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Is it “Un-American” to Go Offshore? The Thin Line Between Financial Patriotism and Financial Suicide

December 17, 2009 by  

Is it “Un-American” to Go Offshore? The Thin Line Between Financial Patriotism and Financial Suicide

For an extreme example of offshore phobia, take the case of White House National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers.

When good old Larry was President Bill Clinton’s Secretary of the Treasury in 1994, he went off the deep end referring to American expatriates as “tax traitors.” He was subsequently made to apologize by his boss for that over-the-top comment.

This idea that it is unpatriotic for otherwise good Americans to have foreign bank accounts, own foreign investments and real estate and live in foreign lands has long been the unspoken policy of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and other government agencies. I know this from personal experience.

Specifically, I recall a conference of several hundred lawyers and bankers in Miami. The assistant to the U.S. Attorney General took the stage and publicly stated that anytime an individual had offshore accounts, he or she was assumed—by the Department of Justice—to be engaged in something that was probably illegal.

So much for the rule of law and the presumption of innocence.

But, as they say about us humans, “Old habits die hard.”

Americans Neglect a World of Opportunity

Despite the occasional financial excursion abroad, human nature dictates that most folks prefer to make and save money at home. We tend to be comfortable with the familiar and seemingly less threatening domestic economy of our home nation, even if the government is as near to bankruptcy as America and the United Kingdom.

In 2009, only 74 million, or about 26 percent of Americans, even had passports (and another million Americans living near the Mexican and Canadian borders had "passport cards")—yet this was a historically high percentage.

To be sure, Americans are happy with their home. That happiness—or perhaps complacency—might be the biggest stumbling block when it comes to considering all the possibilities… even when it comes to a simple passport.

But the anti-offshore arguments of the America Left seem to fit into this “America First” theme, and both that and “Buy American” are wrong-headed ideas. I love my country too much to believe such nonsense.

As one who believes in the principle of free international trade and its decided benefits for all parties, the political resurgence of “Buy American” under Obama and the Democrats should concern Americans.

Harry Binswanger, PhD., of the Ayn Rand Institute writes, "According to a recent poll, 80% of Americans think it their patriotic duty to give preference to American-made products. But ‘Buy American’ is wholly un-American in both its economics and its philosophy.

"America’s distinction among all the nations of the world is that it enshrined political and economic freedom.

“Although we have departed greatly from our original laissez-faire principles, to the whole world America still symbolizes capitalism. Americanism means understanding that a free market, domestically and internationally, is the only path to general prosperity."

The Practical Reasons

But beyond the principles involved there are good, practical reasons why Americans who are aware should now “go offshore” financially, with simple financial survival being first among them.

At a time when the U.S. government is deeply in debt (nearly $13 trillion in U.S. dollars)… with Obama’s pending plans for more taxes on high income earners… capital gains and estate taxes looming… and with major and minor banks teetering on the brink, prudence dictates offshore planning and activity.

So-called “patriotism” does not require us to commit financial suicide when there are reasonable escape exits to better places.

When people open their eyes to the rest of the world they find greater asset protection, stronger financial privacy, higher returns in carefully selected markets, more diversification of investments and, among currencies, increased safety and security, both personal and financial and deferred taxes on annuities and life insurance.

In contrast to Bank of America, CitiBank and AIG, the offshore banks and insurance companies recommended by The Sovereign Society aren’t exposed to the risky investments of third-world debt and Wall Street’s esoteric derivatives.

These banks are located in politically neutral countries that don’t employ interventionist foreign policy, making them much less likely to be terror targets.

Unfortunately, relatively few Americans are taking advantage of the fruits of global diversification. I think you owe it to yourself and to your family to at least consider the advantages of global banking and financial services. At the very least, you should hold a portion of your assets offshore… just in case.

For the very good reasons I have enumerated—and for self-interest as well—none of us can afford to be xenophobic in this 21st century.

Sincerely,
Bob Bauman
P.S. You can learn all about the world’s foremost legitimate and legal offshore financial centers in my just published 4th edition of Where to Stash Your Cash Legally: Offshore Financial Centers of the World.

