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Why protecting the Homeland is destroying the economy

January 13, 2011
Santiago, Chile

Yesterday evening I was walking around the beautiful tree lined streets of Providencia, one of Santiago’s central upscale districts.

I might as well have been walking around Berlin or Strasbourg– Providencia is a clean, highly civilized area with plenty of parks, cafes, and boutique shops that adjoin the neighborhoods of manicured homes and quiet mid-rise condominium buildings.

On the streets its common to see a host of walkers, runners and bikers– Santiago is a very ‘outdoors’ city, much like Austin or Vancouver, and with such beautiful mountain vistas and great weather, it’s easy to understand why.

What’s interesting is the number of languages that you can hear being spoken while walking around town– the varied nationalities that have made Santiago their home is staggering for a country of this size (17 million).

It’s common to see the token French, German, British, and American expats… but in addition you come across people from all over the world– Africans, Taiwanese, Thai, Russians, and even Iraqis.

Chile has become one of the countries in a growing list that welcomes foreigners with open arms– people who are willing to work hard, add value, or bring in capital are respected and treated well.

This is the same approach that has worked in places like Hong Kong and Singapore; these are two countries where just about every nationality on the planet can enter without a visa.

Propping the door wide open for foreigners provides significant economic benefits; people are more likely to visit (and spend their money) in a place where they are treated well, and they’re more likely to do business in a place where they feel comfortable.

The exact opposite end of the spectrum is the United States… and to a growing degree, the UK. Foreigners who arrive to the US are subjected to discourteous, disrespectful measures and made to feel like lowlife criminal terrorists.

For many, it’s an absolutely horrific experience.  Maria C., the Chilean lady who owns the apartment I’m renting in Providencia told me yesterday about her most recent– and last– trip to the United States.

The Department of Homeland Security decided that, instead of being a well-respected Chilean national attending her Harvard reunion, she was a suspected Colombian drug trafficker. DHS detained her for over 12-hours, confiscating her purse, her passport… even her shoes.

She was continually interrogated by DHS officials who played good cop/bad cop mind games, and when she was given ‘permission’ to use the bathroom, it was under close-up video surveillance. They finally released her without so much as an explanation, let alone an apology.

Maria’s story is unfortunately common; Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Patrol division takes itself way too seriously, and its uniformed chimpanzees are convinced of their own righteousness… that their actions are actually defending the homeland.

One recent story makes this attitude abundantly clear. It involves a Canadian woman, Lind Bird, who was stopped, searched, and relieved of her $2 Kinder Surprise egg by US border patrol agents.

Kinder Surprise eggs are a type of European chocolate candy, and they’re considered illegal in the United States because the FDA has deemed them a choking hazard for children.

The eggs are perfectly legal in Canada, and Bird had one in her vehicle as she was crossing the border. After a stern talking-to by agents, Bird’s egg was confiscated by the United States government, who subsequently sent her a 7-page letter demanding that she authorize the ‘destruction’ of the egg.

Stories like this are so ridiculous that they border on satire… and yet they’re entirely true.

Rather than wasting taxpayer dollars such nonsense, the US government should be rolling out the red carpet for all nationalities with welcome signs saying “Thank you for spending your hard earned savings in our economy… and while you’re at it, please consider mopping up our excess housing inventory!”

I mention housing because it’s such a massive problem; the latest census data shows that there are 19 million vacant homes in the US… and climbing. There are only a handful of ways to clear out this surplus.

First, the country can wait it out until a new generation of Americans comes of age, moves away from mom, and establishes a new household.  Given the country’s anemic growth rate over the last decade, this option will take years. And years.

Second, the excess inventory could be consumed by a sudden surge in Americans’ wealth that sends them on a shopping spree for second and third homes.

Considering that the government has spent a few trillion dollars to create a few hundred thousand temporary and low-paying jobs, however, this seems unlikely.

Third, foreigners could provide the much-needed influx of people and capital that are required to purchase and fill the surplus of homes. Given the way that the government has so distastefully mistreated foreigners over the last several years, however, those cries would likely fall on deaf ears.

Just ten to fifteen years ago, if the US housing market had been in a similar situation, foreigners from all over the world would have been lining up to buy cheap property in the states; there was no greater status symbol than having a home in New York, San Francisco, or Florida.

