Tag Archives: Americans Abroad

The treatment of expatriates by the Government of the United States often defies explanation – or does it?

The above tweet references a comment at the Isaac Brock Society which needs to be commemorated as a post.

The treatment of expatriates by the Government of the United States often defies explanation. It is burdensome, often frightening and usually threatening. It is also marked by confusion and lack of comprehension. In short, the attitude of some Americans toward the plight of expatriates is mystification, outright antipathy, or shoulder-shrugging “so what”–or all three. I am going to suggest that these things may be best understood by seeing it as analogous, at least, to behaviour which may be described as “religious.”

The U.S. effectively has what may be termed a “state religion.” Conor Cruise O’Brien calls it the “American Civil Religion” (following Rousseau). Its core is “Patriotism.” It has a deity (originally represented by “Lady Liberty”, but in more recent years by The Flag), tenets, rules and forms of worship. Its proponents behave very much like religious persons generally.

When I was a child of five, I began each school day with a little “religious” ritual. We would sing “America”, recite the Lord’s Prayer (King James’ version) and, of course, pledge allegiance to the Flag. Indeed, during my childhood years, the words of the pledge were altered to include the now controversial “under God”. This was a simple form of worship for a more simple time. Other simple forms included Memorial Day ceremonies at local town and village squares, local Independence Day celebrations and even boy and girl scout meetings. In time, however worship would encompass thousands of people in sports stadiums, enormous flags that would require troops of people to carry, celebrity singers of “America the Beautiful” and “To Anachreon in Heaven..”, oh sorry, “The Star Spangled Banner” (same tune), and military fly-overs.

This isn’t worship? Well, it’s a pretty good imitation. 50 or 60 thousand people with their hands over their hearts looks a lot like religious ritual–or would to an uninformed observer who didn’t know exactly what they was going on.

And of course there are the “saints”. “Land of the Pilgrims’ pride” celebrates the first real Americans, the first American “saints” (and indeed, the Pilgrims termed themselves “saints” in the traditional religious sense). Never considering, of course, that some descendants of these very “saints” would be driven out of their homes because they remained loyal to the Crown between 1775 and 1783.

But for sure there is “Saint Washington” (so sublime a saint that his monument has no graven image), “Saint Jefferson”, “The Sainted Father Abraham”, and so forth. All properly worshipped, each with his sacred shrine in Washington.

And there are the hymns. “America,” “America the Beautiful,” “Columbia Gem of the Ocean” …a particular 1991 recording of American patriotic hymns has a total of eighteen (but three would likely have to be discounted, because they are Confederate hymns). Even this collection does not include things like “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy” and “Over There..” I’ve been a Canadian for fifty years and, besides the national anthem, I can only think of two patriotic songs, “The Maple Leaf Forever,” and “Mon Pais…” (a third might be Stompin Tom Connors’ “The Hockey Song.”)

You need these hymns for the same reason you need the rituals, to keep people “in” the faith. The greater the emotional involvement, the more encompassing the faith.

And, of course, there are tenets of this religion. “The U.S. is the very cradle of freedom. “ ”The U.S. observes and upholds the rule of law.” “The U.S. is the exemplar of democracy.” And so forth. But above all, Patriotism holds that the United States is the greatest country that has ever existed. Ever. Sing it: “This is My Country, grandest on earth.”

Mystification.

And, having drunk this kool-aid from childhood, the average American cannot imagine why any person would not want to be an American. As proof of that particular pudding, there are the thousands upon thousands of “illegals” who would want nothing so much as the green card that will start them on the road to full U.S. citizenship, the most wonderful status available to any human being on the face of the earth. (And in addition, there are thousands more would-be illegals marshalling on the southern border of the United States).

All other citizenships pale by comparison. All are inferior to the glorious American nationality.

So why, in the name of all that is “holy”, would anyone ever consider giving up American nationality. This is what produces a reaction of “mystification” on the part of many, probably most, Americans. The United States is “My Country, grandest on earth,” so giving up its citizenship is beyond comprehension.

Antipathy and Punishment.

But there is another “religious”response. All religions are familiar with what can be called “heresy” or “apostasy”. And fully expatriating, divesting oneself of U.S. citizenship, aside from being incomprehensible, is clearly “heretical” and “apostastic.” What is more, it is very threatening to the true believers, especially if perpetrated by persons who were given the “kool-aid” at an early age and had the opportunity to drink it into their adult years. They must be extremely misguided at the least, deranged at the extreme. Because, in practice, expatriates have done what no reasonable believer could possibly have done: denied the tenets of the faith, denied that the U.S. is the “grandest” country on earth. What is more, they have advanced the heresy that other countries may be much better places in which to live.

For heretics, no punishment can be too great, no pain too exquisite. The medieval and renaissance Christians punished heretics by burning them at the stake, an absolutely horrifying punishment, employed because it was believed that fire purifies..