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  • CJ

    This position brings up some conflicting consequences. In one view, you need to protect yourself because the government’s offering doesn’t give long range security. On the other, putting our security in another country further weakens ours and perpetuates the downward sprial of our country’s fall. So, without a government power to strengthen the whole, do we abandon ship when the going gets rough and let it sink, or do we struggle together with a plan to save it and find our benefit is long range while suffering together in the short. One could question where our country would be today if our founding fathers felt this way. If the government’s policies are failing, to what good will your investments be if you still live here after it does? And, if the money is in other countries, how will anybody here earn a living with nothing to pay them with? Guess it’s back to bartering.

  • oldbill

    Well, as a redneck hick who lives in a trailer, if I have assets in another country, how exactly do I get hold of them if I need them? I’ve traveled all over the world, but I’ve never had a passport. The Swiss still hold assets of those who thought they could outsmart the Nazis. The governments in the world today are much more sophisticated, evil, than those of the Third Reich. Go ahead, put your hard earned savings in a bank in a country with no financial transparency.

    It seems more practical to eliminate personal debt, accumulate productive real and personal property, buy SOME gold and silver, and then spend less time attempting to accumulate wealth and more time becoming self-sufficient. We all need a years worth of expenses in the bank, but why more than can be spent in a lifetime. It becomes a target for thieves and governments.

    Why bust chops to pay high taxes and own things that require a lot of property taxes each year? Own things that are not desirable and don’t cost a lot, but produce the things that are needed for life, not luxury.

  • http://roygoinart.com Roy Goin

    I don’t fee; good about the US economy, but trust other governments less than ours. What happens when that govenment gets greedy?

  • Susan

    I have some friends who just moved to Brazil because they felt America was on the verge of collapse. They sold everything they had most of which was paid for, took their money and headed south. America is our country, it is a great country, the best in the world! We have people in Washington making some really bad decisions. We need to put all our efforts into getting them out of office so we can save this country. I am a patriot, and it is time for more people to get off the coach and stand up for what is right. You can put your assets anywhere you wish, however, when or if America goes down it will be like a dominos effect to the rest of the world. At the end of the day your money is not going to be any good…anywhere!

  • Norm

    I have not observed men’s honesty to increase with their riches.
    Thomas Jefferson

    The selfish spirit of commerce, which knows no country, and feels no passion or principle but that of gain.
    Thomas Jefferson

  • Al B Tross

    Richard – Spot on observation!!

    I can think of nothing more un-american than investing in our demise, but that is what carpet bagging scoundrels do, isn’t it?
    Just as Prescott Bush helped Hitler invest the riches of slaughtered jews, or Henry Ford building factories for the German war machine, there will always be those who hide their lust and greed behind patriotism.

    Micro- capitalism is what we need, invest in your community, in small business. It is the Conservative thing to do.

  • DaveH

    “And, if the money is in other countries, how will anybody here earn a living with nothing to pay them with?”
    Don’t worry CJ, Obama has that covered. He will just inflate the money supply until those American dollars in other countries are worthless.
    I realize that Mr. Bauman is not talking about us holding American dollars in those shelter countries.

  • Jim Duncalf

    I have relitives that came out of Russia in the 1920s, educated well off leaders of the comunity. They left rather than stay and join the 30 million patroits who were killed by the radical leftest who promised “Change for the better.” One of my Russian relitives once asked that question, “Do governments exist to serve people or do people exist to serve governments?” He then added “When any government starts to act like the latter then it is your duty to your family and to humanity to leave.” Only a fool would willingly offer up his family and himself to a government which thinks of itself as God!

  • DaveH

    There is a lot of wisdom in your statement Bill.

  • http://none Tim Perdue

    I tend to agree with Mr. Dunn’s perspective. I think he’s hit the nail of this free trade internationalist abandon America propaganda on the head. As far as trade itself goes? All I hear is free trade this NAFTA that, unfettered capitalism is just the greatest thing since sliced bread blah blah blah.. What tripe! America was and still is a great experiment in governance whose time has not really past. But these existing NAFTA driven free trade policies are indeed wrecking America, driving jobs offshore as well as real monitary value. Litterally encouraging the disassembly financially of this nation and creating an ever expanding series of negative consequences including allowing people like this guy, (I’ll refrain from using the word quack) to cheerlead this nation wrecking parade . Here’s an idea I ain’t heard much in my time reading the blogs…. “FAIR TRADE” Instead of anything goes free trade, why not establish international principles of ‘fair trade’ between consenting nations… In my mind, fair trade would encompass and embrace concepts that take into account the ecological consequnces of a business idea and social considerations and ramifications. Not just how much money can be gleaned from some enterprise regardless of who or what it hurts or damages.

