“If you don’t like it, go live someplace else.”
Who, among those who have challenged the foundations of state authority, has not heard this? You’ve probably caught it in the context of taxes, prohibition, executions, seat belts, or some other arbitrary mandate of authority. Like it, or leave it.
I was reflecting the other day on those persons who fled repressive regimes in the past. The men and women who fled Europe during the Second World War. Those who left the Soviet Union. Defectors from North Korea. Palestinians moving into Jordan, Egypt and Syria after Israeli occupation.
Then I wondered to myself: what would have happened to them if they had no place to go? What if, instead of having some area that granted them safe harbor, every state on the planet sent them back to almost certain imprisonment, torture or death. While many persons were able to leave Germany and the surrounding areas before the extermination camps were built – they had the foresight to leave before things got worse – this was due to lax immigration laws abroad. If a modern-day American Einstein thought, like the historical Einstein we all know, “Hey, things are looking bad in the US. I’d better get out while I still can,” he might not have anywhere to go.
Immigration laws are as much about keeping citizens in as they are about keeping immigrants out. How many persons are functionally unable to leave the states they are chained to, by direct or indirect prohibition? During the World Cup the United Kingdom confiscated the passports of individuals who had committed no crimes, on suspicion they would act badly overseas. The United States routinely denies passports to citizens, placing them on classified lists, with no oversight.
Beyond that, could anyone cite frequent, vicious police brutality, domestic spying, or secret prisons (such as the one discovered in Chicago at Homan Square) as grounds for asylum? Doubtful. The international community fully capitulates to the West. As such, no extent of abuse is sufficient for a person to find safe shelter elsewhere. Edward Snowden and Julian Assange are real-life examples of the global failure to protect political targets through an immigration or asylum policy.
What about the more typical American who realizes things are bad, withholding opinion on nascent totalitarianism in the United States, and wants out? Not only do foreign immigration laws make this difficult (tough luck: if you can’t get a visa you’re stuck), but the American government has put barriers in place to prevent emigration and the renouncement of citizenship.
The United States is one of only a handful of nations that has double taxation. This means Americans are forced to pay taxes regardless of where they live. It doesn’t matter that they never use nor benefit from the services their taxes pay for. Nor does it matter that virtually the entire world has rejected double taxation as unjust. America is a special case. Mainly, it needs full war coffers.
Last year 3,000 Americans renounced citizenship. This year the American government created a “renunciation fee” of $2,350. Many Americans would be forced to pay an “exit tax” on top of that. Americans may still be required, in some cases, to continue filing taxes for up to five years after renunciation. Now you’re paying taxes on services that you are legally excluded from as a condition of your renunciation.
This is a shame, because as conditions in America deteriorate we are going to see more people leave. The exodus will not be monocle-wearing men smoking cigars, but average families trying to settle someplace they feel safe. The increasing emigration may be financial in part, particularly with a decline in the American economy. But most importantly it will be because the government of the United States has become something that Americans fear.