But justified.

So, if expatriate Americans suffer, no problem. It’s a punishment fully justified by their heretical denials of the greatness of the United States, that inherent belief attested to at every football game in America by thousands who keep the faith and know the truth. If those who want to leave are forced to jump through hoops, again, no problem. Like those heretics who were purified by fire, the apostatic expatriate may be purified by delay. Then he or she will hopefully return to seeing the light. (As it was believed the purification by fire might, at last, “save” the heretic).

No. No punishment is too great in the defence of the faith.

Dialling down the burden–the shrug..

There is one more dimension on which the American state religion sheds light and it is this. Many religions, in varying degrees, demand “service” to the deity. In some instances that demand is so extreme that “service” becomes “servitude”, and it seems to me that the American state religion demands something approaching “servitude”.

“Service” involves a wide degree of “choice” and personal freedom and integrity, “servitude” is a situation in which the deity may demand much of the “server,” up to and including the surrender of life, without allowing much in the way of choice. The United States has always seemed to me to be on that end of the scale. Now I will admit to a personal bias here, since I have always resented the fact that the U.S. thought that I should be “pursuing happiness” in places like Nha Trang or Da Nang. I was not entitled to plan my life, had no choice as to whether or not I wanted to pursue my happiness in a land war in Southeast Asia. Servitude, pure and simple.

I was fortunate. I was able to avoid that awful mess. Legally. But it bespeaks a mentality. The United States is the greatest nation on earth. Citizenship in such a nation is so incredibly valuable that absolutely anything can be demanded of the citizen. Hence the nonsense: “Ask not what your country can do for you…”

For this mentality, the subjection of citizens to “internal” taxation when they do not live within the borders of the United States makes perfect sense. In effect, the prize of citizenship in the greatest country that has ever been has to be paid for. The United States is not required to actually do anything in return for tax monies collected–“Ask not what your country can do for you…”–as one political thinker would have required. Servitude in worship of the deity makes perfect sense to those who have drunk the kool-aid.

The United States is not the greatest country on earth in any particular other than obscene wealth and military muscle. It regularly scores relatively low on “pursuit of happiness” scales. For the living of ordinary life, the U.S. is inferior to any number of other countries on the planet.

When I was eighteen, I entered one of those countries (Canada) as a student. I very quickly realized that I was in a better place, a kinder, gentler, caring place. My fellow students were able to start planning their lives without having to think about giving up a minimum of two years to the great god (or goddess) of the state. By the time I had entered my second year of “university,” I knew where it was that I wanted to live and it was not the U.S.

I have been a Canadian in my mind ever since, and in reality for nearly 50 years. The United States is an alien government as far as I am concerned, and were it not a thug and a bully, it would actually observe the rule of law that it gives mere lip service to. One of the rules of that rule of law is that you do not get to create legislation which, (by any expedient pretext) allows you to reach across your territorial border and touch people and things in other countries. Instead the American thug visits upon me unlawful taxation requirements and the possibility of crippling penalties. And this is completely justified–in American eyes–because “servitude” requires that the “server” provide whatever is demanded.

Those Homeland Americans who have drunk deeply of the kool-aid will not care that this “servitude” is something they do not have to share. After all, not everyone was drafted. But the accepting of burdens, any burden at all regardless of whether or not it is shared, is a perfectly legitimate demand made by a state which is god.

Understanding of the clear wrongness of all of this is beyond those who worship at the shrines of Lady Liberty and The Flag. They don’t even recognize their military defeats, so how likely is it that they will admit to international wrongdoing.

Rather than being surprised by it, we should expect confusion and mystification when we want to leave. Rather than imagining that we will avoid it, we should expect punishment. Rather than hoping Americans will see how wrong they are, we should expect that they will shrug their shoulders and return to worshipping the Flag.

It’s their Faith. And faith, according to St. Augustine, is irrational. By definition.

Exactly why does the US Government hate #Americansabroad so much? (Homelanders too)

Once upon at time, there appeared a comment that was so good that it deserved a post of its own (from Russell) …

Good points that highlight, yet again, the absurdity and detachment of the U.S. political system from 9 million of their citizens now living in an ever globalized and ever more competitive world. The U.S. political class and presidential candidates disinterest in this ever-growing and important group of citizens only speaks to the total stupidity, general ignorance, global unawareness, profound provincialism and confirms a totally dysfunctional and archaic system that is today the United States. A country that attacks and harms its diaspora and through its laws has succeeded in turning its own citizens into international pariahs with international banks, in international business partnerships, in marriage and in the general perception outside of the U.S.