Today, foreigners understand that the world is a big place, and that there are dozens of other countries that will treat them like human beings, and offer attractive incentives to boot.

Latvia is one country already taking this step, offering EU residence to anyone that purchases real estate subject to minimum criteria (I’ll have a lot more actionable information about this in our upcoming edition of Sovereign Man: Confidential, due out this weekend).

Meanwhile, the US government will continue to treat visitors like criminals, scare citizens about terrorist threats, and wrap itself up in a blanket of righteousness… all while failing to realize that instead of protecting the homeland, these policies take an active role in the destruction of the economy.

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

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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://www.bingwu.com Bing Wu

    Well said! America would do well to treat its international visitors with more dignity and respect. More people would visit, and people would generally be happier :)

  • horehound


    Everything is not sunshine and lollipops in Chile.

    • Johnlloydk

      That is concerning, I’m curious what Simon has to say about this. A country that imports 93% of its gas is in a vulnerable position if the world economic structures were to break down.

  • Alsconstr

    I do agree that America needs to have a better system for treating foreign visitors.

    That being said, it is my opinion that there is one factor that is being left out of this discussion.

    That factor being, some of these other Nations you have mentioned that welcome people with open arms and borders are not the target of these extremists of the world as America is.

    These groups have opnely stated that they consider themselves at war with the U.S.A, in fact openly making the comment that they were decaring war on the U.S.A themselves.

    It is also common knowledge that these groups want to annialate the U.S.

    Their leaders have written books talking of “a world without the U.S. and Israel.

    How can the assumption be made that the U.S. could operate as these other countries when these statements Have been made?

    Like I stated in the beginning of this post, we do indeed need a better system but I do not believe that we could simply have an open door policy with no questions asked.

    I look forward to some ideas and/or discussion on this.

    • Veritabletruth

      Also, Chiles withstood decades of dictatorship-and now is called the US in the 50’s…The US was open to large immigration for many decades, or centuries, as it were…
      Currently going into ‘ebb’ mode with that…
      Things DO ebb and flo.
      Chile needs the manpower, just as many US states could use the population and growth,a nd other states do not.

      HOwever, on that note, ALL of my neighbors in currently in sunny so cal are first generation, from somewhere else-including many, many engineers and programmers from India, Korea, China, etc. Other common origin countries (again, their children are first generation immigrants-and many have arrived within the last 10 years or less) include Iran, Russia, eastern europe region, etc. Many are also businessmen or entrepreneurs. I see no shortage of folks emigrating to the US, regardless of the picture painted by airport security behavior. I myself despise air travel now-and I am as white and american looking as they come. It’s not just ‘foreigners’, as simon’s post would like to emphasize.

      Too large a topic for a blog reply-but I also want to add: Why hasn’t simon mentioned the absolutely awful air quality in santaigo? or the major class system still in operation in Chile? [yes, the US has classes-but one can still move from one to another with some efrfort/work-not perfect, but a possibility. In Chile, one is largely relegated to the class one was born into, much like, ahem, the US was in the 1950’s and earlier.] So, can one have his/her cake and eat it too? Not sure, but of course everything is a mixed bag.

    • Cidnour

      if americans have their boots on the ground in many countries and openly let Israel steal land from the Palestinians and kill millions all over the place then ofcourse there will be blow backs.get out of those places and you will have no terrorism.
      chileans dont have any foreign bases or troops in far off lands.

      • Alsconstr

        Get out of those places and there will be no terrorism.”

        That is pure B.S. There has NEVER been a “Palestine”. And there never will be.

        Israel is the rightful owner of that place and when everything clears up they still Will be.

    • Intuition

      “How can the assumption be made that the U.S. could operate as these other countries when these statements Have been made?”

      Well, the problem us Yanks have is that our government has spent a few generations going around the world making enemies, murdering millions of people, interfering in the internal affairs of other societies, all for the gain of our corporatist/MIC/political establishment.

      Our best first step is to learn to leave the world alone.

      • Alsconstr

        You need to do research and find the True reasons these islamic extremists want to destroy the U.S.

        It has nothing to do with foreign policy and everything to do with their faith.

        Moreover they do not want the general population of their countries to see the freedoms that the U.S. has afforded, especially the women of that region.

