Thinking About Expatriation? Watch This Video

December 18, 2010

by Simon Black

(Editor’s Note: This is DEFINITELY worth four minutes of your time. Make sure you show this to your kids.)

Professor Hans Rosling has an uncanny ability to take enormous heaps of data, crunch the numbers, and present them in such a fluid way that it would make the most disinterested viewer sit up and take notice, and his focus on developing countries shatters a lot of misconceptions.

In the video below, Rosling charts a moving 200-year history of the wealth and life expectancy of 200 countries. In just 4 minutes, he shows that the gap between developing countries and developed countries is actually rather small, and that places like Shanghai, Taiwan, South Korea, and Singapore have already caught up with the West.

Two of the things that I thought of immediately when watching this video were:

1) The catastrophic long-term effects of government-organized folly (war, central planning, currency debasement, etc.) are very clear when watching the progression of his data set;

2) It’s incredible how fast developing nations can catch up with the West; technology, productivity, and a high savings rate are key drivers, and those are the critical ingredients to look for when assessing the long-term growth capacity of any economy.

I highly recommend the above video, it’s only 4 minutes. If you have time for a more in-depth presentation about the growth rates of developing nations (particularly India and China), check out Rosling’s lecture at a 2009 Ted conference, it’s about 15 minutes.

And finally, if you want to play with the data yourself, you can do so at Rosling’s website.

Anyone considering a move or exploratory trip overseas, might want to consider starting his or her research in some of the developing nations that rank highly in Rosling’s data set. Chile ranks the highest in Latin America, Malaysia in developing East Asia, and Sri Lanka in developing South Asia… 3 of my top picks.

Copyright © 2010 Sovereign Man

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La Fuente on a Slow Afternoon

November 2, 2010

by Fred Reed

(Editor’s Note: Expatriation facilitates slow afternoons and articles like this one. You could do worse than packing up your gear and starting over in another country…and if you stay here in America, you will do worse.)

So I was sitting with Tom the Robot and Jonesy in La Fuente, an old and cavernous beer bar hard by the cathedral in Guadalajara, and swapping lies. Except they weren’t lies, because some people can’t lie to equal the truth. Otherwise I guess they would. Thing is, lying is a limited form. Life isn’t.

La Fuente is dark and inelegant. It covers about a roaring acre of locals hooting and hollering and you pay for beers as you get them.

The Robot was talking about social interaction. Like Jonesy, he has what writers call a checkered past, but chaotic is more like it—ground Marine in Nam, paramedic in New York, curious jobs in remote parts of Alaska. He once played a bottle-nosed dolphin in a movie, hovering two feet below the Gulf of Mexico in scuba gear and waggling a plastic dolphin’s head above the water.

The Robot is crazy. He is also a dangerous brawler and has anger-control problems. Actually, he doesn’t see a problem. He’s perfectly happy smacking the hell out of people who need it.

Anyway, social interaction. He comes out of a bar in Guad late one night, three sheets to the wind, and probably the blankets and pillow cases too, and these young bad-asses come up with a knife and request his wallet. When that happens, the smart thing is just to give it to them. So the Robot reaches for his wallet and nails the sumbitch with a drop-shouldered sucker-punch, hard, and the jerk goes down leaving teeth on the concrete, and the others decamp.

“Bloody chicklets,” said the Robot, referring to the teeth. “I was stupid. I coulda got killed.” He has anger-control problems. And his wallet.

He wasn’t bragging, just telling beer stories.

Jonesy is a retired bush pilot out of Alaska with a soft Southern accent like Karo syrup dripping on busted china and he’d talk about flying way up north with ice on the wings and in a fog in places that made nowhere look like somewhere. Maybe he was in a high-wing Cessna, but I forget.

“What happens if you can’t find a place to land?” asked the Robot, who knew the answer.

“Shucks, you can land anywhere,” said Jonesy. “Nothing to it. What you want to do is find a airfield before you do it.”

I guess you could drink beer with a tax accountant. But I wouldn’t want to try it.

The waiter came by on a resupply run with more Corona and I mentioned coming out of Angola on a story for Soldier of Fortune in a DC-3, flying ten feet over the trees to keep SAM-7s from getting a lockThis was this when Cuban soldiers, whom I rather like, were supporting the evil commmie government in Luanda. I didn’t care. The world is complex. I didn’t need to solve all its problems, or take sides.

Anyway, among a certain kind of riffraff and rabble, such as us, the DC-3 is a legend. It first flew about 1936, and still does, age seventy-five and re-engined, and it was the platform for Puff the Magic Dragon, a gunship popular in Asia. More popular with one side than the other, I guess. With Gatlings firing tracers it looked like it had ray guns.

But that’s neither here nor there. La Fuente was getting noisier as people came in for an after-work brew. There was nothing hositle aobut it, just good times and bad acoustics.

Mexico changes fast. You see women in lots of bars. You’ve heard a lot about machismo, but it’s on life-support, at least in the cities. Which is a good thing. In the US you can see some diesel-dike feminist with spiked hair like an alarmed porcupine and hollering about what she thinks is machismo because she caught some guy leering at her tits. Mexican machismo isn’t funny. It often involved broken jaws. Still does in the wilder parts.

You might think guys who know more about guns, engines, and questionable bars than about polishing doilies, or whatever you do with doilies, would be untouched by civilizing influences, and regard women as furniture or captive hookers. No, actually. I know lots of pilots, former door-gunners, cowboy divers, and generally very tough guys. They think women are nuts, but don’t speak badly of them, even in private. Except gringas. Jonesy will gaze at an ambient lovely and opine wistfully that she could suck-start a leaf-blower. But he would never say it to her. He’s just dreaming. He treats his wife with kindness and respect. But then, she’s Mexican.

The Robot looks like a skull with skin stretched over it. Hollowed out, he’d make a good lamp shade. He has don’t-fuck-with-me eyes that make you want to be his friend, or somewhere else. I’ve never figured it out. Some guys you look at and you know mayhem is readily available. It isn’t a scowl, threatening manner, over-hanging orbitals, or angry voice. But you know. You just know. “Cops eyes,” they have been called.

He talked about motorcycles he’d had, which was lots, and falling off them occasionally to no good effect on bad turns, and long lonely rides down to Florida on a Harley panhead to dive and hang out with people your mother wouldn’t like at all.

The better forms of human detritus tend to travel in similar social tunnels. The Robot and I both knew the Last Chance Saloon, a biker bar at the top of the the Florida Keys. My lunatic friend Stu and I had spent time there when we drove down to pass the turn of the millenium underwater, which we did at Davis Ledge, trying to drink, at forty feet, a bottle of rust-cutter champagne called Domme Bahd Stufe, or something similar. It didn’t work too well.

A couple of hours and considerable Corona later, I’d heard about getting dropped off in distant lakes in Alaska to fish by a float plane plane that wouldn’t come back for two weeks so you better be alive then. About the shark that swept in on an attack run in cloudy water and veered off when it realized that divers weren’t in its food chain. About the bomb squad in DC that sent robots to investigate what seemed to be a bomb, but turned out to be bull sperm in liquid nitrogen. About cold rain over an disintegrating M60 tank on the mud ranges of Fort Hood. About….

I don’t guess we saved the world or cured cancer. But I thought it was a pretty good way to spend a slow afternoon, way south of the border.

Fred, a keyboard mercenary with a disorganized past, has worked on staff for Army Times, The Washingtonian, Soldier of Fortune, Federal Computer Week, and The Washington Times. He has been published in Playboy, Soldier of Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Harper’s, National Review, Signal, Air&Space, and suchlike. He has worked as a police writer, technology editor, military specialist, and authority on mercenary soldiers. He is by all accounts as looney as a tune.

Copyright 2010 Fred Reed.


Secession or Expatriation: The Only Answers To Martial Law?

September 30, 2010

by Linda Brady Traynham

(Editor’s note: Linda submitted this fine analysis in response to yesterday’s article on Martial Law. After you read it, you will understand that secession is the ONLY possible way to thwart Martial Law. Or you can consider expatration, but you’d better do that before the meltdown. After the meltdown, DC will likely close borders for exit.)

As powerful as this presentation is, it does not–for reasons of space, I am certain; Russell states that these are excerpts–begin to make clear how quickly martial law could be imposed or how few options would be left. Any sitting president who chooses to be the last one in America in order to become the first dictator/king/emperor/first consul can do so easily. I thought it quite possible that Dubya would make that decision. There was nothing to stop him. The process is very simple:

1. Declare a national emergency (any pretext will do, and Obama does so routinely);
2. Dismiss Congress for a minimum of six months, as allowed by the Constitution; and
3. Homeland Security then becomes the law of the land and no one or group can even question any actions taken during that six months. Let me stress that this is by current law.

Impeach the president? How? Congress has been disbanded. Supreme Court interference, even if they could muster 5 votes? How many battalions do the Supremes have? The President has a sizable force under his personal, as opposed to titular, command now, and an enormous number of troops have been trained in “crowd suppression” and “riot control” at Ft. Benning, Georgia. I do not suppose it is by coincidence that 80,000 troops are enough to close off every freeway exit in America–and that isn’t hyperbole; it has been worked out mathematically.

A very easy explanation of precisely how every last piece of enabling legislation Hitler used has been passed in this century in Washington, D. C., can be found in Naomi Wolfe’s slim volume, The End of America. Frills have been added since, such as the “pre-census” workers taking GPS readings on our homes, which will make it far easier to arrest such “dissidents” as I. Your computer tattles on you, and having visited such a site as this–far less what could be termed by Janet Napolitano as “fomenting insurrection” by contributing here–could get one put on the “No Fly” list which will form the basis for identifying trouble-makers. The Feds are against “profiling” only when that is used to identify probable foreign terrorists and illegal aliens; it has no difficulty with stigmatizing me as a “domestic terrorist” because I have read the Bible, own guns, speak out against the government, and consort with former military personnel. Are you now or have you ever been a listener of Rush Limbaugh or Glen Beck? Clearly a prospect for terrorism, particularly men who cut their hair short and have tattoos and wear bluejeans. How unAmerican can they get?

