Andrew Henderson

Andrew Henderson

Founder of Nomad Capitalist and the world’s most sought-after expert on global citizenship.

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What Obama could learn from Imelda Marcos on spending

Reporting from: Manila, Philippines

It’s been almost three decades since Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos fled as the Yellow Revolution ousted them from power here in the Philippines. Among the most notable lines of Imelda’s bio to this day is the extravagance surrounding her 2,700 pairs of shoes.

Yet Imelda’s shoe buying frenzy can teach bloated western governments like the United States a lesson. Assuming an average price of $1,000 a pair, those thousands of shoes still cost less than each of Barack Obama’s roundtrip flights to Hawaii on Air Force One. Think about it: a sensational media story that lives on decades later versus an ongoing, workaday expense.

I’m not here to bash on Obama’s free-spending brand of socialism – we do that enough here already – but to highlight the inherent problems with living in a country with a large footprint such as the United States.

It costs millions and millions of dollars just to schlep the President around because he’s a recognized figure.

He can’t fly economy plus on United and call it a day.

He can’t even buy out the business-class section of a British Airways flight like Britain’s David Cameron did a few years back.

Governments like the US have big expenses. Just like in business, they pass those onto you. The bigger the country’s profile gets, and the more it sticks it’s hand into other the affairs of other countries, the more the expenses pile up. Before you know it, you’re paying for foreign aid to a laundry list of countries, warships to patrol the world, and hundreds of staffers to clog up expensive hotel rooms as they follow the President or any of his cabinet members in tow.

Do you know how the Prime Minister of Luxembourg gets around? Better yet, do you know who the Prime Minister of Luxembourg is? Or how much time the leader of Singapore spent playing golf with Tiger Woods?

He didn’t, because the leader of Singapore keeps a low profile, stays out of solving the whole world’s problems, and focuses on building a domain of economic freedom.

I don’t understand people who want to gloat over the muscle their home country flexes in the world. For all that Americans talk about policing the planet (and not asking anyone to help foot the bill), the Swiss have a higher standard of living, more freedom, and are statistically happier.

Ah, the steep price of minding your own business.

The Swiss, Singaporeans, Luxembourgish, and other nationalities around the world have decided to create their own high standard of living. That’s not a commentary on America’s military might but rather why you shouldn’t want to pay for such might.

Many Americans proclaim that without them, the world would descend into chaos and Kim Jong Un would make a serious (OK, not so serious) play to take over the whole planet. That might be right, but everyone in all of the countries I mentioned get those same benefits while sitting back and enjoying not having to foot the bill.

Personally, I don’t care if anyone could find my country on a map. I don’t care if the person next to me on the Chicago to Denver flight has even heard of it. As a US citizen by birth, I don’t care to fund a bureaucracy where the President has fire up a 36-car motorcade to hit the Burger King drive-through.

By getting a second passport in a Caribbean nation that knows it’s not a world superpower, or moving to a friendly, lower tax, more free jurisdiction that’s leaner than your home country, you are taking a step toward increasing your own economic freedom and away from funding the bloated bureaucracy of a high-profile declining state.

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