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Offshore Relocation: There Is No Perfect Place

I recently read a captivating Daily Bell interview of investing author Ron Holland, wherein he described his reasons for emigrating to Canada [1]. In the interview, Mr. Holland stated: “I left the United States for an exciting business opportunity based in Canada but the increasing authoritarianism in the United States combined with the TSA [2] assaults at airports do make America a threatening jurisdiction to live in or to conduct business in. Add in the threats of a real or contrived future crisis with exchange controls, a run on the dollar and an out-of-control sovereign debt situation makes me very happy to be on the outside of the American financial iron curtain and barbed wire, looking in instead of the other way around.” Ron Holland is correct in many of his assertions, but in some ways, he is simply trading one form of oppression for another. Canada’s gun laws stink. There, unless you fall under an exemption for law enforcement or are a member of a competitive shooting team, it is illegal to possess a magazine for a semi-auto centerfire rifle that holds more than five rounds or any magazine for a handgun that holds more than 10 rounds. There is no “grandfather” clause. If Canada’s gun laws were more lax then a lot more people would consider emigrating there. But, sadly, Canada’s guns laws are much more restrictive than here. And their income tax rates are only slightly lower than in the States. So I frankly can’t see any substantive advantage. As for the TSA’s x-rays and groin gropers, I’ve greatly curtailed taking commercial flights. And for the few that I do take, I’ve scheduled flights that originate from small regional airports. My connecting flights are at larger airports, but by then, I’m already inside the security cordon. I drive most places in my SUV. If I ever fly internationally again, it will be out of a Canadian airport. I’d love to have my own private train car [3], but I’m not in that league.

All people seem to have differing views of what they consider acceptable, comfortable, and “right”. For example, I once had a long conversation with a friend visiting from England who considered the patchwork of laws in the 50 United States confusing and “chaotic.” His comment was prompted when I was driving him to a tourist destination and I pulled over before reaching a state line to unload my pistol. He was astonished to hear that the guns laws in the U.S. weren’t uniform. I personally consider it an advantage that Americans can vote with their feet and move from one state to another at will, to take advantage of differences in tax laws, guns laws, or homeschooling laws. But he saw it it as confusing and somehow “unfair.” In his estimation, he’d rather see everyone living under identical laws, even if that meant some of them had to give up part of their freedom. If I have to choose between oppression and a little anarchy, then by all means give me anarchy. (Here, I must explain that though the terms are often mistakenly used interchangeably, there is a difference between anarchy and chaos. Anarchy is the absence of any government, while chaos is a state of confusion and discord, whether a government exists or not. By the Libertarian definition, anarchy is a good thing.) My desire to maximize personal freedom is one of key reasons that I originated the American Redoubt [4] movement.

Which Liberty is the Key?

To many, some liberties are are more important than others. If someone truly wanted economic freedom, then they might consider Monaco, The Bahamas, or Vanuatu, since those countries have no personal income tax. (Just ask Mitt Romney.) But of course getting residency in Monaco would require a lot influence with the right people, and for citizenship, even more so [5]. It is too bad that there isn’t a recognized individual right to keep and bear arms in Monaco or The Bahamas, and that Vanuatu is in peril of rising sea levels [6]. In terms of freedom from government surveillance, many Third World countries have the edge, but property crime and murder rates are higher–sometimes much higher [7]. If firearms freedom is your concern, then countries like the U.S., Finland, Switzerland and the Philippines are some of the best, at least for full citizens. (Yes, I know that firearms freedom is even greater in Yemen, Pakistan, or Somalia–where you can buy machineguns and hand grenades at the local bazaar–but who would want to actually live there, given their high crime rates and their dislike of Westerners in general and Christians in particular?)

Tradeoffs are part of the human condition. And emigration decisions are always a collection of tradeoffs. Facebook founder Eduardo Saverin recently bailed out for Singapore [8] for tax reasons, but that nation has perhaps the nosiest police on the planet and stiff penalties for violating their strict gun laws. McAfee Software founder John McAfee chose Belize as his hidey hole, but despite lavishing millions of dollars on the local gendarmerie, he still ran afoul of local gun laws [9]. And multimillionaire actor Mel Gibson bought an island all to himself in Fiji [10], but he will still be taxed as part of the One Percent [11]. Furthermore, there are no guarantees that laws can change, after you have moved to a perceived safe haven. The bottom line is that these is no single “perfect” country. Perhaps the Perpetual Traveler [12] crowd has it right. But then, that approach doesn’t usually provide a well-secured deep larder, for the event of a global economic collapse or other widespread disaster.

I’ve decided that I’m staying put in the United States, and fighting for my freedom. Of course I’ll always have a Plan B and Plan C. For me, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and the right to keep and bear arms are my priorities. If any of those three key liberties are substantially degraded here in the U.S. and I see no way of fighting to regain them without ending up behind barbed wire, then I will definitely consider voting with my feet. Note, however, that my situation is unusual. As an international journalist and commentator, I can accomplish much more by agitating for change via the Internet than I can than as just one man with one rifle. So it will only be if and when the statists try to muzzle me that it will be time to move. But again, for now, I’m staying.