Do you know what Executive Order 11921 says? You’ll have to hunt because it is being removed from the Internet. It allows the government to confiscate everything you have, for the common good, of course. Starting with your food, guns, ammunition, alcohol, fuel, water, and a cute little provision for “naval stores.” That probably sounds like rope and tar to you, but under the new definition it includes everything the Navy purchases, which is basically… everything. It is improbable that you will be reimbursed for the appropriated goods, but even if you were the money would be worth nothing. When a squad armed with genuine “assault” rifles, wearing body armor, shows up at your door, resistance will be dealt with harshly. Most of us patronize Sam’s Club and have little plastic cards from Kroger’s grocery stores, and others. Their computers keep track of your purchases, you know. If you have been “prepping” in the wrong places you left a clear paper trail of what you bought. Just try explaining that you have consumed 700 pounds of rice in the last year. Credit card purchases are on file, so they know how many boxes of Meals, Ready to Eat, you bought. There are murmurings of reinstituting the charge of “hoarding,” and at least one group defines that as having more than three days’ food in your home. The government knows, within an easy to estimate allowance for normal usage on the ranch, how many gallons of red diesel I have; I was required to get a permit to purchase it. (Red diesel can be used only on farms and ranches; from time to time inspectors check the tailpipes of vehicles used on road, and woe betide anyone caught with dye residue.)

Politicians on both sides of the aisle have been planning a totalitarian state for over fifty years, and danger is high between now and at least the end of January, 2011. Obama knows that there are only two ways to prevent resounding rejection at the polls in November: a short, victorious war, or a “fortuitous” “man-made disaster” which might unite the country behind him and would at least provide a flimsy excuse for martial law. Short, victorious wars are a little hard to come by unless you’re Moshe Dyan or Golda Meir. Consequently, I see two particularly perilous questions: will there be elections this year? If there are, will a new Congress be seated next January? The Democrats state bluntly that whether they win or lose they are going to spend the time between now and then pushing through all of the legislation possible, and after the elections they will have absolutely nothing left to lose. I don’t expect Congress to be in recess even for Christmas.

The superb article we are discussing is a year old, and it may have included a more lengthy discussion of the dangers of government control of the food supply. The so-called “Food Safety Modernization Act” is, indeed, a giant pay-off to Rep. Rosa DeLauro’s husband, who is associated with Monsanto, but not only does it push Monsanto (with those genetically modified seeds which produce seeds that are sterile, and have enormous resistance to weed killers), but it outlaws heritage seeds! Sometimes known as heirloom seeds, those are old varieties which produce excellent vegetables lavishly and are in no way deleterious to mankind. (If you like Roma tomatoes, almost all those for sale are from Mexico and of heirloom stock. Scrape the seeds out gently onto a paper towel and dry them for future use. If you spread them out thinly you will be able to cut the paper up for ease of planting.) That, obviously, is very bad, but there is much worse.

The true purposes of the bill are to locate all of the livestock in America, put prices totally under the control of Agribiz, and to make it illegal to process so much as a chicken for your own use. The very threat has driven our local butcher out of business for anything except deer season. The current regulations, which require expensive USDA inspectors on the premises at all times just barely allow him to make a profit, but he can see that the changes will destroy his business. He’s quitting while he’s ahead.

I run a small ranch, and here are the differences the bill will make for my prospects of ever making a profit, not that they were ever large. Without spending at least $150,000 I will not be able to purchase a dairy license. Without the license there will be absolutely no point in keeping 6 dairy goats and two dairy cows in milk. It will be legislated a crime to give away their milk and a crime to transport it in a private vehicle. In theory I can make cheese out of it–if and only if that cheese is aged more than 90 days–but only if I have a separate, all stainless and concrete block “commercial kitchen.” A gallon of milk produces a pound of cheese, with a fair amount of fuss and expensive enzymes and rennet. In theory (and with constant work), I could produce 150 pounds of cheese about 10 months out of the year, and, in theory, sell it for about four dollars a pound if I could find a store that only sold 150 pounds/month of cheddar, which I can’t. Does it sound sensible to build a separate building with air filters and costly refrigeration for the small profit I would make? I didn’t think so, either, but somebody has to protect Lily and Oak Farms from the likes of amateur goatherders.

It gets worse. So far Congress has not pushed through NAIS, but it probably will this fall, at which point I will be required to insert an RFID chip in every animal on the place and be able to account for every last one of them at all times. I will be subject to exceedingly large fines if I do not report the death, sale, loss, or birth of all animals within 24 hours. I don’t know how many chickens I have…somewhere between 100 and 150, probably. They are free range and roost in an assortment of places. Consider the sheer volume of work required to run a scanner over every neck every day! Sanderson and Tyson will only be required to chip one bird out of a house of 5,000. In theory this will be used to track flocks and herds if an animal is found to have Mad Cow disease or Anthrax. Never mind that no sensible person believes that the chip # would be kept with every cut from a side of beef, making it possible to track diseased beef down to the hamburger level.

“But wait! There’s more!” It will become a crime to process beef, chicken, hogs, deer, rabbits, goats or even squirrels and fish on the premises, even for our own use. Because I don’t have a butcher’s license, of course, and I don’t have a commercial kitchen. Never mind that I have 48′ of stainless steel counter tops (Craig’s List is wonderful!) and a professional butcher’s bandsaw, they aren’t in a separate concrete block building with proper drains and filtered air and sub-zero refrigeration. It isn’t as though the West were settled by men who dressed their own carcasses, now, is it?

What do you suppose the purpose of this is, if you aren’t credulous enough to believe it is to protect me from hurting myself eating tainted meat or slicing my hand? Why…in addition to letting the government know where to raid for supplies, it limits where I can sell the pastured beef I raise. Obviously I cannot take a steer to the butcher who has gone out of business, but even if I found one I would not be allowed to sell the meat, although I suppose we could transport it to our home freezers and eat it ourselves. I cannot sell my steers and chickens to private individuals because they won’t be able to get them processed easily, either. I will only be able to sell my livestock at public auction, where the only buyers will be from the big slaughter houses. Do we suppose that this restraint of trade will result in lower prices to consumers? No, we do not. Neither can we suppose that those buyers will pay a fair price for the pastured beef I raise, free from hormones and pesticides, at considerable expense and over twice the time of those fed hormones. Still, we can’t let let small ranchers and farmers survive. Oh, I’m a real threat to Hormel, Swift, and Oscar Meyer, I am. Why, I could send about a dozen head to market this year if I wanted to, totally ruining their bottom lines without doing more than paying my feed bills, if that.

A very reasonable question at this point is, “Linda, why are you running cattle, goats, and chickens at all, if this is what in store?” One answer is that it wasn’t, when I began restocking the ranch. A better one is that I never intended to make a profit as a rancher, and a good thing, too. In good years ranchers make 4%. In bad ones they lose $150/head, or more, as they did last year. The livestock preserves my “agricultural exemption” which is worth over a thousand dollars a month off my taxes. We love having the critters around. Primarily, the stock is my hedge against The Greater Depression, hyperinflation, and TEOTWAWKI. It is a renewable source of food–supposing I can protect it against the government and desperate, hungry strangers.

What will I do if ordered to surrender my animals to the government “for the common good,” or “the general welfare,” two phrases that have never included me? I don’t know, any more than most folks know how they will react if put under martial law and see our neighbors disappear into one of the 800 or so internment camps. My instinct is to say that given sufficient warning I will shoot them myself rather than allow the Statists to appropriate them. Shoot them and shove the carcasses into one of the lakes or taint them with gasoline. If being Irish, Scottish, and/or Southern aren’t on Janet’s list of subversive characteristics they ought to be, because we don’t take kindly to rustlers, even if they are wearing black jackets that say BATF & Cattle Confiscation on them and are carrying fully automatic rifles. I absolve them of being jack-booted thugs; I’m sure they will wear Corcorans.

I’m a great believer in doing our thinking ahead of time, but there are too many unknowns to set any rules other than to prepare for the worst, speak out, and share our information. I do wonder, though, how many Americans would resist blatant tyranny, and my sad suspicion is that we would be divided roughly into the Red and the Blue, with the provisos that a great many city dwellers would be constrained by geography and reliance on the food distribution network from protesting while large “entitled” groups would riot and loot. Some, but by no means all, of those in small towns and the country would be more apt to protest..which may be part of the move to get people off the land and into urban environments. Roosevelt had 5.1 million small farms to feed a population of 125 M. There are only 2.1 M small farms, now, and an estimated 330 M residents. 30% of the orange juice in the world is produced in Brazil, as well as most of the sugar cane and coffee. If legislation is efficacious in squeezing out the last of the small time threats to globalized food procurement, at least some small towns will die, no longer able to subsist on selling each other goods and services. The farms went under due to grocery chains, population density, ruinous taxation on inheritances, and the unfounded idea that our sons could make better lives for themselves in the cities. A hundred years ago 85% lived on the land. Today 85% live in cities and suburbs while only 2% are involved in food production, potentially a very dangerous situation.

I am not a violent person and all I want from the Feds is a non-aggression pact. Unfortunately, like foot traffic across our southern borders, they keep pushing into our lives, eating more and more of our substance. They think in terms of how much of their money they will allow us to keep. What if they decide all of the food and water are theirs, too? Do we take up growing lettuce, tomatoes, and bunnies in our closets under grow lights?

