The contrast: the United States of America with South Africa
In a moment of irrational exuberance, I thought of buying an apartment in Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa. My sanity cautioned me, so I will not do it. Why not?
In and around Cape Town, with views of The University of Cape Town, Cape Point, Franschhoek, and Paternoster
I was born in Cape Town, or more accurately Claremont, a southern suburb of Cape Town 7 miles (12 kilometers) from the city on the peninsula. After marriage, Linda and I stayed in an apartment in Claremont. A year later moved to an apartment in Green Point, a 10-minute drive north of the city, next relocating to Johannesburg 870 miles (1,400 kilometers) northeast of Cape Town. We returned to the Cape to live in a rented house in Rondebosch East and then in Tokai, 13 miles (21 kilometers) further south from the city on the peninsula. Our final move within South Africa was relocating back to Johannesburg. Our daughter was born in Johannesburg, our son in Cape Town.
The fire damage is seen at The University of Cape Town, Mostert’s Mill, and Rhodes Memorial Restaurant
I compulsively follow South African online media reports daily, as I do to keep up with American news, and have subscriptions to two U.S. newspapers, one local and one national. My Facebook page shows numerous daily photographs and videos originating from Cape Town and its environs. In addition, I get daily updates from family and friends overseas regarding current developments. The recent fires on Table Mountain that destroyed the library at the University of Cape Town, my alma mater, and historic Moster’s Mill, along with the Rhodes Memorial restaurant and tea garden, are tragic examples. For the record, I do not obsessively follow developments in Johannesburg, where we lived for several years, including building our own home and from where we emigrated. Please understand me; I love the Cape and environs. I love our regular trips “home.”
If you have never had the pleasure of traveling to Cape Town, then it may be hard for you to comprehend the stunning beauty of this city and the surrounding areas in the Western Cape. They have fantastic weather to amplify the splendor.
Wisconsin, United States of America
In December 1986, we moved to Brookfield, Wisconsin, United States of America, a city 14 miles (22 kilometers) due west of Milwaukee located on the shores of Lake Michigan. Milwaukee is a city two hours’ drive north of Chicago in the Midwest of the U.S. Overtime; we owned two houses in Brookfield and 13-years ago moved to our current location, a condominium in adjacent New Berlin. You can learn more about our condo here:
There is no doubt in my mind that emigrating to the U.S. was one of the wisest moves we made in our lifetime. The education system for our daughter and son was the best available. After excelling at junior and high school, they attended private universities graduating cum laude in four years. They both hold executive positions within their respective companies. Only 41% of students graduate college or universities in four years in the U.S. Now retired, Linda and I go for 40-minute walks daily in all weather conditions. It is essential to understand that we adapted to a four-season climate over our 35-years in Wisconsin, the Dairy State. We transform from the extreme cold with below-freezing weather in the middle of winter with the need for our central heating to the heat and humidity of summer with central air conditioning. Our home provides year-round comfort.
Consequently, we have clothing to dress appropriately in each stage of the varying climate. At the change of each season, we rearrange our wardrobe to keep the required clothing front and center. I must add that when you look at the weather patterns in the U.S., we are in the perfect location not to experience tornadoes and other extreme weather conditions that impact communities to the south and east of us. Our weather is the motivation for us to drive a symmetrical all-wheel-drive Subaru Outback, the safest vehicle to handle all types of weather conditions.
We have not forsaken South Africa and almost every year travel to visit family and friends. 2013 was a unique year for me. We flew to Cape Town on vacation; I returned in March for the 50th anniversary of our high school reunion, returning in November to attend my dad’s funeral. Strange as it may seem, sometimes people will quiz me in grocery stores in Cape Town to ask my country of origin? I suspect my word usage and some pronunciations have changed over time. It is a traffic light, not a robot! It is a trunk, not a boot! It is a schedule (sked-ule), not a schedule (shed-ule)! After our children started grade school in Brookfield, we attended a parent-teacher conference, and the statement was made, “your children sound normal.” We are too old to change our accents. Add to our situation, Linda and I speak to each other “normally,” which inhibits accent change. Charlize Theron did a better job of adapting to a U.S. accent. She moved from South Africa with her mother to Europe and a year later, in 1993, at age 18, to Los Angeles. As an actress, she was motivated to adapt to a local accent quickly. Trevor Noah moved to the U.S. from South Africa in 2011 at age 27 and has not altogether lost his accent.
As a result of the bitter cold in winter with snow and ice, principally from December through February in 1999, we purchased a one-week timeshare in Florida for use during our winter months. Our week could be extended to a two-week stay using the lock-off unit for a week and the large unit for the second week. The investment provides us with flexibility. We could trade our home location to stay in other resort locations such as Hawaii, the Caribbean, South Carolina, and southern California, each locale that we enjoyed over the years.
Our desire and attraction for a warmer climate in our winter had me thinking of a more permanent place in Cape Town to support our annual visits. I have a school friend who lives in the U.S. with a holiday home in Cape Town.
As we venture into our neighborhood, we are completely secure, with absolutely no concern for our safety. That said, The United States of America is no utopia.
Racism and gun ownership are significant problems in the U.S. Police; stopping blacks while driving has led to several killings. Sadly, the trend of fatal police shootings in the United States is increasing, with a total of 292 civilians having got shot, 62 of whom were Black, in the first four months of 2021. Our local and national TV news features the latest victims daily. In 2020, there were 1,021 fatal police shootings, and in 2019 there were 999 fatal shootings. Additionally, the rate of fatal police shootings among Black Americans was much higher than that for any other ethnicity, standing at 36 fatal shootings per million of the population as of April 2021. There are 330 million people in the U.S. with 393 million firearms. More guns than people! According to data from the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive, there were 19,379-gun violence deaths in the U.S. in 2020, including 300 children who were shot and killed. The statistic excludes suicides involving guns, which consistently account for an additional 20,000 to 25,000 each year. A further 39,427 people received injuries by firearms in 2020.
