March 18, 2011
Denver, Colorado, USA
There are a few rules that I rarely break.
One rule is that once I travel to the United States and go through the pain and scare tactics of US Border Protection, I stick around for a couple of weeks visiting family and friends in order to maximize my return on that hassle.
I’m skiing in Colorado now (I think I left half of my patella on the slopes the other day), and we’ve scheduled a meet-up on Tuesday evening for SMC members who live in the area. Check the SMC website for details.
To kick off this week’s questions, Jim asks, “Simon– All things considered, would you recommend for or against retiring to a non-border area of Mexico today?”
I like Mexico. It’s pretty. It’s cheap. It’s fun. The people are great. It’s close to home if you’re North American. It can feel a lot like home if you’re North American.
My issue with Mexico is that the US government has showered the country with so much money, specifically for the purpose of bolstering the Mexican military and police forces, that you can’t go anywhere without seeing some sort of police presence anymore.
Two images stand out in my mind from my most recent trip. First was waking up at our beach house in Tulum to a squad of Mexican infantry soldiers patrolling the beach. The other was on the drive from Merida to Cancun (in the middle of nowhere), I saw a convoy of lightly armored vehicles with manned gun turrets.
Mexico’s government doesn’t have enough organization to be a real police state… but they’re trying like hell to give people that impression. If you can get past the security culture issue, I’d recommend it. Just steer clear of the border areas, as you suggest. And the vapid tourist havens.
Next, anonymous counters, “Anybody considering on moving to Mexico is out of their minds. Mexicans are afraid of being kidnapped.”
Of course many Mexicans are afraid. And many North Americans think that Osama bin Ladin is coming out of his cave to bomb Des Moines or Saskatoon. That’s what happens when governments cultivate fear and force-feed security propaganda all the time.
Obviously there are pockets of crime and violence, but politicians blow the issues out of proportion in order to instill blind obedience in government and to make people afraid of their police forces.
Next, Kevin James Johore writes, “Simon, you have been reading mainstream media about how great Singapore is. Are they really financially secure? The state’s finances are kept secret. Can we trust their bank secrecy provisions? Yes, but only until the US wants to have a peek at your transactions. In other words, Singapore is a total 100% client state of Uncle Sam.”
You nailed it. My problem is that I have been reading too much mainstream media about Singapore. Nevermind that I travel there frequently. Nevermind that I have friends and professional colleagues there. Nevermind that I base some of my businesses and finances there. I get all my Singapore data from CNN.
I’m stupefied at how you can assert that Singapore keeps its finances private. They put everything online, just go to SingaporeBudget.gov.sg and read for yourself. It’s incredibly transparent.
Regarding bank secrecy, Singapore has very clear provisions about secrecy with specific cases for when, how, and to whom information can be disclosed. It’s all in section 47 of Singapore’s Banking Act (also conveniently posted online at the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s website).
Bankers who violate these provisions (e.g. like the banker in Liechtenstein who sold account information to the German government) face imprisonment and steep fines.
Bottom line, Singapore is not some cloak and dagger tax haven, but a legitimate, modern, wealthy global financial center. This is the place where the US government goes with hat in hand to ask for a loan… not the other way around. To suggest it is some stooge of Uncle Sam is intellectually dishonest.
I’m not here to tell you that Singapore is the greatest place in the world… any place has its challenges; but the assertions you’re making are completely devoid of fact, and if you had performed even the most cursory research, I doubt you would have wasted your time posting that note.
Lastly, Jaf writes, “Simon, I am investigating a second passport in Paraguay; what I have found out is that you can get a permanent resident card in a few months and that you can get credit for a passport without living in the country after 5 years. How come you don’t mention this option more often?”
Paraguay is a pretty good passport: you can travel visa-free to Europe and several places in Asia, and it can be obtained fairly inexpensively.
With the right contacts, you can get a residency card in just a few weeks… and you’re correct, you don’t need to live in the country. Also, naturalization can be applied for after 3-years, not 5.
I wrote a detailed article about this, with trusted contact information, in the February edition of Sovereign Man: Confidential. We’re having a limited time, $50 off special, that of course comes with our rock solid, 60-day unconditional guarantee.