“Nowadays to be intelligible is to be found out.” — Oscar WildeIn the wacky world of American politics, if you as an employer have a religious objection to paying for your employees’ contraceptives, it is you who is contemptuous of religious freedom.As the New York Times editorial board lectured a judge who thinks otherwise, “the […]
Socialism is the big lie of the 20th century. While it promised prosperity, equality, and security, it delivered poverty, misery, and tyranny. Equality was achieved only in the sense that everyone was equal in his or her misery.In the same way that a Ponzi scheme or chain letter initially succeeds but eventually collapses, socialism may […]
Six months ago, I stepped out from the shadows of the United States Government’s National Security Agency to stand in front of a journalist’s camera. I shared with the world evidence proving some governments are building a worldwide surveillance system to secretly track how we live, who we talk to, and what we say. I […]
I opened a new bottle of probiotics this morning, and it had one of those circular seals on the top. You know, the one that reads, “Sealed for your protection.”And that seal got me thinking… how much protection do we need? How much security is enough?How much homogenization, pasteurization, disinfection, national security, etc…. do we […]
Last spring, Barack Obama told the graduating class of Ohio State University:“Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems… They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices. Because […]
In the Huffington Post last week, Glenn Greenwald, Slate contributor Ryan Gallagher, and Ryan Grim had an investigative piece reporting that the NSA had been tracking the online porn-viewing habits of several Muslim leaders whom it viewed as radicals. A top-secret document shows that the agency was considering exposing these firebrands’ Internet dalliances as a […]
Americans are still trying to get a handle on the full extent of the government’s domestic spying activities, including the recent revelation that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been collecting and storing the email address books of ordinary Americans using online messaging services. Many users of such services are looking to tech executives for […]
A few months ago at a demonstration against the president of Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway, a Canadian citizen made the following claim: “We don’t have guns, we are not Americans, we are civilized.” A few days before, in early July, a train of the company had run away and exploded in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, killing […]
From the Tongue-In-Cheek Department of Laissez Faire Books…Washington, D.C. — Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, announced that her committee will hold a “major review into all intelligence-collection programs.” This surprising declaration followed the revelation, through documents leaked by government whistle-blower Edward Snowden, that the NSA has been listening to the […]
From the Tongue-in-Cheek Department of Laissez Faire Books…Washington, D.C. – The complex negotiations aimed at bringing a long-term solution to the federal government’s expenditure and debt problem have produced an unconventional proposal. “Although the solution only focuses on a tiny fraction of government expenditures,” declared President Barack Obama, “it is a step in the right […]
I’ve just spent a harrowing weekend reflecting on Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, the pamphlet that came out in January 1776 and turned the public toward seeking independence from Britain. I say harrowing because the distance between the ideals found in this pamphlet and those of today’s America is so vast as to be nearly unrecognizable.The […]
It was a wild ride last week in the world of the Deep Web, that section of the Internet that requires special tools to access. The feds took down the site called Silk Road and claim to have arrested its founder and administrator. The news streams were filled with lurid tales of derring-do in this […]
Want to know just how invasive the state is going to get in the United States?Well, take a look across the pond.In terms of the large, invasive state, we English are way ahead of you guys. We’re a good 50 or more years further down the road to serfdom.Nineteenth-century Britain was about as glorious a […]
A tense drama unfolded this week with the virtual shutdown of vital government agencies: the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the National Labor Relations Board, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as well as many other such federal agencies. Without them, the Founding Fathers could not have imagined the republic.Even if fewer […]
Three months after Edward Snowden’s leaks began to reveal the extent of the U.S.’ mass surveillance program, “serious people” are beginning to make the case that it’s time for the outrage and indignation to subside and give way to a “national conversation” about the future of surveillance. So has the moment come for us to […]
A sixth-grader has been suspended for drawing an inappropriate picture. The drawing did not include any gun, but showed a checkpoint backed up by a SWAT team carrying flower pots while an unarmed drone hovered above.The suspended girl, whose name is kept secret at the request of her family, said she “just wanted to draw […]
The second part of this two-part article reveals an untold part of the story about how they were stopped last time. And shows how, if not again stopped, how it could lead to a fundamental loss of civil rights and freedom on the Internet.The offending legislation was barreling down the track, seemingly — even in […]