Linda Brady Traynham for DumpDC, copyright 2010.


Individual Secession

September 18, 2010

By a Texan currently living abroad

courtesy SouthernNationalCongress.org

Some years ago I listened with keen interest to a speech by a professor from Alabama speaking about how Americans had tried “State Secession” twice. It had worked once and it had failed once. While we all look forward to the time that we might go for “the best of three”, there remain some things that one can do as an individual. They fall in the category of Individual Secession. Individual Secession comes in many flavours and the applications are as diverse as the people who implement it.

For some, it begins with taking our children out of government indoctrination centers, and arranging for private or home school solutions. That is as much an act of secession as anything else, and has been resorted to by literally millions of parents at this point. Believe me, it concerns the Central Planners, when those fertile brains are removed from their dominion. (It’s always touching to see their “concern for the children.”)

Others have walked away from churches which teach false doctrines, or left social clubs and even jobs over issues they feel are inimical to their family or the entire country. In fact, it’s an American tradition to quit when you don’t like the way things are going – to just walk away. That’s why songs like, “Take This Job and Shove It”, resonate with the American working man. Indeed, “I was lookin’ for a job when I found this one,” was a theme long before it was a song.

In 1865, and for a decade following, Southerners emigrated from the South in such numbers that it constituted one of the great migrations of Western Civilization. Much has been written of the fact that the American West draws its independent nature from Southerners who had no intention of living with the boot of Yankee occupation squarely on their neck. Most of them fled west to Texas and beyond.

Tens of thousands, however, went to different countries. Not a few went to England and Scotland. Many thousands went into Mexico. Between ten and twenty thousand went to the most famous settlement of Americana, leaving an interesting cultural impression upon the region, where ante bellum cotillions are still danced, and the most Southern accents you can imagine are still spoken by the older descendents. Most, however, returned to the US, and found their way west. The primitive conditions and foreign cultures were difficult on all, and the distance from families was not worth the price, especially when locals were not necessarily welcoming of these strange new immigrants.

Where did we all come from in the first place? There is not a single American or European (or Asian or African, for that matter), who does not descend from an immigrant at some point. We are a nation of immigrants, legality notwithstanding. And those who came, did so under conditions far more difficult than what we face today. They left family behind, without benefit of FaceBook or e-mail for daily communication. They went to a strange culture, often a strange language for a couple of major reasons – the chance to own their own land (private property) and/or the necessity to flee tyranny. (The two are often related.)

In the late 18th Century, Scottish and Irish immigrants found it so difficult to feed a family that they voted with their feet, by walking to the nearest port and booking passage to the colonies, principally to America, and later to Australia and New Zealand. The government became alarmed, shortly after the absentee landlords became alarmed, for the rents simply quit coming in. A royal commission was created to figure out what had happened to all the (formerly servile) farmers and shopkeepers.

As is so typical of governments, they immediately developed a conscience about the conditions in which those poor emigrants had to travel. (Wink, wink.)

In 1803, the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed the Passenger Vessels Act. It was the first of many laws intended to regulate the transportation of immigrants and to protect emigrants on board ships from exploitation by transportation companies (such as exorbitant rates and consequent subjection to poor sanitary conditions). The Passenger Act required improved conditions relating to hygiene, food and comfort for passengers travelling to North America. However, this law was not always followed by transportation providers and the spread of infectious diseases such as typhus continued.

This act was established under humanitarian pretences, but the more practical and desired effect was to raise the cost of passage to prevent as many as possible from leaving. Landlords who feared the emigration of their population lobbied extensively for this piece of legislation, and where one could previously travel to Canada for £3–4, the price for the same passage was in some cases raised to £10 or more. The ability to move abroad was subsequently limited to a small class of people until it was repealed in 1826.

As one South Texan recently told me, when I asked him, what would your ancestors say, who came from Europe 150 years ago to claim this ranch and build a homeland for generations. His response was startling in its intensity. He said, “My family came here to escape government oppression and to find cheap land. I’ve had enough government meddling with my property and confiscatory taxation. I’ve found cheap land in another country. If my family lived here with me now, I guarantee you, they would be helping me pack!” He now owns a ranch in Argentina. (I asked him about the socialist government there, and he said, “It could be bad, if they were efficient, but they’re so incompetent that they practically don’t exist. I can live with it.”) Reminds me of Will Rogers’ famous quip, “I should think the last thing you want is all the government you pay for!”

Someone told me recently that 4,000 Americans a week arrive in Panama to make it their new home. Obviously, many are retirees, choosing to get better value for their dwindling dollars there than they can back home. But many of the people leaving the US these days are simply fed up, and no longer convinced that they can do a thing in the world to change things here, and willing to make the effort to start over for the sake of children and grandchildren.

All of that to say, “Things are at a head.” None of us are surprised that a crisis is coming – it’s the common core belief of a huge section of Americans today. And some are preparing creative ways to secede, right where they are. They are opting out of government systems, disappearing from the traditional and moving into alternative forms of buying and selling their goods and services. These things need a lot of discussion and development and debate. Whether it’s food production and cooperative buying, or alternative health programs, or herbal medicine, or contract labor, etc., there is a healthy underground economy out there that is (a) invisible, and (b) helping prop up the sick and dying economy.

If you decide to become an expatriate and leave the country, you’re in good company. Follow your own path, knowing you’re not the first, nor the last. (Chances are, you’ll be back.)


Tick – Tick – Tick: The Economy Bomb Part Three

September 8, 2010

by John Gaver

Intimidation only makes matters worse.

Recent legislative attempts at forcing or intimidating the wealthy into staying have only made matters worse. As mentioned above, in 1996, Congress passed and President Clinton signed into law, two bills aimed at “punishing” those wealthy Americans who had the audacity to leave the United States (rather than creating economic “incentives” for wealthy Americans to stay). Any first year political science major can tell you that historically, disincentives almost never work.

Let’s examine the effect of these two pieces of totalitarian legislation.

I will just touch on the changes made to the Immigration and Nationality Act first, since the only purpose of those changes was to discourage wealthy Americans from leaving and their only effect was to scare more wealthy Americans into leaving. The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act Act of 1996 included a provision that would permanently bar wealthy American expatriates from ever returning to the United States for any reason, if the expatriate was wealthy, under the afore mentioned government standards, at the time of his expatriation.

Pay special attention to the fact that this law did not apply to ordinary expatriates, but only to the wealthy. Our government obviously doesn’t care if you or I should leave, since it is not our taxes that funds their gravy train.

Obviously, the feds, who publicly claim that native capital flight is not a serious problem, must be privately terrified of the consequences that the continued increase in native capital flight will bring. However, they erroneously believed that those wealthy Americans, who were considering leaving, would ever want to come back to a country that treated them like second class citizens, for no better reason than that they had worked hard and acquired some assets. Instead, the wealthy saw that law for what it was – a harbinger of things to come.

Instead of discouraging expatriation, that law was, in fact, the trigger event that caused even more wealthy Americans to leave. As I mentioned above, I have lived offshore for an extended period. Furthermore, in my business, I have traveled offshore a lot and often to tax haven countries. Both in London and elsewhere, I have routinely had a chance to talk with American “expats.” I was not surprised to find that among the reasons high on the list of recent expats, for leaving the USA, was this change to the Immigration and Nationality Act.

The Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act of 1996, on the other hand, has much more ominous overtones. So, what does a health insurance law have to do with expatriation? To begin with, the United States government, through this act, has the audacity to claim the right to tax expatriates for 10 years after they renounce their US citizenship, if the expatriate was guess what?… wealthy, under the afore mentioned government standards, at the time of his expatriation. Do you see what this says? Think about this.

The United States government is now claiming the right to tax foreigners!

They want to tax people who live in, work in, hold citizenship in and pay taxes to another country and who no longer hold US citizenship or even US permanent residence and have no assets in the USA. They want to tax people who are, by every reasonable definition, “foreigners”.

The United States long shared with Libya the infamous distinction of being one of only two countries in the world that claimed the right to tax the income of its citizens regardless of where in the world that income was earned or banked. But, even Libya was not so tyrannical as to claim the right to tax foreigners, who had no connection to the country. In fact, even Gadaffi was smart enough to realize that taxing the foreign income of citizens was causing an unacceptable amount of native capital flight and Libya has now dropped its claim to the offshore earnings of its citizens.

If a self-absorbed despot like Gadaffi can understand that, what does that say about the US government?

Granted, a few other small countries have since implemented a similar non-territorial tax. The December 28, 1998 issue of the Wall Street Journal reported that two other countries in the entire world attempt to tax the offshore earnings of its citizens. One is the Philippines. The other is Eritrea. Since that Journal article was published, South Africa has also implemented such a tax regime. But, enough of the sad company that our government keeps…

The real problem is not the abhorrent nature of this law. It is its effect.

When word of the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act of 1996 reached the wealthy, they saw this law for exactly what it was – not just another brick in the economic Berlin Wall that our government has been erecting, to keep wealthy Americans from leaving with their wealth intact, but in fact, a large section of that rhetorical wall. Many wealthy Americans, who had been hesitant to leave, saw this provision in the law as the last straw and began making preparations to leave.

The government’s claim of this absurd right to tax ex-citizens for 10 years gave the wealthy no pause at all. After all, they had a solution. For many years, when wealthy Americans chose expatriation, they most often left as much of their wealth as practical in some sort of tax sheltered investments in the United States, so capital flight did not represent as serious a threat, as it does today. The wealthy would leave, but a good portion of their investment capital stayed here. And that portion, though somewhat sheltered, still generated a significant amount of taxes and funded many US jobs.

