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Czechia

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Sep 21st, 2021
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  1. The Czech Republic is laughably underrated by Westerners.
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  3. Now I don’t think it’s the “best country in the world” because that is an assertion for petty-minded fools. But I would rather live here than in most places in northern Europe. Fact.
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  5. And there is no doubt that the country has a bit of an image problem. I honestly think that public image is not really a strong point of the Czech national character. They are technicians, not designers. Organizers, not marketers. They lack a certain flashy irrationality.
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  7. This isn’t a criticism, just an an observation that I have developed over many years of living here.
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  9. Americans are good at presentation and interface; the Czechs are interested in functionality and practicality. And thus the public image of the country is neglected and even neighboring countries have severely outdated notions of the country because of it.
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  11. It amuses me that in Karlin’s article number one on his list is “Europe’s best gun rights.” I won’t dispute that but it gives the impression that everybody here is packing. Despite the laws, this country does not really have a “gun culture” and few people really play around with or own them. I do know a couple of girls who have guns: one works for me and her hobby is hunting. She lives in the middle of nowhere and in her words “there is nothing else to do.” The other one just likes guns. But that is two people out of dozens I regularly talk to in a given week: I am an English teacher and school owner and i do a lot of talking and listening to people in my work.
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  13. I have read Anatoly Karlin before: I find him an intelligent and superior writer with a blog that offers a fresh perspective on geo-politics and so on but make no mistake: he is a bit out there. A bit crack pot. A bit nuts.
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  15. My list of pros would would look something like this:
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  17. The culture is laid back enough that people can have a good time; but organized and business-like enough that those that work hard can get ahead in material terms.
  18. The cost of living is indeed low and wages are not bad.
  19. The countryside is gorgeous and encouraging to hiking or skiing.
  20. There is a culture that encourages fitness and exercise, yet there is also high culture (even in the countryside) for people who want it.
  21. There is history galore.
  22. The food is good (in a stodgy, Central European meat-and-potatoes kind of way).
  23. A culture that encourages planning ahead and fiscal responsibility, though debt is growing.
  24. It’s generally less of a nanny state than parts of Western Europe.
  25. Incredibly low rate of violent crime.
  26. Refreshingly open attitude towards discourse.
  27. War between sexes is not quite as pronounced as in Western countries. Not going to analyze it here. It just simply is so.
  28. NO one cares much about what other people do much. People have a live-and-let-live attitude. Although gossip prevails as much here as anywhere.
  29. Usual features mentioned like “pretty girls” or “good beer” are not so important to me. Although perhaps true, I don’t think I have ever been to a country that did not have pretty girls: for me connection is more important than looks, anyway. There must be something wrong with me.
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  31. And I don’t drink beer because I am always on a diet.
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  33. I always feel that whenever I write something on the Czech Republic, I am writing advertising copy or something.
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  35. I don’t mean to give the impression that it’s perfect. In the words of one of my students: all developed countries are the same: Life is good in them as long as you make an above-average wage. The place is pleasant as long as you are not poor.
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  37. But, anyway, I wouldn’t say it is all roses here. I think the fearful opposition to multi-culturalism deprives the country in a lot of ways of variety and charm: let’s face it, when cultures come together there is sometimes some tension but that it balanced out by flourishing of arts and literature brought on by cross-cultural intercourse (or pollination, if you want the G-rated version.) But the majority of czechs disagree with me and thatsvthat.
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  39. Another minor problem is that due to the low cost of living here, once you go west, your Czech crown buys considerably less, particularly when it comes to services.
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  41. Health care is ok in the big cities (my experience in Sv. Anna hospital in Brno when I had my heart attack was great) but its less good in the provinces: there is a serious brain drain problem in that industry that I think is increasingly worrying. Vast loopholes in the tax law which allow some self-employed to write off 60 percent of their earnings no matter what artificially deflate statistics on average wage here; but also ensure that less money flows into the coffers of the medical care system. Without this loophole the cost of living would skyrocket, though, so ita a bit of a catch 22.
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  43. I also think that the political situation is pretty bad here. Democracy has become a joke for the most part. No worse here than in many places, and that should be underscored. I think many parts of the Western World in general are undergoing a crisis with their democratic systems and this place is no different. But I’m not going to go into that here.
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  45. The laid-back attitude which I like so much also has some negative sides: a liberal attitude towards advertising. ON a recent trip to Germany and Austria, I was amazed how many billboards and advertisements adorned Czech roads in comparison with the other countries. Now, this is related to the lack of nanny state, which I like, but the drawback is in aesthetics.
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  47. And there is a little less civic pride here than in parts of America or parts of Euorpe: more graffiti, weedier public areas, unmown parks. It’s all connected to the laid-back attitude, I think. It has its benefits and drawbacks, but the minuses are relatively minor compared to the benefits.
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  49. Finally (and this is might draw some downvote action) the refreshingly open attitude towards discourse can lead to some very racist thoughts openly aired that are uncomfortable if not flat-out horrifying for most westerners, to say the least. One has to learn to steer conversations away from certain topics. There is certain hysteria regarding the refugee crisis here. But Anatoly Karlin probably feels exactly the same way.
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  51. IN sum, it’s a pleasant place to live as long as you are laid back, unpuritanical and not poor. The best place for ME at this stage of my life.
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