I have to admit it; if I were rich I’d have left the U.S. by now. Or I’d at least have prepared a nice little offshore getaway — a vacation place that would be there when the day came that it was really, really, indubitably time to escape.
I’m not a rich person. You’re probably not, either.
Still, we Americans are living in a country whose government (not our government, but some strange occupation force, some junta that seized power when good people and fools alike weren’t watching) has declared its authority either to assassinate us at will or “disappear” us equally arbitrarily.
That’s not tolerable. One way or another, that has to end. It ends either by us leaving or by that government being ended through resistance.
Do you think about leaving? I know there are people here who say, “Never. Absolutely not. This is my country and they’re not going to drive me out of it.” “I’ll fight for it,” some say. “I’ll die before I surrender it to tyrants.”
Part of me understands that and agrees. Part of me, on the other hand, says, “Freedom is my only country and it goes where I go.” Part of me says, “If you have to fight or fear all the time, then by definition you’re not free and never will be.”
I know a handful of non-rich or non-connected people who’ve made it as ex-pats. One has lived in Central America for 10 years, scraping by, living in a quasi-semi-sort-of not-too-illegal status.
He periodically nags and browbeats me about my failure to leave the U.S. He’s also generous with ideas and offers of hospitality. He makes me think.
Of course it’s possible for less-than-monied folk to get out, if they’re willing to live like gypsies or are okay with a quasi-semi-sort-of not-too-illegal status. Or if they marry a foreign national. Or have lucked into dual citizenship. Or get a job that stations them outside the U.S. Or qualify for a critical-skills immigrant status. There are a lot of ways.
None of those ways apply to me, probably not to you, either.
I’d go if the right opportunity came along. My Central American ex-pat friend thinks that’s just a dodge. He thinks it’s a way of making excuses for not having the guts to pick up and leave.
He may be right.
Yet my objections are real. For all the faults and growing terrors of this country, I don’t know of another that’s “better enough” to dislocate my life for.
Gun rights? The U.S. is still outstanding. “But you can get a permit to own a firearm so easily here!” my ex-pat friend says.
“But I don’t want no steeeenking permit,” I reply.
My friend in Central America has to deal with bribing officials — something I’ve never contemplated doing here and don’t want to contemplate.
He points out — rightly, I’m sure — that it’s not the laws on the books that matter; it’s how those laws are enforced (or not). Plenty of places with “worse” laws than ours are, in practice, pretty much live-and-let live. Yet I live in a small town where, mostly, the laws and I leave each other the hell alone. And I know that the country where he lives — a very good place in many ways — has become a horror story for some ex-pats.
I’m thinking of a couple of Americans there who got into an auto accident with locals — no witnesses, strictly he-said-she-said — and literally had to flee the country because the locals were able to turn a corrupt legal establishment on them. The Americans in question were rich, and somebody decided to use that against them, hoping to profit.
But then, you and I probably aren’t rich. We wouldn’t have to worry about that. Unless, in the wrong circumstances, somebody thought we were rich.
There are so many factors. Dogs. Have you ever looked into the costs and complications of transporting dogs to live in another country? Some countries are easier than others. But nowhere is it a cheap and easy process.
I take the dogs to another country — and you know I wouldn’t leave them behind — and 1/3 or more of my resources are gone — poof! — before I even get started on a new life.
And dogs are … well, just dogs. You may have family you can’t leave. A job you can’t give up. Property you can’t sell.
My friend in Central America would say that’s all just excuses.
He’d say, “Yeah, the Jews in Germany in 1933 made the same objections. And they were fools. They died. Get the hell out while the getting’s good.”
And we might say, “It’s bad, but it’s not going to get that bad here.”
And he’d say, “That’s what they said, too.”
And he’d be right.
Still, the Nazis were an anomaly. Weren’t they? Weren’t they? Please let them be an anomaly.
A week or so ago there was a good, commonsense article on reasons not to go ex-pat. The author — who had tried it himself — makes thoughtful points.
Oh yes, just buy yourself a second passport. Take $100,000 or so and invent in an offshore property. Diversify your assets among a host of countries. EZ-peezy.
Until the U.S. government reaches its tentacles into your offshore bank. Until your pleasantly prosperous offshore dream is shattered by FATCA.
Because of course, that’s the other thing. The U.S. government is everywhere.
Whether you’re rich or poor, it’s there. The eye of Mordor on the Potomac sees around the globe.
Still, unless Mordor seeks you directly, getting out can be a relief, and more and more events are pointing in that direction.
And every time you get a reminder about how bad it’s getting … don’t you at least think about leaving?
I know one man — well off and very smart — whose version of “going offshore” simply took him to a U.S. state that he believes will probably secede when push comes to shove.
And more power to him. He has other reasons for locating where he did, of course. But I gotta admit that’s a creative idea — even if it’s one I think is farfetched.
And I have my own idea of “offshore.” Being in a tiny, out-of-the-way town is pretty good.
Until, of course, the moment it isn’t.
But that’s true anywhere.
This is all just dithering and therefore possibly pointless.
I’m choosing not to see it that way, though.
I don’t know about you but I’ve found that in my life the worst dithering often comes just before the biggest decision points. Sometimes the dithering and inaction seems as if it’s going to be endless … until suddenly it ends. And ends in a powerful burst of resolution.
Mud becomes clear. Helplessness becomes power. Confusion becomes enlightenment. Weakness transforms into an irresistible force. It happens. The mind is a miracle worker — though one whose ways are sometimes as mysterious as God’s.
Through struggle we become our own leaders, our own gurus. There aren’t any shortcuts — at least none that lead to good ends. But damn, what wimpy leaders and gurus our poor selves often seem!
Some things we can be sure of, though.
One thing I know at this moment is that the present state cannot stand. Wherever our country truly lies (in our hearts and minds, and other places), these bastards cannot, do not, will not own it. Not &^%$#@ing ever.