Give Up on the Idea of a Free Society
In 2012, I attended the Property and Freedom Society conference.
The conference exposed the organized “State” for what it was – an institution run by crooks, liars and useful idiots.
Not only that, we discussed what a free and natural order would look like.
Back then, I was so hopeful… so energized. I thought the world was really headed toward change.
I was wrong.
But that’s no reason to be miserable.
It just means a change of intent.
Instead of saving “society,” save yourself.
We’re All Prisoners of Our Biases
Before you think, “Oh God, here comes the human resources lecture,” let me explain.
One of my great friends from London grew up in Sydney, Australia.
I remember him speaking on his cell phone outside the pub one night. Usually, I’m pretty good with languages. But I had absolutely no idea what was coming out of his mouth.
I asked him, “Matey, what the hell language was that?”
“Bosnian – well Bosniak, actually. My family is Muslim,” he said, as he drained his pint.
I was confused, “But… you’re drinking. Isn’t that not allowed?”
“My father thought organized religion is the dumbest thing in the world and starts pretty much every war,” he replied, “I didn’t even know we were Muslims until I was 18. I’ve got nothing to do with it. I’m an atheist.”
I always remembered this conversation whenever he’d go on (and on, and on, and on) about biologist Richard Dawkins and philosopher Sam Harris. I never had time for either of them. Not because I’m anti-science, but because I can’t think of two more insufferable pricks on the planet.
But to my friend, they were his “gods.”
I felt smug in my own right, thinking my friend only had his deep anti-religious bias confirmed, rather than science convincing him via an argument that religion was counterproductive.
But once I performed a bit of self-examination, I no longer felt so smug.
“You can’t fight city hall!”
“The game is rigged!”
“They’re all a bunch of crooks!”
How many times did I hear Philosopher/Truck Driver John Ring utter those phrases at home?
All the time!
And I must say, based on what I’ve witnessed over my lifetime, my dad hasn’t been wrong.
But, like Dawkins and Harris for my friend, my own favorite freedom thinkers like Mises, Rothbard, Hayek and Hoppe merely provided the intellectual foundation for thingsI already believed.
These Austrian economists were, in essence, my confirmation bias.
I bring this up because I now believe “fighting for a free society” is the most futile gesture one can perform on this planet.
Because it’s damn near impossible to convince people of that which they don’t already believe.
Voltaire Was Right… But Needs an Upgrade.
French philosopher Voltaire once said: “It’s difficult to free fools from the chains they revere.”
He’s correct. But for the 21st century, I’d upgrade that to: “It’s impossible to free low-IQ imbeciles from their erroneous beliefs.”
Think about this… I know I’m not alone when I point out that Biden’s policies have been disastrous for America.
And then, let’s revisit the whole COVID fiasco…
How many people still think masks do absolutely anything?
How many people still think the vaccines are completely safe and effective?
Let’s try this one:
How many people have apologized to, and begged forgiveness from, their friends for banishing them from their social circle over dissenting views on masks and vaccines?
I bet it’s a non-zero number awfully close to zero.
And these are the people you’re trying to save? Really?
I can’t tell you how happy I am not to share a country with them.
This insanity And it’s not just America that’s gone nuts.
Have you seen what Dyson is selling in Australia? Headphones with an air-purifier attachment!
In Australia, a country with some of the cleanest air on the planet. The place has jumped the shark…
I remember running around the playground in 3rd grade playing “Tag.” The tree in the middle of the playground was “home base,” where you were safe. It was an oasis in the chaos of children running amok.
Remembering those lovely childhood days, I no longer wonder why so many millionaires and billionaires forgo acres of land for miniscule apartments on spits of rock like Singapore, Dubai and Monaco.
Maybe you can’t swing a cat in most of their apartments. They’re tiny… claustrophobic, even. But it’s their little slice of heaven.
And the best part is they don’t have to put up with the hoi polloi.
In Monaco, there’s no income tax and no paparazzi. There are cops on every corner, along with police cameras. Does anyone ever accuse Monaco of being a police state? Of course not!
People like Lewis Hamilton and David Coulter (both F1 Champions) love the ability to live quietly. And the bonus: they don’t have to pay UK income tax!
In Singapore, parents let their young teenagers out until 4am… because nothing is ever going to happen to them. How do we know that? Because Singapore canes the bad guys with a rattan.
The newest up-and-comer is Dubai because many from Hong Kong fled there after the CCP crackdown.
Again, this is a place with little to no street crime, so your kids are completely safe. So are your money and your property.
Dissent isn’t tolerated. Perhaps that goes against Western values. But for the well-heeled, it makes things nice and cozy.
Great Things Are Done in Secret
“But Sean,” you say, “I’m not Lewis Hamilton or David Coulthard or Prince Albert. How can I possibly escape?”
Well, you don’t have to.
My point is this: you can build your own Free State of Me using different tools and ideas, all of which are completely legal.
And though I performed the ultimate act of secession – renouncing my American citizenship – you don’t have to.
First, I’ll start with what I’ve called the Rude’s Four Pillars of Financial Freedom. Then I’ll give you a few more immediately actionable ideas you can consider to enhance your life.
- Get a second passport. Whether it’s via ancestry, marriage, naturalization or investment… explore this idea (especially if your name ends with a vowel). You can read more about this in depth here.
