I have written before, over five years ago, about the things that Americans (and Canadian, Australians, Europeans, among others) will hate about Chile. The core of that list has not changed much, but there are a number of other things to add that I have noticed as others come down to Chile, which seem to be particularly odious and often complained about. In fact, they are so annoying that people start forgetting about the bad things “back home” and begin to think that the grass is greener on the other side.
In this syndrome, they tend to remember the good things about the old country and forget the good things about Chile. Here are the top things that immigrants hate, especially after having been in Chile for four or five years (which is about the time that the syndrome really begins to kick in.
Do you really want to go back to “Egypt”? Does the security of that slavery entice you as well as the old friends, old customs, “leeks and onions,” etc.? I suggest that you think before you leap and make a rational decision based on the facts. This post is meant to help serve that purpose.
1. Hassles of the Chilean bureaucracy (and onerous errands, called trámites);
2. Lying, cheating and mistrust;
4. Stealing and pick-pocketing;
5. Workers not following through and/or otherwise doing shoddy work;
6. Lack of conscientiousness (or selfishness) in public: driving, shopping or even walking down the sidewalk;
7. Lack of manners and civility (e.g., cutting in line)–less of a problem now than it used to be;
9. Inordinate preoccupation of Chilean people with their image, and arbitrary rules for social behavior;
10. High cost of imported goods, banking services and restaurants;
11. Immodesty in summer, and scantily clad women on billboards; and
12. Inconveniences from leftist demonstrations as well as their occasional impact on business.
The other five items in the original post (i.e., risk of one’s wife falling into adultery, often long waiting in line, less gun freedom, national ID cards, issues with driving like random check point stops and high fuel costs) are also annoying but I have found that they are much less bothersome than the items listed above–at least for the people I run into and have listened to. Also, #3, #9 and #10 were not in the original list (I really missed those three in the original post and should have included them), and I broke out #6 and #7, and #5 and #8 out of the general concept listed for each item. Head lice for young girls, lack of English spoken, stupid regulation, the cowardly attitude of not dealing directly with a person, damaging labor laws, leftist activism, air pollution in Santiago (although this problem can be avoided by not living in Santiago) and zero alcohol tolerance for drivers are a considerable nuisance obviously but they are not problems unique to Chile, and any one of these seven items could even occur in a First World country (and at least one-half of them do), so I have not pointed them out as peculiar defects of Chile in the list above. Of course such things are irksome wherever they are implemented, including Chile. So in trying to be objective, these thirteen additional problems add to the irritation and I thought I would at least mention them.
I do not want to minimize the disagreeable nature of all of the items listed. However, I think it is also worth making a list of the good things in Chile that are absent in the home country and used to really bug us when we lived up there. As bad as the aforementioned things are, it could be (and is) worse in other countries. The list of things is not in any particular order. What is considered to be the most egregious violations will depend on whom one asks.
1. Child Services Division (or DSS) does not exist like it does in the USA and thus there is only very rarely a random separation of children from their parents in Chile;
2. It is not illegal to homeschool one’s children;
3. Abortion is still illegal, other than the limited use of “the morning after pill;”
4. Society is not politically correct in the workplace, the family, the church or at school;
5. Police are not jack-booted thugs with a power trip, as in many cases elsewhere they seem to be;
6. There is no April 15th grief: for employed individuals, filing tax returns is effectively “optional” although it still usually makes sense to do the 10-30 minute online declaración in order to get a refund;
7. There is little influence of radical feminism; most women surveyed still prefer to stay at home;
8. There is less influence of radical ecology ideology than most developed places on the planet;
9. Family court and domestic violence scams far less egregious in Chile than places like the USA; note that I am not saying that the Chile counterparts are wonderful, just that the ones in North America, Europe and Australia and New Zealand are so bad that they make Chile’s relatively benign;
10. There is no ATF, TSA, Homeland Security, Tasering, epidemic police brutality or drone killings;
11. Chile neither polices the world nor attacks other countries;
12. There is little threat that someone will bomb Chile or that it will attract the attention of international terrorists;
13. Taxes are low–upper middle class people pay only 6% to 7% of their income on all taxes combined;
14. There is less control by Monsanto, etc. over the food supply, and little high-fructose corn syrup or GMOs in products sold in the supermarket;
15. Inflation is usually under control with a central bank that is more “sound” than nearly all others because all is bound to the Unidad de Fomento (UF) that mitigates the impact or risk of inflation;
16. Social Security is private;
17. Unemployment insurance is private;
18. Medical insurance is far cheaper than in the USA, making quality care more accessible and frequent;
19. Medical care in northeastern Santiago is excellent, which cannot always be said for the rationed care in many parts of the First World;
20. Internet and cellular service is generally faster and more reliable in Chile than in much of the USA;
21. Libertarians are listened to, published and can possibly get a candidate elected to Congress;
22. Traditional family values are still highly-regarded: children do not “divorce” parents or abandon the elderly as much as in other places, and even divorced parents tend to share time with children more;
