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Andrew Henderson

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These free-market services show just how inefficient your government is

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Dateline: Zagreb, Croatia I noticed something interesting during my stopover in Venice last week. It had nothing to do with the fact that the pizza shop near my hotel was run by Bangladeshis, or how easy it is to spot the US persons trolling around the city with fanny packs and “I’m with Stupid” t-shirts. (Apparently, it’s still 1998 somewhere.) What stood out to me as a capitalist were the numerous services touting to send your postcards back home. And none of them are run by the government. Without a doubt, you can still buy a stamp from the Italian post office and have your mail sent anywhere in the world. The queues are long, service is often poor, and the hours are… well, this is Italy. On the other hand, services such as “Global Post” and “Friend Postal Network” sell their own private stamps and deliver the mail themselves, totally outside of the Italian postal system. Some of these services work in cooperation with the postal authorities in countries where the government doesn’t completely laugh at the idea of being responsible to the people paying its bills. This is a trend I think you’ll see more of: private enterprise rising up to service needs that government services supposed to help those consumers don’t. Italy is ripe for this kind of thing because the place is a total bureaucratic disaster. Needless bureaucracy ought to be part of the national motto. For instance, it’s relatively straightforward to obtain Italian citizenship by descent if you have Italian ancestors, or Italian residency if you have nearly any amount of money in the bank. Actually getting those things done is a total pain, which is why I recommend people spend a couple thousand dollars hiring someone to do the grunt work. Italian residency or citizenship can be very valuable, but you’ll pull your hair out trying to do it yourself most of the time. Call it a “bureaucracy tax”. The private postal services that charge a premium to mail postcards for tourists in Venice are not the only examples of businesses helping to ease the pain of such bureaucracy taxes. In war-torn Detroit, for instance, private police services have cropped up to help homeowners protect their property. Detroit is just one of many US cities – others include Oakland and Chicago – that have used budget cuts as an excuse to slash the most basic of services down to even refusing to dispatch officers to burglaries or home robberies. Detroit residents with something to protect can now band together and hire their own police service for the neighborhood, with the companies using that money to provide free services to poorer neighborhoods. And in the even more bureaucratic France, surprisingly good private train companies have popped up to take people not just within France but to Germany, Austria, and elsewhere. Around the western world, people are realizing that they don’t need big bureaucracies to help them accomplish their goals, whether it’s sending a letter or hauling away their trash. In cases where one government does a better job than another less efficient one, services like private mail help consumers “go where they’re treated best”. While I’m totally on board with this system of thinking, it tends to work much better on a domestic level. Here are a few examples…

Paying taxes

It goes without saying you that don’t get to choose where your tax dollars are spent. The government, much as they may claim otherwise, is not a charity, and they don’t care to be accountable to you. Are you a US citizen but hate spending billions of dollars on stupid wars? Tough. Your opinion doesn’t matter in an increasingly dynastic system that may see a third Bush or second Clinton presidency next year. You can choose where you pay taxes, however. US citizens can use offshore strategies to reduce their tax liability to zero or at least to only MedFICA tax. If you’re making a substantial amount of money or have a lot of capital gains, you might consider moving to Puerto Rico while you work toward renouncing US citizenship. Non-US citizens can merely become tax non-resident in their country, which can be as simple as filling out a form and cutting certain ties with that country, or jumping through a number of hoops.

Setting up a company

There’s no reasonable way, for instance, to live in the United States and make your business tax-free no matter who you hire. The US government won’t allow you to use some non-governments system to register your business. You can set up an offshore company, but if you live in the United States, your main benefit will be asset protection, not tax relief. You can’t just set up your own form of private corporation that bypasses the government and expect to get relief from government-imposed mandates like taxes. You have to set up your company offshore in a more favorable jurisdiction.

Protecting your money

In just the last week or two, the value of the euro versus the dollar has increased somewhat significantly. The US dollar has been crushing every other currency out there the last 6-12 months, but the euro has been bouncing back. Just when you thought the US dollar was the best currency in the world to hold, it’s become apparent that the dollar is nothing more than an uber-manipulated fiat currency whose value can increase or decrease (perhaps significantly) at any time. But you can’t simply print your own money. You’ll end up a felon; just look at the Liberty Dollar. Government printing presses hate competition. The reality is, you can be free and you can avoid much of the bureaucracy you deal with now. Free to run your business and keep more of your own money. But private postal services, police services, and the like didn’t crop up because a bunch of people sitting on their ass. Freedom happened in those situations because people did something. There ARE ways for you to take advantage of the changing tide where governments compete against each other. But if you simply sit in a country where the government doesn’t want to compete, nothing will ever change.


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