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5 December 2021
1365 words / 6 minute read

Tired of your Government? Here are some ideas…

Harbin

Harbin, China. Once a Russian City, home to hundreds of thousands of stateless White Russian émigrés.

If you are concerned that your country is on the wrong path, you are not alone. There are thousands just like you, all across the Western world who are thinking exactly what you are. My own state of Victoria has seen negative population growth for the first time in 25 years as residents move interstate and abroad. For some of you, the last 18 months might have been a shock. For others like myself, who have been blessed with the opportunity to live under a variety of systems and regimes, it was simply a reminder.

If voting mattered, they wouldn't let us do it. - Mark Twain

Since I wagged a day off school and attended my first ever protest - against the Iraq War in 2003 - it was all too apparent that democracy and freedom are not core tenants of our societies, but rather a convenient and highly effective vocabulary employed to justify predetermined policy. Rather than active participation in decisions, voting is but a convenient pressure release valve for the frustration that would otherwise be directed at the ruling class. There is a reason authoritarian regime's like that in China are so terrified of protests - they might actually work!

Since the start of the pandemic it has been “free” world that has endured the most tiring and long-lasting of restrictions. If the last 18 months have taught us anything it is that Australia has adopted many of the worst traits of the many communities that form it, and very few of the best. On the one hand this leviathan of a country takes pride in its overly bureaucratic, high tax, high regulation customs that were inherited from our British brothers. On the other hand, this comes entirely without the deep, thought-out consideration given to imposition of mob opinion upon the individual. By virtual of its geographic location, Australia is an Asian country, and yet the brutal, dictatorial benevolent King mindset that prevails here comes not hand in hand with Asian prosperity and and efficiency. Rather Australia is becoming the worst of both worlds. Sadly, the fate of other Western countries is unlikely to be much different.

To get rich is glorious. - Deng Xiaoping

There is no clear script to success. China for example has become wealthy, while India has not. Why? The answer isn't a simple one. Many CCP detractors would argue that China is successful in spite of its government, not because of it. They might be right. India on the other hand? Is it poor because it is a democracy? Or poor in spite of its democracy? But there is often underpinning any economic miracle, a core theme of increasing freedom. It wasn't until Deng Xiaoping's reforms and economic openness that China changed the world.

Whatever your political persuasion, it is difficult to argue that the West has become more free in the last 18 months. During this period Australia prevented it's own citizens from leaving its own shores. Of course - much like East Germany had - there was an exemption process. At any given time around a third of applications were accepted, nonetheless this policy existed and was unique among “free nations”. With the Australian government now looking to police social media identities (be assured! This is not at all similar to China's social credit scoring system that our government so often berates as “undemocratic”) and other legacy western counties pursuing various iterations of once controversial measures, it is high time we consider our options. Below are my thoughts on a robust future political and lifestyle diversification strategy.

Start your own business

It is going to be difficult to live life on your own terms so long as you are working on someone else's. The fact is, with the availability of modern technology, it is easier than ever before to earn money online. This doesn't necessarily have to mean founding your own company, even freelance contracting gives you greater control about the terms on which you work and generate and income. But it goes deeper than that, many large corporations are now overtly political (although not out of principle but rather on account of often misguided marketing policies). Many issues that were once considered private matters, totally irrelevant to the workplace, now have direct implications with respect to employability.

But rather than suppress your own thoughts and be someone you are not, this reality should be the impetus to take the step in the abyss that is starting a business. Most jobs in the modern economy are skillless, or at least so specific to a certain company or division that one becomes effectively incompetent when it comes to independently generating an income for survival. Too many have I known, who in their 40's or 50's are laid off, only to be confronted with the reality that they have little to no marketable skills and that they have sold the best years of their working lives for a wage. A dollar that you yourself earn independently has far more meaning than a dollar of salary. Of course there is nothing wrong with being an employee, but understand the real risks behind doing so. This amounts in reality to a total reassessment of what risk is, something I did at least learn quite a bit about during my years in banking.

Buy Land

Nowhere have the harsh implications of never-ending lockdowns been more harshly felt than in the cities. Personally, having lived through months of isolation in Melbourne, with curfews a 5km radius of travel, and a usually miserable winter, I have concluded never again to be confined to a city centre for any considerable length of time. While Australia may lag behind in matters pertaining to telecommunications networks, there are in fact many countries where 5G is readily available, and provides for sufficiently fast internet speeds while staying off the beaten path.

Beyond the obvious benefits of enhanced privacy, greenness, nature and tranquillity, there are also practical aspects to having land. It will unleash your creativity and force you to build on your camping and survival skills. It will remind you of your mortality. Not since my time in the Army Reserve have I felt such an urge to re-connect with the wilderness. Financially, in the highly inflationary environment toward which we are hurtling, it is an asset which - specifically in the case of arable land - is highly likely to outperform.

Establish Foreign Residence

Unfortunately, I just missed out on German Permanent Residence which can be achieved in as little as 21 months if you speak the language. But even if you don't have the time, or the inclination to master a new tongue, there are options available to you.

One of positive aspect of the current experience is an acceptance that remote working is here to stay. More and more countries eager to attract investment and talent have established residency and visa regimes with lax physical presence requirements. Residency can often be obtained through demonstrating passive income, establishing a company, the purchase of real estate or through parking money or investments in the country in question.

This option leverages the first two above, and while admittedly it isn't easy to relocate - it can be hard to establish a network or learn the language -, demonstrating ties to other countries may help from a tax residency perspective, as well as provide grounds to leave the next time the country seals its borders shut to everyone but the bureaucrats and their cronies. Latin America and Eastern Europe are among the most affordable and accessible options for foreign residence, although a handful of countries in South East Asia and the Middle-East also have passive investment and digital nomad visas on offer. This is a topic I have delved right into in the past few months and plan to write on my shortlisted destinations soon!

The beauty of this option is that is complimentary to the strategy of buying land or establishing your own business, given that both of these options are often standard pathways to the establishing residence in another country. While not always guaranteed, if played right, this option may also lead to a second or third citizenship, allowing for another layer of diversification away from that government you are oh so tired of.

That's all folks!