June 2, 2011
Here’s a great story.
I left Santiago yesterday, quite happy that I had managed to lock up a major property deal at the 11th hour right before my international departure. I cut it so close, I literally had to run from my attorneys’ office back to my flat in El Golf within 90-seconds of signing the contract.
I was in such a hurry to make my flight that, when going through security, I forgot to empty my pockets. I know, the cardinal sin, right?
I had a Blackberry, my wallet, a belt, and several Chilean coins jingling around in my pants, and the X-ray machine dinged like a winning slot machine. Instinctively, I prepared myself for a verbal battle with some neanderthal who would try and put his hand down my pants. Except… it didn’t happen.
In my haste, I had almost forgotten that this was Chile, a civilized place that doesn’t go out of its way to demean citizens and residents at every available opportunity. No fondling, no fear and intimidation tactics, no surprise searches, no cash-sniffing dogs, no ‘secondary screening’, no stasi on the jet bridge.
Instead, the solo security attendant simply asked if I had anything in my pockets. I pulled out my Blackberry and showed it to him, and he waved me through. I was on my plane 2-minutes later.
A few days ago, I was having a conversation with our Chief Investment Strategist Tim Staermose; he was telling me about a similar experience traveling recently to Macau via hydrofoil from Hong Kong.
During his trip, he checked his luggage, got his boarding pass, went through immigration control… all the typical sort of international travel stuff, except for one thing: there were no X-ray machines or radiating body scanners at all, and there certainly weren’t any surly border guards to fondle passengers.
As I travel frequently and spend time in so many different countries, it’s becoming clear to me that there are essentially two categories in the world– police states that are running towards George Orwell’s view of the world in 1984, and countries where you can still feel like a free human being.
Unfortunately, the police states are doing their best to corrupt the rest of the world. Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano recently toured India and met with senior security officials there, undoubtedly trying to influence them to toughen security measures and join the Orwellian order.
Back in the US, DHS recently announced its ever-expanding “If you see something, say something…” program, this time at the 2011 Indianapolis 500 race.
If you’re not familiar, this is the program that encourages people across the country to become unpaid spies for the federal government and rat out friends and neighbors for anything ‘suspicious’. In eerie Big Brother fashion, Napolitano delivers this message from monitors perched throughout WalMart stores nationwide.
The stated DHS purpose for the Indy 500 message this past weekend was to “help ensure the safety and security of fans, employees, and race crews by identifying and reporting suspicious activity” at the venue.
Realistically, though, it’s just a precursor to having Homeland Security involved in public sporting events… in addition to airports, train stations, subway stations, bus stations, and eventually shopping malls.
(This video, though a bit long, should give you an idea of the ridiculously police state conditions that exist in public places.)
This has nothing to do with security, but the gradual brainwashing of a population to accept a heavier and heavier hand of government in daily life. They convince people that government is necessary to create jobs, to provide security. Within a few years, though, this influence can change the entire face of the country.
Developed countries used to be the light of the world, the pinnacle of civilization. You could turn on the TV in North America or Europe, see terrible oppression in third world countries and think, “that would never happen here.”
Ironically, as I was sensibly waived through security in Chile’s principal airport yesterday, I thought to myself, “wow, that would never happen in the United States.”
Similarly, as many of my foreign friends see TV clips of police battling citizens across Europe, and even in North America, they say “wow, that would never happen here.”
The tables have truly turned.
Look, economic opportunity exists all over the world, and modern technology makes the opportunities accessible to just about everyone. Moreover, nice, clean, developed places exist all over the world, and there are plenty of ways to obtain residency. We talk about these routinely.
Great schools? Excellent hospitals? First rate standard of living? Options are out there, all over the place.
For me, the bottom line is simple: if freedom is something you truly value, it’s time to start considering these many options… or at a minimum, to take a step back, look at the big picture, make an honest assessment of where things are going, and decide if you want to put yourself and your family on that trajectory.