Two years ago, Hollywood, no kidding, masterminded a plot to, in effect, steal the Internet (by criminalizing certain conduct, booby trapping the Web in ways that few non-mega-corporations could cope with). There are signs, as perceptively flagged by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, that the perps are back at it. We should care.This two-part article reveals […]
It has now been nearly two centuries since French political scientist Alexis de Tocqueville visited America and compared American democracy to the French variety. The Martian asked his Earth correspondent to redo the comparison.The typical Frenchman thinks that Paris is the center of the universe, life without a baguette is not worth living, France is […]
I was at the Canadian border, headed toward the freedom that exists a few feet beyond the last security check. I was gently waved down a side corridor.Ninety minutes later, I was let go, but not before something truly alarming happened. I’m pretty sure that the Canadian government captured a mirrored version of my smartphone […]
Fort Meade, MD – The United States, the least unfree country on Earth, is fighting a major invasion of the Blueshirts.The most visible Blueshirts constitute a 50,000-plus army that occupies all the airports in America. Recognizable by their blue shirts and their inquisitive eyes and hands, they search and humiliate all Americans trying to leave […]
Sometimes, the news of the day causes me to say, “Huh?” The New York Times revelations last month about NSA programs and activities to enhance the agency’s ability to spy on ordinary citizens prompts today’s “Huh?” Who knew that our every phone call, Internet post and tweet is being recorded by the government?I have operated […]
U.S. and British intelligence agencies have successfully cracked much of the online encryption relied upon by hundreds of millions of people to protect the privacy of their personal data, online transactions and emails, according to top-secret documents revealed by former contractor Edward Snowden.The files show that the National Security Agency and its UK counterpart GCHQ […]
Oh, how the media love a good strike. Look at these fast-food workers and peasants standing up to the owners of capital! They aren’t going to take the oppression anymore. The suits in the boardrooms had better shape up and stop hoarding all that money. They need to give it up to the men and […]
Like all great historical ideas, the project of licensing journalists so that they may benefit from the First Amendment was born in a very modest place. In fact, it began in the most modest of all places: the brain of Dianne Feinstein, U.S. senator from California.The new law, which was just adopted by Congress and […]
The position that there need be a state is too often taken for granted.The main body of Sartwell’s book Against the State is dedicated to destroying the arguments for a state from the likes of Hobbes, Rousseau and Hegel. In fact, one thing that becomes crystal clear in reading Sartwell’s book is how bad the […]
Crispin Sartwell is someone you should know. He is doing important work in recovering forgotten greats in America’s anti-authoritarian tradition. Among other works, he’s put forward a lean and powerful book titled Against the State.In what follows, you’ll see why he’s my favorite living philosopher. Sartwell will take you on an intellectual tour de force […]
Even after the armed Mexican drug dealer punched me in the face for the third time I didn’t regret my decision to move to Mexico. I’d been in Acapulco just over a month at that point. I’d been here for a couple weeks the year before and had felt just as safe as could be in that little seaside city.
This time around I got a bit more settled in and comfortable because I was planning to be back in Mexico often for longer and longer stretches.
After a night of carousing, my companions and I ended up in one of our regular beach bar haunts. A band of local drug-dealing toughs were also there that night and the largest and most muscular of them had a shapely girlfriend who trotted about in push-up bra, ultra short jean shorts and five-inch heels, as if she were advertising.
Our group’s gaze lingered on her as she minced her way to the bathroom. Her gorilla of a boyfriend then started gesticulating angrily in our direction. A few minutes later one of my companions glared back at him and the gorilla tossed an empty can of Red Bull at our table. Then he got up and charged over.
Don’t misunderstand about Mexico. Sure, there is a lot of Prohibition-based violence. There is the small time crime rooted in greed or desperation. There is the big time crime practiced by politicians. Then there is the typical anger-based violence that you find in bars. In other words, it’s just like anywhere else on the planet. The key to having a trouble-free good time is to keep to the nicer parts of town, to be respectful of individuals and of the customs, and to try not get too drunk in public. Just like anywhere else on the planet. That night I’d ignored at least two of these guidelines.
As I prepared to try to calm him down before he got to my friend, the gorilla moved in quickly and punched me twice rapidly in the left eye. As I raised my hands he punched me again on the left side of my mouth. Boxing and soccer are popular in Mexico, sort of like basketball in US public housing projects. I’ve met quite a few competent boxers among the general populace in Acapulco. The gorilla appeared to be another one of them.
My contact and host in Mexico had often advised me to take the sport up. I had not gotten around to it yet. My lack of familiarity with boxing really showed that night, as did the dozen or so vodkas I’d had. I was slow and uncoordinated, but at least I barely felt any pain.