But since 1996, wealthy Americans who have chosen to leave, have had no choice but to take ALL of their wealth with them when they leave or risk it being confiscated by the IRS, to pay that 10-year tax penalty.

Let me emphasize that word. ALL!

Wealthy expatriates can no longer afford to leave anything behind. To protect what they have earned, they must sell or encumber ALL of their US-based real estate, US stocks and bonds,… EVERYTHING! Over a period of time, they must move all of their wealth into offshore investments or at the very least, create debt against anything that is left here. Then, when they leave, there is nothing left behind for the IRS to confiscate. Unfortunately, it also leaves nothing behind to fund US jobs or the US government.

The government, of course, pouts and claims that these expatriates are being very un-American, just because they had the audacity to protect what was rightfully theirs, from IRS confiscation. The government fails to realize or at least refuses to accept, that it was their own attempts to grab more power that made it impossible for these wealthy Americans to stay or to leave any money in the United States, when they left.

So, instead of preventing wealthy Americans from leaving, that law not only encouraged them to leave at an even higher rate, but it forced them to take ALL of their wealth with them when they leave. And, therein, lies the root of the real problem.

When the wealthy take ALL of their money out of the United States, it has many undesirable effects. The most obvious, as pointed out above, is the loss of tax dollars. But, there are far more serious consequences that lay beneath the surface. Most of the wealth that we are talking about is what we refer to as investment income. Regardless of whether that money is in a passbook savings account, an IRA, mutual funds, stocks, bonds or direct investment, it is almost certainly money that is funding business somewhere in the United States. That money effectively represents JOBS in the United States.

When that investment capital moves offshore, several things happen. Most notably, JOBS that the investment capital funds move offshore, as well. We are already beginning to see this.

Some of that investment capital will be replaced, it might be argued. In fact, some, though not all of it, will be replaced. But, it is the source of that new capital that creates yet another problem. When US based capital is not available, businesses look offshore for investment capital. Since US expatriates can no longer safely invest in US businesses, foreigners move in to fill the gap, temporarily.

Just look at how much Communist China has invested in the US. As more and more wealthy Americans are forced to flee the United States, the remaining Americans will find that they are increasingly the labor force for wealthy foreigners who, by the way, generally pay tax only on what they earn in the US.

But, once the tax rates are forced up, by the lack of wealthy citizens to tax, even that foreign investment capital will dry up.

Add to all of this, the appalling increase in frivolous lawsuits by the greedy, the recent rash of government confiscations (forfeitures*) and the heavy burden upon business, represented by legislation like the Patriot Act and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and you discover that increasingly, the wealthy are finding that their only choice is to leave. It’s like a snowball rolling down hill. Right now, it’s just a big glob of snow. But if we don’t create some major incentives to keep US capital in the United States, it will soon become an avalanche.

Creating Incentives and Removing Disincentives

The problem is very complicated and there is no single solution. But, there are two issues that, far and away, represent the most pressing problems surrounding native capital flight. Those issues are the abuses of the IRS and the USA Patriot Act.

I mentioned earlier that I have interviewed many American expats about their reasons for leaving. Until six years ago, the number one reason for leaving, cited by EVERY expat that I talked with, had something to do with the IRS – not the Income Tax, but the IRS. When I asked them to be more specific, they cited IRS abuses and witch hunts, lack of privacy in their financial dealings, hundreds of thousands of pages of incomprehensible and contradictory laws, from which the IRS picks and chooses and let us not forget, the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act of 1996 and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, which are nothing more than covert tools of the IRS.

Every last expat that I talked with, prior to 2001, told me that the “principal factor” that pushed them over the edge had something to do with the “not to be sufficiently damned IRS.” (By the way, though not universal, I have found that phrase in quotes to be rather common in the expat community.) Even when I tried to suggest that, since they rated the IRS as the key factor in their leaving, that it all boiled down to taxes, they corrected me. Though taxes may have been a factor, the tax load alone, was not enough to force them to leave. The thing that pushed them over the edge had to do with the IRS, itself.

I should mention that today, there are some who now cite the Patriot Act, as their number one reason for leaving, though the IRS still holds a commanding lead. The point to remember here, is that both the IRS and the Patriot Act represent attacks on personal and business privacy.

So, if we eliminate the deciding factor that is causing these wealthy citizens to expatriate, it would go a long way toward keeping any more wealthy Americans from leaving. Every previous attempt to solve this problem has been aimed at strengthening the power of the IRS and every previous attempt has failed.

It should now be obvious that any proposed solutions to this problem that leave the IRS intact, should be summarily dismissed. One of the most important things that we must do to stop native capital flight, is ABOLISH THE IRS.

That would mean replacing the Income Tax with some system of taxation that does not require such an autocratic organization looking into the personal finances of every individual. The Flat Tax would not work, since it retains the source of the problem, the IRS. There are, in fact, only three tax plans that would fit this requirement – excise taxes on imports, a National Retail Sales Tax and taxing the states according to their productivity, which would allow the states to collect all federal taxes, as their voters choose.

Since broad use of excise taxes have generally been found to have a negative impact upon the economy, they are not a practical solution. Of the three options, taxing the states, instead of individuals, is most in line with the intentions of the Founding Fathers and it would achieve the desired affect of getting the government out of the affairs of individuals. The competition between the states would serve to keep the system efficient. But alas, no such bill has been proposed in Congress.

That leaves the National Retail Sales Tax (H.R.25, in the 111th Congress), that has been proposed in every congress for years and gains supporters every year. It was sponsored by Rep. John Linder, of Georgia and now has 58 cosponsors. Even Tom Delay, before he left office, had announced his support for it, in April of 2004 and set a schedule to push H.R.25 through committee and get it to a floor vote. The Fair Tax was also a major component of Mike Huckabee’s presidential bid. As more in congress learn about the Fair Tax, the more support it gets.

The findings of a CATO Institute Policy Analysis on “The Economic Impact of Replacing Federal Income Taxes with a Sales Tax” predicts that the shift in tax structures will raise the stock of US capital by at least 29 percent and potentially by as much as 49 percent.

Former House Ways and Means Committee Chairman, Bill Archer reported, “A recent survey was done, in Europe and Japan, of the major corporations and I was astounded at the results. They were asked, ‘If the US abolished its income tax and went to a sales tax, would that have any impact on your decisions?’ Eighty percent of the corporations said they would build their factories in the United States of America. Twenty percent said they would move their international headquarters to the United States of America!”

A National Retail Sales Tax would not only create the incentive for wealthy Americans to keep their assets right here at home, but it would actually have the effect of reversing native capital flight and bring a lot of expatriated capital back into the United States. But, for that to happen, the 10-year expatriation tax on the wealthy, the “Don’t come back” law and the Exit Tax would have to be repealed, as well.

New Disincentives to Overcome

Although a National Retail Sales Tax would serve to slow the flight of the wealthy, that alone, would no longer have the sizable effect on keeping native capital here that it once did. Financial analysts have made many excuses, for why the US dollar is falling and continues to fall against the Euro and other currencies. But, for the most part, they limit their analysis to traditional models and those models just don’t fit here.

The problem that traditional models fail to account for is, since the implementation of the Patriot Act, transferring US dollars internationally, has become extremely difficult. Even transfers of US dollars from one bank in a foreign country to another bank in that same country could be held up in the Fed for weeks.

It is not unusual for US dollar transactions that used to take one to two days, to be held up in Patriot Act compliance for one to two months. Such delays did not exist prior to the Patriot Act and do not exist today, when dealing in Euros, Pounds, Yen or any other foreign currency, if you are not a US citizen. That’s because those currencies don’t move through the Fed and because foreigners, who deal in other currencies, don’t have to meet Patriot Act requirements.

To understand what is happening, you must understand how the US dollar became the currency of choice for investors worldwide. The creation of the Fed made it possible to execute US dollar denominated transactions internationally, in two or three days that previously would have taken six to ten days or longer, with other currencies. That extra few days of interest on, say $100 million dollars, is a lot of money. It was the efficiency of the Fed that made the US dollar the currency of choice in international transactions. But, the Patriot Act has reversed all that.

Today, as a result of technology, foreign currencies can usually be transferred via Euroclear, almost as fast as and sometimes faster than dollars. But until enactment of the Patriot Act, the dollar remained the currency of choice, not only because of the certain efficiency of the Fed, but because there was no reason to change. It was just practical.

But, with the onerous requirements of the Patriot Act, it can now take weeks to transfer US dollars, while the same amount of a foreign currency may only take a few days. Today, when using Euros for such transactions, the interest savings alone, can be significant.

It should be noted here that every US government agency that watches such things, has reported that the terrorists did not and do not use our banks for laundering money, since they have access to Arabic banks that provide untraceable transfers. In other words, the financial provisions of the Patriot Act, that make up almost two-thirds of that bill, had absolutely nothing to do with terrorism, but were instead, aimed at control of wealth and wealthy Americans. But, like previous such attempts at disincentives, to control wealth (HIPAA, IIRIRA, S.1701 and the Heroes Tax Act, mentioned above), the Patriot Act had an effect that was exactly the opposite of what the government desired.

Disincentives don’t work.

Disincentives like those discussed above, along with about two-thirds of the Patriot Act, have had the exact opposite of the intended effect. Disincentives just don’t work. If native capital flight is to be reversed, before it’s too late, we must eliminate all of those disincentives, abolish the IRS and roll back large portions of the Patriot Act (mostly the financial provisions).

