Getting Outta Dodge

Wednesday, June 23, 2010
By Paul Martin

By Eric J. Fry
TheDailyReckoning.com
June 22nd, 2010

Thoughts from U.S. Daily Reckoning Readers…

Were I without family ties, I might consider expatriating to one of the quiet, out-of-the-way towns in Central- or South America that I drove my VW bus through in 1977-1978. Spending a year and a half living life at a slower pace and speaking in a second language was world view- opening for this California born American. Through it all, I met many wonderful, amazingly generous people. Unfortunately, I also saw a lot of grinding poverty and misery. I finally lost count of how many times I stared into the barrel of a loaded submachine gun held by an edgy 19 year-old soldier at some border crossing or roadblock.

My experience was life-changing, and made me appreciate the blessings of life in the United States – such as they were then. Thirty years later, I am not sure what I would feel coming home from such an adventure. I am saddened that governments at all levels have completely lost self-control. I am distressed that corporations now find it more profitable to pay off politicians for special subsidies and protections than to compete. I am depressed that Americans now walk away from commitments and belly up to the entitlement bar without any compunctions. We have spent the last forty years eating our seed corn and frittering away our wealth on trifles.

I am having great difficulty facing my young adult children with the news that their lives will be harder than mine has been…that college might have been a waste of time and money…that funding my granddaughter’s college savings fund may be an exercise in futility…that saving and deferred gratification were cruel jokes that a manipulated stock market, zero interest rates, and future inflation will render worthless.

My family is here, so I’m resigned to remaining here to see whatever fate delivers. I feel strongly that we’re close to the tipping point, after which collapse is inevitable. While a real, final dot.gov crash will make for very hard times, in the end it may be the only way to break the fever that is killing the country. Perhaps then we can dust off the Constitution and rebuild.

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I enjoyed reading the “The Persistent Myth of American Economic Dominance” as I enjoy reading many of the articles on dailyreckoning.com. Anyway, it was asked, in this article, for us to share our stories with you on “Getting out of Dodge.”

I went down to Chile in 2008 with the idea of just vacationing and learning Spanish. I found to my surprise that Chile is a great country and an economic power in its own way. It has low government debt, etc. Anyway, I found a job with a tech company making about 15% less than I was making in the US, but my money went so much further. I was able to buy a 2-bedroom 2-bath condo with all the amenities and 24/7 security for about $120,000 US dollars. There was also no income tax. Basically you just pay a 19% sales tax on everything. It was just so simple to live there. The government left you alone and expected you to work for what you got. They also have a privatized retirement plan where you pay 12.5% of your check to a company who manages your stock portfolio for you. Then you pay 7% for your private medical care comparable to US health care. It was nice to never have to fill out any tax forms and to keep roughly 80% of my paycheck every pay period.

My wife and I came back to the US after a few years there to give my wife, who is Chilean, the experience of living in the US. I think what I learned from my experience in Chile is there are lots of other countries who understand much better the importance of freedom and keeping government intrusion to a minimum if you want a healthy economy.

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My wife and I recently expatriated. We are fortunate that although we were both born in the USA, due to accidents of birth, we hold passports of EU countries allowing us to live and work in the EU freely. Getting a foreign citizenship (and passport) is essential prior to expatriation; this is totally legal in the USA and you do not have to forfeit your US citizenship as a consequence. However, very few will be able to get a foreign passport so easily. The hard way is to live in a new host country for a long period of time and apply for citizenship. Some countries are rumored to sell passports, but this smacks of fraud and I’d be very suspicious of the utility of such a passport if push came to shove.

A better way is if your parents or grandparents were foreign born, to check out whether this could entitle you to a grant of citizenship. Germany for one, grants automatic citizenship to children of German nationals born abroad (until recently this only applied to German fathers, not mothers); this is the best way possible since your foreign citizenship is not something you have to apply for – you already have it and perhaps are just not aware of it. Ireland grants citizenship to grandchildren of Irish nationals regardless of where born, but genealogical proof is required. Expect these rights and programs to become more limited or even to vanish over the coming years, so your readers should investigate the opportunities as soon as possible and avail themselves quickly; there is no downside to having a foreign passport ‘at the ready’, and it makes international travel much easier even if you do not expatriate.