Of one thing that we can be sure of, Republicans will never address gun violence in America.
U.S. Congress passed the Second Amendment on September 25, 1789. It was ratified December 15, 1791, and states, “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” More than 800,000 sworn law enforcement officers now serve in the United States in 17,985 U.S. police agencies, including City Police Departments, County Sheriff’s Offices, State Police/Highway Patrol, and Federal Law Enforcement Agencies. Aside from law enforcement, the U.S. has a Department of Defense (DoD) comprising Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, and Coast Guard are the armed forces of the United States. The Army National Guard and the Air National Guard are reserve components. With over 1.4 million men and women on active duty, and 718,000 civilian personnel, the DoD is the nation’s largest employer. Another 1.1 million serve in the National Guard and Reserve forces.
Why do we need each home to be a militia?
The U.S. has moved on since 1789, but Republicans still hold the firm view and belief that we live in such danger that we need more guns than people in the country. The resulting carnage be dammed. Understand, too, that automatic and semi-automatic rifles with magazines that can hold more than one hundred rounds of ammunition have helped our communities’ mass shootings. There have been 2,128 mass shootings since 2013, roughly one per day, where four or more people got killed in one incident. Police killed 1,127 people in 2020, 121 shot dead after police stopped them for a traffic violation. Our compassionate President Joe Biden wants to address the gun violence issue, but Republicans who control the U.S. Senate will never allow reform. The Republicans are beholden to the bankrupt National Rifle Association (NRA), who help fund the elections of compliant Republicans, and a few Democrats and invest heavily in lobbying Congress to follow their will.
When relocating to the U.S., we were forbidden from bringing guns or wine. I was the owner of three handguns in South Africa. I had participated in training and firearm sport and experienced limited hunting using both a shotgun and rifle. I spent hours reloading bullets. I will readily admit that with that experience, I am firmly against gun ownership in the U.S. Why is it necessary? Certainly not for protection in a safe country.
Growing up in South Africa, we were experts in biblically supported racism through apartheid (separate development) policies. We learned that blacks could not go to heaven because they do not have a soul. Frankly, it did not prepare me for what we discovered in the U.S. Throughout this country’s history, the hallmarks of American democracy – opportunity, freedom, and prosperity – have been primarily reserved for white people through the intentional exclusion and oppression of people of color. The deep racial and ethnic inequities that exist today are a direct result of structural racism: the historical and contemporary policies, practices, and norms that create and maintain white supremacy. The U.S. has not won the fight against racial residential segregation. The U.S. has scarcely begun a serious fight against the concentrated poverty that remains the most toxic legacy of American apartheid. Racially exclusionary zoning practices persist. Public housing authorities perpetuated segregation well into the 1990s; such methods have not ended just because they are illegal. Illegal discrimination against black and Hispanic renters and owners goes on. And whites still seek out and are steered to predominantly white neighborhoods.
We purchased our home in the upscale neighborhood of Brookfield in October 1986, a few months before permanently relocating. The house was two years old and had been repossessed by the bank because its owner, a builder, had declared bankruptcy. After we arrived, we learned from neighbors that they had significant concern as the rumor mill spread the message that the home had been purchased by “Africans.” The neighbors knew that the value of their homes would collapse, and the neighborhood would go to hell due to our presence. Once they realized that we were white Africans, they arranged a block party to be introduced to and meet our friendly neighbors.
I am puzzled by the fact that, as whites, we need to keep our race pure. If any person is the product of a mixed race, they are no longer allowed to identify as white! Famous mixed-race people in America include Barack Obama (white mother and black father), Kamala Harris (white father and Indian mother), Tiger Woods (black father and Asian mother), Malcolm Gladwell (white father and black mother), Trevor Noah (speaks seven languages with a white father, and black mother), and Megan Markle (white father and black mother). Nationwide, approximately 2.4 percent of the population, over 6.8 million Americans, marked an identification with two or more races. According to 23andme.com, my DNA shows 92.2% European, primarily French and German descent, 2.9% East Asian and Native American, 2.7% Sub-Saharan African, and 2.0 % Central and South Asian. My father was of British and Dutch descent, and my mother French and Portuguese. I am not too sure where the other ancestry originates. Can I honestly classify myself as purely white? In my South African days, under the white apartheid government, the pencil test was critical. If they placed a pencil in your hair, did it fall out? If yes, you were white; if not, you were black. Very conclusive!
The United States is the wealthiest country globally, and it has the most significant wealth gap. The United States leads the world in the growth of financial assets and booming stock markets. Its wealth distribution is more disproportionate than any other country. On average, Americans between 45 and 54 have a net worth of US$727,500, while the median is $124,200. In 2020, about 580,466 homeless people were living in the United States. On our recent trip to Florida, we witnessed people living under the bridge. Florida is an attractive destination because of favorable weather conditions. Locally in Milwaukee, we have approximately 970 homeless people where meals are provided, and homeless shelters can accommodate some of the needy. As a wealthy country, Republicans will not support the poor because this is a free-market democracy where we all need to fend for ourselves. Socialism to the Republicans is intolerable unless to help the top 1% wealthy and huge corporations. In today’s paper, I read that our Republican state senator, Ron Johnson, reputedly worth $10 million, with a base salary of $174,000 (or $3,346/week) for doing nearly nothing in Congress due to COVID, wants to block the unemployed in Wisconsin from getting a weekly $300 boost to their benefit. According to Johnson, the benefit will stop the unemployed from looking for work!