Then, we must replace those disincentives with incentives, like a National Retail Sales Tax and a return to a banking system that encourages the use of the US dollar in international transactions, before another currency rises to the top and becomes the de-facto standard for international business.

We also need to implement some serious tort reform laws that include, among other things, “loser pays” and if the plaintiff is indigent and the plaintiff’s attorney is working on a contingency, then “loser’s attorney pays”. This would also significantly reduce healthcare costs and the cost of all types of insurance.

But, here is the important thing. Those changes must be implemented soon, before the US dollar ceases to be the currency of choice in most international transactions and before the expatriation snowball picks up too much speed to be stopped. If other currencies become as common in international transactions as the US dollar, it will be too late, as the dollar will stagnate. If we wait until the economy begins to react to this native capital flight, it will be too late. Time is not on our side.

You saw what happened when the markets reacted to tech stocks being overpriced. Imagine what will happen when the markets take notice of the seriousness of our problem with native capital flight. Once that slide begins, it will be the economic equivalent of the collapse of the World Trade Centers and all that we will be able to do is pick up the pieces of a shattered economy and wonder why our government didn’t do anything to stop it. Unfortunately, few will realize that government disincentives were actually the cause.

WE MUST ACT NOW!

It’s no longer simply a matter of equity in taxation nor of the tracking of terrorists’ funds. As a result of recent and continuing legislation aimed at controlling or punishing the wealthy, the economic future of the United States of America is now seriously at risk, since those who can save our economy, are precisely the people who are being forced to leave.

The wealth expatriation snowball is growing, day by day. Nobody can say when it will reach critical mass. But at the rate it’s going, it likely won’t be long.

We urge you to contact your Congressman TODAY and tell him/her that you want him/her to support the Fair Tax Act of 2009 (HR 25) and real tort reform and the repeal of the 10-year expatriation tax, the “Don’t Come Back” law, the exit tax and all of the financial restrictions in the Patriot Act.

The Fair Tax Act will go a long way toward reversing capital flight, eliminating IRS confiscations and getting the IRS out of our personal lives. But, without the roll-back of the Patriot Act’s financial restrictions and the repeal of all of those disincentives, even that bill will give us only limited relief.

There is however, one other alternative. You can start packing your bags.

*To make confiscation seem less severe, the government has taken to calling it forfeiture. The term, “confiscation” connotes taking something that belongs to a citizen. The term, “forfeiture” connotes giving up something that was not the citizen’s property in the first place. This also shows what the federal government thinks of your right to actually own private property.

Copyright 2009 John Gaver, All rights reserved.


Tick – Tick – Tick: The Economy Bomb Part Two

September 7, 2010

by John Gaver

Again, let’s do the math.

As shown above, government data indicates that over 300,000 mostly wealthy Americans would choose expatriation each year, from 2000 to 2005 and increase, beyond that time. In fact, that rate has been increasing at a rate significantly higher than the growth of wealth in this nation, for many years.

Even so, for our calculations, we will only assume that the number of wealthy Americans who are leaving remains stable, at 300,000, which further assumes that Obama and Congress hold back any more legislation that the wealthy see as detrimental to themselves, their business or their rights.

However, now that the Bush and Obama bailouts have pushed the deficit to obscene levels and Obama’s socialized healthcare threatens to destroy what little is left of the US economy, that’s a very rosy assumption. OK. it’s a preposterous assumption. But this is, after all, meant to present a “best case” scenario – for demonstration purposes, only.

Based upon recent history, currently proposed legislation and other disincentives, it would probably be reasonable to assume a 10-20 percent growth in expatriation every year. But, my purpose in this calculation, is to be as conservative in my projections as possible. So let’s just stick with the fairy tale, stable rate assumption. Then, after you see how bad the best case scenario is, we invite you to recalculate, using your own assumptions, to get an idea of just how serious a problem we are really facing.

For now, sticking with the conservative numbers, multiply it out and you will find that if that 300,000 rate holds steady through 2012, the number of wealthy Americans that may have left the United States in that time (including 2007 – the last reported tax year) could easily reach over 1.8 million or well over the 1.4 million taxpayers that make up the top 1% of taxpayers.

That’s 1.8 million US expats from 2007 to 2012 and that’s using an extremely conservative, stable rate assumption.

Granted that not all of those expatriates are going to be wealthy. But, ask yourself, how many of those expatriates you really think will be poor or even middle class. Use your own estimates, based on common sense. Just keep in mind that the poor don’t leave unless they have to. They can’t afford it.

You can see that what appears to be a minor problem today, could turn out to be a catastrophe for the US economy tomorrow. Remember that in 2007, the top-earning 1% amounted to just barely over 1.4 million taxpayers. Depending on how many of those expatriates are wealthy, it’s quite possible that a significant portion of our most substantial taxpayers could be gone by the time we have a chance to vote Obama and his congressional enablers out of office. How much longer can this continue?

In fact, since this wealth flight has been going on for some time and it’s so difficult to estimate emigration levels, it’s anyone’s guess just how many wealthy taxpayers have already been forced to leave. So, ask yourself just how much of our current deficit can be attributed to the loss of tax revenue from the many wealthy Americans, who have already been forced to leave.

Think about it…

But consider this. Let’s just assume that things are not as bad as the picture I have painted. Suppose that the Census numbers are off by a whopping 50% and that the expatriation rate is only half as high as the US Census numbers indicate and not increasing, we still have a serious problem.

Do the math.

Then consider that in reality, due to Bush’s anti-privacy Patriot Act and Obama’s socialized healthcare that he intends to pay for on the backs of the wealthy, not to mention a dozen or more other pieces of wealth-punitive legislation that have been enacted since the 2000 Census (with the support of both parties, I might add), those 2000 Census numbers are much more likely to be off in the other direction. If that’s the case, then expatriation is increasing at an even higher rate than the Census Bureau predicted back in 2000. It might be much worse…

Actions speak louder than words.

Of course, the real evidence of the massive scale of native wealth flight is not in any statistics, but rather in the almost panic reaction of our government. Oh, our congresscritters and officials of the Internal Revenue Service and other federal agencies deny that expatriation of the wealthy is more than a minor problem. After all, if native capital flight were perceived to be a serious problem, folks would start asking why it’s so serious, which would lead right back to legislation and regulations, for which they were responsible. They can’t afford that. But, the government’s own actions belie their words. Consider this.

If native capital flight is not a very serious problem, why did both Republicans and Democrats in Congress suddenly find it necessary to add an amendment to the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) (26 USC 877(a)(1)), that claims the right to tax expatriate Americans for 10 years after they renounce their US citizenship and are taxpaying citizens of another country, if the US government thinks that one of their reasons for expatriation was to “legally” avoid U.S. taxes? Actions speak louder than words.

Why did our lawmakers find it necessary to include in that ominous HIPAA legislation, yet another provision (26 USC 6039G(e)(3)) aimed at slowing expatriation by requiring that the names of all who have expatriated during the previous quarter, be published in the Federal Register, as an attempt at intimidating those who might be considering expatriation? (It’s in there, too. Click on the link and read it for yourself. Also see “US Taxpatriates” at http://www.ActionAmerica.org/taxecon/taxpats.html, for links to those quarterly lists.) Actions speak louder than words.

Why then, did they follow-up that abominable law with the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), which modified the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 USC 1182(a)(10)(E)) to allow the government to permanently deny “wealthy” expatriates entry into the United States, if the US government thinks that one of their reasons for expatriation was to “legally” avoid US taxes? In other words, our government now considers the wealthy to be on a par with smugglers, prostitutes, drug dealers and child abusers, who are also denied entry to the USA. Actions speak louder than words.

And, what does the government use, in both of those laws, to determine if tax avoidance was among the reasons for a taxpayer’s expatriation? Income and/or net worth. If an expatriate had a net worth of $500,000 at the time of expatriation or earned more than $100,000 per year for the five years immediately preceding expatriation, then he is “assumed”, by the US government, to have expatriated to (legally) avoid US taxes. Actions speak louder than words.

To be fair, it should be noted that in 2004, the American Jobs Creation Act raised the numbers for determining if the individual expatriated to (legally) avoid taxes. Under that bill, if the individual had a net worth of $2,000,000 at the time of expatriation (up from $500,000) or had earned at least $124,000 in each of the five years immediately preceding expatriation (up from $100,000), then he was considered to have expatriated to (legally) avoid US taxes. Those two numbers were also then, indexed to inflation.

That same 2004 bill had another interesting provision in it. You see, it seems that out of the more than 300,000 estimated expatriations a year, less than 500 Americans had formally renounced their citizenship each year, through 2003, so the lists of expatriates that were created in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act were embarrasingly short. Therefore, the reaction of our ever so astute Congress was to add a provision to that bill requiring US expats to formally renounce their citizenship. That year, 631 formal expatriations were recorded. The next three years formal expatriations numbered 762, 279 & 470. Of course, the only people who were surprised at this outcome were our sagacious Congressmen, who just couldn’t imagine why the vast majority of expats were still not signing up for their cute little list.

They obviously don’t care if poor people expatriate. But, these actions prove that they are beginning to panic about the number of wealthy individuals who are leaving and taking their money with them. Actions speak louder than words.

The point is that these laws are clearly aimed at punishing anyone who has the audacity to be rich and leave with their wealth, intact. If the IRS and lawmakers are not very seriously concerned about the number of wealthy taxpayers who are leaving IRS jurisdiction, then what reason would they have to pass such autocratic laws? Think about it… Actions speak louder than words.

