.

So fast-forward to 2032 where you have relative prosperity and a clear choice between nominees. On one hand you have a sitting Vice-President in Sylvia Freelove and the other, a dogmatic antithetical in Roy Crippen.

The less important position of VP offers an equally, though less scrutinized, divergent choice in the persons of Bud Cauley, the former Congressman from Arizona and Ambassador to the European Union and Charlotte Walker, rifle-toting Governor of Wisconsin.


THE RETURN TRIP

Election Day

Episode 188


page 224

Contents TRT

 

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 175

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 175

… Roy Crippen risks losing the mounting momentum his campaign has mustered, all for the sake of his endless passion for space…

Endless Passion by AJ LaGasse

Francine knows there is more to Roy Crippen than folksy anecdotes, or those handsome chiseled features that have made him the fantasy idol for millions of women over the age of puberty, yes puberty. Roy can cheerfully count the 18 and over female voter in his column, while resolutely content to persuade the rest of the electorate with sound policies and square dealing.

Tonight, the third largest city in the nation, in the heart of the American Midwest {Chicago}, is the sight of one such major policy statement. At the feeding trough of inspiration, the meat & potatoes presidential candidate who is seeking office for no other reason than lead his country into the uncertain future; His topic is titled: “The Economic Feasibility of Exploring Outer Space”.

Ever since NASA was forced from the workaday business, a.k.a. good-sense curiosity, through budget cutting and the lure of privatization, its desire to leap ahead in the important work of space has been in limbo. The American people, as well as its partners in Space Colony 1 suddenly have trouble looking past the moon. The political capital to forge ahead with “another try at it” just isn’t there, even though that the same global insurance consortium that is funding the 3rd Panama Canal, has agreed to pay off on the Colony policy; 2 trillion dollars that most countries are being urged to spend on domestic needs instead.

Momentum

Roy Crippen risks losing the mounting momentum his campaign has mustered, all for the sake of his passion for space. He is willing to show his hand, brutal honesty aimed at a prospective constituency that needs convincing, for better or for worse.

Sometimes it is a curse to have a clear view of the future, knowing precisely where the planet is heading, if it chooses to remain isolated from the rest of the galaxy. How shortsighted,” he would say. Earth has already squandered most of its non-renewable resources that it started with when modern man took over management some 8000 years ago. 8 x 1000 is a long time, but it is in the last 150 that 99.9% of it has been stripped away.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 175


page 210

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 117

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 117

…Roy takes a sip of his drink, staring at it like the artichoke bit him in the nose, “Now that is an interesting tasting Bloody Mary……rum?”…

 

The best place to find out about a new town is to talk with the bartender.

They do go downstairs after changing out their $USs for $Jamaican. The 1 to 6 ratio means Francine’s purse will be toting their stack,

“This is like Monopoly money, hand over 50 $J for a drink, that is an arm & a leg!?”

“Please ignore Dr. Roy, he specializes in amputations.”

“Yes, I would like a Bloody Mary with an artichoke and a saw,” Roy is playing.

“Make that two, good man…….,” she supposes a name with a face, “Hold the artichoke for mine.”

“Jimmy, eet’s JimmyD,” is the Oasis Bar’s fixture bartender… among other things at the SILVER SEAS RESORT & HOTEL. At any given time you can find him doing just about anything.

“Okay JimmyD, didn’t we see you at the front desk when we checked in?” they had arrived frazzled and unaware of new appearances.

“2 towsand sorries 4 da rooms bad, maid queet on spot. Red eye peeple catch us weeth pants down.”

Roy takes a sip of his drink, staring at it like the artichoke bit him in the
nose, “Now that is an interesting tasting Bloody Mary… rum?

“Yes we uze Ovaproof een everything, dunt be dreenking 2 miny.”

“Say, we did not book a tour, so we will need some help getting around the island, any suggestions?”

“Roger!” he gestures at a husky man at the other end of the bar to come over. “He eez da best driva on dee island; Roger da Dodger, who drives a Chevy and friend to da lodger.”

“That is quite a tagline Roger,” a hand is extended. “I am Roy and this is Francine,” who shakes the new character’s hand as well.

