Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Should Americans Emigrate or Defect?

Wendy McElroy, Contributor
Activist Post

Anyone planning to permanently leave the US should give deep thought to whether they are emigrating or defecting.

The two concepts have so much in common that they tend to blur together. They may be best viewed as two extremes of the same axis upon which people can 'grade' themselves. But there is a significant difference between the attitude, motives, and actions of a straightforward emigrant versus a defector. And where you stand on the axis affects the most important aspect of who you are: How do you evaluate yourself?

Both emigrants and defectors physically leave a nation to relocate permanently elsewhere. But the key difference between emigration and defection is the motive. Emigrants usually relocate to be with family or for economic reasons. The motives can have political overtones; for example, some portion of the family may have left due to religious persecution or the homeland may have a disastrous tax rate. By contrast, defection is a political or moral act of renunciation aimed at the abandoned state. It is an active shunning of citizenship that is independent from family or economic concerns. Emigration focuses primarily on arriving to embrace something; defection focuses primarily on leaving in protest. They are not mutually exclusive, however.

Another key difference is that emigration is generally a lawful process. Or, at least, the emigration does not require an active challenge to the laws of the deserted nation. Defection is flatly illegal.

Typically, laws against migration are meant to discourage people from leaving, especially people who enrich the nation in which they reside through their wealth, productivity and skills. East Germany is an example. After WWII, the Soviet Union dominated the Eastern sector of Germany, with Western nations (mainly America) dominating the West; the city of Berlin was split in two. Emigration became an immediate problem for the Soviet sector.

In his book Closed Borders: The Contemporary Assault on Freedom of Movement (Yale, 1989) Alan Dowty estimated that almost 20% of East Germany's population had left by 1950. The educated and the young, professionals and skilled workers formed a disproportionately large part of the migration. The words “brain drain” were spoken. In the early 1950s, a Soviet-style shutdown killed migration to the West. But Berlin remained a problem. The complex division and politics of the city served as a migration loophole. In 1961, East Germany began stretching the barbed-wire that would be extended to include the Berlin Wall.

From one day to the next, East Berliners who walked westward ceased to be covert emigrants and became defectors to be shot on sight. East Berlin was not merely determined to forcibly retain the best, the brightest, the most productive. It was tired of the political embarrassment of the best, the brightest, the most productive renouncing the communist state in a visible, tangible manner. Thus, the choice between emigration and defection was yanked from individuals and placed into the hands of the state. It is the tendency of totalitarian governments to slam shut the exit door. And it sometimes slams abruptly.

America still allows emigration; the door has not yet slammed. But America punishes the act and it is proposing legislation to punish it more. For example, a bill called the Ex-PATRIOT Act is in the Senate. Its full name is the Expatriation Prevention by Abolishing Tax-Related Incentives for Offshore Tenancy Act, and it would ban anyone who expatriates from ever setting foot again on American soil. As the law stands today, the “exit tax” for those who emigrate without renouncing citizenship is to be saddled with a US tax liability in perpetuity; in short, double taxation. The “exit tax” for those who renounce citizenship is the complexity of the process and a confiscation of wealth from those who have it. This is a fiscal Berlin Wall. Those who quietly leave and “stay gone” without notifying the U.S. state are similar to pre-wall East Berliners. They fall somewhat between emigrants and defectors, with their main reason for silence being to escape notice. Hopefully, the door for them to do so will remain open.

[Editor's Note: In order to renounce citizenship -- and we really can't blame you if the thought has crossed your mind -- requires you to have a citizenship someplace else. Sadly, you cannot be stateless in this world...yet. So as part of your own "permanent exit strategy", make sure to look into other citizenship and passport options, particularly if you are a US citizen. TDV has options in countries that will be much kinder to you and your capital than the US ever was. Click here to learn more.]

