Our Views: Living large, where we are

If the cost of living is getting you down, think about the priciest places to live.

New York? San Francisco? Or Tokyo or London?

Not exactly, in a survey by Mercer, a company that relocates American executives to foreign locales.

For the second year in a row, CNN reported that Mercer found the priciest place for your company to send you is Luanda, in Angola in sub-Saharan Africa.

Why, CNN asked? “Living safely in a country overrun by civil war for nearly 30 years comes at a steep price. Americans want apartments with features like gated entrances in pricey neighborhoods near international schools,” says Ed Hannibal, partner at Mercer.

The upside is that gas is cheap there, and if you’re an oil executive, it probably is a rewarding posting — even with a $6,000-a-month apartment, which is probably reasonably safe.

Now let’s think about that last part.

The old saying is that the grass is always greener, but the reality is that the other side of the hill has its problems.

In this country, we are blessed — with all our problems, with all the things that we think we should be doing better, with all our ambitions for our children and the generations past them.

The notion that armed guards are a necessity should give us pause. And maybe we should feel better about anteing up to pay for police and fire departments and other benefits — for they are benefits, and not liabilities.

The Supreme Court’s Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. said taxes are the price we pay for civilization. In places like Luanda, there are taxes, too — but what do they get for the taxpayer? Not the safety and security, relative to others, that we achieve in the United States.

This summer, millions are going abroad to travel or to study, and that’s not only one of the benefits of living in a wealthy society. Visits to Madrid or Prague or Shanghai will show us what other countries do well, compared to our cities; surely, it’s somewhat embarrassing that U.S. train stations can be a mess, while Shanghai’s is a gleaming modern temple to transportation.

Yet, we should think about the ways in which the good ol’ USA is doing an awful lot of things right. And we don’t see a flood of U.S. citizens seeking to sign up for citizenship, such as it is, in a communist dictatorship like mainland China.

Beautiful downtown Luanda? Not for us.