“It is nice to meet you,” he responds with a West Indies accent, but it is clear he has been educated elsewhere. “Here is my card:”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 117


page 144

 

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The $15 Minimum Wage – WIF Speculation

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Image result for 15 dollar minimum wage

What Would Happen if

Minimum Wage Went to

$15 Everywhere

Be Careful What You Wish For

Well, we decided to look into what might happen if the minimum wage was raised to $15 across the world. The results were… intriguing, to say the least. While realistically, the idea of a global $15 minimum wage is as likely as flying pigs farting unicorn rainbows, it’s still interesting to imagine what the outcome would be. The answer is: insanity.

10. The Rise of the Machines

mcdonalds

Forget Terminator. Forget The Matrix. The real cause of the machine revolution lies not in military programs, but in the battle for a higher minimum wage. According to The Economist, there’s only one likely outcome to a yuge minimum wage hike: mass automation.

 Right now, machines and computers are capable of doing a heck of a lot that low-skilled humans can, such as driving trucks and manning checkouts. The reason that they don’t isn’t due to some fancy-pants robot-workers’ union, but because they simply cost too much. It’s way more cost-effective for an employer to keep you working at the checkout for $7.50 an hour than it is for them to buy a machine to do your job, so they don’t.

But when that $15 wage hike comes in, suddenly the robots are looking a lot more attractive. The outcome? Jobs will disappear faster than you can say “Skynet.”

Nationally, millions would be out of work. Globally, billions. That would mean completely restructuring our economies to deal with permanent mass-unemployment; a shift which wouldn’t come easy.

9. The Poor Would Still be Poor

empty-wallet

It’s important to note that robots still suck at certain jobs. Cleaning, for example, is better being done by humans. Mass-automation wouldn’t really affect such sectors. So that means a minimum wage hike would still lift some out of poverty, right?

 Sure. But far, far fewer than you’d think.

Most supporters of the $15 minimum want to reduce poverty. But the minimum wage rarely affects those who are truly poor. Only 12.7% of US minimum wage workers come from poor households. Just under half are secondary-income earners from households with earnings three times higher than the poverty line. In other words, they’re teenagers starting their first job, or parents who took time out for raising kids and now want a bit of part-time work to fill the empty hours.

The result would be a boost to these people’s finances, for sure. But the vast majority of American poor either already make $15 but don’t get enough hours, or simply don’t work at all. A mass-applied $15 minimum wouldn’t affect this cohort one bit.

8. Mass Migration

migration

In the 1980s, well-meaning legislators accidentally screwed-over Puerto Rico. As a US Territory, the island became subject to the US Minimum Wage. Hooray for Puerto Rico, huh? Not so fast. The knock-on effect of this wage increase was to drive a huge chunk of the island’s residents to migrate to mainland USA.

 This sounds counter-intuitive, but it makes perfect sense. Puerto Rico is poor. There was simply no way employers could afford the mainland minimum wage. With automation in 1983 being a pipedream, they simply laid off workers and sent unemployment skyrocketing.

Something similar would happen with a global minimum wage. Rich cities and countries that could afford the $15 hit would suddenly become Meccas for those from poor areas which couldn’t afford it. The jobless poor would flood in from territories and rural areas that couldn’t pay, leading to perhaps the greatest wave of human migration in history. And as we all know, mass-migration doesn’t always go completely smoothly…

7. Rampant Xenophobia

xenophobia

During the Great Depression, hundreds of thousands of Americans were forced to leave Dustbowl States to look for work. Oklahoma alone lost nearly half a million of its population to more-prosperous states like California. How did the residents of richer states react to this sudden influx of poor, depressed and unemployed people? They freakin’ hated their guts.

Okies were the subject of extreme discrimination from locals who thought they were stealing jobs, bringing crime, undercutting wages and just generally stinking up Sunny California with their Okie ways. Never mind that most of the Okies were family folk who just wanted to do some honest work and contribute to California, they were still hugely unpopular.

It’s not hard to imagine something similar happening if a $15 minimum wage drove people from poor, rural areas into rich, urban ones. On a national scale, it would be uncomfortable. If it was global, then throw in racism and culture clash and you’re potentially sitting on a powder keg.

6. Poor Countries Would Become Poorer

sweatshop

Everyone reading this can probably agree that paying Bangladeshi workers $0.50 per hour to toil in a sweatshop is morally ugly. Unfortunately, it’s also the way the world works.

