March 19, 2013
By: Paul C. Seymour, Dir. of Client Services
As common sense becomes LESS common, and as our legal system morphs into a chapter out of “Catch 22”, second citizenship goes from some extravagant idea, to a very practical solution rather quickly.
Reason #1: Believe it or not, the majority of Americans don’t even have a passport. With no frame of reference, they have no clue how small their boxes are. Notice, first of all, the title reads second citizenship, rather than second passport. We receive numerous requests for second passports from Americans (We refer them to our friends at The Dollar Vigilante, as we don’t do that at GWP). We’ve never received such requests from a national of any other country. I’ve heard a couple of Brits (of the 51st State variety) complain, but never request how to obtain a 2nd citizenship. Many Americans, however, seem almost desperate in their search. The ultimate goal is not to gain a travel document from a free country, but rather live in, and be the citizen of, a country that makes basic common sense to you based upon your values. One in which the basic culture, and therefore the laws of the land, are that which you can understand, respect, and effortlessly comply with.
Reason #2: It always makes me cringe a bit when I see a request for a “passport”. It drives home the point which I tried to make in the article (citizen vs subject), where I discussed the current US governmental trend to reduce free travel to a “privilege”, rather than what it really is – a basic human right. The campaign to wash the collective brain of US subjects is obvious: convince them to adopt the concept that the once coveted, and introductory travel document known as the US passport, is now a travel license. If successful, the basic freedom to choose when, where and why you want to travel, work, live etc. in any location you choose, becomes a privilege which the current tyrannical government in Washington can grant, or take away, on a whim.
In fact, right now, unelected bureaucrats at the IRS, DHS, ICE, FBI and/or DoS can eliminate that basic freedom of movement with the stroke of a computer key, and without any due process. The people actually pulling the strings in Washington are not stupid either, despite outward appearances. Actually, I think they are far from it. So, I sometimes wonder what their real endgame is. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I might be tempted to suppose that the course of action since the Wall came down, might be to drive a few million of the most pioneering, freedom-loving, and hard core capitalist types out of America. Spreading them around the globe as another phase in the project to achieve world-wide hegemony. Therefore we’re doing their work for free. But I’m not a conspiracy theorist, so forget I just said that.
But nonetheless, this alone provides a compelling argument for freedom-cherishing individuals to look for a jurisdiction which actually respects personal freedom, rather than just paying lip service to it. Also, look for a country where the government would never consider trying to control when or where a citizen travels. The former America is arguably now so completely broken that any hope of saving it seems like a pipe dream – an Afghan opium pipe, that is.
Perhaps you, like a few million others, have also arrived at that logical conclusion, and would simply like to leave and take your family to a place where the values and culture make more sense to you. It’s possible you won’t be able to do so, based on the current laws in Washington. Those laws, coupled with the complete disregard for the most basic of human rights, once guaranteed by the Constitution, make me afraid to even return for a visit, for fear I may be unable to get out again. That substantiated fear is why I sometimes refer to it as the “Iron Curtain” of cold war infamy. (Wow. As a kid, I never thought I’d be making such an analogy. Ever.)
Over the last 16 years, I’ve traveled and lived in numerous countries where basic common sense still reigns supreme. Unfortunately, that refers to a majority of countries outside the US. In a country like that, one can correctly assume that if you’re not directly harming anyone, then you’re not breaking any local laws. After living in the post 1970’s USSA, that comes as a huge relief. It just makes a guy feel free and able to breathe. To give a very simple example: walking down the street with a beer in your hand without even attracting a stray glance, let alone the attention of a cop who’s forgotten his mission to protect and serve.
Reason #3: The “Land of the Free” has more people in jail than either China or India – maybe more than both combined. This is not on a per capita basis, but in absolute numbers, and China’s population is FOUR times that of the US. According to US propaganda, China is a totalitarian state upon which Americans should look down due to their human rights record. An odd criticism considering the typical abuse (or worse) that occurs in American prisons. A critical thinking person should be at least slightly concerned.
Take a look at this BBC documentary on torture in American prisons. I urge you to watch at least the first five minutes before reading on. Only in America do they throw hard working accountants in shit holes like this for committing victimless traffic offenses. In what condition do decent, harmless people emerge after a few years in a place like that? Could it be considered a kind of death sentence, knowing that the person who goes in stands no chance of coming out in the same state of mind, but rather condemned to a far worse one?