        They want things to remain the same as always there.

        The extremists who wish harm on this country would have attacked us if we had never ventured outside our own borders.

        If we pull out of everywhere else in the world they will still attack us every time they get the chance.

      • topeka

        Murdering millions of people?

        You mean like when we pulled out of Vietnam? Did not enter Rwanda? Let the Congo burn? Or Somalia?

        To correctly criticize the post using facts, one would point out that America has supported numerous dictators of every leftist fashion, as well as center-left fascists like the Shah of Iran; and we give or sell military tech to people who are clearly left-wing, genocidal maniacs. We also exploit our currency position for the bankers and do nothings, while people starve. I am sure there is more, but we are not in the habit of killing millions of people directly, and have not done so since WWII. The only way the numbers you have seen can be ginned up is by counting the victims of the people we oppose – people who would die anyway without our involvement.

        A more apt point might be that America is not the only country under attack by Jihad, or communists, or other terrorists.

        The most apt point would be that the America’s counter-terrorism is a symptom of the population’s totalitarian impulse: a natural fruit borne of the milk of public schools run by the NEA.

    • David Jackson

      +You are one of the sheeple that the US and Israeli elite is leading around by the ring in your nose. You believe all the excrement thrown at you, about terrorists under every bed. Wake up and realize you’ve been had.

      • Alsconstr

        No, I do not believe in the “terrorist under every bed” theory. I do know for a fact that there are those who want to and will stop at nothing to destroy America.

        Their reasons go Far beyond foreign policy.

        I sir, am far from sheeple. I have no faith in the government of any nation.

      • steve

        I am not a US citizen but was watching the American football game the other night and during a pause in play the commentator announced ‘thanks to our heroic armed forces on duty in 175 country’s around the world’ WTF are you doing in 195 country’s? spreading freedom ? LoL. Ans you really think foreign policy has nothing to do with it, wake up.

    • Christine

      Maybe you should do some research on what is going on.

    • Jonathan

      Does it not make you wonder why the U.S. would be a target and not other countries? If, as suggested above, it is because they hate our freedom (which, if they lived there would certainly not envy) why would the U.S. be the target when these same freedoms are enjoyed in the other coutries referenced as well. It would seem more likely that it is because of how we treat other countries than how we treat ourselves that is the problem.

  • ragnarok

    On a flight I was on from Houston to Panama the passengers we stop buy US customs agents after passing through the gate but before boarding the plane. They were asking is anyone was taking more than $5000 worth of monetary instruments out of the country! Capital controls are already here.

    • ragnarok

      *were stopped by (jeez)

  • amerikanka

    I’m just amazed that any child’s mouth is big enough to fit an entire Kinder Surprise. This is a serious subject, but the absurdity of this chocolate being considered contraband really got to me.

    • Index1000

      Its the plastic toy inside not the chocolate, of course still bloody ridiculous

  • http://www.needstressrelief.com/ steve

    Enhanced screening and pat downs doesn’t make anything safer and just creates choke points in airports that will be used by terrorists when they decide actually getting on the plane is too hard.

    This whole situation needs a sane approach and the US is missing it completely.

  • Low Flyer

    The US is treating its citizens like terrorists as well. My wife and I took a trip to Cologne, Germany in December and on the way back through Chicago this is what happened at the TSA checkpoint:

    When we approached the O’Hare TSA security checkpoint (about 4:00pm) we were herded toward one of the new scanners. When my wife realized what the machine was she jumped backward out of the device and informed the agent that she would “opt out.” About this time one of the other inspectors, a young female, in response to something said by another inspector, said “I f___ing didn’t pick her.” and began to rail loudly at my wife, asking her something to the effect of “Don’t you use microwaves; I guess you’re afraid of microwaves” and other disrespectful questions, she threw in a couple of “s__ts” along the way. My wife had to insist on not being scanned by reminding them that she had the right to “opt out.”

    We were then required to wait with our feet on a small specified spot next to a metal detector for a long enough period that it appeared to us that we were being “punished via delay” for refusing to comply like sheep. Finally we were ushered through the metal detector and given the patdowns.

    When this all started I was dealing with my own “opt out” decision but, being very sick and very tired after an all night flight crammed in a middle row seat, simply didn’t get what was going on until after the young female had left the position.