Poor countries like Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Haiti are chronically in need of investment. To ensure companies want to set up shop there, they have to offer something the West can’t. Sadly, that ‘something’ is extremely low-wage employees. Create a world where everyone from a trucker in Arizona to a garment-maker in Dhaka is worth $15 an hour, and you destroy the only competitive advantage these countries have.

For a company in the US, it suddenly makes no sense at all for them to set up a factory in Asia when it costs the same as setting one up in America. So they won’t. Unless poor countries sacrifice something else in return for investment, that investment will simply dry up. Bangladeshi jobs will vanish, money will disappear, and poor countries will get even poorer.

5. The End of Outsourcing

outsource

On the other hand, this would mean the end of outsourcing; a practice generally considered to be so mercenary it probably counts as one of the 7 Deadly Sins. While this is extremely bad news for those living in poorer countries, it could be pretty good for those living elsewhere.

Right now, a lot of jobs that used to be done by Americans are being done abroad for a fraction of the cost. Take away those cost incentives to move abroad, and those jobs will probably stay in America (provided the government did other stuff like cut corporation tax). For those industries that can’t be automated, it could result in a glut of work available at home. It would be the same thing both Trump and Bernie Sanders like to talk about: American jobs for American workers.

The downside is there are other ways countries could attract multinationals even with a global $15 minimum wage, such as low corporation tax, an unregulated market or removing certain labor restrictions. In practice, then, a global minimum wage of $15 might not end outsourcing. Instead it might trigger a race to the bottom in an entirely different area.

4. A Gigantic Small Business Crash

closed

There’s a reason campaigns like Fight for $15 stir so much moral fury. The idea that a multi-billion-dollar empire like Walmart can get away with paying its employees $7.20 per hour makes any reasonable person’s blood boil.

The reality is that plenty of minimum wage employees aren’t slaving away in Walmart. They’re working for small businesses. And asking those small businesses to double their employees’ wages is like asking them to start handing out blocks of gold to all of their customers.

 Around a third of minimum wage employees are working at businesses that employfewer than 50 people. Force a $15 minimum on these places, and they’re gonna go under or lay off staff or (more likely) both. That means a collapse of small businesses across the board, something that’s not exactly thrilling for stuff like innovation, the economy, or just having a few more choices of coffee place beyond Starbucks.

Most of us value small businesses and independent Mom-and-Pop stores. We also value the idea of workers being paid a good minimum wage. Sadly, these two things can often be mutually-exclusive.

3. The Rise of Freelance Contract Work

freelance

One of the big flaws with the minimum wage is that there are quite a few ways around it. Most of you reading this probably work in an industry that utilizes one or more of them. For example, your place might take on unpaid interns over summer. Or maybe those looking for a promotion can take part in a scheme that temporarily increases their responsibilities while not affecting their pay scale.

 In many industries, the ‘get around’ comes from freelance contract work. This is especially prevalent in the world of online writing which – surprise! – we happen to know a great deal about. The basic set-up is that the website will pay you per article, not per hour worked. If you’re a dashingly-handsome internet-writer with chiselled abs this isn’t a problem, as you’re capable of writing a $15 article in way under an hour. But for someone without those skills or looks… well, then you got a problem.

In a world where the $15 is everywhere, plenty of companies are gonna avail themselves of freelance contracts. This means people who aren’t suited to them languishing away, taking hours and hours and hours to complete a task which will net them only paltry sums. So how about we get rid of these contracts altogether? Well, then you’re stuck with plenty of businesses going bust… and all those same workers now making nothing at all.

2. An Explosion of Spending

shopping

By now, we suspect some Fight for $15 fans are more than a little upset with the direction this article has taken. Hey, thems the breaks. We just go where our research leads us. And for this entry, it has led us to a potential light at the end of this dark and mold-infested tunnel. There’s a chance a $15 minimum could spark an economy-reviving spending spree.

This comes courtesy of Bloomberg, an outfit not exactly known for its leftish politics. The argument is pretty straightforward. A capitalist economy relies upon workers using their wages to buy stuff they want but don’t really need. This is the engine that drives growth. Whisk away that extra part of their paycheck marked ‘conspicuous consumption’ and the economy falters. Conversely, inflate that part wildly with a $15 minimum wage, and sit back and watch as the economy goes into overdrive.