  • Rajkurrun Naga

    Even as our brain is in constant turmoil with the power struggle between the left and right lobes, even so the world is in constant conflict between the East and the West, between the Haves and the Have-nots, between Black and White money, between Transparent and Opaque activities… endlessly.
    On the eve of 2010, can mankind allow the Swiss and other banks to hide financial information? Can a civiliseed world allow Afganistan to increase to some 80% its provision of drugs to the world and thereby make a hell of the lives of several billion people? Can we sit or act morosely to the activities of sea pirates? Can we allow our political forces to close eyes to rampant corruption in the main arteries and veins of our social, legal, police and other foundations? Can we allow Alibaba corporations to syphon out billions when millions and even billions are living in abject poverty? Can we allow politicians to make a mascarade of the people’s trust?
    Obama and others are bearing a machiavelic brunt to the little effort they are putting in to change the face and the fate of mankind.Is it not high time to bring humanism and honesty to man’s activities?
    Are you aware that AlQaida has already trained millions of people under the garb of religion and religious activities/visits throughout the world? Are you aware that it is strategically using blasts and other illegal activities and unrest to grip a financial ascendency in the falling world trade, stock markets and other activities? Do we know how many of their people have been enrolled in foreign colleges, universities,organisations and the like? is there a real concerted effort to deal with all these problems? I WONDER.

  • DaveH

    No, Susan, there will always be shining lights out there. The hard part is finding them. But I like your ‘stand and fight’ stance. I think that would be best for our country.

  • fed up

    In the 18th century, men of conscience didn’t run away when oppression became too much to withstand. They fought and created a miracle that stands as a beacon to the world yet today. Now, as then, is not the time to run from adversity and threats of further oppression. WE THE PEOPLE still have the power in our hands and can make the difference. A good start – talk to your neighbors to be sure they understand… then vote the buggers out!!

  • Joe H.

    Susan,
    this is my country and I’ll be damned if I will let them drive me out!!! I fought for my and everybody’s right to be here in RVN and I won’t cut and run!!!

  • http://n/a Jim
  • DaveH

    That is true Norm. Riches don’t guarantee honesty or even happiness. But then, neither does lack of money.
    I think the best we can do is to adhere closely to our own moral codes and to treat others as we would like to be treated. In the end, if we have a robust positive self-image knowing that we followed the same moral code that we expect others to follow, we will leave this earth as happy as we can.

  • paul

    Please do not assume that people who lack material wealth have integrity. Our upcoming mandated transfer of wealth – some to people who sat on couches most their lives – shows that greed is a common fault.

  • DaveH

    Nice sentiment Jim. But who do we replace them with? I would suggest looking into the Libertarian Party. We believe in Limited Government, Individual Freedom, and Individual Responsibility. We need to get the government out of the business of protecting people from themselves.

    http://libertarianparty.org/platform

  • Richard Dunn

    the following is opinion re. this man holding himself out as a public figure.

    I have no respect for this man. None… and here is why.

    This man’s stupidty is a complete reversal of the founding father’s policies of tarriffs which they believed made this nation great. He claims this is un-American. Tarriffs are in the constitution. READ IT!

    The wholesale dumping of foreign product and get rich quick schemes of exchanging no work in Ponzi schems designed to deplete value from hard working Americans have mede public figures like this man money.

    Look at hwere the jobs go: China, India and Pakistan.

    Look at where the bribes to the congress and the senate come from:

    China, India and Pakistan.

    I wonder if there is a connection?

    However, this ^*&%(%%&*(^ is correct, that due to his internationalist policies, that he endorses, that it may be time to go offshore because as with any parasite, when the victim has had that drop of blood which when drained, renders the corpus delecti comatose, smart parasites look for another host.