Why, if Congress didn’t already know that hundreds of thousands of the wealthiest Americans are now structuring their holdings in preparations for leaving the USA, why did the Senate even considering a bill like the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 1999 (S. 1701) that demanded that not only foreign nationals, but US citizens alike, disclose any and all financial information about foreign holdings that the government seeks or lose all future legal right to challenge any property forfeiture in any US court? Fortunately, that one was narrowly defeated. But you must wonder why they even considered such an autocratic bill. (Don’t take my word for it. Click on the link and read it for yourself.) Actions speak louder than words.
Could an Exit Tax be next on the horizon?

A true exit tax is considered to be one of the most ominous signs of a desperate government. The 10-year expatriation tax, passed in 1996, was bad enough. But, a pure exit tax would be far worse. But if you are waiting for that to happen, before you believe that we are in a world of trouble, then you can stop waiting. In fact, if you were waiting, then like so many other Americans, you missed it. In 2008, Congress passed and George W. Bush signed into law, the first ever US Exit Tax, as a part of the Heroes Earnings Assistance & Relief Tax Act (Public Law 110-245). (Don’t take my word for it. Click on the link and read it for yourself.) Actions speak louder than words.

So, I ask you, if our elected officials were not painfully aware that they themselves, have created a ticking economic time bomb that is now on the verge of detonating and destroying our whole economy, why would our lawmakers create such an abomination? This exit tax eliminates the 10-year expatriation tax and replaces it with a requirement that expats pay tax on the “unrealized” (unearned) capital gains of their worldwide estate, at the time of their renunciation. This could force the sale of long held retirement property, just to pay the exit tax (but only if the expat is stupid enough to formally renounce).

But, the point of all these laws and many others not mentioned here, due to space consideration, is that they are clearly aimed at discouraging wealthy Americans from moving their wealth out of the jurisdiction of the IRS and then moving offshore themselves. The words of the federal government on this issue are belied by their extremely desperate actions. Actions really do speak louder than words.

In fact, if native capital flight was not a very real and serious threat to our tax revenue, there would be not a single reason to even propose, let alone pass, such draconian laws, as those mentioned above.

Many have already gone.

A July 1999 report titled, “Private American Citizens Residing Abroad”, compiled by the US Bureau of Consular Affairs, contradicts the claims of the IRS and others who insist that expatriation is not a serious problem. It shows that an enormous number of American citizens already reside offshore. The following numbers represent only a very small portion of that report (only 10 cities) and only US citizens who have NOT yet renounced their citizenship and further, only those that the Bureau knows about.

• Mexico City, Mexico 441,680
• Toronto, Canada 250,000
• London, England 200,000
• Vancouver, Canada 200,000
• Tijuana, Mexico 196,000
• Frankfurt, Germany 138,815
• Guadalajara, Mexico 111,100
• Calgary, Canada 105,000
• Manila, Philippines 105,000
• Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 82,000

Just the American expatriates in those 10 cities alone, numbers almost two million and that’s only the ones who have notified US authorities of their whereabouts, at that. In fact, there is very good reason to believe that less than one expatriate in 10 ever formally renounces or notifies US authorities of his whereabouts after leaving.

Then consider that we have not even begun to touch the outlying areas in those countries or the hundreds of small island nations and emerging countries, favored by expatriates, like Belize, Bermuda, Caymans, Grenada, Panama and Trinidad and Tobago, that have thousands of US expatriates, each.

As you read the above numbers, you might be tempted to think that many of these people are just working offshore and intend to some day return. Not so. According to Wall Street Journal staff reporter, Barry Newman, writing in a December 28, 1998 article titled, “Renouncing U.S. Citizenship Becomes Harder Than Ever”, even among the millions of expatriates that the IRS knows about, in 1994, they received just 257,000 returns claiming any special tax breaks for citizens overseas.

As someone who lived in London for an extended period, I can assure you that the first thing that you learn when you move offshore, is that there is a huge tax break for living offshore. Therefore, if you live offshore and file your tax return, you will certainly take that exemption. However, since only 257,000 returns claimed any such exemption and the government knows of millions of US expats, that can only mean that millions of US expats didn’t file at all. There is only one reason why millions of US expatriates would risk the ire of the IRS, by not filing. They know that they will never face that ire, because they don’t plan on returning!

In fact, during my time in London, I met more than a few US expats (almost all in the upper-income groups), who expressed to me that they have no intention of ever returning to the USA.

Since I lived in a modern building, targeted at US expats, with money to burn (more than $1600 per sq. ft.), I naturally met a lot of expats in the lobby, as I came and went. I also met a lot of expats around town, who would hear my Texas drawl and approach me. They would tell me that they were from the USA and that it was nice to hear an American accent.

When I asked, most of the expats that I met would tell me that they had been gone for years and had no intention of returning. One gentleman told me that even in the unlikely event that he should ever want to return, he would have to pay over a million dollars in back taxes, that the IRS would claim that he incurred since he left, if they even knew about him. It turns out that he was one of those millions who just left and, as he put it, “never told the jailer where he was going.”

Though I already knew the answer, I would usually ask about why they would want to live in the UK, with that country’s exceedingly high taxes. I would ask, as though I was interested in doing the same. When I asked that way, I found that most expats would open up and tell me all about ways to structure my finances, so that my income would be based in low tax jurisdictions, meaning that I would be legally responsible for UK taxes, only on that portion of my income that I brought back into the UK.

The question that you must now be asking is, did I ever consider not returning? The answer is no. We also maintained a home in Texas and would not have incurred that additional expense, if we thought that there was even a remote chance that we would not return.

(The above not withstanding, we have considered expatriation, as a last resort and with Obama pushing socialized medicine on us and running the USA into more debt than can ever be repaid, that last resort may come to pass sooner than we might have expected.)

The point is that if I could so easily meet so many of these permanent expats, there must be a lot more of them out there.

How many more expatriates are out there who have not renounced and simply dropped off of the government’s radar? It cannot be denied. Many of the wealthy are already gone and many more are leaving every day.

Part Three tomorrow.

Copyright 2009 John Gaver, All rights reserved.


Tick – Tick – Tick: The Economy Bomb Part One

September 5, 2010

Legislative attacks upon the wealthiest 1% of Americans could soon wreck our economy.

by John Gaver

Fact: The top-earning 1% of US taxpayers pay more than one third (40.4%) of all federal individual income taxes collected. (Source: IRS)

Fact: The top-earning 1% of US taxpayers earn just over one fifth (22.8%) of all federally taxable individual income. (Source: IRS)

Fact: The top-earning 1% of US taxpayers pay more than half again (60.0%) more of the total individual income tax load than they did when President Reagan left office (1989 tax year). (Source: IRS)

Fact: The top-earning 1% of US taxpayers are facing frivolous lawsuits in phenomenal numbers, simply because our lax tort laws make them easy targets of opportunity.

Fact: The top-earning 1% of US taxpayers are in more danger of government seizure (forfeiture*) of their private property than ever before in our history, due in part, to the Patriot Act.

Fact: The top-earning 1% of US taxpayers are Leaving the USA at the highest rate in history. (Source: INS/Census Bureau estimates)

An insidious, creeping cancer is eating away at our economy. Not only the Income Tax, but other legislative and regulatory attacks on wealth are forcing many of the people who pay the lion’s share of taxes, to leave the United States and because of some of that legislation, they are now taking their wealth with them, thus very disproportionately reducing the tax and investment base in the United States.

The percentages cited above are not some bureaucrat’s pie-in-the-sky projections, but rather, they are the totals of actual IRS receipts, that are released every year, roughly 18 months after the close of each tax year. A link to the file on the IRS web site, containing the raw IRS data for this year (in Excel format) and an explanation of it can be found in the the companion article to this article, “1986-2007 IRS Collections Data by Income Category” (www.ActionAmerica.org/taxecon/irsdata.shtml).

Let’s start by looking closer at some of that IRS data and see how those numbers work out.

* There were roughly 141 million tax returns filed in 2007.
* The IRS collected $1.12 trillion in personal income tax in 2007.
* The IRS data shows that the top-earning one percentile of taxpayers (1.4 million taxpayers) earned 22.8% of the income earned in 2007.
* The IRS data shows that the top-earning one percentile of taxpayers (1.4 million taxpayers) accounted for $450.9 billion in income tax paid in 2007.
* Based upon that data, the top-earning one percentile of taxpayers (1.4 million taxpayers) paid over one third (40.42%) of the $1.12 trillion in total individual income tax collected by the IRS in 2007. We invite you to do the math for yourself ($450.9 billion / $1.12 trillion).
* Based upon that data, the top-earning one percentile of taxpayers (1.4 million taxpayers) paid almost double their share of taxes (1.7 times) in relation to their share of income earned. Do the math (40.42% of taxes / 22.8% of income).
* The top-earning one percentile of taxpayers (income over $410,096 in 2007) paid in excess of 60.0% more of the total tax burden than they did when President Reagan left office.

At that time their share of the tax burden was only 25.24%. Do the math (40.42% / 25.24%).

Since the original publication of “Tick-Tick-Tick – The Economy Bomb”, the earlier version of this article, in 2000, more oppressive legislation aimed squarely at the top-earning one percentile has made matters even worse. This of course, is creating a problem for the top-earning one percentile. But, before you start shedding crocodile tears for those poor top income earners, remember that these people are almost all problem solvers. To them, these new legislative attacks represent only a speed bump. To you and me, however, it’s quite a different issue.

You see, it is the wealthy’s legitimate and justified response to the problems being created for them, by lax US tort laws and a US tax structure that punishes wealth and virtually eliminates privacy, that represents a ticking time bomb that presents an even more serious threat to the remaining 99% of taxpayers. If you make less than $410,096 per year, then that’s you.

What’s wrong with making the wealthy pay more tax?

