The Quest for Alice’s Rabbit Hole

For those of us who provide advice to those considering internationalisation, I would say that the sentiment that we most often encounter in those we offer to assist is, “I don’t want to go!”

Now, it should be said that those seeking our counsel rarely voice this comment, but it is often pervasive in their comments and questions. In spite of the fact that they may actively be pursuing internationalisation, they almost invariably reveal through their manner and their phrasing of questions that, consciously or otherwise, they are inwardly resisting the change in their lives that they are pursuing. Indeed, some are clearly hoping that they will be talked out of internationalising.

As someone who regularly provides advice to those pursuing internationalisation, it might be assumed that my reaction to this reluctance would be to say (at least inwardly), “O thou fool.” Not so. In fact, to me, such reluctance is understandable. It stems from two sources: 1) sensible caution when considering significant change, and 2) fear. I believe that most people experience both at the same time.

Sensible Caution

For most people, particularly those from larger countries, internationalisation represents a major change from what they are accustomed to, and this should not be taken lightly. The individual is considering the planting of flags in countries that he may have limited knowledge of. At the very least, there will be an unaccustomed difference in the legal structure and a difference in culture.

Much of what he presently knows about his own system may not be applicable. If he is to entrust other jurisdictions to provide him with changes in banking, residency, citizenship, employment, etc., he may be looking at an entirely different set of rules. Consequently, he would be a fool if he did not exercise caution.

This is not to say that he should shy away from internationalisation; rather, it is to say that he should do as much research as possible prior to making a commitment in the planting of any one of his flags in a new jurisdiction.

Fear

Another negative reaction to change is fear. Fear is a necessary instinct that exists in all the higher forms of animal life. It serves as a warning that something is out of the ordinary and, therefore, a possible threat to life and limb. Fear is what makes the antelope bound away long before the lion has reached striking distance. However, fear tends to obliterate reason like no other emotion can.

In regard to human action, it frequently acts as a deterrent to any sort of change. Our innate fear of change does not concern itself with whether the change being considered is actually for the better. Fear ignores reason and, at times, trumps it. With regard to internationalisation, this may mean the difference between an individual making a very positive move toward diversifying his life and, instead, scurrying back to the pen with the other sheep, where he will be available to his government at shearing time.

Whilst it may seem a cheap shot for those of us who are not caught in the sights of any particular government to take this view of those who are, the observation is not meant to be smug, but is offered in order to call attention to the price that is paid by caving in to fear.

To be sure, looking down the rabbit hole of internationalisation is a bit daunting. It may be dark, and, more to the point, it represents the unknown. However, internationalisation offers very definite rewards. Each country offers a different set of opportunities and stumbling blocks. The trick is to identify and take advantage of the opportunities, whilst avoiding the stumbling blocks. Hence the reason for planting several flags, in multiple jurisdictions.

The Erosion of Liberty

Political leaders, over time, have a rather nasty habit of steadily increasing taxation and regulations, eventually to the point that the individual becomes a serf in his own country. It is true that today’s serfdom contains cell phones and flat screen televisions, but the citizens of most of the more prominent countries have become serfs nevertheless.

This is nothing new. The erosion of liberty is a process that exists in all countries in all ages. As early as the 6th century BC, Lao Tzu stated,

The more artificial taboos and restrictions there are in the world, the more the people are impoverished… The more that laws and regulations are given prominence, the more thieves and robbers there will be.

Governments tend to continue the erosion of liberty until the very point of collapse of the society in question. Whilst this has been true throughout history, the upside is that not all nations are in sync as to where they are in the process. At any given time, some countries will be blossoming, just as others are at their midpoint and yet others are nearing their collapse.

At one time, Europe was a collection of countries that were in healthy competition with each other. But, today, under the ever-more socialistic EU, the entire continent is facing collapse. At the present time, therefore, Europe is not the best place to be fully invested.

Uruguay, on the other hand, was under an oppressive military dictatorship in the 1970s and was certainly not a desirable place for the planting of flags. In the late ‘80s, however, the collapse had taken place and the recovery had begun. The dust has now settled, and Uruguay is now quite a desirable place to be.

Cuba, for many years, has been under dictatorship, but at some point, that progression, too, will end. When it does (Ten years? Twenty years?), Cuba may be an ideal location for the planting of one or more flags.

However, recognising the above developments and possibilities requires that we look down the rabbit hole, that we go out of our way to investigate and anticipate where along the progression each country around us may be at present and where it will be in the future.

To do so unquestionably brings out our fear. However, if we can succeed in replacing that fear with sensible caution and continue our investigations, we may find that the effort to internationalise is less daunting than we had anticipated. Further, if our home jurisdiction is one of those that are approaching the final throes of deterioration, our efforts at internationalisation may actually be revealed as the light at the end of the tunnel. This is particularly true for those who have children whom they do not wish to abandon to live out their lives in a decaying jurisdiction, but seek for them a long and prosperous future.

Above all, it is wise to remember that such investigation does take time (if we are to get it right) and that, therefore, the time to begin the pursuit is as soon as possible.

Again, to quote Lao Tzu, “Act before things exist. Manage them before there is disorder.”

The old guy had it right. For many people today, the jurisdiction that they call home has reached the point that its effects on them are more negative than positive. When this tipping point has been reached, the rabbit hole, dark though it may appear at first glance, represents the promise of a more equitable future.

Editor’s Note: Things can change quickly. New options emerge, while others disappear. This is why it’s so important to have the most up-to-date and accurate information possible when formulating your international diversification strategy. That’s where International Man comes in.

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