The two categories of escapees differ in another important manner: the attitude expressed toward them by the abandoned state. This is a key indicator of whether the door “out” is preparing to close. When emigration is considered to be an act of political rebuke and embarrassment, the emigrant is viewed as a defector.

Mexico does not care if its citizens go to California or Texas and send money back home to relatives. Mexico ignores these emigrants because they entail no political embarrassment or economic cost. America cares, and for at least two reasons. First, those who emigrate – even without vocally defecting – are exploding the myth that America is the land of opportunity and freedom; they are a political rebuke. Second, the US is losing the best, the brightest, the most productive by losing businessmen, the wealthy, the skilled and the educated; the escapees are an economic and intellectual drain. Words like “traitor” and “unpatriotic” are being attached to high-profile emigrants like Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, who fled for economic reasons. In the eyes of America, emigration is becoming defection. And totalitarian states do not tolerate defectors.

America has spent trillions of dollars to establish Homeland Security guards at entry and exit points, to build barriers across its borders, and to process anyone who wants in or out of its jurisdiction. This is not an accidental act. Any state powerful enough to shut people out is powerful enough to shut people in.

America is like the postwar city of Berlin. Borders are still open and they offer relatively free passage, officially or unofficially. But the wall is being built to close that porous border. Those who are planning to leave should decide if they are an emigrant or a defector. Otherwise the decision may be taken out of their hands and decided by the state.

Wendy McElroy is a renowned individualist anarchist and individualist feminist. She was a co-founder along with Carl Watner and George H. Smith of The Voluntaryist in 1982, and is the author/editor of twelve books, the latest of which is "The Art of Being Free". Follow her work at http://www.wendymcelroy.com.


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Anonymous said...

You certainly can be "stateless" in this world.
Ask any Palestinian....

Anonymous said...

palestinians are not stateless - they actually have ISRAELI passports!!!!

Anonymous said...

This is why no foreigner (non-american) should ever travel to or within the USA. The rest of the world does not need to VOLUNTEER to be groped and treated like terrorists at the border just because the USA wants to be paranoid.

Marje said...

And yet they still do come, groped or not......

HereAmI said...

I for one would never visit the US, even if it were an all expenses paid trip, precisely because of the disgusting TSA scum that operates there, which sticks its hands down your pants, and those of your female companions and children, as soon as you get off the plane. That's statutory rape. Plus the fact that there seems to be a good chance that you would be gunned down by the militarized police for, well, doing anything really.
Driving a pick-up not identified as a suspect's and the wrong colour and sex of driver? Death. Pregnant? Tasered. Whistleblower? Indefinite detention and torture. Selling raw milk? Incarcerated in a cell deliberately flooded with raw sewage. Mentally challenged? Beaten to the ground and hog tied. Not ill? Vaccinated. Growing vegetables? Felony crime. Driving along the highway? Stopped for interrogation at a VIPR checkpoint. Black? Forget about it, unless you are impersonating an American, when you will be
given the Presidency.
How you people survive in such an atmosphere of coercion and paranoia is beyond me. Maybe it's because you have nowhere else to go.
I think the only thing that can save you is if your military stops obeying illegal and immoral orders to kill innocent foreigners and starts doing the job it swore to do, but I'm not holding my breath.

Anonymous said...

The U.S. presently in a double digit, double dip inflationary recession that is progressing into a full blown depression.

The middle class is being systematically eliminated. If you are holding dollars on shore, you are going to take it in the shorts.

The shrewd investor will be running for the exits before the fanancial base of the economic system collapses. A wise move would be to become an expat and move to Ecuador where you still have some purchasing power with your money.

Food, clothing, housing, gasoline, transportation and health care is relatively inexpensive. Invest in durable goods such as, agricultural land where you can grow your own food and tools.

The disadvantages of owning gold and silver:
1-It is heavy to transport.
2-It cost money to store in a vault.
3-You are subject to being robed.
4-It does not generate any cash flow and sits in a vault and stagnates.