The Department of Homeland Security has advised that the greatest threat the U.S. faces is white supremacists. Having a xenophobic, narcissist, alleged rapist, past president Donald Trump recording 30,537 lies over his four years in office, who by his admission, “loves to grab women by their pussies.” As President, Trump fueled hate groups that ultimately led to the insurrection of the Capitol Building on January 6, 2021. Trump’s followers attempted to overthrow our Congress, with the wild notion of installing Trump as a lifelong dictator. The action resulted in five deaths and significant damage to our Capitol Building. Trump fueled division in the country, religiously expounding his “Big Lie” that the election was stolen from him because of all the illegal voting in the country, a situation not experienced previously with any other president. Trump refused to attend the orderly handing over ceremony to Joe Biden, a first in U.S. history. Republicans, by and large, hang onto his every word and deed to reform Republicans into Trump’s image. My prediction is that Trump will successfully split the Republican Party in two, those racists pro-Trump, and the balance pro-America who honor the constitution.
So, where are we culturally or politically in a very divided United States of America? We live with far-right-wing extremist radio presenters, for example, Sean Hannity and Glen Beck. Then we have T.V. channels such as Fox News, OAN (One America News, describing itself as one of Trump’s most significant supporters), and Newsmax. More right-wing influence with Internet sites such as Drudge Report, and The Daily Stormer, to identify a few. All these media channels are sources of unfounded conspiracy theories. Many followers of these sites are less educated Americans who do not read or travel to broaden their perspectives. Suppose we take the COVID-19 pandemic as an example. In that case, the Trump following and Evangelical Christians believe in conspiracy theories spouted about how bad it is to wear masks or subject themselves to getting vaccinated. The result impacts the U.S. from gaining herd immunity and moving closer to society to socialize, shop, travel, and return to previously everyday life.
Taxes: The wealthiest 400 Americans pay a lower income tax rate than working-class Americans. The richest 1% are paying the lowest income tax rate since World War II. The wealthiest 1% hold a larger share of the nation’s wealth than in more than a century. Biden’s capital gains tax, if passed, would only affect the top 0.32% of Americans. The 2017 Trump tax law cut the corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent and shifts toward a territorial tax system, in which multinational corporations’ foreign profits largely no longer face U.S. tax. Fifty-five of America’s largest corporations did not pay a cent in federal income tax. These tax cuts overwhelmingly benefit wealthy shareholders and highly paid executives.
Overall, it is hard to identify any inflection points around the TCJA (Tax Cuts and Jobs Act), which Congress passed in December 2017. Despite the Trump Administration’s rosy promises that the post-TCJA economy would boom, it had instead grown on many dimensions at roughly the same steady, unspectacular pace as it did before the passage of the tax law, according to Mr. Burman. He was a Treasury Department official during the Clinton administration. However, he said, “If there are positive economic effects that I didn’t expect, I’m not aware of those.” By cutting taxes, the law gave businesses and individuals more money to spend, expanding the economy. But Mr. Burman says the long-run benefits the law’s authors promised—business investment and significant real wage growth—have not materialized. Business investment rose in 2018 but has started shrinking in recent quarters amid uncertainty over trade policy. And even that economic stimulus has not been particularly well-targeted, he said, because too much of the tax cut went to high-income taxpayers who are less likely to spend any additional money they get. And the law’s hefty price tag has not been offset by more tax dollars flowing to government coffers. Corporate tax receipts are down 23% since fiscal 2017.
The Congressional Budget Office projected the Republican tax cuts would widen the deficit by $1.9 trillion over a decade. To be exact, Trump deemed his tax cuts “rocket fuel for our economy” that would kickstart a “rebirth of American industry.” That rebirth did not arrive, as evidenced by various indicators of economic growth and labor-market health. The tax cut linked to the record-low unemployment rate seen before the pandemic ignores several previous years of expansion. The growth that ended in March 2020 predated Trump for several years and was the longest in U.S. history; job creation from 2012 to 2019 trended at about 2 million to 2.5 million nonfarm payrolls per year. Trump also claimed his tax policy would supercharge business investment, but data details an increase that paled compared to prior expansions. Domestic business investment climbed by roughly $251 billion from the first quarter of 2017 to its peak in the first quarter of 2019. Yet gains were just as significant and more sustained during the dot-com boom of the 1990s and in the immediate wake of the financial crisis.
QAnon is spreading amongst evangelicals. QAnon is a virtual cult that began in late 2017. According to the conspiracy theory, former President Donald Trump is secretly working to stop a group of child sex traffickers. And an anonymous government insider called “Q” is believed to have shared secret information about that fight via cryptic online posts. Q allegedly last posted online on December 8. Q’s messaging tactics draw from many themes in Christianity. As Daniel Burke, CNN’s former religion editor, wrote, “According to the religious view of QAnon, Q is a postmodern prophet, “Q drops” (aka his messages) are sacred texts and Trump is a messianic figure who will conjure “The Storm,” an apocalyptic revelation exposing evildoers.” Conspiracy theories find believers in many faiths. But the QAnon conspiracy theory is more popular today among evangelicals than people of other religions, according to a study by the conservative American Enterprise Institute. “The Biblical worldview is that there’s a God who’s in control of the whole world. And one day Jesus is going to come back, he’s going to judge the wicked,” Kendall said. With QAnon, “there is a Q that knows everything, and Donald Trump is going to come back and judge the wicked, set up his rule, and his followers are going to live in their little Utopia. But members of the flock aren’t the only ones susceptible in church communities. Some Christian pastors are also preaching to them.
