Let’s do a little psychological analysis today.
Ever since arriving back on US soil a month ago for my two-month hiatus from traveling, I’ve been writing what seems constantly about disturbing trends I see here. Namely, those trends involve the idea that there is some kind of magic pixie dust baked into the land that makes this country better than any other.
I recently got into a little debate with someone who said “with the way things are going in the world, no place is financially secure”. As I see it, this is nothing more than projection.
You see, when you travel to dozens of countries and stay on the move, you see a lot of things. In just the last few months, I’ve been on the ground in the Philippines and seen how they’re doing a lot of things right. I’ve also seen how the “government” of Brunei – basically one Sultan and his hangers-on – are doing things wrong. I’ve learned lessons from far-flung places and also seen just how “yesterday” some places in western Europe are.
The one thing I never do is try to project my nationality onto the rest of the world. The reality is, there are plenty of places that are on the upswing. There are plenty of places to find freedom or easily start a business.
The fatalistic view that “once it’s over here, it’s over everywhere” is nonsense. One thing I’ve noticed from building a worldwide network of experts in various fields is that, almost universally, the people saying this kind of thing are Americans. Talk to someone who is Swiss, for instance, and they understand the ebb-and-flow of economies. After all, they’re sandwiched next to five other countries and speak four languages. They get it. The wealthy Chinese who are moving to Australia and New Zealand get it.
These people aren’t just going to throw in the towel and curl up in a ball on their sofa because their own country is going downhill. They’re doing something about it.
The fact that thousands of US citizens a year are now renouncing their citizenship has at times been front page news. Most of the reporters writing these stories scratch their heads and wonder why anyone would want to give up their American citizenship. Their writing is basically thinly-veiled jingoism. When a rich Chinese guy moves to Canada, they’re happy to make the assumption that “China sucks”, no further explanation required.
Somehow, however, that never carries over to their own country, especially in The Land of the Free. After all, the word “Free” is right in the title. Who would want to leave that? If someone renounces their US citizenship, they must be some conspiracy loon or a 1%-er fleeing the long arm of the taxman. (Who could blame them?)
It’s projection at its finest.
Remember when you were 21 and you dated that guy or girl who was just a pain? Eventually, you broke it off, but their ego couldn’t handle your rejection. Like many an immature kid, they rationalized it to themselves. They were too good-looking. Too rich. Their car was too cool. They intimidated you. Their skills as a lover were too impressive. Their body too perfect. And then they said, “I’ll show him/her”… and they went on doing the same destructive things as before with the next person.
A shrink would have a field day with that person. Hopefully, they eventually realized their faults and took action to correct them. But many didn’t. Their actions are emblematic of many who live in the United States. They figure they (their country) is so perfect that if anyone leaves – damn them; we don’t need ’em! It’s an emotional response from someone who isn’t willing to be challenged. They’re happy to face reality when it’s some other country people are leaving, but they can’t realize that maybe their country just isn’t as good as they’ve been deluded to think it is.
For after all, governments use varying degrees of propaganda to keep their citizens thinking they’re inhabiting the best slice of earth. Some just tend to believe it more than others.
There’s a reason people are renouncing their US citizenship. (Other countries don’t see such a trend because most countries don’t claim ownership of you even if you’re lived outside their jurisdiction for your entire life.) There’s a reason people are moving to other countries. It’s not because they’re not “man enough” to handle their home country in, as the 21-year-old ex might say. It’s because they view someplace else as better.
To that end, the idea that one country losing its freedom and its economic opportunity will cripple the world is ludicrous. In fact, if you’re an American who values freedom, you largely have the US government to blame for any global surveillance state. While the world has gotten freer in the past 25 years, the US government in particular has been encouraging other countries to enact their own draconian laws about offshore accounts, second citizenships, and the like.
And when you “plant flags” – that is, establish citizenship, residence, bank accounts, corporations, etc. in various countries – you’ll be more immune to any ebb-and-flow that happens in one economy. Rather than sit around bemoaning how your country is falling apart, find a better place to move and retain the option to return to that country if it gets its act together.
That’s how the free market works. I for one prefer the principles of free market thinking a lot better than the principles of deflective thinking employed by scorned 21-year-old douche bags.