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esperanza

Oct 26, 2009, 1:43 PM

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Questions and Concerns about Foreigners in Mexico

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I've been thinking about this for quite some time and today I have time to post here. My questions are piqued by a few recent posts about customs and border crossings, but my concern goes back much farther than those recent posts.

I'm assuming that most if not all of us who use Mexconnect are generally law abiding citizens. Whether we are native-born Mexicans, naturalized Mexican citizens, foreign residents of Mexico, or residents of other countries who have an abiding interest in Mexico, we're not confirmed law-breakers. Yet some Mexconnect posters write very revealing posts about their desire to get around Mexico's traffic laws, customs laws, and immigration laws.

I find it quite amazing that some foreign posters think it's just dandy to figure out how not to pay traffic fines (I'm not talking about mordida, just fines for actual infractions), how to avoid paying duties by making newly purchased articles look used, and how to get around certain immigration laws--for example, by moving money out of and into a bank account to give the appearance of meeting the income requirement for an FM-3 or an FM-2. I think one of the threads that most surprised me was a fairly recent one in which some posters acted annoyed that immigration might question their right to work in Mexico without a work permit.

If the shoe were on the other foot--in other words, if Mexican nationals were posting somewhere about how to get around all those laws in other countries--what would we think and how would we feel? Would posts like that be all right with us?

I feel certain (well, almost certain) that most if not all posters on Mexconnect abide by the laws of their countries, whatever those countries might be. What's the rationale behind being--or wanting to be--a scofflaw in another country? What am I missing?

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Gringal

Oct 26, 2009, 1:48 PM

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Re: [esperanza] Questions and Concerns about Foreigners in Mexico

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I don't think you're missing a thing, Esperanza. These are the same people who stand on their heads to avoid paying taxes NOB and whose ethics in general might make Genghis Khan blush. They do what they can get away with. Anywhere. What else is new?


arbon

Oct 26, 2009, 2:45 PM

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Re: [esperanza] Questions and Concerns about Foreigners in Mexico

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In some areas of Mexico foreign volunteers need "work permits" how about "Moderators".
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Hound Dog

Oct 26, 2009, 3:05 PM

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Re: [esperanza] Questions and Concerns about Foreigners in Mexico

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I feel certain (well, almost certain) that most if not all posters on Mexconnect abide by the laws of their countries, whatever those countries might be. What's the rationale behind being--or wanting to be--a scofflaw in another country? What am I missing?

Here is what you are missing, Esperanza, my friend.

In France, when I first visited there in 1966, traffic laws were always violated and never respected.

Last May (2009), we re-visited Paris and stayed with family and I noticed that my brother-in-lawīs car had a feature that sounded the bells of Big Ben occasionally as we drove form Charles de Gaulle Airport into the city and across the city to their home in the cross-town suburb of La Defence. I inquired as to why the sound kept occasionally going off and he informed me it was a radar detector even though he could not call it that as radar detectors were technically illegal in Paris and that Paris had installed speed detectors all about the city with cameras and if one sped through an intersection in excess of the speed limit one would get a traffic ticket in the mail so this "radar" detector was warning him that a speed detector was installed on the approaching intersection so he could simply slow down for a few moments until he passed the offending camera and radar trap and then he, like a true Frenchman,would step on the gas and drive like a maniac until Big Ben sounded again and then he would slow to a snailīs pace until he passed the next detector and camera and then he would speed up again and thatīs the way it is.

People obey reasonable laws that make sense and scoff at laws that make no sense whether they are in Mexico or Alabama or France or Ouagadougou. Go with the flow.


yucatandreamer


Oct 26, 2009, 7:55 PM

Post #5 of 83 (9712 views)

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Re: [esperanza] Questions and Concerns about Foreigners in Mexico

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I have had similar thoughts and thought it would be a good idea if Hacienda or Immigration had a few eager English speaking employees reading forums that cater to expats. Here is a country that is struggling for revenue and we who live here by choice try to opt out of a few taxes.


RickS


Oct 26, 2009, 7:55 PM

Post #6 of 83 (9709 views)

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Re: [esperanza] Questions and Concerns about Foreigners in Mexico

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"What am I missing?"

Well, there are laws and then there are laws. And one cannot lump them all into the same bag. And there are people and then there are people. Can't lump them into the same bag either. And whether one is a 'scofflaw' is sometimes in the eyes of the beholder.