Who is Donald J. Trump that the Republicans revere and hold in such high esteem?
When Trump falsely asserted that Barack Obama was born in Africa and thus illegitimate as President, it was permission for racism to blossom and fester. When he claimed he saw Muslims in New Jersey celebrating the September 11, 2001 destruction of the World Trade Centers, it was a vicious lie to feed prejudice and never happened.
Trump followers worship him because he is proud to be white, dumb, a liar, uninformed, sexually obsessed, clueless about important critical societal issues, exhibits extreme right-wing political views, hatred, and loathing for Obama, disdain for international and economic matters that he clearly does not understand, nor cares to learn, uncivil, inarticulate, self-centered, hateful, vindictive, racists, xenophobic, homophobic, Islamophobia, pseudo-religious, faux wealthy, contempt for the rule of law including the constitution, very loyal to his version of the Republican Party and their loyal supporters, and is always the maligned, harshly criticized, suffering victim. His track record shows that he cruelly mocked the disabled; Trump is willing to tweet in ways that provide red meat to his base of deplorables, changing his views constantly to appeal to the seemingly disenfranchised. Everything they see in Trump is what they see and pride in themselves.
The United States situation is puzzling where 40% of the population worships the ground that Trump walks on. He got elected on the premise that as a businessman, he would perform better than any politician. How could the Evangelical Christians fall for such a hoax? There is so much speculation about the hold Trump had over the recent former leader of the Evangelical Church; Jerry Falwell, Jr. Jerry proclaimed that all the faithful must vote for Trump. We later learn that Jerry watched his wife repeatedly having sex with the pool boy. Another athlete came forward from Liberty University with a similar accusation. That got Jerry fired from Liberty University with a $10 million golden parachute, and worse yet, the loss of income for his immediate family, who was drinking from the same well. When Christians prayed over him, Trump told Bob Woodward, “can you believe that insane stuff?”
Trump told more than 30,573 lies during his time in office. The site lists lie by category showing the number of times lies were repeated. Trump’s father gave him $1 million to start his business. That should read $400 million; just another blatant Trump lie to make himself out to be a phenomenally successful businessman. Mary Trump, who wrote about her uncle Donald is currently suing him for dramatically shortchanging her on her portion of Trump’s father Fred Trump’s estate when he died. Donald said his father’s net worth was about $30 million. It turns out Fred’s estate was at least $400 million. Trump has said that he is worth more than $10 billion but is the only President to refuse to divulge his tax returns. Then again, Trump has so many business failures: Trump Airlines, Trump beverages, Trump game, Trump Atlantic City Casino, Trump Taj Mahal Casino, Trump Marina Casino, Trump Plaza Casino, Trump Riverboat Casino, Trump Entertainment Resorts, Trump Magazines (Trump Style, Trump World), Trump Mortgage, Trump Steaks, Trump Travel (gotrump.com), TrumpNet, Trump Tower Tampa, Trump University, Trump Cologne, Trump Menswear, Trump Mattress, and Trump Vodka. The tally of losses and the impact on suppliers and contractors is incalculable. Many franchise products were dropped when Trump called Mexican’s rapists and criminals, and at the same time, the NBC TV network dropped his Apprentice program.
Trump repeatedly calls women names, including a phony, disrespectful, radical, extreme, and gold digger. Trump’s name-calling of women black and white is not new. He insulted Congresswoman Liz Cheney (for not supporting his “Big Lie”), Megan Markle (Duchess of Sussex), Elizabeth Warren (Senator), Hillary Clinton (former first lady), Nancy Pelosi (Speaker of the House of Representatives), Carly Fiorina (CEO HP), Omarosa Manigault Newman (former White House Aid), Megan Kelly (Fox TV host), Heidi Klum (supermodel), Alicia Machado (Miss Universe), Arianna Huffington (Huffington Post), Cher (musical artist), Anne Hathaway (actress), Maxine Waters (US Representative), Christine Blasey Ford (professor), Samantha Holvey (pageant contestant), Jessica Leeds (groped by Trump), Ivana Trump (first wife—raped), Kristin Anderson (photographer—groped), Jill Harth (businesswoman—groped), Lisa Boyne (entrepreneur—Trump looked up her skirt and commented on her underwear and genitals), Jessica Leeds (sexual conduct), Rachael Crooks (sexual conduct), Mariah Billado and Victoria Hughes (ogling at them in the nude in their dressing room while Miss Teen USA contestants), Temple Taggart (Miss Utah—Trump forced repeated kissing), Cathy Heller (mother with husband and children at Mar-a-Largo and forceful kissed her), Karena Virginia (yoga instructor—grabbed her breasts), Tasha Dixon and Bridget Sullivan (Miss USA contestants—ogled the girls while nude in the change rooms and hugged inappropriately), Melinda McGillivray (grabbed her buttocks during a concert at Mar-a-Largo), Natasha Stoynoff (People Magazine reporter, Trump sexually assaulted her and demanded an affair), Jennifer Murphy and Juliet Huddy (both kissed on the lips without consent), Ninni Laaksonen (Miss Finland groped backstage at Letterman show), Jessica Drake (adult film actress—grabbed and kissed her inviting her to his penthouse), Summer Zervos (The Apprentice contestant—grabbed her breast and kissed without consent), Cassandra Searies (USA Pageant—grabbed her buttocks and invited her to his hotel room), Alva Johnson (campaign staffer—kisses her without consent), Karen Johnson (kissed her, groped her, grabbed her genitals while at Mar-a-Largo), E. Jean Carrol (advice columnist—sexually assaulted her forcing his penis inside her in a dressing room). What is very troubling is that former Attorney General Bill Barr used taxpayer money in his attempt to get Trump off these rape charges. The incident took place before Trump was sworn into office.
