Readers' Submissions

Fact Checker: From One American to Another


Believe it or not, I am a fairly libertarian fellow and I am proud to be an American. I have a number of years of government service under my belt, my son is about to be deployed to Afghanistan, and my father was wounded in France in WWII. I voted for Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush (once apiece). Not that this matters but I want you to understand why it pains me to have to put my fact-checker hat back on and call out a fellow American for the way he has portrayed my country. Certainly, it is not perfect. If you have an opinion about America, good or bad, then I have no problem with you expressing it. But, as I have said before, you are not entitled to your own facts. So when you start making stuff up to support your case that America has all these crazy rules or that you should never bring your tee-ruk here, well then you leave me no choice.

"What judge in the USA is going to enforce a (prenuptial) contract against a young, exploited girl married to a sixty year old, dirty man? (The judge's opinion, not mine.)"

The fact is that prenuptial agreements can be broken but not based on age differences or sympathy for the plaintiff. If there is proof the prenup was signed under pressure, coercion, duress, fraud, undue influence or bad intent, then the document can be voided. Also, if you put silly conditions in, like she can't exceed 150 lbs of weight, then you will be laughed out of court. I know many guys put their faith in these documents, but the truth is if you clearly segregate your assets before marriage, then you are relatively safe in divorce.

"She has old fashioned family values that still exist in the Far East. Maybe,… but will she retain those values after she's exposed to American daytime television? When she is shopping and a fellow Filipino talks to her in their common language and tells her what a loser you are and how she should trade up, will she listen?"

The last I was in either country, daytime and nighttime "soap operas" were much more steamy and riddled with unfaithful spouses than their American counterparts. I would be much more worried if my wife was watching "Fox News" as I might come home one night to find a Glock 9mm at my head with her demanding where I had been. The fact is any woman from any culture can get bored or embarrassed by their husband and move on to greener pastures, especially when there is a significant age difference. This is not a phenomena that is limited to SE Asian brides.

"Ms. Boxer got a law passed that makes it illegal to marry someone you meet on the Internet without actually traveling to their country and meeting them in person. No more ''mail order brides'', you bad man. George Bush signed that one into law."

This was a tough one to research as the author has all of his facts wrong. The last major change in our immigration law that affected marrying foreign brides was the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, which was signed by Bill Clinton. This bill greatly tightened immigration procedures; not to deprive wife-needy American men from their foreign brides, but to clamp down on the phony marriage-to-citizenship business that was rampant at the time. It was also supposed to help tighten security. Didn't help five years later, did it?

"Bush also signed a bill that makes United States law follow you all across the world in every country. Basically, you are owned by America and break any American law in let's say China then you could face American jail even if said act is perfectly legal in China. Look it up if you don't believe me."

Again, tough to research due to the original assertion being so completely wrong. I believe the author is referring to Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 and was signed by Jimmy Carter. This law specifically deals with bribing officials while overseas, even though bribing may be legal under local law. For those starting to sweat from all those 100 baht notes you have handed over to the police, this law is designed to prevent American companies from bribing foreign officials for political or contractual favors. There's much more to this law but I think this is the only part relevant to what the author was talking about.

The only other item I could find about breaking US laws overseas are the federal laws against traveling to other countries to have sex with minors, whether or not it is allowed locally (are there any places like this?) As this section was revised and signed into law in 2008 by George Bush, hopefully this isn't the law the author is complaining about, as this is a wonderful law to have on the books for any country.

"Maybe, you've had enough. You are going to take all your money, move to Manila, and apply for Philippine citizenship. First off, you'll never become a full citizen with all the rights of a born native in most countries that I've read about, exception being the United States of America. "

Thank you, author, this was much easier to find. As many of us know, you can become citizens of other countries, even Thailand and the Philippines. The question is why?

"Secondly, thanks to Representative Charley Wrangle who attached it to a bill, if you give up your United States citizenship then you are subject to a fifty percent tax on all your assets. It's true! Plus, the IRS expects you to still pay income tax for ten years after ditching your citizenship. Again, too crazy to be true, but it is!"

The author is referring to the Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act (HEART) Act of 2008, signed by George Bush. This law is primarily designed to help military families receive federal stimulus payments and other considerations per taxes. A small portion of the bill tightens taxes on expatriates giving up their US citizenship. This was to make sure that people who left the country paid their rightful taxes on their accumulated property made in the US. The best example of this is value gained on the sale of a house which is taxable (unless you buy a new house with the proceeds). If you sell it and then give up your citizenship, then you will have to pay taxes on any gain "recognized to the extent it exceeds $600,000." Whether that tax is 50% or not (I seriously doubt it) it is the same tax you would have paid anyway.

The last sentence is completely out of context. If you become a citizen of another country but don't give up your US citizenship, then yes, the US government still considers you partly their property and you have to file. But if you have given up your citizenship and signed all the forms, have paid what tax you owe, then enjoy the life of a Thai or Philippine citizen. The IRS won't care a lick about you.

"As I write this, the Philippine government is cracking down on "human trafficking" i.e. the police raid a bar that has hookers in it, rescue the women, put it all on television, and tell Washington to send more foreign aid. And for being such good world citizens and protecting legal age prostitutes from bad, evil men the current administration will send them hundreds of millions of your tax dollars to them for a job well done. Yahoo!!"

Yes, closing the brothels for more American government aid, ah, if it were only that easy. The fact is the American government spends about $100M in aid to the Philippines each year; mostly for military aid and human aid, especially for children. None for closing brothels. I suspect if there is a "raid for aid" scheme, it is to attract money from NGO's who are interested in this issue.

"As a side note, an American cannot take over $100 in coinage out of the USA. It is illegal! Also, try taking over $10,000 out of America in cash, and you may end up being raped in a federal prison. Yes, prison same sex rape happens all the time and most goes unreported. Isn't it great to have so much freedom?"

This is the last but certainly not the least hard point to debunk. It is common knowledge, and confirmed by research, that you can take $10,000 in cash (including coins) out of the US before you have to report it to US Customs. In fact, after some minutes of searching, I couldn't find any limit on the amount of cash you can take out of the US. His scenario of being swept into prison for carrying $120 through customs, is just so much right-wing silliness or a latent homosexual's dream. Even his statement that prison rape "happens all the time" doesn't stand up, as the rate in the US is 2% of the prisoners experience it. There is nothing on under reporting, so I will have to rely on the author's personal experience for that.

You may have noticed a number of my right-wing references here. For you non-US readers, the names of people the author has identified for making America a police state, are famous left-wing politicians. So, I suspect the author was expressing a political opinion more than he was trying to pass on factual information. So be it, but please try to use real facts to make your case.



Stickman's thoughts:

I let this one pass….but cannot help but feel it may have been more appropriate as email feedback to the author of the original article.