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Do you think you’re free? Ask yourself these questions

June 10, 2011
New York City

I don’t come to the United States very often, and when I do there’s usually a pretty good reason. In this case, it’s because of the annual Atlas 400 meeting which kicks off today in New York. I get a ton of value out of the group, and for me it’s worth making these trips (you can find out more about Atlas here.)

Because my US visits are generally short and sporadically infrequent, I’m highly attuned to little changes; this is something like out-of-town relatives who notice how much a child has grown over a period of several months, whereas parents seldom notice the small, daily changes.

On the surface, it seems like a pleasant enough place. Underneath the facade of shopping malls and little league, though, there are clear signs of decay. Eroding economic opportunities, increased bureaucracy, emerging class warfare, police state conditions, deteriorating infrastructure, reduced quality in service, etc.

Again, these changes are more acutely felt when you’ve been gone for a while because you have fewer recent experiences to normalize the extremity of a new incident.

To give you an example, I have a friend who spent 15-years living overseas without once setting foot in the United States starting in 1990. The first time he came back was in 2005, having completely missed the slow, gradual security rollouts at US airports throughout the 1990s and 2000s.

You may remember long ago, they used to let anyone and everyone into the airport gate areas, you just had to go through a dinky metal detector. Friends and family could accompany you all the way to the gate and wish you well before your flight.

This was the America that my friend left in 1990. He came back to the post-9/11 dehumanization of airline passengers without having been slowly indoctrinated into the nationwide fear of boogeymen who live in caves, and the consequent security paranoia at airports.

When he got home, the first thing he did was head down to the US Embassy and find out how he could relinquish his citizenship. That’s when he discovered that he essentially had to ask permission and seek approval for what is clearly a very personal decision. He told me later, “I felt like a feudal serf…”

One of our readers, Roger from Sweden, recently wrote to us and echoed this point: “As long as someone else is the true owner of most of your so-called assets, you’re just a modern day serf, just possibly dressed up in fancier clothes with whiter teeth. The scheme is very clever because we provide much higher yield.”

He’s right, and if you doubt it, just ask yourself a few questions–

Do you really own your home? Stop paying property taxes and find out.

Do you really own the cash in your bank account? Offend any number of state or federal agencies and see how quickly it gets confiscated.

Do you really control your own body? Try taking HGH, drinking raw milk, or even buying a simple chocolate Kinder egg.

Do you really have the right to bear arms? Try buying several magazine-fed automatic weapons and see who comes knocking at your door.

Do you even have rights to your own kids? Spank them in public and see how quickly the state protective service agencies show up.

Certainly, such dystopian anecdotes are not just prevalent in one country. As reader Aryan recently wrote, “the nation state is still alive and well… even in a capitalist paradise like Hong Kong, there are rules and regulations which you MUST follow.”

This is true. It’s not like there is any freewheeling anarcho-capitalist paradise anywhere in the world where the pure market prevails and government does not exist.

Every country has some system of law, whether corrupt or transparent, and real freedom is when individuals have the right to choose… to opt in to their preferred system, not to be incarcerated by one simply by accident of birth.

Of course, everyone’s perception of cost/benefit differs. For some, the benefits of Norway may outweigh its extreme financial costs; others may see a country like Uruguay as a better fit for cost/benefit.

There is already strong competition emerging among nations trying to attract productive residents, whether entrepreneurs, retirees, investors, professionals, or laborers. From Panama to Qatar to Canada to Singapore to Latvia, the options are expanding all the time for those who care to look.

The idea is simply to be able to choose… to make an honest and complete appraisal of the situation and decide from an entire universe of options– “are the financial and freedom costs I’m paying in this country worth the lifestyle benefits, especially considering the future trends and my international options?”

Weighing the options and making a conscious, informed decision to stay in one’s current situation with a solid backup plan is certainly a valid choice. Sentencing oneself to geographic captivity out of ignorance, indolence, or arrogance, however, especially without a credible backup plan, is just plain foolish.

On Monday I’d like to dive further into the ideas of ‘is this fixable?’ and ‘what happens next?’ Stay tuned, and thank you for being a member of this community.

Our goal is simple: To help you achieve personal liberty and financial prosperity no matter what happens.

If you liked this post, please click the box below. You can watch a compelling video you’ll find very interesting.

Will you be prepared when everything we take for granted changes overnight?

Just think about this for a couple of minutes. What if the U.S. Dollar wasn’t the world’s reserve currency? Ponder that… what if…

Empires Rise, they peak, they decline, they collapse, this is the cycle of history.

This historical pattern has formed and is already underway in many parts of the world, including the United States.

Don’t be one of the millions of people who gets their savings, retirement, and investments wiped out.

Click the button below to watch the video.

About the author: Simon Black is an international investor, entrepreneur, permanent traveler, free man, and founder of Sovereign Man. His free daily e-letter and crash course is about using the experiences from his life and travels to help you achieve more freedom.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • http://profiles.google.com/danrshaw Dan Shaw

    You always have free choice.  ALWAYS.  If someone points a gun at your head and says halt, you have several choices.  One is to halt, one is to flee and one is to aggressively attack. The choice is always yours.

    • Donovon

      That is not freedom. That is coercion. Certainly, you must understand the difference.