    We both took the “enhanced patdown,” administered by extremely professional, and in my wife’s case, sympathetic, inspectors, and went to our gate where we compared notes. We were both incensed by this time and sought out a supervisor and, finally, the TSA terminal manager who assisted us in filing a formal written complaint.

    I was a federal law enforcement agent with DEA and Customs for 24 years. I NEVER treated a criminal PRISONER with the disrespect this person displayed to my wife. It was totally beyond the pale.

    We are both retired and this final straw broke the camel’s backs. We will NEVER set foot on an airliner again as long as this type of degrading and senseless “security” is in force. If we can’t drive, we won’t go….unless we decide to leave the US. And we’re considering that seriously.

    • Gothikrose

      We just came back from Canada with our four children in tow. We are US Citizens and were subject to rude treatment on the US border as well. We were told to roll down our window in the rain, the officer reached in our car, grabbed our keys, threw them on the windshield and yelled at us to get out of the car. One our our children had a fever of 103.3. We said to the guard, “We would like the keys back so we can open the back and grab a jacket for our son..he is sick”. His reply to us was, “And!?” We stated the same again…his next reply was “I would like you to get out of the car now and go inside!” We were so angry..I had to look around and grab a blanket sitting on one of the seats to wrap him in! The US Border patrol SUCKS!

  • Gainsmore

    ‘Meanwhile, the US government will continue to treat visitors like criminals, scare citizens about terrorist threats, and wrap itself up in a blanket of righteousness… all while failing to realize that instead of protecting the homeland, these policies take an active role in the destruction of the economy.’….. which is the intended outcome of this band of thieves living in washington. What better way to destroy ,at least on a Constitutional concept, a once free and prosperous country and turn it into a crying,spoiled,illiterate, co-dependent,seething mass of unemployed desperate people ready for ANY system to save them?? It can happen anywhere and it represents the more refined malevolent nature of the human condition…the point is that it’s happening now in the US

  • j.j.

    there is no reason to buy u.s. property

    it’s still over-valued and over-taxed and over-seizable

    • David

      keep renting there FLAG. I love RENTERS like you. You are the people I put in my OWNED properties and continue collecting YOUR rent while MY property continues to gain in Value. YEP, you are making me a very rich man. THANKS FOR CONTINUING TO BE A RENTER…..

  • Donald (Watchman)

    Ladies and Gentleman,

    I write this statement not to scare you but to spiritually prepare you if you are not expecting what I am about to say:

    I believe that the End may be near. WWIII is at our hands. From one of the greatest perspectives one can put themselves in, the world is due for a ‘clean-up.’ Face it, there are more than 6 BILLION people inhabiting our Earth. Our planet is more than capable of knowing what is going on above the surface. I not only feel this in my heart I know of ‘insider’ knowledge that WWIII has been planned for quite some time. Google ‘Albert Pike’ and you’ll know what I mean.

    Lucifer (Satan) is literally in control of our beautiful country, the United States of America. One only has to research the pagan origins of this country’s founding to understand that we are doomed to repeat the past…and that is:

    “Those who choose to ignore and/or forget the past are deemed to repeat it”

    You will not hear this from anyone else but then again, the majority are not Christians. They have not fully interpreted the Bible in all its God-giving glory.

    So I say, repent. Repent my fellow Americans.

    Ezekiel 33:1-6
    1 Once again a message came to me from the Lord: 2 “Son of man, give your people this message: ‘When I bring an army against a country, the people of that land choose one of their own to be a watchman. 3 When the watchman sees the enemy coming, he sounds the alarm to warn the people. 4 Then if those who hear the alarm refuse to take action, it is their own fault if they die. 5 They heard the alarm but ignored it, so the responsibility is theirs. If they had listened to the warning, they could have saved their lives. 6 But if the watchman sees the enemy coming and doesn’t sound the alarm to warn the people, he is responsible for their captivity. They will die in their sins, but I will hold the watchman responsible for their deaths.’

  • James747

    The factor Alscontr fails to consider is the role US foreign policy plays in leading people to consider themselves at war with the USA. You really need to read this http://www.lewrockwell.com/reed/reed195.html

    • Alsconstr

      The muslim extremists who consider themselves at war with the U.S. are upset about our lifesstyle and the freedoms that America has allowed people, women especially.

