January 14, 2011
I want to start out this end-of-week missive by reiterating one immutable fact: no place is perfect… and in these tumultuous times which I call the ‘Age of Turmoil,’ no country is going to be completely immune to the looming problems which face the world, namely rising prices and resource shortages.
We discuss many countries in this daily column which stand head-and-shoulders above their peers– Brazil, Chile, Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Abu Dhabi, Panama, and several others. It would be unfair and inaccurate, however, to say that they are not without a few challenges.
For example, this week in Chile there were some small-scale riots in the extreme south of the country as people protested a 17% hike in gas prices. Chile imports most of its fuel and is thus more exposed to changes in oil prices than, say, food or industrial metals.
That being said, Chile remains among several other countries whose economic fundamentals, resource reserves, arable land and water supplies, and balanced societies will provide significant cushion to weather any trouble ahead with only minor bumps and bruises.
Conversely, the dominant western hierarchy of the past is on course to experience extreme shock and awe as their public finances fail and supranational policies unravel. On the balance, I’ll happily take a mild head cold over the Bubonic plague any day.
On that note, Sharon asks, “Simon, can you comment somewhere about whether citizenship is required for gun ownership in Chile and other South American countries that do permit handgun and other gun ownership?”
There are many gun friendly nations in South America. Chile is one of them, and so is Panama and Uruguay. Residency is required to apply for a permit, but this is fairly easy to obtain. (I discuss a unique option in Chile in our upcoming Sovereign Man: Confidential, which is due out this weekend).
You can also import your own firearms, and this is probably a good idea considering that weapons tend to cost more in Latin America than they do in North America.
Next, Captain writes, “Simon– having already acquired two passports and foreign property, I am slowly preparing to become an expat once I retire from the US military. Since I will be drawing retirement pay, is there any way to stay under the radar while I live abroad?”
First off, if you want to keep drawing your US military retirement pay, you should not consider renouncing US citizenship. Your retirement pay will be cut off if you do so since it’s contingent upon you being able to be recalled to active duty.
Second, you may want to consider keeping a bank account in the US just to receive your retirement checks. Once a quarter, you can wipe the account clean by wire transferring the balance to a bank account of your choosing anywhere in the world, or taking a cash withdrawal through a money transfer service.
In this way, you won’t have to give up your home address overseas to the Defense Department.
Next, Devin asks, “Simon, did you hear about the IRS agent who was convicted of tax evasion?”
I did indeed. Former IRS agent Albert Bront recently pled guilty to filing fraudulent tax returns and faces sentencing this coming April. The even worse story was of Roger Coombs, another former agent who was caught trying to solicit a bribe in exchange for lowering a business’s taxes.
Few things boil my blood like politicians and government agents abusing the power that they should have never been given in the first place for the sake of personal gain.
Tim Geithner doesn’t pay his self-employment taxes, it’s an honest mistake. Charlie Rangel neglects important disclosures and he gets a slap on the wrist followed by a Congressional standing ovation.
If Joe Six Pack does these things, he gets an IRS agent standing on his doorstep with a bill (at best), assets frozen (likely), or an arrest warrant (also possible).
It happens everywhere– I remember reading about a case last year in Canada in which two agents of Canada Revenue Agency were arrested in connection with ensuring that politically-connected construction companies wouldn’t be audited.
These are all cases where the privileged elite of the political class, and their bureaucratic underlings and police forces, accord themselves special rights and immunities that no one else would be entitled to. The higher the rank, the more likely they are to get away with it.
In the wake of the Arizona shootings last weekend, there’s already talk of beefing up security for Congressmen, and Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina has been further arguing that Congressmen should receive special treatment from TSA at airports.
Any way you slice it, this system is utterly corrupt, and Lincoln’s fateful notion of a ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people’ has absolutely perished from this earth… at least from the western world.
Last, I’d like to end the week on a lighter note with a bit of comic relief; my good friend Chris has passed along this hilarious video that pokes fun at technology in a way that only dry British humor is capable of doing.
Enjoy, and have a great weekend.