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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Go east, young man

Occasionally, whenever one of us Samizdata scribes writes about events in the UK, such as loss of civil liberties, or the latest financial disasters perpetrated by the government, or crime, or whatnot, there is sometimes a comment from an expatriate writer, or US citizen in particular, suggesting that we moaners should pack our bags, cancel the mail and come on over to America. Like Brian Micklethwait of this parish, I occasionally find such comments a bit annoying; it is not as if the situation in Jefferson’s Republic is particularly great just now, although a lot depends on where you live (Texas is very different from say, Vermont or for that matter, Colorado).

But considering what might happen if Obama wins the White House and the Dems increase or retain their hold on Congress, I also wonder whether we might encounter the example of enterprising Americans coming to Britain, not the other way round. The dollar is rising against the pound, so any assets that are transferred from the US to Britain go further. Taxes are likely to rise quite a bit if The One gets in, although they are likely to rise in the UK too to pay for the enormous increase in public debt, even if the Tories win the next election in 2010.

Of course, this is an issue at the margins. If I were an American looking to get out of a left-tilting America, there are many other countries apart from Britain I would want to live in, not least because the weather here is generally lousy, you cannot defend yourself with deadly force, and the place is so crowded. Switzerland is likely to be popular for those who want to go to Europe; some East European states will be attractive. And there is the whole of Asia to consider, possibly even the better bits of Latin America. But do not be surprised to read of a steady exodus of Americans in the next few years, assuming Obama proves to be as bad as some reckon he is. We might hear the accents of the West Coast or New York on the London Underground and in the bars of the West End a bit more.

Update: Here’s more on the collapse of the pound. At this rate, New Yorkers will be heading to London to do their Christmas shopping. Seriously, this shows that markets believe Brown has so badly mortgaged the UK economy on debt that Labour will try to turn on the money printing presses. And we know where that leads.

39 comments to Go east, young man

  • Of course the fact that the British speak English, you can get Lucky Charms & Oreo Cookies and the Football comes over to Wembley once a year doesn’t hurt either. Most of my American buddies lived here for 5-7 years, less of a culture shock than Switzerland.
    All the best

  • If McCain wins I’d suggest that many may wish to come here too… He is just as bad on all the issues.

    Also consider this – former Bush spokesman, Scott McClellan is supporting Obama because:

    “It’s a message that is very similar to the one that Gov. Bush ran on in 2000,” McClellan said in May about Obama’s campaign.”


    There is no difference between McCain and Obama except that McCain wants to kill more people abroad than Obama.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    There is no difference between McCain and Obama except that McCain wants to kill more people abroad than Obama.

    There are plenty of differences, but sticking with that point, I’d mention the fact that the Dems are just as capable of getting into wars as the GOP (WW1, WW2, Korea, Vietnam, Kosovo, etc, etc.)

    In fact, I would expect Obama to be quite belligerent, particularly if there were votes in it. The Democrats are not anti-war as such, just anti those wars that might be seen to benefit say, evil corporations or whatnot.

  • dr kill

    A well- stated position, and one which I believe to be correct. If voting with one’s feet is good enough for corporations, it’s good enough for me.

  • dr kill

    Belize is nice this at time of year.

  • John

    I have only my own limited experience, but I found it *extremely* difficult to emigrate and finally dropped the project. The best I can tell all European countries, including Britain, have *very* high barriers to residency for non-European foreigners.
    I don’t know how difficult it is to move the other way but I’ve always imagined it was similar, though much easier here if one is willing to go the undocumented route. I’ve known of one example of a person going undocumented in Britain, but I have the idea that it is very difficult to get away with and would leave the average middle class American even worse off than whatever Obama might have in store.
    (For clarity, I was not intending to move for political reasons, but rather for educational, social, and career reasons. )

  • M

    I think things are going to get worse in America regardless of who wins in November. But I don’t know why any American would prefer it here. If anything, things are going to get much worse in Britain.

  • llamas

    It’s a little – odd – to suggest that Americans will leave the US to avoid high taxes once you understand that Americans are taxed by the US on their earnings from whatever source and wherever earned, above certain (not-very-high) minimums.



  • I think a lot of people will find ways to “Go John Galt.”

  • Ian B

    I think the general message here should be that the whole western world is on the same trajectory, and shopping around for liberty is going to be ultimately futile. In a sense, we all need to be “liberty patriots” and do our best in our own countries to reverse the rot, because wherever you flee to, it’s happening there too, if at a different pace or in in slightly different ways. The anti-liberty movement is operating in every nation, and trans and supra-nationally, and everywhere it is winning. There is nowhere to run.

