Monday, October 1, 2012

Having an overseas escape route

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Copyright © Frederic Guimont
Ordinarily I try to stick to a "moderate" line on Overseas Exile, but it's impossible in researching this topic to avoid one subject which comes up repeatedly: where to go if there's a global economic collapse. Or a global police state. Or a global nuclear war. Or some other global catastrophe. I certainly don't want to sound alarmist or come off like many of the conspiracy theorists out there,¹ but I would be amiss in not addressing this topic because it's so damned popular.

There are many who talk about moving abroad to find a "safety route". The Web site Escape From America regularly publishes articles about the coming economic collapse and how to prepare yourself. They point out obvious things like learning to grow your own food, buying land, and going "off the grid" — a popular phrase which might anything from "being self-sufficient" to "leaving no electronic trace by which governments can track you." Reading through such Web sites is, I must confess, entering a strange and fascinating world.

I won't name names as I'd rather not deal with legal action, but some of these Web sites are little more than scams. First, they get you scared, then they offer salvation: buy gold coins from us! Buy land from us! Buy radiation detectors from us! That last, of course, was the variant we saw back in the 70s (and still sometimes see today), where people were warned of the impending global nuclear war, or the imminent onset of the brutal police state that would trample your rights in the name of "security". Of course, the latter, many say, is already here. Alex Jones' Infowars Web site, for example, has an article about the TSA Gestapo (and hitting your favorite search engine will overwhelm you with information about this).

Gordon Barlow's Web site about life in the Cayman Islands has a bit of a gentler take on this, in his articles "Looking for bolt-holes", part one and part two (for those not familiar with the writings in this area, trust me, Barlow's writing is indeed gentler than many you will read). He and his wife of 45 years have been living in the Cayman islands for decades and while being over 70, they're still eyeing places in Central and South America that they think would be "safe" if they need an escape route.

If you start reading through this material, keep in mind that people who write on these topics are often quite rational. While some have no problem with Obama's ordering of the assassination of  Anwar al-Awlaki, a US citizen, it's still astonishing that we're at the point where it's mainstream news that the President of the United States can order the assassination of US citizens . The National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 allows those accused of "belligerent acts" against the US to be held indefinitely without trial and H.R. 5949: FISA Amendments Act Reauthorization Act of 2012 extends the US government's right to continue spying on US citizens without a warrant. And don't forget the bi-partisan amendment to allow the US to direct propaganda against US citizens.

There are many people who support these laws, stating that desperate times require desperate measures. Others are aghast at these laws, claiming that if we allow our basic freedoms to be stripped, the terrorists have already won. Each side often claims that the other side is the irrational one, but I claim that neither is: merely having a different set of core values is not irrational in the slightest.

Many people are now pointing to these and other issues to justify wanting an "escape route" from their home country (I've noticed that these writings are usually from the perspective of escaping the US). Regardless of why you want to move to another country, I'll keep supplying tips and tricks, uncovering loopholes, or ways to buy citizenship abroad.

Interestingly, I've noticed that those who talk about leaving the US for political (or "conspiracy") reasons usually are still in the US.  Dr. Amanda Klekowski von Koppenfels, a researcher at the University of Kent at Brussels did a survey of US expatriates (PDF) (disclaimer: I participated in this survey) and found that less than 5% of them left for political reasons. Though there are exceptions, I find it interesting that those warning we should flee the sinking ship seem rather unlikely to flee.

1. Note that conspiracy "theorists" aren't always complete nutters. There was a time when claiming that the CIA overthrew the democratically elected government in Iran in the 1950s was a whacked-out conspiracy theory, but today the CIA openly admits their role in the coup.


  1. I must admit that I'm flabbergasted every time I read one of those sites and they suggest buying gold or silver for when the global economy crashes...
    (The reason Gold has risen so much in value these last few years is that so many are 'investing' in it. As soon as the economy stabilises, the gold will start falling in value, everyone panics, and ... crash... )

    After a global collapse, Gold will only be worth what anyone is willing to pay for it. And if there's a shortage for food, you'd be lucky if your pound of gold gets you a stale bread.

    The trick is to stock up on stuff that people will be interested in buying.
    Soap is one such item.
    Mil-surplus bandages is probably also good. Good fishing lines and lures should also sell.
    'Super important' stuff like ammunition is probably not so good.
    (You really don't want your goods to be used against you... )
    Nothing that will make the loonies go after you because of its high value.

    There's talk about 'Bug out Kits', and what to pack in them.
    What amazes me is that no one seems to realise that you need different kits for different situations.
    If the town is being evacuated because it's below sea-level and there's a Hurricane coming(again), you probably want all your personal documents, personal stuff, toiletries, a couple of sets of clothing, and probably food and water for a day or two. A list of cell-phone numbers of family and relatives, an emergency charger(that uses AAs), a flashlight(also uses AAs) and a small radio probably won't hurt, either.

    Now, if the emergency is the cops coming around to discuss your latest 'trades', you probably also want a change of clothing, but the documents may not necessarily contain your name. A lot of them will also contain one or more zeroes, and a police radio might come in useful, too.

    And absolutely no one talks about where to store the kit(s)
    What if your house is levelled already, the martians are blasting your neighbourhood, or the police got there before you?

    There's 'muster points'. Sure, a muster point in the parking lot is all well and good for a family fire-drill.
    But after an earthquake, do you want your kids to traverse many blocks of broken streets and burning wreckage?
    What if looters are about?

    And 'getting out of Dodge'... The American way seems to be to get the most bad-ass SUV they can find. Yeah, that works well if the area is flooded or the roads are broken up after an earthquake.

    Most sites seems to deal with ONE situation only, and does so rather poorly...
    (I like to troll the comments areas, so I have to read up on it... )

    1. Anthony - we can't know what currency will be exchangeable for food, medicine, etc, after a global collapse. But it is highly unlikely to be pieces of paper issued by the trillions by insolvent governments. A more likely currency is one that is in relatively short supply. Food itself may be one such currency: weapons and ammunition another: accommodation another: sexual favours, certainly. Oh, if only I were younger! (Although, to be honest, even then...)

      Gold may be another, or it may not. Much depends on how much of it can get put into circulation. Prudence requires that one hedges one's bets. A pound of gold buys about US$20,000 today; it may buy only a loaf of stale bread after the crash, or it may buy a trillion dollars like it did in Zimbabwe the other day. Or it may buy a ticket to somewhere safe, who knows?

    2. Gordon, the comment about sexual favors is interesting. It suggests that condoms might be a valuable commodity :)

    3. Certainly worth stocking up with a case or two - although I wouldn't fancy explaining the credit-card charge to our house's internal auditor...

      I've never seen "sexual favours" listed as a possible crisis currency, which is strange. In all the financial collapses of the 20th Century, that currency is what kept a lot of women alive, and their children. One shrinks from thinking too deeply about it, but if the situation gets really, really rough, it WILL happen, I fear. It's happening today in some of the world's hotspots.

  2. Interesting topic and I have to agree that there is a great deal of talk but not a lot of action. Often it's a wish, not a real option in many people's minds.

    What *is* an option is going off the grid in the U.S. It's a huge country and there are many places where government is very weak especially in the West. Even in some metropolitan areas like the Seattle area people don't pay that much attention to the Feds back in the Wicked East. Too much geography, too few people and lots of hidey-holes in some very nice places provided one is willing to accept a much simpler lifestyle. If the larger country imploded the impact on very small towns would probably be insignificant (except perhaps for older folks dependent on social security).