Readers' Submissions

Once Upon A Time In The West

  • Written by Jason
  • August 16th, 2004
  • 10 min read

On the face of it, this has very little to do with the Bangkok scene. However, as the West in general and the UK in particular become increasingly unacceptable to many citizens, they will look for pastures greener overseas. At one time Brits and US citizens spoke of giving up their lives to protect their freedom. Now they have been conned into giving up their freedoms to protect their lives. So Bangkok, as the World's 119th most expensive city, c.f. London at 2nd, is likely to be included on many people's relocation short list.

"Is the West really that bad?" I don't know, I can only discuss England up to December 2003, plus what I have gleaned since. Keep in mind that there is an image and reality drag. But believe this: England is no longer Inspectors Morse or Barnaby.
Of course when it comes to miscarriages of justice, no country is perfect. The throwaway line "Nice country, shame about the government" applies to almost everywhere. But subjectively, you don't feel so bad when it's not your own country, and with Thailand, an expeditious back-hander can work wonders in cutting red tape related to say a minor traffic offence.

These are essentially topic headings with some examples to get readers' attention. To make the decision to emigrate there are two factors: What makes you want to leave and what draws you to the new country / region. The push and pull factors. Once you've made the decision to leave, everything about the UK sucks, and everything about the new place is great. So it's hard to be objective. However much you research a new region with a view to setting up shop, there is no substitute for a visit, but try not to go as a tourist.

To cut to the chase, reasons to escape Police State UK in 2004. Many are interrelated but essentially fall into the problems with authority category. If the following disturbs you as much as it does me, then you will leave UK as a borderline political refugee. Even more disturbing is that other Western (ACC) countries will take their cue from Britain.

– The criminal justice system getting it wrong some 10% of the time (often but not always corrected on appeal); acquitting the guilty but more importantly convicting and incarcerating the innocent. Of a prison population of 75,000, reliable estimates put the number of innocent people in prison at around 3,000. Any UK resident is a wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time step from serious slammer time. But to the police, anyone careless enough to get themselves wrongly convicted is simply collateral damage in the war on crime. Police "fitting up" of suspects is standard practice. They even carry a replica gun and ski mask for the arrest pictures.

– Suspension of Habeas Corpus on some classes of asylum seekers and suspected terrorists. Naturally most are Muslims, so expect a backlash. Suspects are arrested and imprisoned without knowing the charge for an indefinite period. They have no access to legal representation, no court appearance is set, no trial date. Basically lock um up and throw away the key: This is already happening in UK 2004.

– Deaths in police custody: Since 1969 over 1,000 people have died in various ways in police custody, and not one police officer has ever been convicted or imprisoned. The justification is that if police officers were convicted for manslaughter it would damage confidence in the criminal justice system. With respect for the police by the public at around 7%, it's a little late to worry about this. So death in police custody can take the form of putting a back man in the same cell as a psychotic 20-stone founder member of the BNP in Stoke Newington Police Station, or the cops might get a little more hands-on with their new batons and CS gas spray. Either way if you are a member of a racial minority in a deprived inner city area, a run in with the police could leave you terminally dead.

– There is widespread corruption in the police force, taking the wider definition. Corruption defined as any action that unfairly advantages of disadvantages a member of the public or fellow officer. Police routinely alter evidence, witness statements, coerce witnesses or prevent them from giving evidence, brutalise and torture suspects to obtain confession. This to make a "guilty" verdict more likely. Further, if police obtain evidence that an accused or convicted person is innocent, they suppress said evidence. In one case, a man was convicted of murder although the victim's body was never discovered. Some two years into his life sentence, by chance the police discovered the victim alive and well living under an assumed name. So what did they do? Nothing. Presumably they reasoned that it is their job to put people in prison, not keep them, or get than out.

– Police persecution of the victim that successfully fights back. They want to retain the sole right to commit violence, and make sure anyone that successfully fights off an attacker or burglar giving at least as good as they get, is prosecuted, with evidence doctored to ensure a conviction (Tony Martin is not the only example by any means).

– Street crime, assault and burglary is rampant such that law-abiding members of the public do not feel safe in their homes or walking the street, especially at night. Police response and apprehension rate is totally inadequate. Police investigation of burglaries, car theft and assaults is essentially limited to issuing a crime report number for the insurance.
As an example, in the South, Oxford, Maidenhead and Reading City centres on a Friday or Saturday night are essentially no-go areas. Mounted police literally ride through the crowd to break up a "flashover" situation (one fistfight is the catalyst to start the entire street brawling). A few hours later the early morning patrol employed by shopkeepers comes by to hose down previous night's defecation.