While I can't make a specific statement, because I don't personally know 99% of these folks, what I suspect is that you left out one very important word in your statement of "I feel certain.... that most if not all posters on Mexconnect abide by the laws of their countries...". The word is "MOST" and should be placed after "abide by" in the above statement. Most will abide by MOST of the laws of their countries. And, I suspect that is exactly what they are doing in Mexico, just as they did in the country of their origin. But not all.

Take me, for example. I live in Colorado and drive around with South Dakota plates on my vehicles. Not exactly according to Colorado law. Shame on me. Why? Because of (unsupportable high) cost. It cost $275/yr to plate my hybrid Prius here but only $75/yr in South Dakota. Colorado required that I get my almost new truck emission-tested to the tune of $90 each year even though it passes those tests with flying colors (and is not even required if I lived in the western part of the state!). South Dakota says it's not required by them and oh, by the way, they'll plate it for $150/yr less. So I rationalize that it's OK to bend this law. Is it? Of course not! Other folks play games with the IRS . Playing games is another way of saying breaking the law. Maybe not big-time (add a few bogus contributions, 'forget' a few cash payments not otherwise documented, etc etc etc). I must say that's one in which I'm not prone to participate. I could give a few more examples but I think you get my drift.

So Esperanza, I think your premise may be shaky..... all posters abide by the laws of their country of origin. They abide by MOST of the laws of their country..... just as they probably abide by MOST of the laws of Mexico. The "important" ones in their (my) eyes. But they (I) will still try their luck with the "red/green nothing-to-declare" lane, etc. but otherwise be pretty law abiding citizens of their adopted country. But if they can get away somehow without paying sales tax on a new item..... well I think you know what MOST might do.

Your mileage may vary, but that's my two cents worth.....

(This post was edited by RickS on Oct 26, 2009, 7:58 PM)


bournemouth

Oct 26, 2009, 8:10 PM

Post #7 of 83 (9698 views)

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Re: [RickS] Questions and Concerns about Foreigners in Mexico

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And that's a pretty good two cents worth - I feel it covers a lot of people.


Zorba

Oct 27, 2009, 2:23 AM

Post #8 of 83 (9643 views)

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Re: [bournemouth] Questions and Concerns about Foreigners in Mexico

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I've had to think about this myself. And I've had to think about it in terms of what I would want my son to see or what I would want to teach him about life. It's definitely not as black and white as the OP proposes.

In the end that is probably what I will end up telling him: different situations require different actions. Use your own discretion.

I would bribe a cop or a government employee or whoever to get something done. No question about it. That's just the way it is done in Mexico like it or not. When that is no longer the situation, my approach will change. I don't like it. I would much rather Mexico had a strong rule of law. So, I guess you could say I look at it primarily from a practical point of view. Would you stop to lock the door of a house on fire?


(This post was edited by Zorba on Oct 27, 2009, 2:25 AM)


zzRider

Oct 27, 2009, 4:08 AM

Post #9 of 83 (9633 views)

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Re: [Zorba] Questions and Concerns about Foreigners in Mexico

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Maybe if the corruption stopped with the local police, local transito cops, state police, immigration officials, mayors and governors then maybe expats would stop trying to get around the laws.

We see what the about people in authority do and in some case do to us, so who sets the example in the first place?

Not saying it makes it right that expats in some cases try to get around the rules, but geez, the Mexicans need to clean up their act before you can expect expats to clean up theirs.

In a number of cases these officials take one look at us and see big $$ signs in our eyes and they take full advantage of it.

Before they can get our respect for them and their laws they need to clean their own house first.


gpkgto

Oct 27, 2009, 6:39 AM

Post #10 of 83 (9613 views)

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Re: [esperanza] Questions and Concerns about Foreigners in Mexico

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"If the shoe were on the other foot--in other words, if Mexican nationals were posting somewhere about how to get around all those laws in other countries--what would we think and how would we feel? Would posts like that be all right with us?"
No one has addressed this--which I thought was your point. I think most people in the US would be upset if a group of immigrants publicized how to break US laws. But this does happen--Spanish radio stations (in LA, at least) announce areas the avoid in the city when the immigration police are active.


Zorba

Oct 27, 2009, 7:26 AM

Post #11 of 83 (9599 views)

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Re: [zzRider] Questions and Concerns about Foreigners in Mexico

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"Maybe if the corruption stopped with the local police, local transito cops, state police, immigration officials, mayors and governors then maybe expats would stop trying to get around the laws.