  • http://granitegourmet.com GraniteGourmet

    Very interesting post. However, I don’t quite agree with the characterization of the renunciation process as “asking permission.”  There are numerous ways to lose one’s US citizenship (serving in a foreign army, accepting a post in a foreign government, treason etc.) 
    But the most pertinent in your friend’s situation would be the requirement to: “appear in person before a U.S. consular or diplomatic officer, in a foreign country (normally at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate); and sign an oath of renunciation.” 8 U.S.C. 1481 (a)(5)
    It’s not a petition or a request for renunciation, it’s an affirmative declaration. Is it aggravating to have to go through a state-imposed bureaucratic process just to rid yourself of future state-imposed bureaucratic processes? Absolutely.  But I think it mischaracterizes the issue to indicate that you don’t have the freedom to opt-out of US citizenship if you choose.
    Please correct me if I’m missing part of the process — I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if some sort of administrative regulatory body has promulgated non-laws that somehow has binding authority on us plebeians.

  • http://almostbohemian.com/ David William

    I’ve been a long time lurker, but this one forces me to come out of the woodwork. You really hit it on this one.

    I sing these tunes to everyone, and yet I can’t help but feel like no one listens. The myths of the American Dream and all that… well I can’t believe people don’t see it.

    The property taxes one blows my mind. Why is our society so bent on home ownership when you never really own it. And the guns one… thats good too.

    Truly, thanks for this one. I appreciate intelligent writing. You did a fine job here. 

  • Miika Kosonen

    what about norways financial costs? the true cost here is being a subject to the policestate, enforced by the public, they love their collectivist controlgrid! the police dont even carry guns here. the people are polite and christian, thats why they are rich. but i like argentina because they dont trust in government , the only garantee against tyranny 

  • jg

    Freedom die long ago.  Most alive never were free.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/5JBPROM6ISZSZZFYZTHJSZ2ATQ Afzal

    this articl rathr begs the qeschn. i can’t du z i plez. ther’r lawz. du u wont a s’si’ty sans laws?

  • http://titanians.org Cronus de Gaia

    For a still deeper analysis of the nature of government, I invite the author and readers to visit http://titanians.org/ethics-law-government/ and http://titanians.org/b-o-r-g-the-robot-we-call-government/.

  • Je2453

    You’re such a snob.

  • bigtom

    I’ve noticed for years when returning to the U.S. from overseas the slow steady physical deterioration of American cities. You are correct, Simon, it is the slow erosion of what was once a very pleasant America to live in, not even addressing the social erosion that has taken place…..and mostly the social/physical deterioration not only goes unnoticed by our citizens, but they have been caught up and absorbed in it’s demise…and fixable? Not with the present crop of political leaders we have today. The damage that has been done by the derivative market is still mostly hidden from the books and has yet to fully play out it’s financial wreckage. That, I believe is unfixable….

  • ice nine

    The sooner you and your friends shrug, the better as far as I’m concerned.

    That is a nod to all of your combined productivity, not a spiteful and jealous middle finger. Spite and jealousy yield nothing of value. The world would do well without such distractions.

    Y’all do what you gotta do, man.

  • Rogoraeck

    When it was when someone told you, “Go ahead, it’s a Free Country”??? Remember??

  • Eric wt

    What is this about HGH?

    I have never had a problem getting it when I visit the USA.

    What is going on that I do not know about? HGH has always been easy to get.

  • kristin mak

    ah, is this spam or a real comment? Moderator!!

  • Kevin Benko

    In 1988, after my honorable discharge from the military, I tried telling others some very similar things. I failed badly, as I was unable to properly articulate these ideas properly. Around 2000, I was finally able to properly articulate these concepts, but many people just will not get it… the willfully ignorant. I think that there are many people that, on some level, know that the USA has become the USSA, but are unable to properly articulate the fact.

  • Adam Eran

    This is the most bizarre notion of freedom. If you are really free, just stop thinking for 30 seconds. Watch a second hand and think only of the numbers. Unless your name is “Buddha” you cannot.

    So requiring some “freedom” from public policy is idiotic if you can’t even control your own thoughts. (What do you have more control over?)

    Meanwhile, let’s all complain like our Atlas compadre because in the U.S. we have to drive on the right-hand side of the road! Where did my freedom go!

    Even better, if you resolve to exercise as a New Year’s resolution, I’d be willing to bet 15 minutes into the first workout you’ll be asking “Who is making me do this?”  (Answer: It’s you, moron!)

    My apologies to any morons who are offended by being compared to Simon Black.

    The primitive, un-thoughtful definition of “freedom” that permits such adolescent resentment is further evidence that Atlas club members (dues: $25,000!) don’t necessarily qualify for Mensa.

    Personally, I think Atlas should adopt “It’s my responsibility” as their motto. Ultimately, we’re all free. In the interim, though, we’re at the effect of the agreements we make, no matter how shocked we are at the state of airport security.

    And please remember, if you don’t like the agreements you’ve made, feel free to drive on the wrong side of the road. It’ll improve the gene pool.

  • thedrickster

    To which agreements do you speak?

  • John

    If you think America is bad, North Korea and Cuba both beckon.

    I’m beginning to wonder about “Mr. Black.” He sided with that Wikileaks guy. He’s extolled the virtues of Singapore, where they still have the draft and corporal punishment (caning). He seems to think that a government can be run with no revenue (read: taxes) to pay for it. What’s up with this guy.

    He has some good ideas. But, the “Big Brother’s Watching You” paranoia just isn’t warranted. If it ever is warranted, it won’t be because the government forced it on us, but because we voted it into office.

  • Joanne

    Regarding Atlas 400, I would guess you don’t get many women aching to pay $25,000  to drive a BMW fast around a parking lot!  Sounds like a male “reclaim your youth” kind of activity.  Of course, its the concept of many driving fast around the parking lot that gets the blood rushing.  (like bumper cars)

    • tward3

      Is that a bad thing?

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