      Their problems with the U.S. go much much deeper than foreign policy. They do not want the general population of people in their countries to see the freedoms that are (were) in America.

      Anyone who thinks that theirs is a problem with foreign policy only needs to do some homework and learn what the True beef is that they hold.

      • 4Democracy

        Then I assume you support democracy in Egypt, Algeria, Libya and all those other countries so they can have thesame freeoms as us? If our country is so dead set against those Anti Democratic forces, why have we been propping up so many dictators and puppet govenments? The question I have to ask is how dare the same people telling us they “want to take our freedoms” tell everyone the freedom in Egypt “may not be a good thing”. In other words, tell them they should be happy to be slaves, a policy that we are fully supporting, as people without feedom are slaves, are they not?

  • SKP

    OOPS. Well, it’s ok to suggest that foreign folks buy up “excess inventory” real estate. But the problem lies not in a lack of buyers, but in the banks’ unwillingness to part with the inventory–they’d rather hold onto it in order to boost prices that are still obscenely high.

    Second, banks don’t want to lend. This is a two-edged sword: 1. It prevents purchase by ordinary but qualified folks; but on the upside, it 2. keeps the newly-conjured “money” from hitting the streets and thus prevents (or at least slows) the inflationary power thereof.

    This latter tends to favor those with “excess cash,” but they are worried about buying real estate, due to the enormous taxation surge we have no excuse not to expect.

    • reb

      part of the reason the banks will not loan is the risk of their current loans (mortgages) being written to market value. If that happens, the banks will need mucho reserves to avoid bankruptcy.

  • Brian

    Interesting timing. Just saw this story on Drudge about a 9 year old being denied entry into the U.S. to see Disneyland. Sadly, I am not making this up.


  • Alex

    I lived in Providencia for about 6 months…god, how much I loved that place. I lot of people call it ‘cuico’, but its nowhere near as bad as Las Condes. If stuff like this keeps up, I just might go back…

  • Michael

    I work with kids and being from Europe always wondered why we didn’t have kinder surprises in the US as it’s so popular everywhere else. I suspected something like this (FDA non approved for choking hazards). I bring them back from time to time as gifts, I never even thought that I could be in trouble at the border, but time have changed.

  • Alsconstr

    There may be places these days where it is easier to live than in the U.S.

    We have let these politicians take away almost all of our rights. They have accomplished this with fear factor, no doubt about it.

    People these days are willing to trade their rights for so called “security”.

    “Those willing to give up freedom for the sake of security deserve neither freedom nor security”.

    There has been a movement in the world for a “New World Order”.

    That liberal idea has not faded away it is still alive and well.

    I believe that it is the goal of “leaders” around the world to crash the total economy as we know it.

    That will allow the formation of this “New World Order” and a worldwide government.

    Then they can usher in the cashless society wherby everyone must have an I.D of some sort or more probably a radio frequency chip implanted in them that is simply read with a scanner.

    Now, before you discount this as crazy talk, do some research about the radio frequency transmittors. They are already being produced and used in certain situations now.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DLLRFLTILUE3KLHQGM6WPK6VJU Brat!

    As a traveller who has spent about 80% of my travel time and about 80% of my travel funds on US soil, I’ll tell you right now, I will never return there until all this TSA and DHS nonsense is abolished. I will also spread the word far and wide to all my friends and family just how unfriendly and uninviting the US has become. Not only will you lose my money, you will lose theirs too.

  • Jon Deniro

    As an American citizen, I must admit that I am ashamed of the way our government treats both our people and our guests. We are, on the whole, a kind and friendly people. In our innocence, we have allowed our government, and by extension our country, to be overthrown by tyrants.

  • Xyz

    Too bad. We’re at actively at war and Chili is not. Some folks don’t seem to understand what it means to be under attack.

    Clear all those restrictions that are stopping the impatient well-to-do from having a nice vacation? Kiss NYC goodbye.

    Some people just do NOT seem to get it.

    • Ernest

      It spells C-h-i-l- E …. (not the chili you get at your Mexican restaurant) … if you don’t know the difference between countries and spices, you better shut up.