In his years as a reality TV boss on “The Apprentice,” Donald Trump repeatedly demeaned women with sexist language, according to show insiders who said he rated female contestants by the size of their breasts and talked about which ones he’d like to have sex with.
In 1999 Trump wanted his father to change his will to cut his siblings out because Trump’s finances were in a dire strait, and his first wife was suing him for a fortune. A legal case will proceed regarding this matter.
For Trump, the law has been a weapon, a tool, that he has used with abandon to advance his interests and attack those of others. “I know lots about litigation,” he once declared. On another occasion, he restated the point colorfully: “I’m like a Ph.D. in litigation.” By the time Trump became the presumptive 2016 Republican nominee for the presidency, he had been involved in, by one count, 4,096 lawsuits. Trump has not been selective in the choice of targets or reluctant to pursue suits of dubious merit. The range of his targets over time is exceptional: He has sued people over unpaid royalties in licensing deals. He has sued Miss Pennsylvania. He has sued Bill Maher. He has sued the creator of Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune. He has sued Scotland. He has sued New Jersey. He has sued New York City, and he has sued New York state. He has sued Palm Beach, Florida. He has sued an architecture critic from Chicago. He has sued the secretary of the Interior and the National Indian Gaming Commission. He has sued people for using his surname in businesses even though it was also their surname. He has sued and been sued by longtime business partners. He has threatened to file countless lawsuits he then has not filed.
To repeat, how can American’s support this dotard? Are we in lockstep to be like other countries living under a dictatorship?
As one commentator put it somewhat succinctly:
- The “billionaire” who hides his tax returns.
- The “genius” who hides his college grades.
- The “businessman” who bankrupted three casinos and lost over $1 billion in 10 yrs.
- The “playboy” who pays for sex.
- The “virologist” who knew more than Dr. Fauci.
- The “leader of the free world” who said he “fell in love” with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.
- The “Christian” who does not go to church.
- The “President” who committed treason by turning a blind eye to Russian bounties on our soldiers.
- The “unifier” who calls white supremacists fine people.
- The “philanthropist” who defrauds charity.
- The “patriot” who dodged the draft five times.
- The “innocent man” who refused to testify.
- The “President” who took no responsibility against COVID-19.
- The “tough, strong” man who wears makeup and hairspray.
- The “deal maker” who never closed a deal.
- The “ex-president” who calls for sedition against America’s legitimate elected government.
As Republicans tell the story, this was a few visitors touring the Capitol on January 6, 2021
The most egregious is the role Trump played in causing the insurrection of the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Trump promotes the “Big Lie” that the election was stolen from him through fraud and illegal votes. In Arizona, they are inspecting the paper to see if it contains bamboo, a sign that ballots were sent for Asia! After numerous court cases, no fraud was identified. Republicans have proposed 250 new laws in 43 states to limit mail, early in-person, and Election Day voting. Essentially laws aimed at disadvantaging Black, Hispanic, and Asian voters who tend to vote Democrat. To read more about the origins of the Big Lie, go here: The making of a myth.
Trump’s legacy will include the fact that he was impeached twice as President but saved by Republicans. Trump dismissed the COVID-19 pandemic as a China virus, nothing more than flu, that could be treated by ingesting disinfectant. The Chinese virus comment led to attacks on members of the Asian community in the U.S. and Canada. Due to Trump’s contempt for the virus, more than 686,000 Americans died by September 2021.
After I retired, I took a position at a Subaru dealer selling vehicles, a brand that we already owned. It was not for the money, as the income was mainly commission-based, but more for the socialization. I only stayed four months. During my initial interview, I explained that we had plans to travel to South Africa for three weeks at year-end. The manager said that he could accommodate my request. Once I joined the privately held company, the manager who interviewed me had left to take a position with a competitor. My new manager, the owner’s son, informed me that each employee only has a one-week vacation allowance twelve months after the anniversary date of joining. He recommended that I resign and guaranteed that I will be rehired once I re-apply after my overseas trip. Frankly, I was mortified to hear how this manager treated our team, including women, dropping F-bombs in every sentence, and that was sufficient for me to elect not to rejoin this company. Working in the U.S. can be a shock.
Additional indignation, for the first time in my life, I was an hourly employee. I had to clock in and out by logging into a computer terminal when I arrived at work and before I left after my shift. Heaven help me if I forgot to log in or out—that would be an incident report on my personnel record!
I had quite a learning curve after our relocation to the U.S. The company that hired me facilitated our immigration through local immigration lawyers and only provided one week of vacation after the first year of employment. The company owner helped in many other ways, in that he spoke to a bank manager who facilitated financing, allowing us to purchase a home in October 1986 and provided a line of credit enabling us to purchase two new vehicles, a Pontiac 6000 for me, and Honda Accord for Linda. A few years later, after I started my business, I provided company cars to personnel that required travel to clients for sales or consulting purposes using my South African experiences. They could select any vehicle as long as they were not outrageously expensive. We covered all running costs, including insurance and maintenance. Only later I learned that it had negative tax consequences for the staff. They certainly enjoyed their vehicles. One wife commented that her husband did not require a salary as far as she was concerned, but she loved the car.
Please do not misconstrue my words. We have enjoyed our 34-years in the U.S. There have been notable exceptions. The night of “Shock and Awe” when George Bush decided to bomb Baghdad, Iraq on Friday, March 21, 2003—the day I ended my allegiance to the Republican party. I am grateful that we now have a compassionate president in Joe Biden who has already overturned many of Trump’s insane executive orders. Having laid out the case that the U.S. is not a total paradise, especially after four years of Trump, already rated as the worst President ever, how does South Africa stack up in general, and Cape Town in particular?