Interestingly, while the Brits – and people of other civilized cultures in general – admonish the inhumane activity occurring in US prisons, the vast majority of United Statians are completely unconcerned. (As “America” is essentially no more, I’ve coined a new term. It’ll make my fellow Latin Americans happy as well.) No wonder the Brits refused to extradite the teenager accused of retransmitting something over the internet: a felony according to US law, but completely legal in the EU.
Rather than a second passport, I suggest seeking to live in a country where the majority of people think primarily like you do: at least on some basic, but important, topics. A place where people find it completely unconscionable to throw a dedicated professional into an institution where torture, rape and even murder are common. If you told a Colombian, for example, that this routinely happens in the US, they’d be incredulous. If it wouldn’t happen in Colombia, how could it happen in a country like the USA? Hmmmm. Difficult to answer, isn’t it?
Reason #4: You might also consider citizenship of a country where the government would never consider taking your hard-earned money in the form of taxes while you were living somewhere else. The reason that citizenship based taxation is absurd is that while living outside the US one is unable to enjoy any of the benefits that the government purports to provide with those tax dollars. That by the way, is absolutely any other country in the world outside the US. Well, steer clear of Eritrea as well, which is next door to Somalia. There, like in Washington, a subject is legally required to pay taxes even if they’ve decided they can’t stomach the culture nor way of life anymore, and therefore live and work in a different country. An expat group in Geneva, called American Citizens Abroad (ACA) is trying to get the US to break away from their Eritrean role models, and align with the rest of the world by taxing based on residency, rather than citizenship.
Stateless American or Reasons #5 – #1,000
I became obsessed with becoming a citizen of another country after a culminating, straw-breaking-the-camel’s-back, type of event. At that point, it didn’t really matter which other country, because I considered any other country to be better. The one event that compelled me to sacrifice just about everything to get out, happened in 2001. I had accepted complete responsibility for my actions behind the wheel, which never resulted in property damage nor personal harm, and was likewise accepting my economic exile from the USA. I was quite happily expatriating, in fact, feeling quite free and like I had been done a great favor. Then, suddenly, my ability to leave and live in peace was being threatened as well. What? I can neither stay and be left alone, nor leave and be left in peace? Bull shit. I went over the edge.
This is difficult to share. For years I couldn’t discuss the whole situation due to the stress it caused me, but in the words of Captain Hawkeye Pierce—“time wounds all heals”. I think he also said, “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me, than a frontal lobotomy” (or was that Groucho?), but I digress. In fact, coupled with the other events unfolding at the same time, I actually incurred a minor dose of PTSD.
Well, long story short, looking at a felony conviction, and 4 years at Raiford (one of the highlighted institutions in the BBC documentary referred to above), it was an easy decision. I equated going to Raiford with death. I’m not a criminal, and could not handle that kind of cesspool. When faced with death, a guy will do whatever’s necessary.
More painful background: With my driving privileges revoked – which subsequently stifled my ability to provide for both my former and current families, I took a 3-year contract as an auditor with PwC in Saudi Arabia. I made a deal with the ex-wife whereby she and my daughter could live at my house, rent-free, in lieu of the $800 monthly child support. She accepted, and moved in. Upon my arrival in Saudi Arabia, she demanded more money. I refused. She made it impossible for me to communicate with my 9 year-old daughter, or have her with me in the summer. I broke the contract with PwC and went back to the US: without a driver license nor any money. You can only imagine (I hope) how stressful it is driving unlicensed to and from work every day, knowing that if some near blind, blue-haired old lady with 7 accidents on her record (but driving legally) rear-ends you at a traffic light, you’re going directly to jail. But simultaneously aware that, if you don’t drive, and therefore don’t work, in addition to losing your home and possessions, you go directly to jail for not paying child support.
Upon somehow incredibly landing a job as my last dollar ran out, the ex soon then dragged me to court for unpaid child support: the additional amount she had previously requested after I went to Saudi. She testified truthfully that she had lived at my house rent-free in lieu of receiving child support. The judge, however, said I never paid anything during the 18 months in Saudi, and therefore labeled me a “dead-beat dad”. That amounted to a grand total of $14,000 in “unpaid” child support. The County Clerk, unbeknownst to me at the time, then added a usurious $4,000 of interest to it, put a lien on my house, and reported the balance to the Department of State under US law.
Just as I started wondering why the hell I had returned to that hell-hole, in 2001, my firm’s revenues starting to decline, and I got laid off. With prospects very dim, and money running out, I went out with a racing buddy. One thing led to another, hence the afore mentioned felony charge. Once ashamed of it all, I have long since realized – based on personal experience around the world – this kind of stuff only happens in the US. In fact, I now realize that Americans should feel ashamed for allowing their country to become such a police state. Save for a few parking tickets here in Colombia, I’ve never had a single problem in 15 years driving, a la Paul, in Saudi, UAE, France, Thailand, Australia, Perú, Colombia nor Vietnam.