We see what the about people in authority do and in some case do to us, so who sets the example in the first place?

Not saying it makes it right that expats in some cases try to get around the rules, but geez, the Mexicans need to clean up their act before you can expect expats to clean up theirs.

In a number of cases these officials take one look at us and see big $$ signs in our eyes and they take full advantage of it.

Before they can get our respect for them and their laws they need to clean their own house first."

Yes. Some claim the person doing the bribing is just as guilty as the person accepting the bribe. Im not sure if I buy that. Everybody in all of Mexico could one day decide not to bribe anybody, and they will still have to do it because it is the authorities requiring it. It is those people in positions of authority who are primarily to blame. In Canada, for example, you wouldn't even consider trying to bribe a cop for a lot of different reasons.

If Mexico wants to stop corruption, they will have to pay for it. That means paying cops and government workers enough to not want to risk their jobs. That means having checks and balances in place. That means promoting a culture of honesty and integrity. The latter of which will be extremely difficult considering the fact that corruption has been going on so long in Mexico that it could be said to be PART OF the culture and not just a malady within it. Im concerned that the recent spike in violence and drugs is slowly becoming PART OF the Mexican culture as well. It becomes a way of life just like corruption does.

Thanks for bringing up this topic. Very good to discuss it. However, the title of your thread is rather condescending. You might want to consider rewording it.


(This post was edited by Zorba on Oct 27, 2009, 7:27 AM)


Tab


Oct 27, 2009, 7:39 AM

Post #12 of 83 (9586 views)

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Re: [esperanza] Questions and Concerns about Foreigners in Mexico

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Well I don't know if they have an "online forum" per say, just because I haven't taken the time to look for one, but the Mexicans definitely have organized groups who help others find their way into Canada and the USA by sometimes taking advantage of our systems, finding loopholes, illegally crossing and/or illegally residing. Hence the new Visas required for Mexicans to visit Canada. And I won't even get into the other nationalities who help each other get into Canada and USA only to also find ways to exploit our very generous Welfare, Medicare, Government Housing etc. It's been happening forever. Atleast the expats who are moving to Mexico are not going there in order to "feed off the systems which are funded by the taxes paid by the citizens". Expats who choose to live in Mexico have to pay for their own housing, medical care, groceries etc., and in general fend for themselves. They cannot fall on the Mexican government for these things. So whether they find ways around little things here and there, they are still helping the Mexican economy more than they would by not being there, and they are not burdening them whatsoever, which is really what is the most important thing, I think.

We are all human and thankfully the majority do not break the law in areas that will "hurt others". It's a big "overly governed" world made necessary thanks to a huge population that the world cannot in fact support. We could go on and on, but this Forum is for people to discuss "Mexico" and its no secret that in general Mexico is not well known for it's law-abiding society. So I truly think it's simply a matter of learning how to deal with "the way it is in Mexico".


(This post was edited by Tab on Oct 27, 2009, 7:42 AM)


Peter


Oct 27, 2009, 7:42 AM

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Re: [Zorba] Questions and Concerns about Foreigners in Mexico

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Everybody in all of Mexico could one day decide not to bribe anybody, and they will still have to do it because it is the authorities requiring it.


Or is it the people that want it? Personally I like the opportunity to take care of a minor infraction on the scene as opposed to having to go downtown to pay a fine; a few pesos and I'm on my merry way.

A police officer acquaintance was telling us he's confused. The people don't like going downtown either, and they get rather irate and abusive if he doesn't accept a payoff in the street. "You people complain when we take the money, and then complain when we don't. What do you want?"

I have respect for Mexico's longtime institutions and customs.


(This post was edited by Peter on Oct 27, 2009, 7:46 AM)


zzRider

Oct 27, 2009, 7:56 AM

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Re: [Peter] Questions and Concerns about Foreigners in Mexico

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Maybe where you live the mordida is a few pesos, but at Lake Chapala it can be anywhere from 100 pesos and up, to over 500 pesos in Guadalajara. :)


Peter


Oct 27, 2009, 8:02 AM

Post #15 of 83 (9573 views)

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Re: [zzRider] Questions and Concerns about Foreigners in Mexico

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Maybe where you live the mordida is a few pesos, but at Lake Chapala it can be anywhere from 100 pesos and up, to over 500 pesos in Guadalajara. :)


Economic considerations have to be factored into the equation when deciding where to live. The Lake and SMA typically are higher priced areas to live in because of the foreign community. It stands to reason your mordida is a bigger bite as well.

