Okay, this is amazing. Perhaps you won't find this as funny as I do but I just can't get over what I'm about to tell you. So as you know, Ryan and I are being evicted from our house. The reason given to us is that our girlfriends -- really just Huyen -- slept over. Our real estate agent told us that Binh and Minh, the landlords, are very "traditional." I took this to mean that they have traditional values and morals. Fine, whatever.
So today Ryan and I signed our lease on our new house. When paying our deposit the real estate agent said to us, "If any of the neighbors ask you how much you pay, tell them you live here for free. The landlord doesn't pay taxes. They just pay the police." Immediately something clicked in my mind and I asked, "Did Binh and Minh pay taxes?" The real estate agent looked at me and laughed, "No. Just the police."
For those of you who aren't finding this as funny as I do, let me remind you of something. Minh, my landlord, is one of the heads of Vietnam. He works directly for the Prime Minister and travels to other countries for him. His wife told me he's in charge of, "Education, Arms, and a few other things." So, basically the Secretary of State of Vietnam IS NOT PAYING TAXES ON HIS RENTAL PROPERTY. And this is just one of their properties. But that's not the point. The point is, just to be repetitive, THE SECRETARY OF STATE OF VIETNAM IS NOT PAYING TAXES ON HIS RENTAL PROPERTY.
Can you imagine if this happened in the US? Wait, things like it do but the politicians generally resign or withdraw from the posts they are nominated to (i.e Bernard Kerik and Bobby Ray Inman come to mind over illegal housekeepers/taxes, etc.).
One of the problems with living in a communist country is that they control the papers/news. If I had a story like this in the states it would be the front cover of the New York Times tomorrow. Here, well, it just ain't making the papers...and I'm pretty sure if I tried my Visa would mysteriously not be renewed next month.
In conclusion, traditional values apparently means no sleepovers...but tax fraud is a-okay.