The bar managers and staff quickly came over to stop the fight. As I aimed my best bit of “Is that the best you got?” taunting at the gorilla, the bar manager holding onto me warned me that if I did not leave immediately, my assailant and his friends would do great harm to me with the guns I had failed to notice strapped to their waists.
My other companion – who had spent years in Mexico and understood the danger – was at the bar exit frantically urging me to get leave. As we sped away in his vehicle, he explained, “There really are no bar fights in Mexico, especially with narcotraficantes (drug dealers) like that guy and his buddies. There is some posturing and then some shooting. We were lucky to get away.”
Surely this little adventure must have soured me on Mexico…and perhaps made me question this whole notion I had that living anywhere else was better than living in the belly of the US leviathan.
Actually no, not at all. This kind of thing could have happened anywhere in the US. And the US government still frightens me far more than some local toughs in a foreign country. You think that armed bar bully was bad? I’d much rather take my chances with him than with the IRS or with the government’s growing army of death-dealing spy drones. Thing is, at least I can avoid armed tough guys by avoiding certain places at certain times. It’s much harder to avoid the IRS and death-dealing spy drones. You have to give the entire US a wide berth. Even then your safety isn’t assured.
And so my desire to avoid both the police state and outrageous poverty-inducing government theft led me to begin my life as a perpetual tourist. The wonderful thing about being a perpetual traveler or tourist is that you get to interact with the world almost solely on commercial terms.
Living as a perpetual tourist isn’t pure anarchism, but it does allow you to see the beauty of a life with minimal harassment from the state. You get to experience how blissful it is to deal with people on the basis of coming to mutual agreement…or walking away when you cannot agree.
Merchants try to persuade you at every turn while the taxing authorities have very little or no claim on you. You choose what you need and pay for what suits your budget and tastes best…from lodging, to clothing, to transportation. It is all persuasion and no coercion. Right now I have no family and thus have the freedom to keep moving, never staying in a country long enough to warrant the attention of government thieves. The only government forms I have to fill out these days are those ridiculous customs declarations that flight attendants hand out on international flights.
Permanent tourism works much better if you do not have citizenship or permanent residency status (i.e. a “green card”) with the United States. The US, as it’s often been pointed out, is one of the very few nation-states to require income taxes even on its expatriate citizens and permanent residents. Sure the first $96,000 or so of income earned outside the US by expats is tax-free (unless the expat is self-employed in which case he has to pay both the employer and employee “contribution” to Social Security). But even if no taxes are owed, one must still report one’s earnings to the IRS.
Even if a US citizen or resident spends the entire year outside of the US and his income falls under the amount that can be taxed, that US citizen or resident must still send a tell-all form to the IRS. This may not seem like such a hassle to some. After all it’s just a little paperwork, right? But if you fail to comply with this presumptuous hassle, the US government assumes the right to steal your assets and possibly kidnap you.
To some of us radicals who insist that people don’t belong to the state, this is both ridiculous and outrageous. Most of the rest of the statist world doesn’t have to put up with having to report to the nation of their birth like an adolescent to a parent. A permanent tourist who retains ties of citizenship and residency to the US will never feel the sheer freedom of one who cuts those ties…or who never had those ties to begin with.
Giving up US citizenship is possible, but to many Americans it is unthinkable. It smacks of treason to jingoists and to those who feel some moral satisfaction from smiling while politicians and bureaucrats steal from them. And anyway the renunciation is a little complicated and can be expensive. There are forms to be filled out and submitted and sizable exit taxes to be paid.
But it could be well worth the trouble. Just ask Denise Rich and Eduardo Saverin. And notice that the lines to renounce are growing. Renunciation isn’t just for the wealthy, however. Even for Americans with little in the way of assets but who can make a good living online, over the phone or via the mail, renunciation and well-chosen relocation could mean savings of millions of dollars over a lifetime.
The world doesn’t currently allow one to be stateless, so a renouncer needs to have another citizenship ready. Some passports make much better travel documents than others. But once you’re free from worldwide taxation, you don’t have to travel perpetually. There are a few countries in which you can settle down as a citizen where you won’t be taxed on any foreign income. Imagine that…keeping every single dime you earn! That’s something most people in the US associate with criminal disloyalty.
I’d advise them to read Rothbard or Hoppe joining the Laissez Faire Club to get that bit of brainwashing cleared up. I have to admit, however, that even if you’re a US tax cow who is partial to the notion, you’d have to give up the comforts of the US to enjoy income tax-free life. And that’s just not for everyone. But for those who want to be a little freer – and keep what they earn – there is a big, beautiful world out there. Just avoid the late nights at questionable bars.