First of all I really appreciate all of your thoughts and comments this week; I would definitely encourage you to spend a few minutes reading the comments on ‘Give me Liberty or Give me Boarding Pass’ posted on Tuesday.
One question in particular that I would like to address came from Amanda:
“Simon aren’t foreign governments even more likely to seize foreigner’s assets since they have no votes to lose?”
Personally, I believe that a well-selected foreign government is much less likely to seize foreigners assets than western governments.
Why? Because smaller countries are much more dependent on ‘wealthy foreigners’ than your home government. If they develop a reputation of not respecting foreigners or their assets, revenue drops off a cliff.
In contrast, you are just a worthless individual in the United States– a speck… a peon among the masses. You have no power.
Think you own your home? Guess again. It can be seized at any time by any variety of government agency at local, state, and the federal level for an endless list of infractions that vary from the mundane to the absolutely ridiculous– taxes, trade violations, drug enforcement, zoning violations, child protection, etc.
Even without this anti-carrot that is constantly being dangled, the government gives us constant reminders that we’re just renting our property from them. An email from a subscriber underscores this point:
Simon– I happen to own some vacant land located about 1km from a large shopping area in my town. This land is located on a busy road sandwiched between one of my homes and a condo complex. My wife is a yoga instructor and was looking to expand her studio, so we thought we’d consider building a first class facility on the vacant lot.
When we went before the zoning board to tell them what we wanted to do, they basically laughed at us and told us that, “If you really want to support the community, you should lease one of the empty spaces in one of the local strip malls.”
Funny thing, I didn’t say anything about “supporting the community.” All I wanted to do was build a structure on my own property. I figure that since I pay such an enormous amount in taxes and take zero services from the city/state, I’m already doing my part to “support the community”.
Simon again. This story is indicative of where I see the culture headed– it is more important to be a ‘responsible party member’ than to advance your own self-interest. Apparently the definition of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is now left up for interpretation by county employees.
I feel much more free in many foreign countries, secure that I actually OWN my property, and happy that the government just leaves me the hell alone.
Sure, the United States has better marketing than most countries as the ‘land of the free’– there are no unquestioning, flag-waving Chileans or Panamanians bombastically singing songs about their freedom like well-programmed robots.
And that’s what makes living overseas a well-kept secret. Most people are brought up to believe that (^ insert your home country) is the greatest country in the world. They believe it, unwaveringly… and think that anyone who would move is simply crazy.
I usually explain it by drawing an “X”. I start from the top left and say– this is the United States. Right now we’re up here, close to the top, but quickly heading in this direction (drawing line towards the bottom right).
I stop halfway to the bottom and put my pencil on the bottom left. This is many overseas countries. They’ve started near the bottom but are quickly growing in this direction (moving line towards the top right).
Right now, the US may still be ‘above’ the foreign country… but at some point, and likely soon, the two lines will cross. The US is heading towards the bottom, and the foreign country is headed higher.
As an opportunist, I intend on establishing myself there before the two lines cross.