Cape Town, South Africa
On April 6, 1652, Jan van Riebeeck arrived in Cape Town to create a supply station for the Dutch East India Company, suppling ships sailing between The Netherlands and the Far East. They represented the first European settlement in what was later to become South Africa. Portuguese explorer Bartholomeu Dias was the first European to reach these shores in 1488 and named it the Cape of Storms, later renamed Cape of Good Hope. Vasco da Gama, also Portuguese, recorded his siting in 1497. Human occupation dates to between 15,000 and 12,000 years ago.
The Dutch controlled this region until 1795 when the British took control. It was returned to the Dutch in 1803 but occupied again by the British in 1806. Cape Town was permanently ceded to the United Kingdom in 1814, now the capital of the Cape Colony. The Cape got its parliament in 1854 and its local Prime Minister in 1872. In 1910 Britain established the Union of South Africa, and Cape Town became the legislative capital of the union, one of three capitals. Cape Town was the most racially integrated city when the Nationalist Party won elections in 1948 based on apartheid, racial segregation. Cape Town has a population of 4,710,000 (in 2020). Cape Town’s demographics feature 42.4% Colored, 38.6% Black, 15.7% White, 1.4% Asian or Indian. Colored was a legally defined racial classification during apartheid. Coloreds are a multiracial ethnic group native to Southern Africa who has ancestry from more than one of the various populations inhabiting the region, including Khoisan, Bantu, European, Austronesian, East Asian, or South Asian. Because of ethnicities, different families and individuals within a family may have various physical features.
After establishing the Union of South Africa in 1910, it became a member of the British Empire in 1934. The country became the Union of South Africa on May 31, 1961, now a republic ending its allegiance to the British Commonwealth. In April 1994, the African National Congress (ANC), a black majority political party, took power after one-man, one-vote elections. The presidents included Nelson Mandela (May 10, 1994, to June 16, 1999), Thabo Mbeki (June 16, 1999, to September 24, 2008), Kgalema Motlanthe (September 25, 2008, to May 9, 2009), Jacob Zuma (May 9, 2009, to February 14, 2018), and incumbent Cyril Ramaphosa (February 15, 2018).
On March 16, 2018, the director of public prosecutions confirmed that Jacob Zuma would face 18 charges of corruption, including more than 700 counts of fraud and money laundering. Zuma’s political allies within the ANC and Tripartite Alliance protested the prospect of a corruption trial. On February 3, 2020, a court issued an arrest warrant for former president Zuma on corruption charges. For nearly three years, South African investigators have been unearthing a web of corruption around former President Jacob Zuma in a public inquiry that has captivated the country. Zuma’s bribes were exchanged using top-shelf whiskey, luxury cars, and a cash-stuffed Louis Vuitton bag. High-ranking officials distributed lucrative government contracts in exchange for monthly handouts. That era of graft drained tens of billions of dollars from state coffers and has become one of the most infamous chapters of South Africa’s post-apartheid history. Now, the country’s highest court will determine whether Mr. Zuma can be held accountable for contempt of court, and an era of consequence-free corruption, in a hearing that represents one of the most significant tests for South Africa’s democratic institutions in recent years.
Our South African homes. The home my parents built in Claremont, Cape Town with significant upgrades to security in recent years. The home we built in Edenglen, Edenvale, a secure gated community, outside Johannesburg with significant upgrades to the home after we left South Africa.
I liken South Africa to a Chinese water torcher. Drip, drip, drip. Over the years since we left, security is an evolving issue where people need to live in their homes as if they are in jail. High walls surround each property, most topped with electric wiring as an added deterrent. Homes are organized indoors with zoned safety areas, so you only move in certain parts of the house after the security alarms are set, once asleep but not in other portions of the home. Within a residence, the first requirement is to ensure every window and external door has burglar proofing to guarantee no one can force entry. Reinforced windows and door glass are essential. Alert dogs sleeping outside on the premises are mandatory. When I am in Cape Town have my taser and a very sharp pocketknife for protection. I keep questioning, is this the way to live—in one of the most beautiful cities in the world? Where are the police?
The South African Police Service (SAPS) is the national police force of the Republic of South Africa. The provincial borders share 1,138 police stations in South Africa, with a Provincial Commissioner appointed in each of the nine provinces. SAPS employs 193,692 people. I attempted to use their services when I was pick-pocked in March 2013. The security offices in the shopping center had video footage of the theft and, naturally, the criminals. Reporting the incident to the nearby police station was a waste of time. For them to follow up would have entailed work. With the SAPS being so inept, what are South Africans to do? They have supported a booming security industry. The Security Association of South Africa is a body representing private security companies. At present, over 9,000 security companies render residential, commercial, and industrial security services, which comprises guarding, electronic monitoring, armed response, and asset in transit services. There are currently more than 500,000 security officers in the employ of these companies. Security companies exist because of the high level of crime and South Africa and the total ineptitude of SAPS.
As a result of corruption endemic in South Africa, the State-Operated Enterprises (SOE) are primarily bankrupt. These include:
- Transnet (freight logistics),
- SAA (the South Africa Airways),
- South African Express (airline),
- Eskom (world’s eleventh-largest power utility in terms of generating capacity, ranks ninth in terms of sales, and boasts the world’s largest dry-cooling power station),
- Denel (armaments and military equipment manufacturer),
- SAFCOL (forestry),
- Alexcor (diamond mining).
There are many reasons why these SOEs are in trouble. One is reverse discrimination. Whites in critical positions in these organizations were terminated or demoted. I have friends and family impacted through this action. Political appointments were made into executive positions, many or most without the skillset to manage their respective operations.