We thought long and hard about giving up our citizenships, but in the end we could fathom no logical reason for hanging on, other than blind inertia. As your article points out, the US government has made it very difficult on expatriates in many ways and it’s hard to justify blind loyalty when your own country treats you like a criminal.

The act of expatriation is disarmingly simple and quick, but best handled by an attorney in a foreign country who specialized in this. You have to be living overseas to do this, and you have to have a foreign passport otherwise you would become stateless, and as a result the embassy people won’t let you renounce your US citizenship.

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If there were a poll on the issue I think eighty percent of Americans would want to stay put, while twenty percent would pack for an offshore destination.

I don’t think the issue is as clear-cut as staying in the US or leaving it. Staying or leaving is a shadow issue cut in half. Half the problem is that too many of those who would stay – regardless of how unlivable the US becomes – are confessing apathy and resignation to the rapacity of a government that considers itself too big to fail. The other half of the problem is that those who would choose to leave the US would be confessing to surrender of all hope for the US.

The only ones who seem to know where they want America to go are the Progressives, the Socialists, the statists, and the one-world control freaks, who, if floated head to toe, would form a gooey bridge from Brussels through Ivy League campuses to the White House and Congress.

The real issue is for Americans to realize that America has been hijacked by the most cynical and diabolical crowd ever assembled in Washington, DC. After that realization dawns, we must re-dream America. We must not settle for pretenders representing us in our nation’s top offices. We must re-claim, renew, and reorient America. That’s the issue.

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I would leave next week if I could liquidate my rental portfolio and personal residence that fast.

I’m fed up!

I think it will get much worse. If I don’t leave soon, they may not let anyone out of the country at all.

It’s sad because I just found the perfect place to live in the US.

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I can only share a perspective of a small business owner. We are a manufacturing company with approximately 25 full time and 8 part time employees. We have been in business 26 years and my sons represent the third generation. I do not expect business to be easy and we don’t mind working hard. But I don’t understand this feeling that I get from the current administration that we are the enemy. I would repent if someone would tell me what I have done wrong. Hugh Smith Of Two Minds recently quipped that one would have to be insane or a masochist to hire an employee in America. I wonder how long we can remain insane enough to keep this up.

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A few years ago I lost my job of 31 years at a mid-size bank, and, to carry me over to retirement, I took a job as a store cashier. It was my trip to the real world. I live and work in Cleveland and the clientele flowing through our store daily is enough to give one pause. A large number of customers are on the food stamp card. Or, as I prefer to call it, the Junk Food Card. The big game is for two people to live together – one with some income and the other drawing unemployment or welfare (or even both drawing welfare). It is very common for food card purchases to consist entirely of pop, candy, ice cream, etc. Then out comes the big wad of cash for the beer and cigarettes. With most of these people it seems very likely that they have no inclination to work at all, and gaming the system is how they wish to live.

Then there are the folks drawing disability. Most of them look quite healthy enough to be working – maybe not at a job they had been doing previously, but still capable of gainful employment. Many of our other customers are older people on fixed incomes. People who are working steady jobs are in the minority.

The problem here is obviously that the failure to maintain entitlement programs – which truly cannot continue to be funded given today’s local, state, and federal government deficits – will almost certainly result in anarchy. The thought of where Cleveland will be in a few years is absolutely frightening. Making things worse, the intelligencia has all fled the city, leaving opportunists to run the government. Every week the news reports are highlighting another local politician that is under investigation for fraud in office.

I don’t think I’ll be moving to a foreign country, but I’ll definitely be selling my house in Cleveland and moving to some small town somewhere that has all the amenities I require – with more favorable demographics. And I can understand that moving to a foreign country could be an even better alternative in the long run. So, basically, I’m all for “getting out of Dodge”!

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I left the mortgage industry in 2003 and started a stone masonry business. My clientele are wealthy and still spending money. They are moving further out into the countryside and a few are building hardened shelters under their homes as well as installing generators with over capacity propane storage, chickens, gardens, trout ponds, orchards, and enough land to isolate and hide the operation from passersby. A one to one and a half hour ride to town is not out of the norm. They are not all retirees.

My employees, friends and family are involved part time (full time, 2nd shift) in food production. We pasture raise broiler hens, beef, pigs, and vegetables. Canning and dehydrating is back in vogue. We are preparing for the worst hoping for the best, raising children, and trying our best to stay in God’s grace.

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