I recently met with three start-ups at a fair in Germany, two from the UK and one from Sweden. In my work as a headhunter they were hiring me to find them some talented people for their growing and successful startups. In all three cases, and each in separate meetings with me, the startups told me that they did not want any Americans or Europeans with U.S. Green cards or passports. They were all wisely warned by their banks and financial advisors not to bring any U.S. Persons into their business. Two of them knew the reasons and the risk that any American presence would bring to the business. The other one learned the hard way. They had an American investor who got them into his FATCA mess, reporting his holdings and his American tax consultant demanding the business’s bank details and the personal details of the owners. They returned his investment, threw him out and agreed never again to get involved with any U.S. persons in their business. This is now widely known and even if FATCA and all of the other reporting requirements for Americans would be eliminated, the damage is already done. The perception out there is to avoid hiring any Americans and also avoiding their investments. They are too much trouble and their government is an intrusive bully that thinks it can control the entire world. That spirit is so foreign to the young brilliant startup minds out there today. The U.S. has become a has-been and definitely not seen as a cool place anymore.

The world has moved on and the U.S. politicians and presidential candidates still haven’t realized that the world has changed since their anachronistic citizenship based tax system dating from the Civil War. Truly, a nation of idiots.

I wonder what Russell really thinks.

Shame of #Americansabroad who can’t provide for families because of US tax policies

The above tweet references an interesting Facebook discussion which includes a “reply from President Obama” from an American abroad who is questioning FATCA. The comments that follow are extraordinary.

The reply from President Obama is:

talk about NOT responding to the question…… Asked him one question, Why FATCA?
The response:
Dear Kenton:
Thank you for writing. It’s clear you have faced great challenges, and I want you to know I am listening. Taxes affect all of us and reflect our Nation’s values, and understandably, people have strong opinions on this issue. As Americans, we don’t mind paying our fair share of taxes as long as everybody else does, too. That is why I am determined to fix our broken tax code and ensure it offers a leg up to Americans striving for a better future.
For too long, lobbyists have rigged the tax code with loopholes that allow some corporations to pay nothing while others pay full freight. Additionally, the super-rich are receiving giveaways they don’t need while middle-class families are not getting the breaks they do need. By closing loopholes that allow the top 1 percent of Americans to avoid paying certain taxes, we can help more families afford college, health care, a home, and retirement. We can also reward companies who are investing here in America instead of offering breaks to those who keep their profits abroad.
To help hardworking Americans get ahead, my latest budget includes several tax benefits for the middle class and those trying to reach it—including low-income earners, two-earner households, families with children, and those paying tuition for higher education. I have also proposed a tax credit of up to $3,000 per child to help millions of families afford quality childcare. These tax benefits would help put hundreds of dollars back in the pockets of those who most need the help.
To learn more, visit WhiteHouse.gov/issues/taxes. For help with a tax problem, visit IRS.gov/Advocate. You can also visit IRS.Treasury.gov/freetaxprep to learn if you are eligible to receive free, in-person help filing your taxes each year.
Here’s the bottom line: I am committed to simplifying the tax code for individuals and small businesses, making it more competitive for American businesses investing here at home, and ensuring the biggest loopholes are finally eliminated. With a more responsible tax approach, we can help working Americans not only make ends meet, but also get ahead in the new economy so we can build a future worthy of our children and grandchildren.
Sincerely,
Barack Obama

 

 

Forcing #Americansabroad to renounce US citizenship is like #Civilforfeiture – Now “ain’t that America”

Introduction – The general principles of Civil Forfeiture Reexamined

 

Civil forfeiture is becoming increasingly prevalent in the United States and in Western democracies. In it’s simplest form, Civil Forfeiture is a process where governments seize your property without going through the judicial process. Governments love it. It’s efficient, profitable and risk free.  It’s on the rise in both Canada and the United States. It has been the subject of numerous posts at the Isaac Brock Society. Certainly, FBAR penalties and other penalties for “Form Crime” are instances of civil forfeiture. I have argued that OVDP is a form of Civil Forfeiture.

 

Your property, your U.S. citizenship and the forcible taking of your U.S. citizenship

As I have pointed out time after time, after time ….

The Supreme Court of the United States has made it clear that those born or naturalized in the United States have a constitutional right to NOT have their citizenship “stripped from them”. I explored this in:

Cook v. Tait 12: Afroyim v. Rusk, the 14th amendment, and the forcible destruction of citizenship

In Afroyim, Justice Black wrote:

Citizenship is no light trifle 268*268 to be jeopardized any moment Congress decides to do so under the name of one of its general or implied grants of power. In some instances, loss of citizenship can mean that a man is left without the protection of citizenship in any country in the world—as a man without a country. Citizenship in this Nation is a part of a co-operative affair. Its citizenry is the country and the country is its citizenry. The very nature of our free government makes it completely incongruous to have a rule of law under which a group of citizens temporarily in office can deprive another group of citizens of their citizenship.We hold that the Fourteenth Amendment was designed to, and does, protect every citizen of this Nation against a congressional forcible destruction of his citizenship, whatever his creed, color, or race. Our holding does no more than to give to this citizen that which is his own, a constitutional right to remain a citizen in a free country unless he voluntarily relinquishes that citizenship.

