Let Go, Live Free
by Jeff Berwick
We've received an inordinate amount of emails lately from people who sound absolutely defeated. They often state something along the lines of: "We know the Western world is in collapse but we have no real assets and we are stuck." They also usually go on to state that TDV's advice is only for "rich people".
While a large part of our advice and info is obviously to help people who have some assets protect them and our advice on how to protect yourself, through expatriation or second passports, has the ability to sound as if it takes some significant wealth to enact, that is simply not the case.
But before we get into that, let's get some perspective.
HOW QUICKLY WE FORGET
It was only 119 years ago, in 1883, that The New Colossus, now inextricably linked with the Statue of Liberty was written:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
I knew someone born in the 1800s. My great-grandmother, born in 1896. And while she died about twenty years ago, I knew her very well. She was around in the era when those words were written. How things have changed. The Statue of Liberty was dedicated in 1886 but by 1901 it had already began to lose its luster when its administration fell under the jurisdiction of The Department of War.
A short while later this image was captured (image below). While there is no exact date on the photo it is thought to have been taken between 1908-1912. In other words, it is only about one hundred years old.
Those images shown to Americans today would result in a chorus of anger. "We must stop this!" they'd say. "That's child labor, we must attack the country that allows this!" other sympathetic people would say.
Putting aside for the moment the question of whether a child would be better off working in a coal mine rather than having their soul sucked out of them as they get regularly hazed by their fellow inmates. And forgetting that any inkling of independence and critical thinking they have is destroyed eight hours per day, over a twelve year prison sentence (unless you are a direct descendant of a royal family) chances are that your ancestors throughout history and as recently as a few decades ago lived short, difficult lives replete with hard labor and devoid of any modern luxuries.
In 1903, 857,000 immigrants passed through Ellis Island in a single year. 60% were Italians, Jews, or Slavs. They were mostly male, unskilled, and nearly half were illiterate. One report claimed that 68% of the Italians couldn't read in any language. They had, on average, $9 ($150 today) in total liquid assets upon arrival and no job waiting. There were no telephones or Internet to keep in contact with friends and family back home. Many would never see their loved ones again.
THE CODDLED, COMFORTABLE AND UNADVENTUROUS
Contrast that to some of the emails and comments we receive on our public blog from 20-somethings complaining that they don't have enough money to go somewhere else, or that it is just too difficult to do.
The average trip length from Italy to Ellis Island a century ago was 14-16 days. Today it is no more than 10. Upon arrival today you can check your email, go to a bank machine to get some cash, make some calls on your cellphone, and you could have already had a massive amount of discourse with people in the discipline you plan on going into. You could research endlessly on the region, where to stay, what to eat, where to go. Everything is accessible.
But, it's hard to get a residency visa or a work permit, some might say. Stop asking for permission! The state is just a large criminal organization, you do not need its permission to do anything. Of course, you will have to avoid their henchman from time to time but it is mostly in the west where the state really has much power and people actually adhere to their extortion and edicts.
But, I don't speak the language, many will say. So? Learn it. Having travelled the world extensively, I know there is one thing you can find in almost any town, in any country, no matter how far from civilization. A Chinese restaurant. They rarely speak more than enough of the local language except to tell you how much it is going to cost for your Kung Pao chicken, but they are there, and usually doing quite well too.
Read one of my favorite books A Sense of the World: How A Blind Man Became History's Greatest Traveler about James Holman if you think you are just too disadvantaged to be able to travel and make a life for yourself somewhere else. Born in 1786, Holman was completely blind and suffering from debilitating pain and limited mobility, he undertook a series of solo journeys that were unprecedented both in their extent of geography and method of "human echolocation". In 1866, the journalist William Jerdan wrote that "From Marco Polo to Mungo Park, no three of the most famous travelers, grouped together, would exceed the extent and variety of countries traversed by our blind countryman."
He traversed through most of Europe, across Siberia in Russia, through Australia, China, India, Africa and to Brazil, just to name a few places. Blind. With no money. In debilitating pain with limited mobility. Before the advent of the airplane, automobile, or Internet.
Any more excuses?
LET GO, LIVE FREE
Whether it be from schools that indoctrinate us into believing we can't really do anything, that we need the government to take care of us, or media constantly portraying the outside world as being destitute or dangerous. Many people today just can't imagine picking up and going without any substantive amount of cash or resources.
But, if you are young and live in the West and have crippling student loan debt and no decent prospects for employment or to even start a business as the fascist system has made it too costly to even start a lemonade stand (John Stossel figured out the time, licenses, inspections and steps needed to open a lemonade stand to be 65 days in the USSA today) then you really have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Most of the rest of the world is much more free and amenable to entrepreneurs than anywhere in the West. Only have $300 in your pocket and are young and want to live free and do something with your life? Go to Cambodia. Talk a tanker or commercial ship into taking you across to Asia in return for labor work aboard. Get to Phnom Penh. Stay at a $5/day (or less) hostel. Ask them if you can do work in return for your accommodations. Talk to some of TDV's on-the-ground people in Cambodia, not least of which is Col McLaurin, who wrote up Cambodia in the January issue of TDV. He can give you the lay of the land so you can see some of the opportunities. Then start hustling. Practically everything is legal there. It is almost completely free. You can even stay as long as you want for next-to-nothing by just renewing your visa every year for a small fee, or just don't bother. No one checks those sorts of things. There is no SWAT team-like Department of Homeland Security or Immigration spying on you and threatening to kidnap you for the crime of not asking for their permission to work or live there.
There are numerous other places like Cambodia too. Nicaragua is very similar. El Salvador. Colombia. Paraguay. Myanmar. Mexico. (Most of these countries have been featured in prior issues of TDV and the ones that haven't will soon be including local TDV contacts who can help you make a move.) Learn the local language and make yourself useful to somebody – even as an interpreter.
Will it be easy? Of course not! You will have days where you will ask yourself why you were so crazy/stupid to do such a thing. But, if you are resilient and smart those days will pass and you will also have days where you wondered why you waited so long.
Probably the worst case scenario is you get an education that no school could ever offer you at a fraction of the cost. The best case? The sky is the limit. Most places in the world still do not understand business and capitalism the way that comes easily to many of us in the West. If you can integrate yourself into the community, learn the language, make the right connections (which is always much easier as the interesting foreigner than it is in your own country) and do the right deals you can make a fortune in any of the places listed above and many more.
And, best of all, you can live very free, something that is just not possible at all in the west anymore. That, as MasterCard says, is priceless.