  • Interestingly, I am moving to London next year, though it has nothing to do with the election. What football team should I support? I figure Fulham, as Clint Dempsey plays for them.

  • MD

    I made a similar tongue in cheek comment at Chicagoboyz a few days back, but, my model was House and Garden television and International House Hunters. Often, they show Americans relocating to Central or South America where it is cheaper, or because they are interested in that part of the world. Have internet business, pack up shop, move to the beach! ‘Brain drains’ can work in lots of different ways! Also, being able to move from state to state in the US does the same thing which is why intrusive federal regulation is so awful. You can’t escape 🙂 I once told a friend of mine, a doc who’d moved from England to Australia to the US that moving to a different state was a good way of showing how much you disliked the local government! (She was surprised at the amount of regulation, and I said, hey, it’s Massachusetts, not every place is like this).

    Interestingly, I’ve met more than one physician who has done the moving-around-to-different-countries thing, usually England and Australia to the US, but, the other way too!

    Seriously, it’s not fair to

  • MD

    I have no idea what that last sentence fragment is all about?

  • Alice

    “There is nowhere to run.”

    There is always Australia.

    But the likelihood is that most libertarian defeatists will be like most of the US Democrat whiners who said they would leave the US 4 years ago if President Bush won re-election — still in the US 4 years later.

    The interesting opportunity actually is Russia. One possibility is that Europe becomes Greater Russia — beats freezing in the dark. A more interesting (albeit much less likely) possibility is that Russia (specifically Siberia) becomes the new frontier — if Russia wakes up to the need to populate that huge area before the Chinese do, and makes the changes necessary to attract those disgusted with the Messiah, Broon, and their ilk.

    Interesting times! History is nowhere near its end.

  • owinok

    I do not believe that Obama or McCain will be the disaster that many partisans state they would be. But I would be curious to study how many emigrate to Europe or the reverse just because of the result of the elections. This could be studied empirically and stated here after four years since I am certain that Samizdata will still be here. We will probably find that more than a few of the preceding bloggers have overstated their fears.

  • I bailed out ten years ago, about 18 months after Labour won the election. I could see the writing on the wall back then. Best decision I ever made. Britain is about to go through the inevitable denouement of a Labour government. All the pieces are in place. You’ve already got the sterling crisis; the stagflation is just around the corner. The fact that Brown still clings to the idea that he was somehow a fiscally prudent Chancellor is truly one of the marvels of the age.

  • Jorge

    Actually, the UK is one of the easiest to get into because of the Highly Skilled Migrant Program. I had enough points and was granted a Visa with little ease. Even better, it’s not employer-specific so you could change jobs if you wanted to. However, it’s not a great place to live and is getting worse. I’m in Luxembourg now but still go back to London almost weekly for business. The difference is very clear to see. As an American living abroad, I find Luxembourg a wonderful place to live and work.

  • RAB

    Well if things get really ugly in the next few years, and I rather think they may, I recommend Northern Cyprus or Sri Lanka.
    I cant see a solution to Cyprus’s partition coming anytime soon, and as a rogue state you are free to do much as you please.
    Much the same with Sri Lanka. The Tamil Tigers have recommenced the war, and the island is desperate for any inward investment it can get.
    I lived through the IRA bombing the British mainland for years and years, and if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, well that’s just bad luck.

  • Isabel1130

    Britain? You have to be joking right? Personal liberties and self defense are pretty much gone. Their crime rate is skyrocketing out of control. It is a socialist country with a belligerent and growing Muslim minority, a huge welfare state and a health care system that is about broke. I can imagine very few places in the world that I would be less likely to want to move to. The tea is about the only consolation. Yes, I have lived in Europe for an extensive period. Germany would be a better bet.

  • Well, yes; US tax rates are headed up….to around 2/3 of the European level. Not much reason to immigrate if you consider the wide-open spaces and the freewheeling culture that still exists.

    I’m in China (gasp) having a Cuban cigar and a western liquor, and ignoring the Emperor. You can too, probably. Not to fan any flames, but think about it, boys: There are around 100 million armed and obstinate citizens in the US, and believe me, they’re not buying all the “social justice” blather.

    I don’t think there’s so much to worry about, other than the perennial socialist factions. Might as well start speculating on the next swing of the pendulum, ’cause it’s going to be a doozie.