I should add, though, that I have never paid a bribe or have been asked to do so, though I have witnessed such events. My federal career was such that I have had to toe the line for many years or be stripped of my enabling abilities to do my job. But yes, I was selective about which laws I would uphold, those I agreed with. I scoff at idiotic laws but am, overall, law-abiding and concientious.

The one time I drove down here to bring my car and some household items I started to pull into the "declarations" lane but was asked if anything I had was for resale. It wasn't so I was intructed to drive into the other where I pushed the button and got a green light. I was just doing what I was told and it made sense to me.

But, c'mon, 100 pesos is about $7.50 US, I don't think I ever paid even a parking ticket for that little.


(This post was edited by Peter on Oct 27, 2009, 8:37 AM)


Zorba

Oct 27, 2009, 9:04 AM

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Re: [Peter] Questions and Concerns about Foreigners in Mexico

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Haha Peter ! Yes, that is a good point. I remember a saying of some sort to that effect. It was something like:

"In (insert highly regulated country) everything can be organized but nothing can be arranged. In (insert lawless society) everything can be arranged but nothing can be organized."

I may be quoting it wrong. Something like that. I agree that it is much more convenient to be able to pay on the spot and whatnot. Mexico actually is a paradise if you are rich. Anything can be arranged with enough money. A stubborn rancher friend of mine waited years to get electricity installed on his property. If he had paid the mordida it would have been done in days.

However, there is a dark side to these seemingly innocent transactions. They permeate deeper into society. It is a slippery slope. I dont give a shit really if someone can bribe themselves out of paying a ticket. I do care, however, if they can bribe a judge. Especially if I am the defendant! Nevertheless, as somewhat of a libertarian, I do enjoy the ability to circumvent the government in Mexico.


(This post was edited by Zorba on Oct 27, 2009, 9:09 AM)


isorachel

Oct 27, 2009, 9:20 AM

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Zorba

Oct 27, 2009, 10:44 AM

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Re: [isorachel] Questions and Concerns about Foreigners in Mexico

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Why would you rigidly follow all the rules, when Mexicans don't even do it? One could argue that by following the rules, you are actually going against the grain of society and not adjusting to the culture.


Hound Dog

Oct 27, 2009, 12:45 PM

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Re: [Zorba] Questions and Concerns about Foreigners in Mexico

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Why would you rigidly follow all the rules, when Mexicans don't even do it? One could argue that by following the rules, you are actually going against the grain of society and not adjusting to the culture.

Well said, Zorba. A thoughtful response and it takes much time living here to understand the wisdom of your comment.

I am reminded of a story from my youth.

In about 1952 or so, a European American Yankee lady moved to my small but relatively affluent South Alabama home town where African American ladies were typically employed as housekeepers or nannies and she was appalled at the exceedingly low wages paid these women for long hours and grueling work so she, with zero understanding of small town South Alabama life circa 1952, decided to pay her African American housekeeper twice the going rate of pay in those days
.

Now, we all know from living in Mexico and/or other foreign lands, that all is not what meets the eye and you can believe that South Alabama was a foreign land to this woman. For instance, it was customary to pay housekeepers, all of whom in that area were black in those days, subsistence wages but to allow them to , shall we say, de-refrigerate food, especially luncheon leftovers, to take home for her own family meal and that was what today we would call a perq. But, letīs not get too compllicated here. Societal customs grow and become ingrained especially in small towns and this was especially true in the 1950s.

Anyway, the local white ladies auxilliary got together and could see that this interloper was causing stirrings in the black community and possibly encouraging insurrectionist temperments so they, in a truly Southern fashion, held an afternoon
tea (tea in South Alabama was actually LeJon Dry Sherry served in tea cups with finger sandwiches) and invite this woman over to intercede with her on behalf of the community.

Well, this poor fool thought she had arrived and this false notion was reinforced by the pleasant, almost syrupy reception she received from the local white ladiesī mafia when in fact she was actually about to experience whet we today would call an intervention. You have to be Southern to understand the ensuing events but letīs just say that when that Yankee left the party at some grand mansion that afternoon , she knew full well that U.S. Highway 31 (these were pre-interstate days) not only went south to Mobile but also went north to Chicago and she could either conform with local customs or have her ass on that highway heading north with instructions not to stop until she saw the lights of Birmingham as she came down Red Mountain.


