Questions, and a free gift

September 3, 2010
Dallas, Texas, USA

I’ve been really humbled by all the well-wishing emails and comments this week about my father’s health. He’s doing much better, but it’s good for us to spend some time together.

As I’m sure you’ll agree, there’s really nothing more important than health; all the money, freedom, and friends in the world mean nothing if we’re not around or able to enjoy the experiences.

Too many people these days are actively trading their health for money; in my father’s case, he’s spent the last decades making poor health decisions, allowing his professional obligations to monopolize his time, leaving him with little more than bad excuses for not getting exercise or eating well.

It’s an incongruous choice, when you think about it. Money is easy to make… it’s nothing more than worthless paper or a digital balance. One simple value-added service or well-reasoned investment (short yen, cough cough) and you can literally conjure money out of thin air.

Achieving health, on the other hand, requires steady dedication over a lifetime. While there is no shortcut or quick fix, health is not particularly complex: eat well, get plenty of exercise.

I think this is something that we should all be paying attention to; this little economic roller coaster ride that we’re all on is going to be pretty bumpy for the next decade or so… and consequently, this is NOT the time that you want to let your health deteriorate, if ever.

If you’re interested in improving your fitness and find that you need a bit of guidance, I have a free diet and exercise report that I’d like to put in your hands in appreciation for your kind thoughts and support this week.

The report was written by my close friend, fellow Atlas 400 member, and renowned fitness guru Craig Ballantyne; Craig is a regular contributor to Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, and a number of other leading fitness publications.

He wrote this report recently about healthy diet and simple workout routines, all without having to spend a lot of money on diet foods or gym memberships. Craig was kind enough to let me give away his report to Sovereign Man subscribers, and you can download it for free here.

Moving on to this week’s questions, first James asks, “Simon, are you still planning on holding your own offshore strategies conference?”

Absolutely. There are a couple of things that you will be hearing about from me soon; the first is the launch of our premium service, the second is our comprehensive offshore conference, and the third is more details on a proposed sustainable community that I wrote about some months ago.

Regarding the conference, we are already working with organizers and are planning the event tentatively between mid-January and early February. As soon as we lock in the dates and venue, you will be the first to know.

I won’t reveal the details right now, but I can guarantee it will be the most comprehensive and actionable offshore event out there. I am personally planning the details to ensure the event’s quality and value, and I will look forward to meeting you face to face there. More to follow.

Next, Stephen asks, “G’day Simon! What do you think of this Paul Hogan nonsense?”

Australian actor Paul Hogan, aka Crocodile Dundee from the 1980s films, has been caught up with the Australian tax authorities for a disputed tax bill of over $30 million.

Hogan, 70, lives in Los Angeles, but recently traveled back to Australia to attend his mother’s funeral. Upon arrival, he was slapped with an exit prohibition by the tax authorities, legally barring him from leaving the country.

My understanding is that, as of this morning, Hogan’s attorney was able to negotiate a deal that involved posting some sort of bond in exchange for being able to leave the country.

Here’s the catch: Hogan has not been charged with tax fraud, tax evasion, or any crime whatsoever. Yet for two weeks, he has been stranded in Australia, unable to return home to his family simply because the tax authorities -suspect- impropriety.

Bottom line, this sort of thing is nothing more than criminal thuggery and underscores how the tax authorities of many nations have carte blanche to do whatever they want, even without concrete evidence.

In the eyes of the tax man, you are presumed guilty. Then they take away all of your resources and force you to prove your innocence. If this isn’t a strong call to plant multiple flags, I don’t know what is.

Last, Ryon asks, “Simon, my university economics text states that property rights are stronger in common law nations such as the UK and USA, and that civil law nations are more likely to ‘yield unpredictable changes.’ Does this stack up with your boots on the ground experiences?

No. Switzerland, for example, is a civil law jurisdiction. According to conventional economics, the Swiss government should be more likely to expropriate property from landowners than, say, Thailand which is technically a common law jurisdiction. In reality, this is highly unlikely.

Eminent domain / expropriation / compulsory purchase exists all over the world. If a government wants your property, they’ll take your property, legal system be damned.

If you want to take the temperature of a nation’s political risk regarding land rights, it really has very little to do with their legal system. The strength of title records and asset protection laws are much better indicators.

What’s funny is that if you Google “[insert country] property seizure” you’ll find a lot of hearsay horror stories that scare the daylights out of investors. People say things like “yeah, property is really cheap in XYZ country only because the government will just steal it from you.”

This sort of nonsense keeps buyers away and prices low.

Yes, there is some political risk everywhere, and in some counties more than others. But if you discard the conventional wisdom and do independent research on the ground, you’ll find that armchair expats often lack personal experience, and that for every horror story there are millions of successes.

About the Author

Simon Black is an international investor, entrepreneur, and founder of Sovereign Man. His free daily e-letter Notes from the Field is about using the experiences from his life and travels to help you achieve more freedom, make more money, keep more of it, and protect it all from bankrupt governments.