Getting Outta Dodge

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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
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.

I enjoyed reading
the “The
Persistent Myth of American Economic Dominance
” as I enjoy
reading many of the articles here at The
Daily Reckoning
. 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.

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

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.

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.

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

I’m fed

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.

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.

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

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”!

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.

from The Daily Reckoning.

24, 2010

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