Republican congresswoman Michelle Bachmann recently claimed dual Swiss citizenship, making her a dual citizen of Switzerland and the United States. This might sound like a strange move from a flag-waving, nationalistic, power-seeking pol, but Bachmann’s husband of thirty-four years was born in Switzerland, and she has thus been eligible for dual citizenship since 1978.
But why did Ms. Bachmann choose now to exercise this right? She says that her children wanted some of the benefits of dual citizenship, and they decided to go through the process together, as a family. But news stories have highlighted the fact that Bachmann is now eligible to run for office in Switzerland – perhaps she is planning an escape?
Love It Or Leave It?
Every election season, we hear people saying, “If so and so is elected, I’m moving to Canada.” Of course, if they’re trying to flee a liberal government, Canada is no safe-haven.
Few of these people follow up on their threats, and most of the time, these wannabe ex-pats are mocked and even accused of being unpatriotic. Mock-worthy they may be, but unpatriotic?
The United States of America was founded by people who fled their native lands to start a new life, and in most cases, they were fleeing governments far less tyrannical than our own has become. But, the fact is that most nation-states allow their citizens even less freedom than Americans now enjoy, even in the post-9/11, NDAA, Big Brother spying era. So where is one to move to?
Switzerland makes an interesting choice. The nation is famous for being neutral, staying out of international conflicts, especially wars. It is less famous for having the most decentralized national government of any developed nation, thus operating more like the United States during the Articles of Confederation era. Switzerland’s “states” are called cantons, and each canton is small and highly autonomous. Additionally, Switzerland has long been an international haven for financial privacy.
On the downside, many of Switzerland’s cantons are positively socialist. As a Swiss citizen, you’re allowed to move from canton to canton, but you may not find any to your liking. What’s more, becoming a Swiss citizen is notoriously difficult. Unless you marry a Swiss national like Bachman did, or you have tons of money like Shania Twain, you may be out of luck.
One last thing: Despite staying neutral in international affairs and out of all wars, the Swiss government does require military service for all able-bodied males. After being trained to use firearms, citizens are required by law to own them. This guarantees against invasion from foreign armies, and also keeps the Swiss government itself at bay.
Switzerland may be the ideal country for a paleo-conservative or libertarian to emigrate to, but getting citizenship is difficult. A second best option – and one with a much better climate – may be Costa Rica.
Costa Rica has no standing army, and is generally among the most libertarian of the world’s existing nation-states. In fact, the Libertarian Party of Costa Rica actually has nine members in the nation’s congress! The weather is beautiful and living expenses are low. Unfortunately, while Costa Rica is a fairly libertarian place, it has some backwards economic policies relating to foreigners.
For instance, in order to have residency in Costa Rica, you have to prove the ability to support yourself. This means you need a guaranteed income of at least $2,500 per month, or you have to deposit $150,000 in a Costa Rican bank. (Requirements are slightly less onerous for retirees.) The reason you need this guaranteed income is even worse: foreigners are discouraged from working or even opening businesses, on the economically ignorant premise that this would take away opportunities from native Costa Ricans.
Hard-core libertarian anarchists might like the idea of living in stateless Somalia, but Somalis don’t take kindly to non-Somalis – to say nothing of white people – living in their country. Libertarians have tried to reach out to the Somali people, but these efforts have not been successful.
The Seasteading Institute was founded on Tax Day 2008 by Wayne Gramlich and Patri Friedman – the latter being the grandson of Milton Friedman, and the son of anarcho-capitalist theorist David Friedman. The idea of seasteading is to “homestead the high seas” by building large platforms in international waters. Under maritime law, the seasteaders would have to fly a nation-state’s flag, but these rights can be purchased from some African nations for a nominal sum.
The purpose behind seasteading is to establish an ultra-minimalist state at sea, free from the interference of other governments. This may seem impractical and unrealistic, but the Seasteading Institute has attracted the support of Peter Thiel, cofounder of PayPal and early-stage Facebook financier. As of now, though, would-be ex-pats have to be content with terrestrial land.
Time to Escape?
If you are a U.S. citizen living outside the U.S., you are still required to pay income taxes on all of your income, no matter where or how it is generated. If you renounce your citizenship, the U.S. federal government still claims the right to tax you for ten years. And right now, there is a proposed law that would deny passports to citizens who owe a significant sum in back taxes.
Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones says the “New World Order” intends to make Earth a “prison planet.” Well, the U.S. is looking more and more like a “prison nation,” what with the Patriot Act, the NDAA, and the ultra-creepy Utah Data Center in the works. The founders of this country fled their homelands for much less, and no one would call them unpatriotic.
Gold and silver investing is not just about making a profit. It’s also about safety. Gold and silver investors work to protect their wealth. With that in mind, the question of whether or not the U.S. is the best place to do that must be asked. Only you can answer it for yourself.