  • willis

    “There is no difference between McCain and Obama except that McCain wants to kill more people abroad than Obama.”

    I’ve never heard him say he wanted to kill Obama, but if he does, I’ll sure it’ll be abroad.

  • Russ

    I’ve heard the Russian angle before, Alice… it would work, if the proper safeguards were in place.

    BUT… this is Russia. We already know that the proper safeguards mean nothing. Under other circumstances, it might be a GREAT move.

  • “I also wonder whether we might encounter the example of enterprising Americans coming to Britain”

    Probably not, since we’re not the kind to leave our nation, or threaten to. But your point is well taken.

    However, we have quite a way to go down the nanny state road, even Vermont, before we get near the UK.

  • Brad

    I dobut Americans will be doing their shopping in London — the purchasing-power parity exchange rate is around 1.2 for actually living over here, but the PPP just considering retail goods is closer to unity (both from my experience shopping around). How likely is it that the pound will fall to below USD 1.00?

  • Eric

    And, well, Britain is cold. If I’m going to leave my country it’ll be for a place with warm, sandy beaches and mostly naked women.

  • James

    “There is always Australia.”

    This happens to be my default position, however it’s just as- in fact, more so, some might say- authoritarian as the UK. In South Australia, the state government mandates that off licences (supermarkets don’t sell it, apparently) must ask for ID and the address at which alcohol is to be consumed if a purchase over AU$100 is made. The police in general are a lot more shit-hot on drugs, too.

    Strangely, the Aussie High Commission tells Aussies coming to the UK that our laws might seem a bit ‘less liberal’ compared to Australia…

    Of course, all this is usually worth a blind eye turning for most people, because of the weather, the lifestyle, the quality of life and cost of living compared to the UK.

    As for Johnathan’s post, though, it is most welcome. With particular regard to Samizdata, I get bored of reading comments from Americans about people in the UK and Yurp just upping sticks and setting up a new life in the land of the Free. I only have to read my monthly copy of Reason to be reminded of the absurdities of life both in the UK and the US. Like the need for a two-year training course and accreditation to be a florist in Washington DC, for example… It’s all swings and roundabouts.

    Perhaps the most nauseating example of these commenters was the infamous ‘Verity’. She was the most jaw-grindingly obnoxious polemicist I’d ever come across in the libertarian (she wasn’t even libertarian) blogging community. Although I suppose you could just blame her swivel-eyed behaviour on the tequila and sunstroke…

  • Ian B

    While we’re having a poke at Americans, can I just add that I get a bit tired of the “we’ve got guns and we’re not scared to use them” line. I await this glorious revolution with breath a-bate, and often wonder just what starting gun everyone is waiting for. Come along chaps, don’t be shy. There’s no time like the present. Etc.

  • Bleepless

    If any European country had high barriers to non-Europeans becoming residents, they would not all be wall-to-wall Muslims. Guess where the largest mosque in Europe is.

  • Alice

    “I await this glorious revolution with breath a-bate”

    Come on, Ian B. Revolutions are usually reactions to the Powers That Be pushing things too far — something that has not happened since the mid-19th Century.

    You will have to wait until the US has a leader who does something really foolish — say, bomb Pakistan and then, when Pakistan retaliates by cutting off the supply route to Afghanistan, abandon the US forces there in hostile Taliban territory. That’s the kind of thing it would take to get the lads going. Of course, it would never happen — would it?

  • Sunfish

    Data point: It’s hardly unheard-of for English police constables to emigrate to the US/Canada/Australia and become police there/here. There’s at least one such in our hosts’ blogroll.

    I can think of ONE US cop moving to the UK for a job, ever.

    There’s no gorram way I’d work in the UK. Not until they devolve, decentralize, and order Jacqui Smith dragged to death behind a drunk on a Triumph Bonneville. (The unarmed thing isn’t even the biggest part of that either).

    I would move to parts of Latin America. However, it wouldn’t be because I’m fleeing anything here. Rather, it’s because I speak fluent Spanish and love (most aspects of) Latin culture. And that’s not in my immediate future anyway.

    And I have to second Ian B: I wish the “MELON LOVE VOTE FROM THE ROOFTOPS!” people would just get the hell on with it and be done with it already. I’m getting worn out on the tough talk and intardwebz badassery.

