Money means nothing without freedom. That’s the entire reason I care about money.
So there’s a guy named Oliver. He lives in Canada.
Canada doesn’t have the first amendment, and it doesn’t provide absolute protection for speech.
This is funny because Canada has its own bill of rights protecting speech (passed August 10, 1960. Happy anniversary). And yet it’s considered “reasonable” to impose a limit where you can’t post English signs in Quebec unless it’s less than half the size of its French translation.
When speech is limited, no other rights are secure. Genuine discourse (not just BS about signs written in English) can be limited in the name of “public safety.”
Why am I talking about Canadian speech laws? Because the end of building wealth is not having X amount in your bank account or Bitcoin wallet.
It’s about personal freedom.
If you have all the money in the world but lack the ability to freely express yourself, you have very little. Jack Ma learned this lesson in late 2020.
The founder of Ali Baba (the Amazon of China) billionaire magnate Ma made a critique of the Chinese financial system. And then he wasn’t seen or heard from for three months.
Did he take a long vacation? Get “reeducated”? Who knows, he won’t say—or else he’ll disappear again.
Back in Canada, Oliver didn’t want to test the limits of speech, movement, and association. He sees the writing on the wall, so he’s leaving for the US at the end of this week.
Yes, this is a real person, and this is really the reason he’s going.
Now imagine if Oliver lived in Argentina, Venezuela, or another country that didn’t allow one to easily move their finances outside of their borders. How would he make his move?
More importantly, if worst comes to worst, are you able to pick up and start again somewhere else?
If your gut reaction is to say “I would never need to do that!” then you are genuinely a fool. The person who is prepared to move is the one who won’t have to. The person who isn’t prepared is the one who will move when it’s too late.
It’s the meaning behind Teddy Roosevelt’s “speak softly and carry a big stick.” If you’re prepared for action, you’re much less likely to encounter it. If you’re unprepared, you present a soft target.
What does preparation look like?
1. Pick a City or Country
The United States is still the best place in the world for personal freedom. This is chiefly why I’m here.
I love to travel. I’ve lived in multiple countries for years on end. But recently, many of those countries I love are now passing laws that give me strong pause. I would be nervous to raise children in places with those kinds of attitudes now—particularly those that limit speech.
New York City might be my favorite city in the world. I love their ambition and aggression. Yet I can’t imagine visiting any time soon. Having to show your papers just to eat lunch? I’m not rewarding that kind of behavior with acquiescence.
Florida, home of the infamous “Florida Man” responsible for such acts such as landing a chopper on the Capitol lawn and the more erratic highway bath salts incident—that’s more my speed. Open commerce, a diverse population culturally and politically, and proximity to smaller island nations really does round it out as an internationally-minded territory with strong American roots.
And then worst case after that, Poland. Their version of speech laws is the opposite of draconian.
2. Make Your Savings Mobile
In a word, Bitcoin.
I have a friend in the UK. He recently tried to transfer some cash from his bank account to a crypto exchange. He has done this dozens of times. This time it didn’t work.
His bank wasn’t letting him buy Bitcoin.
Imagine not having the freedom to manage your own money. Sure, they made an excuse that the transfer looked “suspicious” and they were just trying to protect him. Of course, they wouldn’t respond to his inquiries to allow the transaction, one he had made dozens of times before without issue.
The bank understands that when everyone moves away from fiat savings, it will eliminate the bank’s institutional power in a generation.
Authoritarian behavior isn’t new
Jews across the world faced persecution for millennia. They learned over time that if they kept their wealth in land or buildings, they may lose it. The state could seize it, evict them, or they would simply have to flee.
I know a man in Atlanta whose family were extremely wealthy Jews in Egypt. So, after the foundation of the state of Israel, the walls began closing in. They were forced to flee their ancestral home. Some restarted in France, others in Israel, and his family did in Brooklyn. Nine people to one room. Now he is literally one of the best dentists in the world.
Jews, especially those in Europe, learned over time to invest chiefly in personal education and liquid assets. Gemstones are one way to stay liquid. Art is another.
Today, we are incredibly lucky to have the best liquid asset to ever grace the earth: Bitcoin.
The Scarcity of Gold with the Freedom of Cash
It weighs nothing, is fungible, transferrable, and scarce. It is 1000x safer than US dollars in the long run. I am betting my future on it.
On a practical level, if you have significant savings in Bitcoin, do not keep it all in one wallet.
Have 1+ wallets for long-term cold storage (like 10 years or more). Have a multisig wallet for day-to-day transactions via the lightning network. Multisig is a way to spend Bitcoin via your phone while also protecting your funds in case your phone is lost or stolen.
If you ever decided to move cities, states, or countries, all you would need to do is grab your cold storage wallet, slip it into your backpack, and you’re ready. You can’t do that with houses, cars, or even dollar bills.
3. Citizenship & Freedom of Travel
Get a second passport. This is the real bougie flex.
A second passport gives you more freedom, opening more doors for visa-free travel, a possible second location to live, or a way to shield yourself during international conflict. Remember the Americans caught up in Iran who had to pretend to be Canadian for months (memorialized in the film Argo)?
Ideally, you’ll want citizenship in a country whose passport has power. Holding a British passport will get you further than a Kyrgyzstani. Some people inherit citizenships or marry into them.
Irish, Italian, or Canadian grandparents? You can get citizenship even as a grandchild who has never set foot in their homeland.
Have a Canadian parent? You have a right to citizenship there.
Are provably Jewish? You have a right to Israeli citizenship.
Heads up with any of these: becoming a citizen may come with obligations. E.g. in Israel and Korea, you are obligated to serve in the military if you are below a certain age.
Otherwise, there are many “investor” passports and citizenships you can acquire. Many of these are in the Caribbean or Central America. For $150,000, you can get a family of four citizenship in St Kitts-Nevis and receive visa-free travel to 132 countries.
Will you actually need all this redundancy? I sure hope not.
Will having it right now give you more security to fight for a world you actually want? It damn well better.
It’s easier to negotiate for a higher salary when you have an offer for a new job in hand. It’s easier to voice your opinion and fight for free speech when you’re not afraid of losing your livelihood.
These solutions do not eliminate your risk, but it does help you keep your freedom.
Money means nothing without freedom.