    Besides a JD as I recall is a law degree, which basically means what we have here as a man professionally trained at a University to be able to distort truth for money as officers of the court, which means we as slaves have to pretty much hire them and they work not for us but rather the court. Best yet we vote to place them in office and we wonder why we have problems?

    Statesmen create deals which bring money and prosperity to all involved. Parasites live off canibalizing the efforts of their predecessors.

    Will the rats now abandon ship.

    Saye aye or waggle your tales.

    Again this is an opinion piece.

    I have to work, enough of this garbage.

    Richard Dunn

    What is un-American is not Tarriffs, but rather Internationalists purporting to be Americans and swinging free trade drivel when it is actually destroying us and they have shut down our bell-weather press by buying it up by Australians and robber barons who bought their kids a new toy, the US government.

  • daveh

    Big Government is the problem, not the solution. They very rarely get involved with anything that they don’t mess up. And you want more?
    Protectionism is one of the major things that got us into the Great Depression.
    http://www.cato.org/pubs/policy_report/v31n2/cpr31n2-1.html

    Protecting people from competition doesn’t lead to more production or better economies. How would it? If you were protected from losing your job, would you work harder? Most likely you would work less hard. It works the same way with companies which are after all just groups of individual people.

  • DaveH
  • Fr, Jim Rosselli

    Dear Daveh,

    It is precisely Big Government that is forcing internationalism on
    us. The result is oppresive laws that favor foreign concerns over
    Amnerican concerns.

    Government will always regulate, However, Globalism encourages
    depencdence on foreign capital. It therefore drives government
    to impose regulatory burdens on domestic businesses while granting
    regulatory exemptions to foreign ones.

    It also forces the growth of government interference in the domestic
    economy, as whole new regulatory concepts have to be invented in
    order to cope with the new and massive foreign economic presence
    on (and increasing dominance over) our soil. A protected domestic
    marketplace would divert this regulatory impulse into a separate,
    safely isolated, environment all its own.

    Fr. Jim <

  • s c

    Robert, Lawrence Summers’ posterior has been bought and paid for, and that slow leak in his head needs to be sealed. His prostituted opinion is anti-common sense, anti-American and he must seen for who and what he is.
    Only a braindead sycophant could listen to someone like Summers. It is the RIGHT of every American to invest outside the US if they so choose. Who the frick does Summers think he is? When common sense is in full bloom in Washington is the day I’ll have a reason to think Summers doesn’t need a mental competence examination. He and all of his chippie pals might as well turn into lemmings and ‘do their thing.’

  • Everett Barton

    EBartScribe writes : How does this square with B. Livingston’s “Beware China is Getting Dangerous” article….? I realize that I have to ‘become a bank’ in order to internationalize myself and family. The family is okay, ’cause I’m married to a Canadian wife, and the children have applied for dual citizenship (which they are allowed to do until next February ). But me, the American, I have to get a Visa and pay about $2,000.00 to emmigrate to Canada,EVEN If I’m still residing in the U.S. OR……and this is the trick……….I can accumulate wealth spread out in a global distribution of accounts such that I am my own sovereign global citizen. I have to GIVE UP my U.S. passport if I want to gain a Canadian Passport ( OUR government’s rules ), but if I can TRAVEL
    to another country, why, I have a home there, I have money there, I live for the world and the planet and NOT for one nation, etc. This is all hypothetical, but it IS DOABLE….! And I have started in that direction, now that I’m retired…. Check out channel 265 if you have DISH network and see how CCTV9 is presenting China after 60 years’ prime time experience with their brand of socialism…. Does
    THAT look so dangerous….??? EsPECially if you are a ‘Worldian’ and not solely an American anymore….?

  • DaveH

    This is funny. The non-existant Tea Party is out-polling both the Democrats and the Republicans:
    http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2009/12/16/wsjnbc-news-poll-tea-party-tops-democrats-and-republicans/

  • DaveH

    Roy,
    What if you knew one man was a murderer, but didn’t know anything at all about another man. Which one would you rather accompany on a hunting trip?

  • Joe H.

