Dual Citizenship: Careful What You Wish
Having a dual Citizenship of both the United Kingdom and the United States has certainly opened up doors for me, given me a great number of choices as well as also introducing me to all sorts of bizarre but interesting experiences.
This year I like many others have found myself waking up to the double whammy of both Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. I can remember going to bed in Britain looking at the polls thinking that ‘remainers’ had nothing to worry about and then waking up 6 hours later to find that not for the first time England had shown two fingers to the European Continent.
The same can be said for the recent US election. I went to bed thinking that surely no one can be so dumb as to vote for a sexist, sex offending, Vietnam Veteran insulting multi-millionaire so called champion of the working man (NOT) big mouth and well… The rest is history.
There is an old saying, “Be careful what you wish for!” And no sooner that Britain voted for Brexit everyone in the UK is screaming for a second referendum. And in the US others are hiding under the table claiming that they never voted for the winner of International Bad Hair Day. It’s worth noting that according to history books and Wikipedia less than ten percent of Germans actually voted for Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist Party in 1933. Despite this Hitler solved the unemployment figures in Germany by putting one-half of the unemployed in the Military and the other half in the Works Programmes, (Works Programmes that upgraded and built Germany’s infrastructure and the very first freeways.)
Currently, President Trump is trying to amend the so-called ‘Affordable Healthcare Bill’ which has rather bizarrely led to certain Republicans scrambling to try and save what is left of Obamacare. Add to this also the fact that President Trump has just cut Federal funding for the Arts in the United States. Funding by the way that costs as little (or as much) as just one military fighter jet. Now, no sooner I have seen that the President has done this I am hearing the usual idiots claiming that governments shouldn’t be funding the Arts or Education or anything else for that matter and the fact that they traditionally do always makes the working man and woman worse off.
Never-the-less I do like to point out when ever this source of funding is taken away I never see it directly benefitting the man in the street. It’s bit like G.W. Bush claiming at the beginning of his first term that he was going to give Americans the biggest tax cut in history, “It’s not our money” he proclaimed “it’s yours!” And no sooner he pronounced that he gave bucket loads of tax payers money to the richest 1 percent. I can remember pointing this fact out to a good friend of mine who was at the time a passionate G.W. Bush supporter. When I asked him how much more money he got in his federal tax return his eyes instantly hit the floor and he pitifully mumbled… “Diddley squat!”
In 1992, a year after I had graduated from Theatre School, the Conservative Government in Britain claimed that Actors were not working in a proper profession and therefore decided not to recognise us as self-employed workers and therefore put us all onto the PAYE form of direct taxation that most people working in factories and anywhere else for that matter enjoy. Rather annoyed at this ignorant statement two British Actors took the government to court and claimed that if professional Acting was not a profession recognised as such by the government of the day then surely performers shouldn’t be paying any tax at all on their so-called earnings.
The government lost its case in the high courts and British Actors were sensibly re-recognised as self-employed workers.
This I love to point out to anyone who sometimes rather predictably says out loud (when I tell him that I am an Actor) “Well, beats working for a living!” It never fails to amaze me how some people like to waste no time pronouncing their ignorance to the world. This was also something that I had to explain to certain people when I worked in the profession of Circus Arts. Many a time I would suffer the indignity of an acrobat or someone walking up to me backstage and asking me “Why do you get paid for this bull****?” After taking a deep breath and counting to ten so as to avoid punching the idiot in front of me I would have to explain even though I am an Actor, what I was doing in the show was Performing and that Acting and Performing are two different things. I must add that the one thing I discovered while working in the world of Circus Arts was the sheer lack of understanding and respect that many Artists had for each other and their skills.
Having said that it never fails to amaze me the level of ignorance and envy that can lead to someone like Donald Trump being elected. G.W. Bush and his two terms had seen the US build an enormous deficit, fight two unwinnable wars and create the biggest financial crisis since the Great depression of the 1930’s. Of course, no one seemed to care about the fact that President Obama just like Roosevelt in the 1930’s had managed to pull America and the rest of the world out of this terrible crisis. The fact of the matter is that when it comes down to what people care about it is (to coin a term) THE ECONOMY STUPID!
