Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Great Question

Prof. Mondo addresses a question FLG has been asking himself on and off for the last few years:
What’s the point of U.S. citizenship and is it worth it?

Just this morning, in fact, FLG asked Mrs. FLG if she could countenance the idea of overseas retirement. But FLG has actually been thinking about expatriation issues on and off since the Obamacare debate.

Don't get FLG wrong, it was not really Obamacare exactly. It's just since then FLG has wondered about what it would take for him to leave the country.

FLG doesn't think of himself as a highly-skilled person, but he guesses that on paper he could be considered one. In any case, he's confident that he could live and find work in any number of places around the globe, as could Mrs. FLG. Neither are tied to any particular place, although English as the dominant language would certainly be helpful but not a deal breaker.

FLG has strong emotional, cultural, and political ties to the United States, but given the long run fiscal and demographic factors at play here in the United States, it might become very appealing from a strictly economic and financial perspective to relocate and renounce American citizenship. If the government, for example, introduces a VAT, jacks up income taxes, and introduces single payer health insurance to try deal with the rising costs of health care, then FLG would seriously consider moving out.

But FLG you cannot just leave because you don't agree tax rates and economic policy! Why not? At some point, it's not just economic and financial, but the very character of the nation that has changed. If FLG feels that the country itself no longer reflects his values, has a dim future, and is entirely beyond his ability to ameliorate that situation in the least, then it's a free country and he should be able to leave.

FLG doesn't know where the point of no return for himself is exactly. It's certainly not even the fullest manifestation of the goals of the Obama Administration, but there's a point at which FLG could see himself leaving. And FLG doesn't think he's alone.

The question then arises, where would FLG go that's better than the United States? Well, let's be clear, FLG isn't talking about the United States as it stands now, but some hypothetical future United States. At that point, some other country might begin to look very attractive.


The Maximum Leader said...

What values do you want the country to which you might go to reflect?

Anonymous said...

Too many venomous snakes in Australia. En Zed has lots of rules. Argentina goes into the toilet financially every so often. South Africa is becoming less comfortable for a white person. Much of Canada is awfully cold, and if you don't like Obamacare you probably won't like Canadacare. Russia and the 'stans have thugs who knock on your door at night. Brazil? dave.s.

arethusa said...

Move to Greece. Sure, they have riots, economic troubles, wildfires, the EU, socialism, yada yada, but almost everyone speaks English (even if they don't let on), they have a delightfully insouciant attitude, and it's a great place for small children. Plus it wouldn't be too difficult to take up archpiracy on the side,

Withywindle said...

As the US declines, so will every place else in the world.

Andrew Stevens said...

I'm with Cecil Adams on this one.

arethusa said...

Even places like China and India?

When I think of moving overseas - as I sometimes do - I think of doing it not so much because of any physical or even economic decline in the US, but more because of a spiritual (in a non-religious sense) or moral decline or a decline in national character. There are other countries - like Greece - that are already well into physical decline, whatever happens to us, but would be more pleasant places to live.

arethusa said...

Just to be clear, my comment was in response to WW's.

Withywindle said...

Arethusa: Yeah, actually. I don't have confidence that China and India will continue to improve economically or morally if the US ceases to provide the strong enforcement & virtue underpinning the world system.

J. Otto Pohl said...

FLG: I have been living overseas for most of the last decade. The big hurdle is to find a job first. Without the job you normally can not get a work permit to get a job or a visa to stay longer than a couple of months. The good news is that it is much, much easier to find a job overseas than in the US. If you are a historian it is easier by a factor of several thousand.

Come to Ghana. It has a rapidly growing economy, speaks English, has very low crime, and friendly people.

Dave S. no thugs ever knocked on my door at night in Kyrgyzstan in the 3 and half years I lived there. One time the police came asking about a robbery upstairs, but I told them I had not heard or seen anything and they went and got a statement from my neighbor.

FLG said...


I'm not saying that I'm so fed up that I'm going to move right now, just that I could see a point where it would be appealing to leave.

Can you not foresee a situation that would make you want to leave?

Andrew Stevens said...

It's hard to imagine. If we voted ourselves a dictatorship complete with death camps, maybe. Even then, I'd see about joining the Resistance before I abandoned the U.S. I can easily see living out my retirement in a foreign country (though that is no part of my plan right now), but that's very different from renouncing my citizenship.

I might be able to foresee a situation where A) the United States had completely abandoned its defense of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and B) some other country had completely dedicated itself to the old U.S. ideals and was welcoming immigration. But by the time both of these things occur simultaneously, I'll be far too old to do the new nation any good and I'd probably just stay put in the U.S.

J. Otto Pohl said...

You do not need to renounce your citizenship to move overseas. A US passport is very useful for travelling. In fact my guess is that of all the Americans to move overseas permenantly only a very small fraction have ever renounced their citizenship. Those people being either anti-American ideologues or extremely rich people who love money more than their country. If you work overseas you do not have to pay US taxes on the first $80,000 a year or so. That means except for the very rich people who are addicted to money that no American expatriates should be paying US taxes.

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