    Jim Duncalf,
    and where would this country be now if our founding fathers had thought that way? We would still be under the thumb of England and paying half to three quarters of what we make to them and getting nothing, NOTHING AT ALL in return!!!

  • Floyd Schrammeck

    I have been going to Thailand, Vietnam, for 5 years. I am retired and justlove living in a beautiful place for pennies compared to US.
    Have condo on Ocean in Pattaya for $324. amonth compared to 2500.
    in Tampa, taxis .35 around town. Rent New 125 cc Honda motorcycle
    for $3.00 a day, cant do it here, special licence for bikes and INSURANCE TOO exp for coverage on rential. Try It.
    I Love it and will start staying more then 2 months, a year, cant own land just condo. Want a new adventure go to Chiang Mia in mountains with elephants. 300 mile train ride in bed at night for 16.00 save on hotel. great, lots of people from Europe to get different slant on things, very educational. Leave gold in usa and debit card a 1000. a month live great. farmerfloyd

  • Joe H.

    Floyd S.,
    Thanks but no thanks!!! I got enough of Viet Nam in 70-71. It is a disgusting country and I don’t care to return!!!

  • Al

    It never ceses to amaze me how some smart educated people can be so ignorant to the truth. Capitalism was designed for America by Americans. It wasn’t designed for the world. In one country everyone has an equal opportunity to work and prosper. (All play with the same rules). This isn’t the way it is when you try to apply capitalism to the world. Until enough people of this country learn that we are at war economicly with the rest of the world we will continue to lose the battles and eventually our country completely. People who believe that this article is ok should have to go and live as the average person does in the countries where they investing their money. Let them go to the sweat shops of the world and work like those that have no choice do. These people who invest in the countries that are know enemies of ths country are the same as the traitors we have executed iin past times.

  • George

    Dave,

    I agree. The data I’ve seen and my education in economics tells me that free trade has been good for our economy overall, although not without some pain. Tariffs are a tax we (individuals and companies) pay on the products we buy from suppliers offshore, thereby increasing our costs to produce and use products here, which make our products less competitive in the market. A big part of the problem we’re having here are too many taxes and regulations enforced against our businesses which increase cost and reduce competitiveness and demand for them. We need to get the government out of interfering in our businesses, not get them more involved with such things as tariffs…..

  • George

    This may sound strange to some of you, but really you can tell investors where they can or can not invest or what they can or can not invest in, but you can’t effectively enforce it. The big investors will always find ways around any law or rule that is applied. The more the government taxes income, the more money you will see flee to offshore banks where the income is hidden. Part of the answer to this problem, therefore, is reduce taxes to encourage more domestic investment.

  • Fr, Jim Rosselli

    There are occasions when this site, as much as I love ir, can become
    schizophrenic. On one hand, you make a strong rhetorical (bit oddly
    fact-free) argument in favor of American financiaol defenselessness.
    Onn the other hand, elsewhere on the site, a writer complains about
    China’s emergence.

    You can’t have it both ways.

    For moral support of the defenselessness argument, you quote someone
    from the Ayn Rand Institute. Any Rand was the 20th Century’s principal exponent of the philosophy of Friedrich Neitzsche, of
    “God is dead” fame, one of Western civilization’s most morally-
    bankrupt figures.

    The United States was once the most financially robust economy in the
    history of the world. One way we became that way was by valuing our
    markets and our domestic economy, and protecting them through a
    system of tariffs. This enabled us to grant “favored nation” status to
    our allies–which of course encouraged more nations to become friendly with us.

    We engaged in market protectionism. We favored our domestic
    manufacturers, and guarded our markets from being overwhelmed
    by foreign products. This generated plenty of R&D money, and
    made American products the most durable–and therefofre the most
    sought-after–in the world.

    “Buy American” was once a rallying slogan of the Coservative Party!

    What happened? How has the Conservative movement slipped into the
    quagmire of globalist masochism? ASWy is it a good ting to destroy
    our capacity to create wealth, and ship that capacity overseas?

    The genius of the American economy was that we were our own
    trading bloc–a collection of quasi-independent states as big as
    Europe, with a great variety of cultures and economic specialties.
    We never needed anyone else, maintained our self-sufficiency and
    sold our excess. This self-sufficiency made us able to deal
    favorably with foreign nations, not as beggars without the means of
    producing wealth, seeking foreign money to manage.

