Dateline: Montreal, Canada
Italy has more than its share of problems. Already among the most corrupt countries in Europe, in 2016 Transparency International ranked it lower than countries such as Botswana, Rwanda and Cuba.
But corruption isn’t Italy’s only problem.
Just two years ago, the Venetia region (Veneto) of Italy mounted a secession movement that is still affecting Italian politics today.
Venice, Italy is probably the most fantastic modern-day representation of a collapsed empire that clings to its past. The city is symbolic of current trends all over Western Europe and, of course, the most infamous declining empire of them all: the USA.
In 2014, Venice made it clear that it wants out of Italy altogether.
Venice — formerly the capital of the Republic of Venice — is actually a city made up of 118 small islands separated by canals. It became a city-state between the 9th and 12th centuries and then became an imperial power following the Fourth Crusade. By the late 13th century, Venice was the most prosperous city in Europe. By 1482, it was the printing capital of the world.
And then, decline…
Several wars and the Black Death (which killed 200,000 citizens) began the decline. Following that, Venice lost it’s position as the center for international trade to Portugal. It did, however, maintain it’s economy as a major manufacturing center until the mid-18th century (something the US has already lost today).
Next, Napoleon and the Austrians took over in 1798. Finally, in 1866, Venice became part of what is now Italy.
Modern-day Venice on the brink
Today, Venice is a city that is all about celebrating a greatness that is long past. Like a grown man reliving the days when he was the star on his high school football team, Venice has been drained of its life and modern-day relevance.
For instance, instead of thriving on business, trade, and innovation, the economy of Venice is now largely dependent on tourism. And, because of tourism, housing costs are so high Venetian tour guides can’t afford to live in the city center.
As most industry and manufacturing has left Italy’s borders, Venetian citizens are paying for problems in other parts of the country via taxation. The secession movement gained so much momentum because Venetians were tired of supporting poorer regions in Southern Italy.
Things came to a head in 2014 when an unofficial referendum had high voter turnout and an 89% vote favoring a Veneto split from Italy. Venice was looking to become the sovereign nation that it once was.
In response to the referendum, the Italian government refused to allow secession but did authorize greater autonomy for the region. In the wake of Brexit, it is likely that other secession movements will occur. Still, many of these movements just completely fail without fanfare. Others get crushed by central governments, either violently or via economic threats.
But individual Venetians do not have to wait for regional sovereignty to find greater economic freedom. In fact, none of us has to wait for the conditions in our “home” country to improve before we can better our own lives.
6 steps to avoiding a personal Venice
What can Venetians and all of us do to avoid aligning our personal success with the rise and fall of nations?
1. Stop living in the past and start creating things
It all starts with the question, what kind of value are you providing to people? Government policies and central banks only work against the wealth of people. Instead of being satisfied with a glorified past that existed hundreds of years ago, it’s time to get innovative and create value that can last.
2. Think as a sovereign individual
Stop thinking in terms of a “sovereign nation” and start thinking in terms of sovereign individuals. When you look at it this way, you will focus more on the things you can control. For instance, what value you can provide to the marketplace vs. things that are out of your control, like government policies.
3. Move personal assets offshore
These are going to be rocky times, whether secession or X political/economic uncertainty happens or not. There’s no guarantee that the government won’t try to get its hands on the citizens’ money. This includes changing tax-free rules and making them retroactive, pulling a Cyprus and performing a “reverse bailout”.
4. Become mobile
This means creating some kind of income stream that allows you to skip town if things turn violent or just unbearable in some way. The key to this is making sure you have a passport. For Italians, the latter part is easy. With an Italian passport, you can easily travel to destinations around Europe. And, unlike the US, when you decide on a safe haven spot to call home, you can stop paying the taxes of the country where you were born. So you effectively leave the problems created by the government in your home country behind.
5. Move money out of your home country’s currency and into safety
This means trading your fiat, central bank monopoly money for assets that aren’t reliant on what a few elite banksters decide to do. It also protects you from whatever plans the politicians come up with to rid you of your wealth. Think Bitcoin. Think gold and silver. The value of these assets is controlled more by the market, not corrupt bureaucrats on power trips.
6. Open an offshore bank account
Don’t push your luck hoping your country’s banking system won’t go belly up. If it does, be prepared to deal with big desperate banks and governments. Anything goes, including your money in their pockets. A move to safety is necessary in these times to preserve whatever wealth you have.
Some of the world’s safest banks are in Germany, Singapore, and Australia. (U.S. banks only rank as the 40th safest in the world). Bank runs are an inevitability at this point. Some European banks have already started limiting their customers’ access to funds. This is just the beginning. The smart money is flowing into safer locales.
Parallels and preparation
The parallels between the rise and fall of Venice and the rise and fall of America are fantastically similar. Every empire eventually falls apart. In Venice, this is noted with the loss of manufacturing, the worship of the past, and high taxes to support an insanely disastrous central government.
In America? The propaganda about being the “freest country on earth” is spread far and wide. The worship of the office of the presidency and the “founding fathers” keeps many in a state of blind conformity, which prevents them from seeing the collapse all around them.
Manufacturing has already left. Taxes and inflation are on the rise.
What is left? The charade can only work for so long before the emperor is exposed.
You can take action today by applying for a Strategy Call and getting your Plan B in place. Just don’t wait until the empire is in rubbles before deciding to make a better life for yourself somewhere else.