Many people who look at the above statistics will immediately say, “So, what’s wrong with making the people with the most money, pay more tax?” Some seem to think that the wealthy have, in some way, committed some horrible sin, just because they worked hard and sacrificed, in order to become wealthy and that such being the case, the wealthy should be forced to pay a larger proportional share of the tax burden, as penance for their perceived sin of success. Yet, others are suffering under the misconception (disproved by the IRS data) that the wealthy don’t pay tax.

Such absurd arguments are not only immaterial, but serve to show just how completely uninformed of the real problem now facing the United States, are many people, including many in the halls of government.

The problem to which I am referring, is a direct result of the position in which the wealthy now find themselves. The wealthy are being systematically backed into a corner by our government.

The wealthy are:

* paying almost double their share of taxes
* facing frivolous lawsuits by the greedy, in ever growing numbers (Yes, the poor can be greedy, too.)
* losing any semblance of privacy in their business transactions
* having their business dealings saddled with onerous Patriot Act and Sarbanes-Oxley Act requirements that often take so much time and cost so much money that otherwise profitable deals end up costing money, if they happen at all
* having their property confiscated (forfeited*) by the government, at an ever increasing rate

Everything for which those wealthy taxpayers have worked so hard, is now being threatened by the same government, whose job it is to protect citizens from just those types of abuses.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to make you feel sorry for all those “poor mistreated billionaires.” Frankly, I don’t care what you think of them. That’s because it doesn’t matter. I’m just trying to make you look at the situation from the point of view of the wealthy, so you will understand that what our government is doing, in this regard, can only make the situation worse.

So now that you are looking at it from the point of view of the wealthy, I ask you, should we then be surprised if the top-earning one percentile of taxpayers, facing an untenable situation, take the only legal route left open to them, even if such a response threatens the very fabric of the US economy? I’m not asking if you agree – only if we should be surprised at their response to these attacks.

Read on and then you decide. Their response is really quite simple.

The wealthy are leaving.

Since most of those who leave, are seeking privacy, they avoid leaving many trails. Therefore, factual data about expatriation is very difficult to come by. Due to that difficulty, in past versions of this annual article (prior to 2004), although we used a number of very reliable sources to come up with the best estimates available, at the time, we only presented the most conservative estimates. As it turns out, factual information that we uncovered in 2004, originating from the US Census Bureau, indicates that we should have been using the most generous estimates and even so, those numbers would have been well below reality.

According to the US Census Bureau, as reported in the “2000 Statistical Yearbook of the Immigration and Naturalization Service” (6.2 MB download), by the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS), formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), the wealthy are leaving the United States in record numbers.

From that report: Approximately 300,000 are projected to emigrate annually in the 2000-2005 period. In the longer run, emigration is projected to increase steadily…

But, keep in mind that those estimates were made well before the 2001 terrorist attacks and the passage of the hugely anti-privacy Patriot Act, which indicators now show, caused even more wealthy Americans to leave. (And now we have TSA, Homeland Security, a national debt that will destroy America, and a Healthcare law forcing Americans to buy insurance under penalty of law. -Ed.)

It’s important to note that those numbers are only estimates. In fact, in that INS report report, they acknowledge that estimating emigration is very difficult, saying, “In some areas these deficiencies persist because of the inherent difficulty in estimating the numbers, as is the case for emigration and illegal immigration. As a result, no detailed tables on these two categories are included in the Statistical Yearbook.”

The reason why it’s so difficult to make such estimates is that it is known that the vast majority of expatriates (commonly referred to as “expats”) just quietly leave, without notifying any government agency of their leaving or of their destination. Expats often call this leaving “without notifying the jailer”. It should also be noted that, among expats, the popular term for expatriation is, “escape.” If expatriates feel that way about the US government, is it any wonder why they leave quietly?

So, although the Census Bureau numbers indicate that the number of US expats in 2007, may have been around 300,000, it is really quite likely that the number was really much higher. But, since there are no more authoritative numbers available, we’ll stick with the very conservative, 300,000, for our purpose. As you will see, even using that conservative number, a dire picture begins to emerge.

Granted, not all of those 300,000 expatriates were rich. But, think about it. How many do you really think were poor?…

How many do you think were even middle class?…

Personally, I think that it would be very conservative to expect that 80 to 90 percent were, at least, somewhat wealthy. But, don’t use my estimates. Use your own.

Just keep in mind that poor people come to the United States, mostly with their hand out and bypassing legal immigration channels, because of all the economic benefits that our government offers them, using our tax dollars. Why would the poor leave? In fact, for all of their protestations, even our middle class has it much better here than in any other country. The only class of people who can have it better in another country are those who are at least moderately wealthy – roughly, the top-earning ten percent (those who earned at least $113,018, in 2007).

Furthermore, that INS report indicates that we are now looking at the highest expatriation rate ever. Other data, such as records of citizenship and permanent residency applications at key foreign consulates, support these facts and some even indicate that the problem is much worse than suggested by the US Census Bureau.

But what’s worse, is that this exodus appears to have increased significantly since that 2000 report. Since then, we have had the 2001 terrorist attacks and a whole slew of oppressive measures, unrelated to fighting terrorism, that was inserted into terrorism related legislation.

The USA Patriot Act, two-thirds of which had absolutely nothing to do with fighting terrorism, created numerous privacy and financial problems for Americans – not just the wealthy. Other oppressive measures were hidden in the Homeland Security Act and other unrelated legislation since that time. In fact, before George W. Bush left office, he signed into law the first ever US “Exit Tax” (hidden in the Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act of 2008 – H.R.6081). Today, we are looking at the complete government takeover of healthcare, which will be paid for on the backs of the wealthy.

It cannot be denied. The wealthiest Americans see these measures as direct assaults on their wealth and they are leaving the USA for more wealth friendly climates, at the highest rate in history.

“So what? Let’em leave!”

One of the most absurd statements that I have heard, in response to the above facts is, “So what? Let’em leave! We don’t need’em! We don’t even want’em!” In fact, that attitude is not only contributing to the problem, but making it much worse.

You see, as a result of at least two of the laws, designed to punish the wealthy for leaving, the wealthy are now taking ALL of their investment capital with them, when they leave and therein, lies the true problem.

You see, when the wealthy leave and take their money with them, it creates severe problems for the rest of us, since we are the ones who have to make up the difference in lost taxes. What really surprises me is that even a few well-meaning conservatives, who realize that the real problem is Native Capital Flight, have fallen into the greed trap, right along with the liberals.

In fact, the most inane argument that I have heard on this issue has come uniformly from both ends of the political spectrum and goes something like, “Well, we just need to pass more laws to keep the wealthy from taking their money out of the country.”

Duh?!!!

It is precisely those laws that are some of the primary reasons why Native Capital Flight has become such a severe problem, in the first place. To the wealthy, each such law represents yet another brick in an economic Berlin Wall that they see being erected by our government and meant to limit their financial options.

Just remember that the wealthy are largely problem solvers. They are risk takers. They are the kind of people who manage to find opportunity, even in adversity. So, each time the government attempts to limit the financial options of the wealthy, the only effect that it has, is to make the wealthy take a closer look at options that they had not previously considered viable. In this case, they now have to consider the option of leaving and possibly never coming back. But to a problem solver and risk taker, that’s a small price to pay, to recover his lost economic freedom.

The result of these increasingly oppressive laws is that instead of forcing the wealthy to stay here, along with their money, they are actually forcing the wealthy to move more of their wealth out of the US, while they still can, in preparation for a time when a new round of such laws makes it impractical for them to stay. Although leaving is often far from their first choice, they are beginning to realize that their own government may soon leave them no other choice. In fact, many have already been forced to make that choice.
Some high profile expatriations

Here is a list of names that you might recognize. All of them have renounced their US citizenship, in favor of that of another less oppressive nation.

* John “Ippy” Dorrance (Campbells Soup) – Ireland
* Kenneth Dart (Dart Container) – Belize
* Sir John Templeton (Templeton Fund) – Bahamas
* Mark Mobius (Templeton Emerging Markets Fund) – Germany
* Fred Freible (Locktite) – Turks & Caicos
* Michael Dingman (Abex & Ford) – Bahamas
* Joseph Bogdanovich (Star-Kist & H.J. Heinz)
* 4 of the J. Paul Getty grandsons, Richard Minns, Ted Arison and more…

That’s just the short list and that list alone, represents billions in lost tax base. In fact, Templeton, who was born in Tennessee and who still pays a tremendous amount in foreign taxes, is on record, stating that he saved more than $100 million in taxes, in the first year after his expatriation. And, that’s just what he “saved”. Think about the total amount that he would have “paid” in US taxes, had he stayed.

Their flight creates serious problems for YOU.

To some, who have not achieved such wealth, the wealthy who are fleeing the US, for more wealth friendly jurisdictions, are “cowards”, “unpatriotic” and “quitters”, who we don’t want around, anyway. Be that as it may, I won’t argue those points here. That’s because what people think about them is completely immaterial to the problem at hand. Love them or hate them, when the wealthy leave, it creates serious problems for those who remain in the US.

To understand the threat that this represents, we must look at what this all means for the other 99% of taxpayers (those who make less than $410,096 per year)? Why is the fact that a handful of wealthy people are leaving and taking their money with them, such a problem for you? After all, wouldn’t it take a tremendous number of wealthy people leaving, to have a noticeable effect upon our economy?

Actually, no. You see, until you look at the actual numbers and do the math, it doesn’t appear to be a serious issue. But, it is. So lets look at the numbers again and this time, let’s do the math.

Without that 1% of the wealthiest Americans, every remaining taxpayer would have to pay two-thirds more in taxes just to equal what was lost. Can you afford that?