Hmm….

If U.S. citizenship belongs to the individual, and the Obama administration is forcing people to renounce their citizenship, is this not a form of “Civil Forfeiture”?

The following posts and comments bear on this question.

Continue reading

Looks like the Revolution of #Americansabroad is almost here!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/AmericanExpatriates/permalink/474144512751626

The comments are simply amazing. A revolution is clearly coming! It’s amazing to me that there are still people who see this as a partisan issue.

 

 

 

#Americansabroad will be subject to “economic quarantine” in a #FATCA world

The above tweet references a comment at the Isaac Brock Society.

@Nervousinvestor

See Deckard’s comment here:

http://isaacbrocksociety.ca/2015/01/27/are-strata-corporations-the-next-target-of-canadian-banks-fatca-zeal/comment-page-1/#comment-5391660

and Badger’s comment here:

http://isaacbrocksociety.ca/2015/01/27/are-strata-corporations-the-next-target-of-canadian-banks-fatca-zeal/comment-page-1/#comment-5394406

It is quite obvious that “U.S.ness” is a form of contamination that has the potential to first infect and then effect every aspect of human society. In Deckard’s comment he notes the restrictions placed on the Jews during the Third Reich. The restrictions were completely unjustifiable. Notice how they proceeded one “law” at at time. (what could be more legitimate than that – Remember the “Battle Cry of the Condor” – FATCA is “U.S. law”.)

Restrictions on U.S. persons are completely justifiable.

In the case of FATCA, U.S. persons really ARE a threat to the societies where they live. The reason, as has been articulated time and time again is that:

U.S. citizens are being used by the U.S. as tools (via citizenship-based taxation) to extract capital from other countries and transfer that capital to the U.S. There are people who do not understand this. There are people who pretend to not understand this. But, at the end of the day U.S. citizens really are IN ACTUAL FACT a threat to any country where they may reside.

Eventually countries will be forced to protect themselves from what I would call the:

“U.S.ness Forced Extraction of Capital” and the compliance costs associated with having U.S. citizens as residents.

Who could have imagined even 5 years ago that the discussion on this thread was even taking place?Whether a real threat or not, this newly discovered “Condo Terror”, will make condo boards and developers want to avoid U.S. persons. Same for jobs, marriages, businesses, etc.

But, here is the most likely next step.

Special tax laws imposed on U.S. persons. These laws will be for the purpose of neutralizing the extraction of capital by U.S. tax laws. Simple example:

“No person who is taxable as a U.S. person can have a tax free capital gain on a principal residence.”

(the effect would be to produce a Canadian tax which can be used as a credit against a U.S. tax)

So, although U.S. citizens would still be allowed to own property, they will be subject to special tax rules. These rules are designed to protect the local tax base from the theft of capital by the U.S. Perfectly reasonable. Unfair to the U.S. person? Of course, but they can and should renounce.

On a positive side, I predict a whole new universe of financial products.

These will be designed to:

A. Provide products that give U.S. persons the opportunity to plan for retirement; and

B. Segregate U.S. persons from “free people” so that the “free people” cannot be harmed by the “U.S. contamination”

These new investment vehicles will be a welcome development.

Perhaps we will see Condominiums that are specifically for those who carry the disability of U.S. citizenship.

U.S. citizenship is now a disability and this opens up a whole new world of possible financial products for this group of disabled people.

We are witnessing the beginning. What’s important to note here is that by using FATCA and CBT to attack the tax base of other countries, the U.S. has created a situation where retaliation against U.S. persons is rational, necessary and completely justifiable.

If you don’t want to live in the USA you should renounce NOW. You won’t be able to have any kind of life as a U.S. citizen abroad!

The defensive measures taken to protect countries from “U.S. person contamination” will be incremental and significant. But, they will quickly add up to a world where “U.S. persons are subject to “economic quarantine”. I could also see them being barred from certain professions. For example, the legal profession. Do you really want a lawyer who is subject to FBAR on client trust accounts? Real Estate: Do you really want a broker who must report his trust accounts (with your money) to the IRS?

The implications are huge.

No doubt, some will view this prediction as extreme.

Consider this comment to be a “message in a bottle”. Read it again in 10 years.

And finally, (to echo some of the posters here):

If you want to stop this, then you support the people who are fighting on your behalf.

I am thinking of the stopfatca.ca legal challenge.

John Gibson in New York interviews Keith Redmond in Paris and the train wreck known as ‪#‎FATCA‬ ruining American lives