(This post was edited by Hound Dog on Oct 27, 2009, 12:50 PM)


richmx2


Oct 27, 2009, 1:16 PM

Post #20 of 83 (9427 views)

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Re: [Zorba] Questions and Concerns about Foreigners in Mexico

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Think about the first bribe and who is the culprit in what followed: Eve, who took the bribe, or Satan who offered it?


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jl1

Oct 27, 2009, 1:23 PM

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Re: [Hound Dog] Questions and Concerns about Foreigners in Mexico

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I can appreciate the concern of the OP, but who is to say that those missing tax dollars would do anything to improve the standard of life of the average Mexican? Or that the government even cares? The Gringo community in my village contributes alot of money and time each year to pay for things like school bathrooms, trash cans, spay and neuter clinics, etc. Not to mention the amount of money contributed for the welfare of unfortunate individuals who just need help and can't get it from their government. I don't know for sure, but I would imagine this scenario is repeated all over the country. Give us a break. jl


Hound Dog

Oct 27, 2009, 1:29 PM

Post #22 of 83 (9427 views)

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Re: [richmx2] Questions and Concerns about Foreigners in Mexico

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Think about the first bribe and who is the culprit in what followed: Eve, who took the bribe, or Satan who offered it?

Well thatīs an easy one Rich. Eve (a wifman) has been stewing in hell for what the fundalentalist Christians tell us has been 5,000 years for using her female charms to screw (figuratively) Adam while Satan (a man) is the HMFWIC, (Head MF Whatīs in Charge) of the place so now we know Godīs values. Reminds Dawg of some banks for which heīs worked.


(This post was edited by Hound Dog on Oct 27, 2009, 1:29 PM)


Hound Dog

Oct 27, 2009, 2:00 PM

Post #23 of 83 (9415 views)

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Re: [jl1] Questions and Concerns about Foreigners in Mexico

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I can appreciate the concern of the OP, but who is to say that those missing tax dollars would do anything to improve the standard of life of the average Mexican? Or that the government even cares? The Gringo community in my village contributes alot of money and time each year to pay for things like school bathrooms, trash cans, spay and neuter clinics, etc. Not to mention the amount of money contributed for the welfare of unfortunate individuals who just need help and can't get it from their government. I don't know for sure, but I would imagine this scenario is repeated all over the country. Give us a break. jl

Yes, by all means, letīs cite the "Gringo" community that came down here because they could live on peanuts and deserted their desperately poor communities in the U.S. where their real obligation lay from Jersey City to Detroit to the Mississippi Delta to Stockton and assuage their guilt at their good fortune by pumping money into Mexico which they could have pumped into their own communities of their births where their primary obligations incur for no other reason than that is where they are of and the need is in both places but there is nothing exotic about Jersey City or Stockton and these towns are damned dangerous so letīs go where the tortillas are fine and we can play hero with those extra bucks we retained because we came into a poor community where we could live like royalty among "peasants" and give our change to the poor of which we have an abundance because the cost of living in a poor place is cheap relatively speaking. So these "compassionate Gringos" come down here and while patting orphans on the head and themselves on the back and mouthing platitudes they cheat the government by engaging in tax avoidance and then have the audacity to presume that that unsociable behavior is justified because they can posit that the government is corrupt anyway unlņike the U.S. government and its countless local political districts which become more corrupted every day with institutionalized thieves they call "lobbyists" and who are every bit as corrupt and they can sleep at night for now at least but there will be a reckoning.


(This post was edited by Hound Dog on Oct 27, 2009, 2:02 PM)


bournemouth

Oct 27, 2009, 2:18 PM

Post #24 of 83 (9403 views)

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Re: [Hound Dog] Questions and Concerns about Foreigners in Mexico

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Time to get over yourself Bubba - you spend way too much time blaming people for doing things that others might deem helpful. I note that you did not stay in California or anywhere of your other haunts in the US - why not?


arbon

Oct 27, 2009, 3:57 PM

Post #25 of 83 (9376 views)

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Re: [bournemouth] Questions and Concerns about Foreigners in Mexico

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"Time to get over yourself Bubba - you spend way too much time blaming people for doing things that others might deem helpful. I note that you did not stay in California or anywhere of your other haunts in the US - why not?"

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A little bit of "haunting" never hurt any one that is feeling guilty, especially at this time of year. It helps them to get ready for all the "Christmas Carol Ghosts" that will appear soon enough to volunteer.
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(This post was edited by arbon on Oct 27, 2009, 5:00 PM)
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