In Britain, during the European Referendum, I tried explaining to a campaigning remainder outside Liverpool Street Station that the referendum had become a one-issue debate. Being in the European Union means that all 28 members have to accept the free and complete movement of people. The European Union acts as one nation and for this to happen goods, services and people have to be able to move around the continent freely just like the United States. The British public was fed up with the fact that people from Eastern Europe could just turn up in the UK and claim welfare benefits, apply for a job, receive free healthcare and also enjoy the benefits of a free educational school system for their children. This would be all well and good if Britain had the infrastructure to support this.
Years ago, when Tony Blair signed the bill to allow the free movement of all European Citizens into Britain he predicted that no more than say 30,000 people a year would emigrate to Britain. The fact remains that almost 300,000 people are coming to Britain every year and staying. This European law has been something that the current British prime Minister has not been able to change and so thus the referendum became a one issue debate and the rest is history.
It’s a terrible fact to have to accept but while the main stream media of both Britain and the United States are telling us night after night that the only things that matter in the world right now are Syria, Refugees and perhaps Gay Marriage the general public think quite differently. Peoples jobs, services and their standard of living is dropping and the Middle Class of the West are desperate for something to be done about this, even if it means building a wall, starting a trade war and deporting so-called foreigners. The only thing that seems to keep us all happy and politicians in power is when our economic system creates a massive boom (a massive boom I might say that is never sustainable.) Reagan, Thatcher, Clinton and Blair stayed in power because they were riding the wave of an economic boom. Carter, Bush Snr, Major and Brown all lost power because they suffered the inevitable consequence of a financial boom, a crash.
So, I am currently standing with two feet on the ground, and with one foot in Britain and the other in the USA. As an Actor/ physical performer I have been fortunate enough to be able to work in both countries.
And while the UK offers me more security and benefits the US offers me more opportunity. While I have been touring the US myself and my British colleagues have been weighing up both the benefits and deficits of working in both countries. America – Better fast food, better weather, better women (sorry UK) And England – Safer, better chocolate, better bread, proper tea and no half and half milk.
And so, as I keep saying we live in interesting times. And I eagerly await President Trump making good on all his pre-election promises. If he can create an employment boom by creating a huge American works programme then all the power to him. If it is one thing that the US so desperately needs right now it is the money to seriously upgrade its rail and road infrastructure. However, America also needs to look over the pond and see how government investment in the Arts has led to an enormous amount of money being made. Britain’s Royal National Theatre easily makes back the money it receives in subsidy.
Also, add to the fact that any business that relies on people going to the theatre also make a tremendous amount of money. Look at Broadway today and it is buzzing, as is all the restaurants, bars and stores that surround it. Money made by the theatre is money also being made by taxis, buses and the rail system. Not only that but in 1984 the Canadian Government subsidized a small circus company (Cirque Du Soleil) to the tune of 2 million Dollars. No sooner that Cirque had received that amount of tax payer money it made it back and to this day continues to make a pot of gold for both Canada and the City of Las Vegas.
Who would have thought that in 1992 when Mystere opened just off the Sin City strip that it would chase every other show out of Vegas and end up with MGM/Mirage and every other hotel/casino begging for it to open a show on its premises. Add to this also the fact that Cirque is now a major power house corporation that is currently, thanks to its funds, managing to solve the issue of how the world’s poorest people can finally receive fresh drinking water. It’s a miracle, a simple miracle how a small government grant and gift of subsidy led to Guy Laliberté becoming the very first Canadian Billionaire. And yet you would think that America’s first entrepreneur President would realise this. But like I say again, we live in interesting times and in four years Americans will get to vote for a new President.
Also by Lincoln Hudson:
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