    Multinationalism put an end to all that. A multinational company
    couldn’t care less about the United States. All we are to them is a cash-cow to be milked until we go under, at which time they will be content to operate out of one of their other foreign headquarters.

    These, not actual American businesses, are now the darlings of the
    “conservative” movement, which is not conservative at all. And we
    are being sold a bill of goods that labels traditional American
    economic values “liberal.”

    If you are so worried about China, advocate the policies that made us the strongest financial force in history, not the ones that have
    reduced our people to penury and our industrial capacity to rubble.

    Fr. Jim Rosselli <

  • Fr, Jim Rosselli

    Dear George,

    What you say sounds fine in theory (at least on the surface), but it
    does not work, and has not worked, in practice.

    The reality is that America protected her markets as soon as we were able to, which was not long after the Revolution. We continued to do so until the 1960′s, when internationalism–a movement of the left, not the right–began to invade our culture.

    Families–large families–used to live, and live well, on one income.
    Now, they live poorly on two incomes.

    As for families, we don’t have so many of those, anymore. Internationalism destroyed our cultural coherence, and with it
    our morality.

    When our morality went, so did our capacity for selflessness, and
    with that our capacity to be devoted to anything or anyone that
    didn’t stay aquarely in the center of our comfort zone. We have
    thus become the shambles we are today, with a militant advocate of
    child sexual promiscuity and perversion guarding the “safety” of our schools, a president who can’t wait to fill our domestic prisons with recruiters for terrorist organizations and a multinational
    business community that couldn’t care less about the communities
    they wreck because they don’t feel any particular allegiance to any
    one country.

    Phenomena do not occur in a vacuum. To adopt a way of life is to
    adopt the consequences that attend it.

    An inevitable consequence of “globalism” is the rise of “multi-
    culturalism.” The fruit of multiculturalism is the erosion, and
    eventual dissipation, of one’s own culture.

    What we are witnessing in our time is the systematic dismantling of the American culture by forces of both the “left” and the self-mis-
    defined “right.” You can provide all the theoretical explanations
    you want about how this is “really” a good thing “despite some pain”
    (that “some pain” being the absence of a wealth-producing industrial capacity to absorb our 20%-and-climbing unemployed workforce), but
    the havoc and destruction wrought by the dismantling of our domestic
    economy is real. All the dismissive and temporizing rhetoric in the
    world will not feed the millions of actual human beings who have been
    and are being destroyed by it.

    Fr. Jim <

  • George

    Dear Fr, Jim Rosselli,

    I really do appreciate your thoughtful response to my comments. I’m still inclined to think your incorrect in your assessment of the value of open and free markets, but I do respect your opinion on the subject. I’ll think about your comments further.

    I will agree with you on one point. The drive for diversity and internationalism is having a severe impact on the American culture. I don’t know how much of this destruction can be assigned to internationalism, however. It has been my observation that our families began breaking up when birth control pills became available. Later, abortion used as a further method of birth control seemed to make the situation even worse. Then the drive to have women become more like men, and now the push to accept gays and lesbians as normal, and call good things, bad, and bad things, good, and then call into question everything sacred in our lives has just about torn our culture apart at the seams.

    I think I’ll just stop there and thank you again for your thoughts on this subject.

    Best regards.

  • George

    Here is some interesting reading about the benefits of NAFTA:
    “http://www.ustr.gov/about-us/press-office/fact-sheets/archives/2004/july/nafta-decade-success” just as an fyi……

  • Joe H.

    DaveH,
    the murderer as I would know what to expect!!!!

  • http://phuket-waterside-property.com Phuket Expertperty Expert

    To individuals uneasy about the scenario in Thailands capital, let me advice you, stay away from Bngkok!

  • Jim Duncalf

    Almost the entire U.S. Constitution speaks of limits on the powers of government over people. It was the first such constitution in the world. America was made great by it. It has now become broke and irrelevant because our ruling class has violated it on every front with high taxes and regulations that control or restrict our every decision of life. Where has our liberty and freedom gone? It is sad…

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