Those who argue that Americans with the most money should be taxed at a higher rate will find themselves being taxed at a much higher rate, instead. If you are paying $5,000 in income tax today, then imagine paying an additional $3392 in taxes. If you are paying $25,000, then imagine paying an additional $16,960. If you are paying $100,000 – well if you are paying $100,000 in income tax, there’s a good chance that you already have your bags packed and your second passport in hand, so you don’t need to imagine anything.

Although not all of any particular income group will leave, you must consider that the higher the income group, the greater the motivation.

There will always be those whose asset base is tied to the US. Bill Gates, for instance, would have a difficult time leaving, since Microsoft is such a US-centric company. But, who knows? After all, Microsoft has been significantly increasing its offshore programming staff, in recent years. Beyond the obvious cost savings and tax benefits, offshore outsourcing relieves companies of ties to any single country. So, who knows – maybe even Gates is preparing for the worst.

The point is that the higher the income, the greater the financial motivation for leaving. Then consider that as the most wealthy leave, the additional tax burden shifts to the next level down, so lets think about the fact that the top-earning 5% of income earners pay 60.63% of all taxes collected. While the majority of the wealthiest 1% are “escaping”, do you think that the top-earning 5% will just be sitting around waiting for a 68% tax increase? Of course not. And, when they leave, your tax bite will far more than double!

Then, of course, there is the top earning 10%. But, I wouldn’t worry about them. By that time, the government will have either taken the very unlikely measure of repealing all of the wealth punitive laws and abolishing the Income Tax, in lieu of a National Retail Sales Tax, to encourage the wealthy to return or they will have done what so many other repressive governments have done when faced with native capital flight, on a massive scale – they will have closed the borders to keep the remaining wealth in the country.

But then, as shown by every last case where that has happened in the past, ranging from Nazi Germany in the 30’s to South Africa in the 70’s and 80’s, to to the more recent case of Malaysia, even closing the borders to capital, only increases native capital flight, albeit on an illegal basis.

So, maybe you should worry about losing the top-earning 10% after all, because if they can manage to get out with their wealth in tact, your taxes would almost triple! Have I got your attention?

Although it’s interesting to think about, for other reasons that I will explain, I seriously doubt that it will ever get that far. The problem goes much deeper. But, staying with just the tax issue for now, let’s look at the actual numbers.

Here is the math for the top-earning 1%:

100% – 40.42% of taxes lost = 59.58% of taxes left
40.42% = 67.8% additional tax burden for those remaining
59.58%

Here is the math for the top-earning 5%:

100% – 60.64% of taxes lost = 39.36% of taxes left
60.64% = 154% additional tax burden for those remaining
39.36%

THAT’S FAR MORE THAN DOUBLE!

Here is the math for the top-earning 10%:

100% – 71.22% of taxes lost = 28.78% of taxes left
71.22% = 247% additional tax burden for those remaining
28.78%

THAT’S MORE THAN TRIPLE!

Think about it. If only the top-earning one percentile of taxpayers leave the United States, the remaining taxpayers will find that they will have to pay an additional 68% more in taxes. 1% of taxpayers is not that much. Think about it.

Could you tell if there was just one aspirin missing out of a 100-count bottle, without counting them? That’s 1%. The point is that we could lose that critical one percentile without knowing that they were gone. Maybe we already have, which would explain a lot of the federal deficit.

In fact, I will clearly demonstrate later, just how quickly we could lose that 1%. Then, consider that if the top-earning five percentile of taxpayers leave the United States, the tax burden for those who remain, will far more than double. And yet, our government is making it more and more difficult for the wealthy to remain in the United States.

Legislative attacks upon people with any significant degree of wealth is a ticking time bomb for our economy and we haven’t even touched on the issues of frivolous litigation or government confiscation of private property.

It creeps like a virus.

The legislative issues contributing to this growing exodus have gone largely unnoticed, since the growth in expatriation of the wealthy has taken place over so many years. It really began back in 1968, shortly after the riots at the Democrat National Convention in Chicago. This is not to say that it was a problem at that time. Let’s just say that the trickle of expatriates that any country experiences became a barely noticeable flow at that time. If it had stayed at that level, it would not be a problem today. But, indications are that the flow increased slowly, but steadily until the 1980’s.

In 1981, the Reagan administration rolled back some of the wealth punitive, anti-privacy laws and tax rates that were contributing to this exodus and indications are that it did have a significant effect. In fact, officially, not a single US citizen renounced his US citizenship the next year. That fact alone, should tell you something.

But such is the nature of the income tax and the lust for ever more power, which often infects elective officeholders, that no sooner than President Reagan left office, his successor, George H. W. Bush, resumed the attacks on the wealthy and they have been increasing since. So has expatriation of the wealthy.

Evidence from key foreign consulates indicates that the number of US citizens requesting application forms for citizenship or permanent residence in those countries, jumped significantly in the months after the Democrats in Congress tricked George Bush (the elder) into a huge tax increase.

Granted, requesting citizenship forms or information on citizenship is not expatriation. But details on the number of citizenships actually granted is far more difficult to come by. It is however, reasonable to assume that as the number of forms requested increases, so does the number of forms submitted.

The point is that the timing of those requests tie back to the motivation.

Other jumps occurred just after the Clinton tax increase and again, after the HIPAA legislation (discussed below) was signed into law, in 1996.

Indications are that in the first year of the George W. Bush administration, expatriations increased much more slowly, as the wealthy seemed to think that maybe Bush (the junior) would relieve some of the pressure on them. But, shortly after the President signed the USA Patriot Act into law, all of the indicators show that expatriations quickly shifted into high gear again.

Just the timing of those increases point even further toward the fact that those who are leaving are wealthy, since each of those events represented an attack on wealth and no other group. The slower increases in the first year of the Bush administration indicate that the wealthy expected Bush to roll back some of the Clinton administration’s wealth punitive legislation. But, with the passage of the Patriot Act, the wealthy knew that they had figured Bush wrong and expatriation spiked once more.

The evidence is there, if you look for it.

Our government is becoming more and more oppressive to the wealthy and making it increasingly expensive for the wealthy to stay. Other than the US Census numbers and sparse data from foreign consulates, there is a lot of ancillary data that points to the fact that wealthy Americans are expatriating at phenomenal rates. This ancillary evidence ranges from tell-tale social indicators to more hard numbers.

For example, only a few short years ago, it was very difficult to find the single small bar or restaurant in most foreign countries, where American expats would gather. Today, they are more common than car dealerships in Houston (even, before Obama forced a lot of the car dealerships, owned by Republicans, to close). It seems that there are now quite a few such expat bars in every small country.

On the other end of the spectrum is the Forbes Magazine annual lists of “400 Wealthiest Americans” and the “Worlds Billionaires”. An analysis of those lists, in recent years, shows that in the ten years between 1999 and 2009, the number of billionaires in the US climbed by a mere 27%, with a 20% growth in wealth, while during that same time period, the number of billionaires worldwide climbed by a whopping 166%, with a 90% growth in wealth. This means that the number of worldwide billionaires grew at a rate six times faster than US billionaires and worldwide, billionaires’ net worth grew four and a half times faster.

In other words, while the growth in the number of billionaires in the US was just barely enough to account for inflation and their net worth was even less, the growth in the number of billionaires worldwide, along with their net worth, was moving ahead at a rapid pace. This is just one more indicator that US billionaires are moving offshore. Of course, if the billionaires are moving offshore, it’s likely that other wealthy Americans are doing the same.

Granted, the Forbes lists probably leave out some billionaires whose asset base is not easy to locate. But, since Forbes has been using the same criteria and methodology to build those lists for years, although the actual number of billionaires in each year’s list may not be accurate, the percentage of change, from year to year, should be a fairly close approximation of reality.

This is not anything new. Back in April of 2002, National Review reported on this exodus. In an article, titled, “Bermuda Straight – Government greed is causing corporate flight”, Veronique de Rugy wrote, “As taxes continue to soak up a larger percentage of the GDP, the number of U.S. citizens moving out of the country is increasing. Unfortunately for them, the United States is one of the few countries that taxes its citizens on global income, even when they are living abroad. As a consequence, some Americans living abroad have renounced their U.S. citizenship to protect their family’s interests.”

Of course, de Rugy was just talking about those who formally renounced. There are millions of others who simply take citizenship in some other country, stop paying US taxes and just never come back.

But there’s more evidence of how serious a threat this is. There is the annual Merrill Lynch/Cap Gemini Ernst & Young “2003 World Wealth Report”. The headline of the press release for the 2003 report announced “…Number of U.S. Wealthy Individuals Drops — Goes Against Global Trend”. Notice that they pointed out that this “Goes Against Global Trend.” According to the report, there were 100,000 fewer millionaires in the US at the end of 2003, than at the end of 2002, during a time when worldwide wealth was growing. There is no doubt about it. The wealthy are leaving in large and increasing numbers.

To be fair, the “2004 World Wealth Report” shows that the number of wealthy individuals in the US increased the next year (2004). But that was due largely to low interest rates and greater growth in world GDP than we have seen in more than 20 years. Everyone was making money then. So, this does not mean that the wealthy are not leaving. In fact, other indicators are just too solid on this point. It simply means that due to exceptional worldwide economic conditions, low interest rates in the US and helped along by rising oil prices and the continued effects of the Tax Relief Act of 2001, more Americans managed to “grow” their wealth here at home. 2004 was just an unusual year, across the entire spectrum.

The question that hangs ominously in the air is, “How long will these new millionaires be willing to take the abuse that our government increasingly heaps upon high net-worth individuals?”

Part Two is scheduled for 9-07.

Copyright 2009 John Gaver. All rights reserved.