Dateline. Letterkenny, Ireland
History has trends. One of the most obvious and major trends in the West since the attacks on September 11, 2001 is that governments are becoming more authoritarian.
In London, there are cameras watching virtually everyone. In the US, police can stop you on any flimsy pretense, question you, and examine the contents of your mobile phone.
Edward Snowden showed the world clear proof that every e-mail, phone call, and bank transaction is now captured and stored in Utah for your potential interrogation and possible conviction at some point in the future. The UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand do the same. Odds are, any country with the ability is doing it too.
Our social media feeds are chocked full of videos of government employees in various uniforms pummeling, pepper spraying, tasering, and outright murdering citizens in situations that just plain don’t justify such brutal responses.
Authoritarianism is on the march, and the rights and aspirations of the individual are trivialized in favor of the safety and prosperity of the State and its glorious employees. Every time a politician makes a speech declaring “We need to get tough!” and a wild cheer goes up among the latter-day Brownshirts who want to see the boot of the State on more people’s throats, some of us know enough about history to start looking for the exits.
I’ll assume that most of you reading this already have a top-tier passport. That means being able to travel pretty much at will to every major country on earth.
But every passport has an expiration date. It has to be renewed. Without a fresh passport your ability to leave your country is utterly cut off. And in an increasingly authoritarian country, there are increasingly more reasons to withhold renewal.
Some government agency could allege you owe tax money. Maybe you know a guy who knows a guy who is a suspected terrorist. Maybe millions of people in your country suddenly want a passport and the waiting list for processing is suddenly a year or more.
In any case, you’re marooned and not going anywhere.
Having a second citizenship and passport means you can quickly and easily get out of the country.
The bodies we see washing up on shore in Europe are people who have one citizenship. And, unfortunately, they are citizens of countries that issue inferior passports. Most of them only qualify to visit other countries currently being bombed, or are worse off economically than the country from which they are fleeing.
When you’re a citizen of a country you have the guaranteed right of residency. With a second or third passport you have the ability to live in whatever country suits your needs best. And, if the political and financial sands shift, you can relocate again at will.
Every country has different tax laws. The rules are so complex that a place that’s a good fit for me might be a bad fit for you, and vice versa. When you have multiple citizenships you have multiple options to pay taxes under the regime that suits you best.
Moreover, when you have assets outside of your native country, they are much harder to confiscate. In an age where states, provinces, and nations are financially bankrupt and have astronomical promises to pay to increasingly angry voters, it’s just plain irresponsible to leave all your assets where a future Hugo Chávez can get them.
Legacy for Your Family
Many countries offer citizenship by ancestry. That means having a mother or grandfather that was a citizen of a foreign country could qualify you for a fast track to citizenship. It could also mean that your own children or grandchildren could one day benefit from your efforts to become a citizen somewhere today.
In a turbulent world of uncertainty and growing authoritarians, the seeds you sow today by becoming a global citizen could pay enormous dividends to unborn members of your family.
Multiple citizenships bring options. They bring increased freedom. They offer the potential of increased wealth. They offer personal flexibility and mobility.
Is there a single good argument for having only one citizenship instead of more than one?