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Jewish World Review Dec. 27, 2001 / 12 Teves, 5762

Bob Greene

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Consumer Reports

How to beat terrorism
and get a lovely tan -- USUALLY I try to ignore unsolicited proposals offering to change my life for the better.

But these are unusual times, and as this year like no other draws to a close, I couldn't help taking a close look at an offer that arrived in my office.

The lead-in question was phrased in a way that was impossible to ignore:

"Have Current World Events Diminished Your Feelings of Happiness and Security?"

I would have to answer in the affirmative, so I read on. The next phrase -- a blunt listing of four words -- continued to command my attention, since the words all were in capital letters:


All right -- I was hooked.

Beneath those four words, the offer continued: "These words have taken new personal meaning for all of us. The world is changing."

Indeed it is -- and by this point I was ready to buy into whatever this missive was trying to sell me. Anything that would do away with the recession, fear, terrorism and war in our lives -- boy. Where do I sign up?

But the seller was just getting started. "Life," the come-on continued, "will never be the same. This is a sad but undeniable fact."

I checked to see if the proposal had emanated from Washington. It was saying pretty much what many of our elected representatives have been telling us since Sept. 11.

"No longer can we feel safe in our homes and businesses. The terrorist attacks have affected every facet of our lives, not the least of which is our loss of financial and personal privacy. Take this opportunity to regain control of the future."

This was beginning to sound perfect. All I needed was for the entrepreneur making the offer to tell me how to close the deal. What was the product, and how did I purchase it?

"We have housing and building lots available," the proposal said, "in a secure, gated oceanside community. . . ."

So this was it -- a safe place to live and work. All right. Sounds interesting.

". . . within the tropical paradise of Costa Rica."


I see.

The place for Americans to feel calm and protected is in Costa Rica. It has come to that. This is what the world -- or at least a portion of the business world that is eager to separate us from our money -- is telling us.

"Regain control of your life," the offer went on. By moving from the U.S. in these months after the attacks on us, and residing in Costa Rica, my fellow Americans and I would be giving ourselves the gift of "a stable democratic government . . . secure private banking . . . strong telecommunications, and business-friendly infrastructure."


It probably is not surprising that some businesspeople around the world, sensing a new mood in the United States, might presume that American citizens are so skittish about our nation's future -- are so consumed by thoughts about when the next terror attack is coming -- that our unspoken desire is just to get out. Leave our troubles behind. Wave goodbye to the U.S., and set up housekeeping somewhere far away, somewhere safe from those who would destroy us.

Costa Rica -- the new land of the free and home of the brave.

Nothing against the citizens of Costa Rica -- but my guess is there is not going to be a stampede of Americans rushing down there to purchase the property being offered. Certainly it is in a sunny part of the world, near the geographic area of the globe that in fact does have historic precedent as an appealing destination for people seeking security and privacy. Unfortunately, those were members of the Third Reich, hurriedly departing Germany.

And in terms of convenience, you can't beat Costa Rica if you're looking for a gateway to Nicaragua or Panama.

But perhaps the next task for our fledgling Office of Homeland Security is to remind all of us here in the U.S. that the sky is not falling, except on certain tragic days -- and that our best chance for security does, indeed, reside right here at home. As it always has.

"Enjoy all the comforts of modern life," the proposal about Costa Rica offers.

Thanks. We'll try to make do here.

JWR contributor Bob Greene is a novelist and columnist. Send your comments to him by clicking here.

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