Anyway, back to 2001 and sudden unemployment, and other problems. With time running out, and desperation setting in, I received a call from my biggest audit client back in Riyadh. A sweet offer was tendered and promptly accepted… and back to Saudi we go. You can’t even imagine my feeling of relief as my new boss drove me from the Riyadh airport to my new villa. I truly felt like I had just barely escaped from the jaws of death. Keep in mind, I never harmed a soul, nor even considered it. I was just in the former America at the wrong era of its great history. Believe it or not, at that point, I still wasn’t bent on second citizenship, but wait, the real shit is about to hit the fan.
I decided there was nothing back in the States I needed, nor even wanted. My daughter was already poisoned against me (despite how close we once were); the rest of my family, outside of my Dad, was dead; and my Colombian/Swiss wife was glad to get out as well, as she truly hated the American lifestyle. I began liquidating all hard assets into cash, including putting my house up for sale.
At the time, I was the Assistant Regional Controller for the Middle East and Africa of a very large American multinational. My wife was back in the States trying to sell the house and everything else that couldn’t be realistically dragged around the world. I had already sold the race car, truck and trailer. After a few months, everything, but the house, was sold, so I had her return to Colombia, while I worked on my visa and hers. The agent could handle the house.
One day, the agent calls, telling me a document needed notarizing, and it could only be done at the US Embassy. I took the document to the embassy, for a $75 notary. They asked for my passport. I handed it over. Some guy came back 10-15 minutes later with a page and a half long letter explaining that, due to my child support arrears of $18,000, I was now a stateless United Statian, and handed back my passport with holes punched in it. I assumed it was a mistake. It had to be a mistake… but alas it wasn’t.
The sudden reality was, as of June 2001, I was an illegal alien in Saudi Arabia. In danger of deportation back to the USSA and losing the job I desperately needed. I was trapped on my combination work/residential compound. I was unable to even drive to the grocery store as it greatly increased the risk of deportation. If for any reason I needed to present my ID, I only had my defaced passport. I hope that you’ve never experienced a similar stress level such as I was at this point. I still clearly remember my unsympathetic United Statian boss laughing and calling me “a man without a country”. If it hadn’t been true, I might have laughed along with him. I remember asking the Saudi government relations officer at my company if anything could be done. He looked over and asked me if I had a second passport. All I could do was shake my head no. He put his head back down and went back to work. The obvious decision was therefore made.
During the next six months it took me to sell my house and pay the ransom, a couple of planes with nineteen Saudi hijackers on board flew into some buildings back in the States. The next day at the office (60% Saudi workforce) was strange to say the least. One might even say that the US government had further endangered my life by effectively trapping me on my Riyadh compound under such circumstances.
I slumped out of that experience knowing that no amount of material possessions would be worth anything as long as I was under the thumb of such a fascist-leaning government. Freedom is everything. What other country would do that to a citizen? North Korea maybe? I once read Hitler and Stalin had taught Washington how to maintain tyranny: pass so many laws that practically everyone is a potential criminal, and then enforcement becomes arbitrary and political.
As a result, 8 years later, and after foregoing about $1 million in lost wages, I’m a proud Colombian citizen, and feel much, much better.
One last, quick point: I seriously doubt any of our readers is a reptilian-like whistle-blower creature, but we always have 1-2 stray freaks on board at any given moment. You’re free to search, but the traffic violation charges were dropped long ago. Perhaps “they” realized, after so many years having Paul out of the country, that the streets of the US could be declared safe again. Therefore you won’t find my likeness on the wall of the soon-to-be-defunct Post Office either. With indefinite detention, a President who authorizes himself to execute Americans (let alone Colombians) without trial, and drones all newly in play, the least of my worries is an ancient victimless traffic offense. I await the drone to pull up outside my window and put a bullet in my brain for exercising my now non-existent First Amendment rights to free speech and political dissent.
This installment wraps up my series on why Americans should consider seeking a second citizenship. While I’m absolutely certain that some of you smirked, shook your heads, and feel confident that something like all of this could never happen to you, make that false assumption at your own peril. For those of you who correctly deduce, “if it can happen to him, it can happen to anyone”, I say—courage is contagious, go ahead and grow a pair, and
LIVE FREE OR DIE
Paul Carleton Seymour