The theory is that people who earn the extra money would spend and spend like lunatics. Goods would be flying off shelves. Vacations would be booked en masse. Services would be purchased, money would go flying through the economy, and everyone would wind up being a winner. It could be a boom to rival the 2008 bust, the sort of massive boost we haven’t seen in ages.

 1. Everything or Nothing

15

At the end of all that, we have a confession to make. We don’t know what would happen if the minimum wage went to $15 everywhere. That’s not us being uninformed: literally no-one knows.

While there have been plenty of studies done on minimum wage hikes, there has never been one done on a hike as enormous as the $15 one would be. It simply hasn’t happened before over a large enough area, or in enough places, for anyone to draw any firm conclusions. As a result, it’s easy to find respected economics writers claiming that a national $15 minimum would be the best thing ever; just as it’s easy to find respected writers claiming that such a hike would trigger the apocalypse.

What we’ve done above is drawn on what a plurality of economists seem to think, and what theories seem to suggest, to try and draw conclusions. The reality is, no-one knows for sure what would happen applying the $15 minimum on a national scale, let alone an international one. The only certainty is that the effect would be enormous, and possibly world-changing. Whether for the better or the worse is something we’d simply have to wait to find out.


The $15 Minimum Wage

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– WIF Speculation

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #323

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #323

…On one hand, A.O. wanted to give Maggie the world, yet when it comes to revenue streams, his compassionate heart would trump his family’s bottom-line needs…

A Lonely Path by Dan Crystalis

A Lonely Path by Dan Crystalis

A single solitary figure sits huddled against the back corner of a room; whose corners are all too near to one another. The pungent light of a dwindling candle wavers forth and back, barely illuminating the tattered pages of an obviously well read black book. Once surgically skilled hands, thumb painfully, yet knowingly to the Gospel of Saint Matthew Chapter 5 verse 4:

“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted”, thus saith the Lord our God, by the way of Alpha Omega Campbell, good and faithful servant. He goes to his knees to pray for the health of his dearest Maggie Lou. She has not taken her husband’s arrest very well. No other than he, has she depended on for the last 37 years of her life. What will come of her if she loses him to prison?

Unfortunately, it is partially due to her cozy lifestyle that her husband is sitting on a cold steel bench. Over the years, many of which were prosperous, Maggie Lou Campbell had become accustomed to:

  • The house maidImage result for household servants
  • Chef
  • Chauffeur
  • Gardener
  • Tailor

And whatever else she wanted within reason.

For his part, Alpha Campbell had lost perspective, as it relates to finances. On one hand, he wanted to give Maggie the world, yet when it comes to revenue streams, his compassionate heart would trump his family’s bottom-line needs. Yes, that sweet potato pie is wonderful, but the Lewis State Bank would prefer cash.

Equally unfortunate is the fact that the folks with cash in hand are those who are most desperate. Those that have not… ‘Doc Campbell, please help my baby, he won’t stop crying and I have tried everythin’ I know.’ Or, ‘If you could get this bunion off my foot, I would be so grateful.’ And lastly (badly), ‘Our doctor Image result for dollar sign gifsent us here. He said you will keep our affairs private. My baby girl is too young to have her own baby… what will people say.’ These have the dough.

  Two hundred dollars ($200) in the 1950’s is a goodly amount of money, just as the three hundred thousand dollars ($300,000) is more than substantive for a private hospital. $10 soothes a colicky baby, $65 dollars pays for the surgical removal of that painful bunion, but 200 big ones will get you an abortion.

Before modern day pictures (sonograms) of a moving, womb-bound neonates, who may dissuade the mother from aborting, instead, no baby — problem solved. Maybe now Auntie Margaret will stop asking about that recent weight gain.

Perhaps most debilitating for the Campbells, is the fact that the white folks of Tallahassee are not permitted to be treated at Laura Bell Memorial Hospital; no white floor or wing for fair skinned Floridians, even if they wanted to be treated there.

          Stop and reflect upon the last paragraph.

braceT LFT  Black Tallahassee is minimally educated, mostly poor, but white Tallahassee is a university town, capitol to the state and very much in need of affordable healthcare.

 

Whites are remarkably discouraged from stepping foot into LBMH. City fathers have even diminished it by calling it ‘Campbell Clinic’, a.k.a. not worthy.


Alpha Omega M.D.

atari-pitfall-001

Episode #323


page 305

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