  • virginia

    You have hit the nail on the head. The only solution is what was reccomended to me at one of your conferences in Panama quite a few years ago, but I had already taken the step of expatriation by handing in my US passport to the US consulate. They were not exactly delighted!!!!

  • Joe

    It seems we, as a country, are restricting the entry of travelers. However, are we not largely preventing the birth of millions of children as well? Those 19 million vacant homes would be full of families..and then some.

  • John

    Yes, all well and good, capitalists and businessmen “ex pats” can enter foreign nations like Chile and Costa Rica and pump up the local economy. Yet what is happening in the US is that many immigrants taking advantage of the welfare system, and are also easy marks for socialist propaganda. Therefore, when you compare Chile and the US, it’s like comparing apples and oranges. The exception to this may be your aside that Latvia is offering citizenship to those with the economic means to buy real estate. At the very least, I am in favor of sensible economic screening measures so that I may protect what little property rights I still have.

  • Jungle2006rex


  • Topeka

    Thank you “Simon,” for another great article chronicling America’s fall.

    As for the comments: Simon is referring to the traveling, investing class, and not the criminal and/or mentally ill immigrant class. Now, having read Simon, I am not sure he is aware of how illegals may be treated once they have scooted beyond the limited border. (e.g. it’s legal for them to commit burglary, drive without a license, collect welfare while working illegally, be pitied for making a quarter an hour (though one of the ones I lived next to for 3 years drove a Dodge Ram PU… but it was used.) And, he doesn’t really seem to care about the unwashed who have to manage with this crisis daily, but:

    Look this is a feature, not a bug. If you are a Coptic Egyptian software engineer trying to rescue a relative, you’re screwed. (Yeah, I know the guy.) But, if you’re a rapist, we’ll count to a 100 while you steal a new identity. (Yes, and that’s a case that’s not in the papers…)

    There’s no one here in my part of fly over country demanding that Philippine doctors go home, (though they may resent his bigoted ‘tude – yeah, I know him too) or wanting to deny visas to software engineers from Switzerland, or their golddigging girlfriends from Jamaica. But my small town is crawling with low-rent-a-cops of all kinds checking everything from our speed to the height of the grass. We are drowning in a nanny state trying to fix everything that isn’t broken, and frighten, harass, or punish everyone who has never committed a crime at common law.

    And No Jokes about checking out your shorts: My ex sang a song that sent a local flat foot through my underwear before most of you had heard of a dot.com. We’ve been on this road for a long time.

    Many of us have long since been waylaid hoping for a Good Samaritan. None will come. Instead of bright, talented, ambitious people, we will get small minded, selfish, petty criminals who collect welfare after they’re too old for burglary. The smart ones will start greenmail groups, and demand ever greater pettiness (and attorneys fees) as the toll for another short respite of peace.

  • Mark

    Good article… though I think you’re off a bit on your numbers regarding option one, the next generation of home buyers… I suspect we’re looking at DECADES, not years!.. so I would count this one out… 19 million homes!…

  • Stuart

    Speaking of Canadian visitors… The latest story is the one about the business owner who has a vacation property in Georgia, but was accused of wanting to live illegally in the U.S. Now as much as I love America, as much of my family is there, no Canadian, much less a woman with a business, a home, kids and financial interests in Canada, would want to live in the U.S.
    A vacation home is just that… what can’t the border services understand that? Canadians love America, but we already think we live in the promised land!..

  • mercenary76

    Taking on too many freeloading , culture destroying foreigners can destroy any country .

  • Mr Logic

    The Muslim world could not care less about how we live in this country! They do not “hate us for our freedom” as W said. They hate us because we attack Iraq, Afghanistan, and intimidate any country that threatens Israel. If we simply got out of that part of the world – and saved $Billions in the process – there is no reason for Muslims even think about us let alone to hate us! We have been forced by false fears to ruin our economy to make Halliburton, et. al. hideously rich and to become hated around the world! Wake up America!

    • Laosuwan6

      to be precise, muslims hate you because you are not muslim. that was the case in the 18th century when the usa was victimized by islamist pirates in north africa and is still the case today. whether you are in that part of the world or not, whether halliburton makes money or not, does not change this central fact. you are hated becasue you are infidel not because you are in their lands.

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