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Why I Fear Countries Without Real Problems

Australia may be a little too good.

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It’s the anal moralism of Australia’s legal system that I find absolutely frightening. This is pretty much a country without real problems — it’s probably one of the best places in the world — so the government inveigles itself into the minute aspects of daily life with a plethora of petty laws which regulate behavior as if to prove its legitimacy. 

From what I’ve seen, this is a society that has no pressing need for laws in the first place. The people here tend to be good to each other, they say please and thank you, and follow the golden rule perhaps better than any society I’ve seen in my 18 years of travel. 

But maybe this gives the government an insecurity complex. 

The Australian government is like those old people in the USA who sit around watching TV all day, getting a blown out of proportion impression about how dangerous the world is outside. What’s a big deal in Australia would be nothing in a country with real problems. 

Right now a major “problem” in Australia is that someone in government dug up this obscure law about how elected officials can’t be duel citizens, so now all of the political parties are investigating their opponents’ backgrounds, getting then kicked out of office one after the other. We’re talking about things like the discovery that some politician was actually born in New Zealand or another’s mother got him Italian citizenship when he was two that he apparently never knew about. 

Meanwhile, fucking Donald Trump is president of the USA, the UK voted to leave the EU, and Venezuela … does Venezuela even have a government anymore?

We have the Bloods and the Crypts in the USA and Australia has hooligans cutting the branches off of trees

The rest of the world has people blowing shit up and running crowds over with cars and people in Australia are calling the cops on tourists for taking photos of convenient stores

There are stretches of the US, Europe, and Latin America that have virtual parades of drug addicts walking down streets like zombies and Australia is doing saliva swabs and arresting people for smoking dope up to four or five days in the past. 

And the alcohol laws… well, we already covered that

Australia does not seem to realize how good it is — maybe they need to force their elected officials to take a mandatory sabbatical to see how fucked up the rest of the world is every once in a while. 

Countries with real problems tend to focus their resources on solving them — or they’re too fucked up to care — leaving everybody else alone. When I land in places like South America, Central Asia, or Southest Asia, I suddenly feel relaxed and free. Everything can be burning down around me but I can walk around without a care. I know they’re not after me. 

But when I come to Australia I live with a touch of apprehension that I’m going to break some petty little law and have to deal with some problem that wouldn’t exist pretty much anywhere else. 

We normally attribute the authoritarian label to countries with dictatorships, functioning monarchies, or unelected political leaders — i.e. fucked up places — not advanced liberal democracies. But it’s in the later group of countries that the ever-pervasive tendrils of the law often wrap up and restrain ordinary people the most. 

I’m getting out of here. 


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Filed under: Australia, Travel Diary

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3717 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

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