Fight vs. Flight: Reckoners Weigh-In on the Concept of Expatriation

A corollary to our first quote of the day might be that manipulation works worst when those who would be manipulated recognize the powers of manipulation…and then take action to repel or circumvent them. In other words, manipulation works worst when folks refuse to “grow accustomed to the denial of constitutional rights.”

Unfortunately, the range of “solution sets” for repelling or circumventing totalitarianism is quite limited. Fight or flight (the theme of last year’s Agora Investment Symposium in Vancouver) are the two basic options. “Fight” has a very checkered track record. Although the fighters sometimes prevail, they often fail in catastrophic fashion. “Flight’s” track record is somewhat less volatile. While often failing to achieve optimal outcomes, flight usually prevents catastrophic ones.

Generally speaking, those who choose flight from government oppression — whether that oppression be nascent or well established — are seeking greater freedom and opportunity outside their national borders. Some will find it; some won’t. But here’s a surprising, and somewhat alarming, data point.

An increasing number of folks are fleeing this country to seek the freedom and opportunity that this country has historically provided. And to judge from recent reader emails, an increasing number of ex-pats are actually finding the freedom and opportunity they seek. Last week’s column, “Why More and More Americans are Abandoning Their US Citizenship,” sparked a flood of email from satisfied expats…as well as a handful of emails from satisfied US citizens who have no desire to leave…ever.

The following two emails typify the responses we received from both camps. But no matter whether one sympathizes with the Fight crowd or the Flight crowd, there is no denying that the size of the Flight crowd is growing. And it will continue to grow to the extent that US governmental policies suppress or undermine what Wendy McElroy calls “Parallel Institutions.”

After reading the reader emails below, check out what Wendy has to say, here…

Reader Email #1:

I renounced my US citizenship last November. We have our residence permit in New Zealand. I may not be a typical case for your readers, as I had not lived in the US for over 40 years. I had served in the Marines, family, blah blah, but I felt like what a Jew fleeing Berlin in 1938 must have felt. Total relief. Contrary to expectations, I was treated courteously by the staff at the Auckland consulate, which has more experience than most stations for renouncing.

It is important to have all your “ducks in a row”. Alternative citizenship, past federal taxes, FBAR and other recently added reporting necessities. There are a number of very helpful websites for educating oneself without the expense of lawyers at every stage. I would recommend hiring an immigration lawyer after doing your homework to ensure that you have everything in order. It takes an online appointment schedule to visit the embassy. They accept the forms you fill out from online, plus about $450 for the processing, and within minutes one has made a giant step towards recovering their freedom and liberties.

In February I received a confirmation of my acceptance of renunciation from the State Dept. and my cancelled old passport. I then applied for a tourist visa to the states and was granted a 3-month visa rather quickly. It costs $250. If one doesn’t use it, no problem. But they aren’t issuing long-term visas any longer, which is inconvenient but not the end of the world.

I travel internationally regularly and have no problems whatsoever with my St. Kitts passport. If I have consular issues, it is handled by the British, as St. Kitts is a Commonwealth nation. I can say by personal experience I am delighted with renouncing. I can now open bank accounts and operate with the impunity common sense decrees.

Moving overseas may not be for all your readers, or even many. Living in the states is what they have done and, as such, they’ll rarely contemplate an alternative. But for those with the courage, it’s pure liberation.

Reader Email #2:

I am not an ex-pat and probably never will be. I am 74 years old and will probably spend the rest of my life in the US near my son and granddaughters.

I want to mention an alternative to moving out of the US. There are still good places in the US, places that are even cheaper than a lot of countries people are moving to, and maybe offering more freedom, too.

I live in central Texas about 60 miles northwest of Austin in the Highland Lakes Area of Texas. In 2005 I bought a new home 200 yards from Lake LBJ, one of the largest, prettiest, constant-level lakes in the US. There are 7 lakes in our area and 4 are within about 20 minutes of our home.

Last year we bought 2 rental condos in Horseshoe Bay. Horseshoe Bay is a resort city of about 3,000 people, which has 4 golf courses and one of the largest marinas in Texas on Lake LBJ. Some condos can still be bought there for under $75,000. Homes start at about $175,000 and go up into the millions.

As you probably know, we have a lot more freedom in Texas than a lot of other states. Business licenses are easy to get and some areas don’t even need a license for some kinds of business. In Texas we don’t like big government nor excessive government controls, probably more so than many countries that people are thinking of moving to.

Why move to a country that speaks a foreign language, when you can get the same thing in Texas? My wife and I laugh at the housing prices in Canada on the Home and Garden TV network. Their prices are 3 times what they are in our area. Homes in our area can be bought for as low at $125,000 or as high at $8 million. A billboard on the highway advertises homes to be built on your lot for an average price of $65 a square foot. Canadians are paying over $300 a square foot for beat up old homes I would not even consider living in.

Anyway, people don’t have to leave the country to get more freedom and inexpensive living. If we have hyperinflation, put your money in a foreign bank, but live here or another area like ours.


Eric Fry
for The Daily Reckoning