I will use Eskom as an example, a company I provided with software consulting services. At the time, Eskom produced the most reliable electric power at one of the lowest rates globally. Today I have an app on my iPhone, “EskomSePush.” Eskom cannot provide uninterrupted 24X7 power countrywide to consumers consistently. They operate what is known as “load shedding.” Eskom has four stages where each stage will drop service for two-and-a-half hours. The app allows the consumer to key in their location and discovers when power will be cut. If you were lucky, it could be late at night or early morning, but sometimes mid-morning or afternoon. Planning around power cuts is near impossible because there is no logical repeat pattern. If you operate a business and require power, then you are out of luck! Generally, hospitals are spared this power outage.
A Powership deal locks South Africa into a 20-year contract to purchase expensive, dirty power when the cost of clean, renewable energy is falling every year. South Africa has abundant sun and wind. The CSIR (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) estimated this deal will cost South Africa R218 billion (US$15 billion). A Powership is a ship on which a power plant is installed. They anchor just offshore to provide ship-to-shore electricity to countries unable to generate enough of their own. These are generally failed or failing states such as Ghana, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Senegal, Sudan, Beirut, Iraq, and Pakistan, currently using Powerships on contracts of two to five years. Under Minister of Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe’s deal, South Africa will be paying R2.30 (US$0.16) per kilowatt-hour. At the same time, Saudi Arabia has just signed a power purchase agreement for solar power at a record-low of $0,0104 per kilowatt-hour, which is equivalent to US$0.15 per kilowatt-hour in South Africa. The alleged involvement of the family members of Minister Mantashe and senior government officials in the bid process must now trigger an urgent and comprehensive investigation into the bid. Minerals and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe has revealed that the Turkish company supplying the country with floating power plants to address power shortages is supplying 1,220 MW. The Powerships are located in three coastal areas stretching from the Eastern Cape to the town of Richards Bay in KwaZulu-Natal. The total combined power output/capacity of the three floating Liquefied Natural Gas Turbine, or Powerships, projects appointed as Preferred Bidders under the Risk Mitigation Power Producer Procurement Programme (RMIPPP). More potential corruption.
On May 7, 2021, Eskom, the South African power utility, said it had suspended a senior manager in its coal procurement division after an investigation revealed corruption in its coal supply chain. The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) found the senior manager was in control of a bank account with a balance of nearly R12m (US$ 830,000). It followed a whistle-blower tip-off that prompted Eskom into a preliminary investigation. The funds had been deposited by some of Eskom’s suppliers in the coal division, the utility said in an announcement on Friday. To be clear, this is the tip of the iceberg. The corruption runs deep within the utility.
The Institute for Security Studies in South Africa stated, “In 2011 the former head of the Special Investigation Unit, Willie Hofmeyer, reported before parliament that between R25 billion (US$ 1.7 billion) and R30 billion (US$2 billion) was lost to the government procurement budget each year due to this type of fraud. Moreover, there is evidence that incidents of corruption are increasing. A report by Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs (Africa’s largest law firm) based on documented fraud and malfeasance cases presented to parliament and contained in Public Service Commission reports found that the amount involved increased from R130 million (US$9 million) in 2006/07 to over R1 billion (US$70 million) in 2011/12. So there is evidence that the heart of the problem lies in the lack of accountability for maladministration and corruption. Corruption Watch states that this problem starts with President Zuma – while there are various efforts by the government to tackle corruption, “these actions were countered by the continuing impunity on the part of those who were politically and financially powerful.” In particular, it was explained that the “Gupta wedding saga and ongoing fiasco surrounding the President Zuma’s private Nkandla residence are indicators in the past year of impunity in operation.” Little symbolizes the nature of our public sector corruption challenge better than the scandal of R215 million (US$ 17 million) of public money being diverted away from the public good to upgrade President Jacob Zuma’s private homestead. President Zuma is not solely responsible for all corruption in the public sector, but he certainly has impeded any progress that could have been made in this regard. In addition to his shady dealings with people like convicted fraudster Shabir Shaik, he has repeatedly appointed people of low ethical standards to key positions in the cabinet and the criminal justice system. As a result, citizens are less trusting of their national leaders. It is reflected in the recently released 2013 South African Reconciliation Barometer survey undertaken by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR). The survey revealed that since 2012 there had been a 10,8% decrease in citizens’ confidence in the national government. There has also been a 13% increase in the proportion of citizens who feel that government does not care about “people like them.” The sad reality can partly explain that some in the ruling elite have jettisoned principles for political power.
The Washington Post reported “South African president Cyril Ramaphosa has intensified the country’s anti-corruption drive with the suspension of his African National Congress (ANC) party’s secretary-general, who is facing corruption charges in court. The decision made this week to suspend Ace Magashule and implement a policy that forces leaders charged with corruption to resign is largely seen as a victory for Ramaphosa against his political rivals. Magashule is facing corruption and fraud charges for allegedly benefitting from an R255 million (over $18 million) contract to eradicate asbestos houses in the Free State province when he was a premier of the province.”
Pieter-Louis Myburgh wrote a book “Gangster State: Unravelling Ace Magashule’s Web of Capture.” The book was written before Ace moved to an executive position within the ANC. The corruption never stops–it is too lucrative for the chosen few.
The reality is that after many years, I can enumerate many policies that have impacted business in South Africa to favor the ANC. I will use one to illustrate a situation. South Africa has a BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) policy that encourages businesses to integrate black people into the workspace, upskill and mentor, and support black businesses. A great principle in theory but abused in practice. I had dealings with a successful family-run automotive dealership. The ANC government insisted that the family donate for free a portion of their business to a black man. Refusing to dilute the family’s decades of blood, sweat, and tears, they sold the business. One result of the BEE policy in general, and treatment of whites by the ANC, is that since 1995 at least 800,000 have left the country. We left in an earlier wave. Can the nation afford this brain drain?
