Monday, May 7, 2012

“International Man” (an expat website)

A little while ago I came across a Web forum called International Man (dot com), contributors to which are mainly US expats and intending expats. A minority of them already live outside the US, and are happy to advertise the virtues of their new homes; others are unhappy in them and are looking for somewhere else. Some are retired, others have jobs or businesses. In total, there are hundreds of posts asking or telling about the pros and cons of living in this country or that. **** see footnote

What a shame Cayman’s authorities don’t welcome foreign businessmen or retirees. It would help our economy, if they did. Unfortunately, a change would require a 180-degree turn in our rulers’ immigration policy, and that’s not going to happen without one political Team or the other adopting an openly pro-expat platform.

Latin America is the region of choice for US citizens. Uruguay seems to be losing its appeal in favour of Paraguay and Chile; Panama and Dominican Republic are preferred to Costa Rica and eastern Mexico. Belize is the most praised of English-speaking territories. A surprising number favour South-East Asian nations: Thailand, Cambodia and Singapore. New Zealand is well thought of, but not Australia (on this particular site).Of the small Pacific territories, Vanuatu and Cook Islands receive honourable mentions. Few Caribbean islands make the list, except Nevis and DR for second-passports.

The site’s basic purpose is to encourage its readers to become “international men” – to slough off their tribal loyalties as best they can and embrace a world-view of – uh, well, of the world, I suppose. More and more thinking Americans are becoming disenchanted with their nation’s behaviour both internationally and domestically. Some have found it hard to abandon trust in their government’s good faith – not least about the alleged existentialist threat of the world’s entire stock of Moslems.

The thinkers are perceptive enough to realise that Moslems (“rag-heads”, “hajjis”) are simply the new “niggers”. The new hatred of Islam (among those who do hate people not like themselves) merely displaced an existing hatred of Blacks. Probably, all of today’s Moslem-haters were yesterday’s racists. If I were a Black or Jewish or Hispanic or homosexual American, I would stay well clear of the verbal attacks on Moslems, in the certain knowledge that “my” people will always be the backup victims – in the future, as they were in the past.

International Man is a relatively new site, and most of its members are new to the idea of leaving their homes in the USA. A large percentage would like to acquire second-passports. They expect that one day they will be forbidden from renouncing their citizenship, and be subjected to exchange-controls on the expatriation of private assets. Would the US ever do such a thing? Surely not! Surely that sort of action went out with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Surely America is not bent on a 1984-type empire, sustained by permanent warfare. Well, who knows...?

More and more Americans are losing faith in their nation’s future as a democracy. Some of them believe that moving to a foreign domicile will protect their freedoms – and that a foreign passport will guarantee their freedom to travel. Others, less trusting, just want to slip out from under the US radar.

The International Man site has plenty to interest Cayman’s expats, at least those who are skilled or have a healthy retirement package put away and are on the lookout for overseas bolt-holes. Unskilled expats, unfortunately, don’t have the option of going anywhere except home, if our economy turns turtle. Native-born Caymanians (in general) aren’t receptive to the notion of ever leaving Cayman, whatever the economic circumstances. They believe their politicians will protect them from poverty as long as the tax-haven lasts, which in practice means as long as our status as a British colony lasts. They’re probably right. But I wonder how long that will be, in years.

**** Since this piece was posted, International Man has scrapped its Members' forum, and now offers little of value.