23. There is much less violent crime: muggings, carjackings, murders, but ATMs are often robbed;
24. There is little racism, except against Mapuche and other local Indians;
25. There are far fewer homeless people than in the USA, although stray dogs are an endemic problem.
26. Property rights are strong, and much less property is confiscated on account of illegal drugs or Rico raids, not to mention spotted owls or wetlands;
27. Corruption is low, although the same can be said for many First World countries;
28. There are no occupancy and housing quality requirements that raise costs and make life harder for poor people, even if the environment does become more aesthetically pleasing to others with such impositions;
29. The national debt is very low as a percentage of GDP;
30. The quality (and sweetness, if applicable) of fruits and vegetables is higher, while prices are vastly lower;
31. Unemployment is far lower (currently at 6.1%), but this fact mainly benefits Spanish-speakers rather than the typical immigrant from the First World;
32. Homosexuality is largely in the closet and is widely frowned upon;
33. Your chance of surviving a major natural disaster is higher in Chile than elsewhere in the First World (e.g., Italy, New Zealand);
34. People like large families in Chile and many “wish” that they could “afford” more children;
35. Chile has a booming, bustling, growing and dynamic economy;
36. Spanking one’s children is not a crime and is even encouraged by the police;
37. There is no Obama Care or mandatory socialized medicine;
38. There is no institutionalized welfare state or entitlement mentality;
39. The Chilean federal government’s budget is so small it is about the same size as South Korea’s biggest company: Samsung;
40. It is relatively easy and cheap to obtain a residency visa and eventual citizenship if one follows the rules and the process;
41. There is no DEA, EPA, FDA or FCC, and their Chilean equivalents are far more benign.
42. There is no production of “kidde porn” and in general Chileans do not molest or abuse Children at near the rate as these crimes are done in other (even First World) countries, making Chile a relatively safe place for children;
43. The state does not constrain churches about what they may or may not preach;
44. It is not offensive to display the Ten Commandments or religious symbols in public or in government buildings;
45. There are many true and not manipulative or USA-controlling free trade agreements with many places around the world;
46. There is no NSA, HARP program or spying on citizens;
47. There is no long term capital gains tax for individuals that sell appreciated property that has been owned for more than one year;
48. Estate taxes and investment gain taxes can be avoided through life insurance (i.e., there is no TEFRA act).
49. Chile seems to have fewer idiots in the political process: no one nearly as intellectually outrageous as Federal Reserve chairperson Janet Yellen, Congressmen Hank Johnson, Barbara Boxer, Diane Fienstein, Nancy Pelosi, Sheila Jackson Lee, or most Republican congressmen, or Airhead politicians Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, and President Barack Obama, although in all fairness Chile does have some outrageous communists and six of them are presently in Congress;
50. Chile does not have Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Berkeley, Stanford, Wisconsin-Madison, or a hundred other universities that promote ideologies and policies that undermine freedom.
51. Marriages are registered rather than a “license” (permission) being “granted” by the state and it is possible to remove the incentive for a woman to divorce her husband by from the start (at the time of marriage registration) separating the assets completely (separación total de bienes);
52. There is banking secrecy that protects account holder information in all but the most severe cases that require a warrant from the high court; and
53. There are opportunities to hire inexpensive (especially outside of northeastern Santiago) household help (maids) that serve as cleaners, babysitters, cooks and launderers.
54. Chilean take civic and religious holidays more seriously than the average American nowadays. They are also much less commercialized. No one dies because the stores are not open 24 hours leading up to Christmas. (Thanks to Frank and Madeline Szabo for this one.)
55. Chileans do not allow women to be placed on the front lines in the military and to my knowledge it does not happen with firefighters either. When the next big U.S. war comes along, it will be hard to justify not drafting women as well as men given the current state of things. (Thanks to Claudia LeBoeuf for this one.)
If you know of something else that I have inadvertently left off the list, please make note of it in the comments section. I hope that reading these lists gives one some perspective: reminding residents of why they left in the first place and encouraging newcomers why Chile is a freer, saner place than the old country. After all, why would anyone want to put up with the four or five dozen things in the second list just to avoid the dozen or two things in the first?
That is not to say that the things in the first list are not bad or unpleasant. They most certainly are! But surely they pale by comparison to the overall horrors of the second list.
Another problem all people tend to have is that the manifest sins and shortcomings of their own culture tend to bothers them less than those of another country. We grow accustomed to them. Therefore, Chile’s national sins and defects seems worse to us than those to which we have grown used to.
After you have been in Chile for a while, be sure to read this post and refresh you memory about the reality of things. There is no perfect place. But Chile is probably the most affordable country in the list of the top ten freest countries in the world. On top of that it is beautiful, and gringos, and basically anyone immigrating from north of the Tropic of Cancer, are welcome and are often held in high regard.
Immigrants can live well here. Wives are often of higher quality than other places ( for men seeking to be married). There are many places to choose for First World living with all of its conveniences, especially in northeastern Santiago, Viña del Mar, Zapallar, Pucón, Puerto Varas and La Serena. There are also wonderful places to live in the countryside.
Christian Theology of Public Policy: Highlighting the American Experience (2006)
Bible and Government: Public Policy from a Christian Perspective (2003)
A Primer on Modern Themes in Free Market Economics and Policy (2009)These and other resources can be found on the Escape America Now resource page.Buy Dr. Cobin’s Public Policy books at Amazon.com: