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Don't Wanna Be an American. Period.

More and more people are renouncing US citizenship...

THIS NOVEMBER, millions of Americans will trudge to their local polling places to cast their votes in the hope of improving their lives here in the USA. Between now and then, a few hundred Americans will vote with their feet in the hope of improving their lives outside the USA, writes Eric Fry for the Daily Reckoning.

Last year, nearly 1,800 Americans surrendered their citizenship. In a nation of 300 million folks, 1,800 émigrés is hardly a rush for the exits. But the recent trend is, nevertheless, intriguing.

As recently as four years ago, only 200 people checked out of America for good. Back then, surrendering US citizenship would have seemed as unthinkable to most Americans as declining a free vacation to Hawaii to pay for a vacation in Newark. It would have seemed as crazy as:

  • away a brand new Aston Martin Zagato to buy a used Buick Le Sabre.
  • ...surrendering your membership at Augusta National in order to start playing Augusta Municipal.
  • away an original Van Gogh painting for an original Peter Max poster
  • ...refusing a date with Mila Kunis in order to watch re-runs of her animated counterpart, Meg Griffin, in Family Guy.
  • ...abandoning a beachfront mansion to live in your car.

Giving up citizenship would have seemed as incomprehensible as...go ahead, create your own simile.

Bottom line: Surrendering US citizen was absolutely unthinkable. But not anymore. Now it is "thinkable," albeit still relatively rare. The absolute numbers are still tiny, but the trend conveys a very large message: Discontent is on the rise.

Increasingly, the used LeSabres and Augusta Municipals are winning the contest. And probably not because they are so alluring, but rather because the "Aston Martin" is starting to sputter like a used moped and "Augusta National's" fairways are starting to sprout more weeds than its deep rough.

To be clear, your California editor remains an American citizen with a valid American passport...and no pending petitions in any American embassies to surrender his citizenship. His observations, therefore, are not personal...but they are heartfelt.

When Americans begin abandoning the "Land of the Free" to seek greater freedom elsewhere, it is time to sit up and pay attention; it is time ask yourself, "Why? Why are they leaving? What's wrong?"

Is it just a "tax thing" or are other forces in play? Is it because folks don't like:

  • ...drones watching their every move while the mow their lawns or skinny dip in the pool with their spouses.
  • ...enduring a political "ethic" that increasingly declares, "What's yours is mine and, if not, it ought to be"...
  • ...suffering financially for behaving responsibly, while Wall Street bankers reap rewards for behaving irresponsibly.
  • ...cohabitating with an NSA that builds mega-spy centers in the Utah desert to eavesdrop on their phone calls with Granny or their steamy chat messages with a significant other.
  • in a land that increasingly seems to be saying to would-be democracies around the globe: "Do you need a Constitution? Why not take ours? We're not using it." [Thanks, Jay Leno].

Who knows the exact reason why 1,800 Americans chose to leave last year — nine times as many as left four years earlier. Certainly, each one of them had their reasons. But like a corporate insider that sells his own stock, there's one thing you know for certain about his motives: he is not selling because he believes the stock will go up. Maybe he doesn't believe the stock will go down, but no one sells a stock they believe will go up.

Likewise, Americans who bail on their country may not think things are going to get any worse any time soon, but they clearly do not believe things are going to get better. So far, the pitter-patter of footsteps heading for the exits is barely a murmur...but the murmur is getting louder.

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Eric J.Fry has been a specialist in international equities since the early 1980s. A professional portfolio manager for more than 10 years, he wrote the first comprehensive guide to American Depositary Receipts, International Investing with ADRs. Today he reports on Wall Street from California for the renowned Daily Reckoning email service.

See full archive of Eric Fry articles

Please Note: All articles published here are to inform your thinking, not lead it. Only you can decide the best place for your money, and any decision you make will put your money at risk. Information or data included here may have already been overtaken by events – and must be verified elsewhere – should you choose to act on it. Please review our Terms & Conditions for accessing Gold News.

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