If you are going invest in precious metals, I would reccomend buying 1 0unce silver bullion rounds from a precious metals dealer from the country of your off-shore refuge. Investing in gold is to expensive for the average guy. Silver is the poor man's gold, it is the tail on the kite of gold. Diversification is the key to smart investing.

You have only 2 choices. 1 stay here in the U.S. and go down a financial black hole or leave while you can before it is too late.

Not everyone can leave. If you have no savings to start over and no income except from your job and have a family to support you are stuck in the rat race. My sympathy goes out to you. It is survival of the fitest. Predatory and monopoly capitalism is brutal. It has no respect for any race, color creed, or national origen.

Anonymous said...

To be honest, with all the gripe about the TSA and the border security in the US on the Internet, and I traveled though there every week as a non-US citizen in transit from Europe, Asia, Canada, the Caribbeans and South-America for 4 years, I have NEVER been hassled, poked, groped, searched or spoken to in a demeaning manner by any of them. Sorry, but I actually had a much better treatment at US borders than I did in Canada and quite a few countries in Europe.

On the main subject of the article, I actually somewhat agree, however outflow of capital is the name of the game for them basturds. They couldn't care less about the people leaving, it's the capital they don't want to leave/lose. All G8 countries have capital exit/transfer taxes. Small bit at a time under 5k transfers every month from 4-5 different bank accounts to 4-5 new bank accounts in the new country of residence and it doesn't ring the alarm bells. Might take a few lifetimes if you're a multibillionnaire, but for small folks, like me, shouldn't talk more than 10 years ;)

Anonymous said...

Americans should do neither. They should stay and fight like the "patriots," "heroes" and "brave men" they claim to be. After all, they didn't dub their warmongering nation "the land of the free and the home of the brave" after men like Ted Nuggent who shit and peed in his underwear for a week so that he could dodge the draft during Viet Nam. For once in your pathetic existences, live up to your tiresome drivel of democracy, patriotism, bravery and the Constitution and take up your arsenal of weapons and fight for your goddamn rights instead of running away like cowards or shooting unarmed, defenseless women and children at home and abroad.

Hide Behind said...

When you run from conflict in your homeland you are a refugee; not an emigrant or defector.
Now if you run to protect your assets and keep your asses comfortable in another land, your not a hell of lot different than they who stole from your homeland.
You would also fit the requirements of being a globalist.
Yet there is another way to depict such conduct; Rats fleeing a sinking ship.
Being poor Canadians say stay home, now that border is close and I could sneak across it easily; But the borders of Eciador or camen Islands are one hell of a way to walk and swim too for anold and poor old man like me.
Now I know illegal immigrants been doing quite well for years; not getting rich but getting by and good people all.
You who can run away and keep you amd yours safe run like hell, to each their self.
For myslf I think I'll stay and just become an illegal immigrant in this country. Raising a little hell now and then on the game the immigrants play; "CATCH ME IF YOU CAN"

Anonymous said...

Hide Behind,
You need to get more educated and informed instead of accepting the main stream news media as gospel truth.

1st of all, if you immigrate to Ecuador on a 90 day visa and apply for residency and meet certain eligibility requirements to qualify such as income from social security, an annuity or money to invest, you can become a resident and have the same rights as an Ecuadorian citizen.

The Caymen islands is a safe place to keep your money.

If you stay in the U.S. or Canada, you are going to bcome a lot more poorer than you already are.

It's survival of the fitest.

When people are hungry and homeless, they are going to revolt against the system and anybody that gets in their way.

Before the financial base of the economic system collapses, the insiders at the top bail-out with their golden parachutes with a silver lining and make a soft landing while the debt surf slaves crash to the bottem and bear the full brunt of the blow.

When the dust clears, they come back when order is restored and buy back tangible assets for pennies on the dollar in hard currency in the form of precious metals.

Anonymous said...

The post should be updated to show that Schumer's ex-pat act died

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