- Start an online business. Here’s a secret I haven’t told you yet. ChatGPT, Open AI’s artificial intelligence interface, is a gift from God… to entrepreneurs. The advantages of running a business from your laptop are self-evident. But having a machine run it for you is even better.
- Own a bit of crypto. Ok, only Bitcoin. And only a little bit. No more than 5% of your net worth. Perform this act only to get familiar with it, not to swing for the fences.
- Get in great shape. You have your health, or you have nothing. Make sure no government will even try to stick a needle in you again. Live long enough to act on your accumulated experience and get wealthier doing it. Then leave it to your children.
Now, here are a few more ideas to consider:
- Move from a high-cost location to a low-cost location. When someone says to me, “I’m a writer and I live in London,” I think, “Economically illiterate.” Of course, there may be mitigating circumstances. But if you haven’t yet, trade high-inflation places for low-inflation places. Trade NYC for eastern PA. Trade Austin for Tulsa. Trade Boise for Montana. You’ll be shocked at how your housing and consumption costs drop. Trading Singapore and Hong Kong for the Philippines, first, and then suburban Italy, massively increased my cash balance.
- Hire an accountant, a lawyer and a virtual assistant. A good accountant will coach you on what’s deductible and what’s not. You’ll be shocked at what’s legal. A good lawyer will coach you on how to use your companies (next item) to your greatest advantage. A virtual assistant completes stuff you don’t want to do for $15-$20 per hour. That frees you up for the business-building you need to do.
- Start a company. Even if you don’t have a viable business yet, you can use the company to shield your assets. Putting your house inside a company may or may not be the best move. That’s why you hire a lawyer. But just getting used to owning a company changes your mindset.
- Minimize your healthcare costs. A friend of mine told me his family’s Obamacare costs were $36,000 per year. I almost fell over. Do you think he gets $36,000 worth of medical care? Of course not. It’s a complete rip-off. When you’re looking at locations, take this into account. Remember, health insurance should be a call option on big disasters like surgery. Pay your doctors as well as you can without using insurance if you can. You’ll be shocked at how differently they treat you.
- Minimize your taxes. Although I wrote #5 from a consumption-cost standpoint, one of your biggest costs is probably your taxes. If you’re in a blue state, you may want to join the hundreds of thousands of former blue-staters who are now red-staters. If you stay in America, you can’t escape federal tax. But these eight states have no state income tax: Wyoming, Washington, Texas, Tennessee, South Dakota, Nevada, Florida, and Alaska.
- Offshore some of your assets. If you’ve got the kind of wealth that merits it, try to offshore some of it. That can be as simple as taking cash from one of your accounts and buying a nice apartment in Lisbon. The USG can’t confiscate an apartment in Portugal. Or Spain. Or Italy. Or anywhere outside the US.
Let’s face it: we’re never going to save the fools. So let’s save us.
You can take immediate steps to ensure your future. If you haven’t already, well, giddyap.
You never know when the opportunities will vanish. So taking advantage now ensures you will have exhausted every avenue to build, preserve and pass on your wealth.
Good luck with it.
I’ll have more advice on how to better your financial future every Thursday.
Let me know what you think so far by emailing me here. Be sure to tell me if there are any topics you’d like me to cover in future articles.
My story starts in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, where I grew up.
My childhood was idyllic. I never thought I’d leave the Heights. Well, maybe just for college. When I was searching for colleges, I only looked within a hundred miles or so. I wound up going to Villanova.
I stayed there for four years and earned — their word, not mine — a finance degree with a minor in political science.
After that, I went to work on Wall Street. I had a menial job at Paine Webber to start, but then I got my first real Wall Street job at Lehman Bros. (before its collapse, of course). I worked there in Global Corporate Equity Derivatives as an accountant, believe it or not.
Honestly, I hated the job back then. I didn’t know how spreadsheets worked — yes, even with a finance degree. (Now I’m a Microsoft Excel nut. I think it’s one of the most extraordinary things ever invented.)
After that, I moved to Credit Suisse, who sent me to London — the center of global operations for banking. I was young. Not only did I love the city for being a Candyland for alcoholics, but I also needed the international experience to cancel out my mediocre grade point average to get into a top 25 U.S. business school.
Somehow, though, I stayed for a decade, until I discovered London Business School. There I earned a master’s (HA!) degree in finance.
My next job was as a futures broker, which I utterly loathed. When I had enough, I took a year off — pub crawling around London and pissing away my bonus money. Then I figured out that I needed a new job.
So I went to work for a company called 7city Learning, where all of the best finance trainers were working. I had no idea about any of that, but imagine walking into the 1927 Yankees locker room and being taught how to hit.
I spent my time teaching all the traders exams, the graduate programs of the various big banks and then the CFA Level 1 review courses. Yes, that’s the only level I’ve passed. I hate that exam. I never really wanted to run money anyway.
In 2009, my boss asked me to move to Singapore to help build the business in Asia. Then I went to work for another financial training company where all of my friends had migrated.
Around the time I was getting bored of Singapore, my old bank asked me to work at talent development for them in Hong Kong. Nearly three years later, I moved to the Philippines, where I started an EdTech startup called Finlingo.
Along the way, I’ve racked up a ton of qualifications — I am a CAIA, FRM and CMT, amongst a few other things — but they don’t mean anything.
All that matters are my experience, my connections and my takes on things. So every day I’m going to do my snarky best to inform and entertain you.