– Prosecuting Internet pornographic image browsers. The police and government couldn't give a toss (no pun intended) over foreign kids being sexually abused. They are just generating an excuse to control the Internet. Do the math: The UK police have some 250,000 Internet porn suspects to investigate based on details of credit cards used to subscribe to Internet kiddie porn sites. Basic forensic investigation of a computer costs some £2,000. So if common sense doesn't kick in, some £500 million will expended just to determine which of the backlog of cases are worth prosecuting. While I do not for one moment condone viewing child pornography, I question whether is it really worth spending this level of public funds (local government taxes) to put these self-dating, sorry-assed losers in court and then jail. Sentences handed down are around six months, so on average only two months is served. Seems a little over the top for former law-abiding members of society that have never so much as looked at a live kid the wrong way.

– Far too much invasion of privacy. Surveillance cameras are everywhere, and authority have the right to read your mail and e-mail correspondence. Refusing to give your encryption password carries a two-year sentence. Consider this: You leave home, taking your mobile phone, credit switch card with you and travel along A and M class roads. Several things will happen — your vehicle will pass by ANR cameras (Automatic Number plate Recognition) this will identify your car and registered keeper via DVLA, and your speed. Your mobile phone will send / receive scanning signals that will tell the network provider what zone you are in. The new transmitter technology will send and receive pulses from selected mobiles on the move which will tell how fast and what direction you are going. Also, when you use your credit and debit cards it will record who you are, where you were and what you bought. So on a single journey certain people could know so much about you it's hardly credible. Couple that with the picture of your face and your passenger's face through the windscreen (ever wondered why in some countries dark tinted screens are illegal?) and the fact that Europe wishes to inflict satellite control of your engine and brakes and the whole picture gets sinister.

– Systematic persecution of the motorist: The appears designed to force the motorist to use public transport. But "What public transport?" is the typical response of those in rural areas. The 29 million drivers in the UK make a soft target for fund raising, which is what speed cameras are all about. In only 7% of accidents is speed the over-riding factor. So even if you could eliminate speed related accidents, the death and injury rate would not be significantly reduced. The regional police forces have become addicted to income raised by cameras. So there will be more cameras, more speed limits, lower tolerances, larger fines in order to maximise revenue. Also, expect driving over 100mph on the motorway to be a custodial offence, which means they will feel justified in using the helicopter. In Germany or Italy you aren't even breaking the law at 160km / h. three or four speeding tickets and you're disqualified. So no job, no income, can't pay the mortgage, house repossessed, wife and kids leave. You're living in a B&B. Pretty severe punishment for a bit of speeding, right?

Also the cost of owning / driving a car, which is literally a lifeline in rural areas, is constantly increasing. Petrol at £0.85 per litre, road fund licence, £165 and insurance: Annual third party for an early-twenties driver for a £50.00 car would be over £1,000. If the car were insured (basic third party) rather than the driver (as in Japan), insurance would be affordable.

– State, company and private pensions fiasco leading to introduction of "work to 70" (work till you drop) before you can draw the state pension. This was the last straw for many that were considering flying the coop. Low income, high taxes (direct and indirect) mean many people cannot provide for their retirement.

And issues that are important to some and insignificant to others:
– Systematic destruction of the farming industry.
– House prices make owning their own house an impossible dream for many first-time buyers.
– Total ban on firearms ownership (in retrospect, a prerequisite to introduction of the police state).
– Lack of service in retailing, general rudeness and hostility. Clinically depressed population.
– Ban on hunting with hounds.
– British women.
– Going into Europe.
– The weather.

So there you are in sunny UK; Gordon Brown won't let the housing market crash, at least until the general election next summer is history. You can cash out your real estate investment which has gone up by a factor of three since you bought it as a repossession in 1993. You realise the futility of working for defeat of Tony Blair or even the re-defeat of George W. A million dollars doesn't buy you that much in the way real estate in Tokyo, where the garaging space rental for your car is more than renting a two-up, two-down bachelor pad in Silom. In Tokyo the cost of living is some three times higher than Bangkok, while the English teaching scene is a pale shadow of its former self. However, with premises you can still cover outgoings with English classes for housewives and kids. But Tokyo always was essentially "well paid" entry-level work, but now the free-lance Caucasian foreigners (aka rats) are leaving the sinking ship. But there are so many restrictions on other business activities, both cultural and bureaucratic.

Thailand, and Bangkok in particular offer a fresh canvas. If you have the funds so as not to be burdened by paid employment and have the capacity to put yourself about, then there are a lot of opportunities and fewer restrictions. Hey, you could even operate a website. If Thailand is going to be your home, then a live-in business partner is up there on the list of priorities. But until you make the ultimate sacrifice and get hitched to "Miss Right", there are plenty of "Miss Not Quite Rights" in the soft toy department to take up the slack. And face it, in somewhere like Bangkok you are a colourful local character, back in the UK you are a bum. Essentially washed up on the beach.

So it's your call sunshine. You only go round once, which from my perspective is quite enough.

Stickman's thoughts:

Talk about food for thought.

To author of this article wishes to remain anonymous (to avoid the British government?!)