The nonprofit organization, Chandler Institute of Governance (CIG), has published its inaugural good government index, measuring the effectiveness of governments in 104 countries globally. The index takes a non-ideological and non-partisan view of governance. The index does not prioritize any form of government over another by focusing on state capabilities and performance. South Africa was ranked 70th on the list, behind other Sub-Saharan countries such as Mauritius (30th), Rwanda (53rd), and Botswana (57th). Some of the critical areas where South Africa is falling behind the rest of the world include the Ability to attract investments; International trade; Education; Health; Personal safety; Income equality; Social mobility; Non-discrimination; The macroeconomic environment.
Couriers must stop delivering packages under 1kg in South Africa – Post Office. The S.A. Post Office (SAPO) and the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) want to stop private courier companies from delivering packages under 1kg in South Africa. It is one of the main talking points which emerged from a recent Gauteng High Court case between PostNet and ICASA. SAPO employs over 16,480 people and operates more than 1,400 postal outlets throughout the country. PostNet was founded in 1994 when there was an urgent need in South Africa for an operation that could deliver a range of efficient business solutions. The South African Post Office is in the process of permanently closing 130 branches across the country. The figure was confirmed by Post Office CEO Nomkhita Mona during a briefing to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Communications on May 26, 2021. This comes after the Post Office was declared commercially insolvent, with its 2019/2020 financial results showing it had incurred losses of more than R1.7 billion (US$ 120 million), while its liabilities exceeded assets by R1.5 billion (US$107 million). Today, PostNet is S.A.’s largest privately owned counter network in the document and parcel industry, trading across 400 owner-managed retail stores. PostNet serves more than 70,000 “walk-in” customers per day, countrywide. There are five product types within PostNet; Courier, Copy & Print, Digital, Stationery, and Mailboxes. The reality is that PostNet offers a reliable service with a guarantee for mail and packages to arrive at their destination.
Murders in South Africa remain high, with a 1.4% increase in 2019/20, to 21,325 reported cases. It works out to 58 people murdered in the country every day, at a rate of 35.8 people per 100,000 population. South Africa has one of the highest rates of rape in the world, with some 65,000 rapes and other sexual assaults reported for the year ending in March 2012, or 127.6 per 100,000 people in the country. South Africa has a high record of carjacking when compared with other industrialized countries. Cash-in-transit (CIT) heists have at times reached epidemic proportions in South Africa. From 1994 to 2020, South Africa experienced 13,000 farm attacks, during which 2,000 commercial farmers were killed besides others who were injured or wounded. “AfriForum’s research reports 63 farm murders in 2020, as opposed to 45 farm murders in 2019,” said Andrea Muller, a researcher at AfriForum.
The U.S. Department of State carries warnings on their travel website for South Africa. Do not travel to South Africa due to COVID-19. Exercise increased caution in South Africa due to crime and civil unrest. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice for South Africa due to COVID-19, indicating a very high level of COVID-19 in the country. Violent crime, such as armed robbery, rape, carjacking, mugging, and “smash-and-grab” attacks on vehicles, is common. There is a higher risk of violent crime in the central business districts of major cities after dark. Demonstrations, protests, and strikes occur frequently. These can develop quickly without prior notification, often interrupting traffic, transportation, and other services; such events can turn violent. Additional detailed information is published at this site.
My problem is that I love the beauty of South Africa, the people with dear family members and friends, its lifestyle, and the weather. On the other hand, I’m not fond of the country’s insecurity and that one must always be on your guard. When I rent a vehicle, I pay all insurance options, including liability insurance, to ensure that if I get hijacked, the car broken into, or the vehicle gets stolen or damaged, I will not need to pay excess damage. Despite all I have written, I will continue to visit, and possibly on an annual basis, especially when COVID-19 is history in South Africa. That said, I am not prepared to risk an investment in an apartment in the Cape Town area, one that could accommodate our children and granddaughters. I did not even mention the ANC goal of land expropriation without compensation—should that ultimately become law.
There are no additional conditions for foreigners purchasing property in S.A. The only pre-requisite is that the money must be brought into South Africa through the South African Reserve Bank. The foreign national will receive a Deal Certificate as proof if he or she ever sells and wants to repatriate the money out of the country. When purchasing property, the purchaser pays the legal fees and the government transfer duty (approximately 8% of purchase price). The seller pays the agent’s commission. There is a contract. Once the seller accepts the buyer’s offer, it is a binding contract. South Africans pay monthly rates and taxes to the local municipality, approximately 6% of the municipal valuation. One may rent out a property, subject to income tax. However, some gated estates do not allow short-term rentals for security reasons. I have done my homework. Should anyone convince me to make the investment and perceive that the security situation has improved, I might pull the trigger. Quite frankly, the “snowbirds” in our part of the world escape our winters to Florida or Arizona. If all things were equal, why not Cape Town?
If my son or daughter wishes to travel to South Africa with their daughters, I will encourage them to visit. However, it would be my preference to accompany them to ensure their safety since I believe I have significantly more experience of risks involved. I would never venture out driving at night on the R300 in Cape Town, a road that experiences several protests.
From within the United States of America, I see political developments as a pendulum swing. After four horrible years with Trump doing all he could to destroy the U.S., I have complete faith in President Joe Biden, Vice-President Kamala Harris, the Democrats, and any reasonable non-racist non-bigoted Republicans who will put America first. We will overcome.