  • tdh

    Obama failed to respond in time to a Pennsylvania lawsuit, initiated by a Democrat, alleging that since Obama was born outside US territory, he is not eligible to be President. (If reports of the contents of the ostensible birth certificate published by Obama are true, it is likely that it is a forgery.) The right thing for PA to do would be to remove Obama’s name from the ballot immediately, and let the Feds sort it out. Supposedly there are similar lawsuits in other states.

    If injustice prevails, the nations first contra-Constitutionally-elected President wouldn’t have much need for the Constitution after taking office, either. But then unprincipled politicians have a habit of doing the opposite of what you expect, regardless of their place of birth. (But then if Obama is a man of evil principle, rather than merely evil ….)

  • I’m an American who has lived in Australia and visited the UK (only a visit – so my UK knowledge is mainly based on reading about). If I had to ex-pat it would be to Australia because it is so big that there are some things the government can’t afford to do. And both are out because I can’t carry I gun [I don’t, but I like being able to].

    The point is moot because there are still plenty of open spaces in the US. Foreigners don’t appreciate how different the several states really are. As you probably noted here when the feds passed a law mandating a National ID, New Hampshire and some other states said “go screw.” The little laws that are most bothersome are state laws and some states don’t have them, and won’t abide them.

    One commenter asked when the guys with guns will use them; if there is to be a rebellion it will be at the state level. Many federal laws aren’t federal laws at all. They are threats of withholding highway funds and the like to states that don’t impose a law (thanks to Republican Liddy Dole, who invented that one!). A state who’s citizens reject too many of these mandates will get to a point where the charade of independence is too expensive and stop paying.

    There is good reason to think this might not happen. California, Massachusetts, and New Jersey are bleeding population into nearby freer states. Those residents who fled small tyrannies still have the same political loyalties and tend to vote in all the same small tyrannies they just fled. I’m thinking of a PA blogger who just fought to defeat a move to municipal trash pickup. [if this is unusual to readers: in many places you have to pay for someone to pick up your garbage or take it to the dump yourself, it isn’t done by the town. The cost and service are of course better under a private system. When I was growing up the trash guys would open the garage and pull the cans to the truck. None of this putting stuff on the curb garbage!]

  • Kevi Morrison

    The last time I checked, Americans couldn’t just decide to move to Britain an dBrits couldn’t just become US residents!

  • Incidentally, isn’t this a partial reprint of a previous post? Sorry if it’s irritating to hear the “just pack up and come to America!”. It’s really just kind of a natural reflex, and hopefully it would be received as a “welcome” rather than as a critique or expression of pity. It’s proof that some of us–even with all our fears and complaints—still think we’ve got it pretty good. And in some ways we do: the salary/cost of living balance is still favorable, there are still vast frontier areas, and a rural house on acreage can still be had in the range of $100,000. Isn’t that about 60,000 pounds these days? The self-defense thing is more symbolic than anything else, but at times it’s a powerful symbol.

  • CT

    To Dr Kill about Belize, one word: botfly. Otherwise, maybe not so bad.

    Assuming you still need to earn active income, consider what you’ll do and in what currency you’ll be paid. It’s also amazing how important dentists and doctors become when you (1) don’t speak the local language well and (2) local skills and equipment suck.

    If you can live on passive income, Thailand might not be too bad, and you can probably pick up a tiny bit by teaching English depending on location, qualifications.

    Glad I bought my Sten receiver tube with the cut marks printed on it when I did back under Bush I. Just need all the other blued parts. Oh, and enough ammunition for any eventuality.

  • nick g.

    Bleepless- The answer is Rome!
    If you want to emigrate to Australia, we do have some muslims here, though they seem mostly quiet. (The Cronulla Riots were caused by all sorts of contributing factors.)
    Indeed if plenty of libertarians were to come here and, say, move to the Kimberleys, we might have enough people to start a new nation from scratch! The Kimberleys are the mountainous northern quarter of Western Australia, still largely undeveloped, but with plenty of water resources. It’s just an idea, of course..

  • Nate

    My wife and I have talked now and then about moving out of the US. Not permanently, but just for the experience of living abroad. The top of our list is (big surprise, no?) Australia and Switzerland. I believe it’s nigh near impossible to get permanent residency in Switzerland, so more likely than not it’d be Australia. Over on this side of the pond, Costa Rica used to be a Yankee haven, too — but now, too many Yankees and the prices are climbing quickly. I hear Argentina is nice, in some respects, too.

    As a previous poster had already mentioned, the “no guns” thing in Australia is bothersome. Not so much in that I plan on toting a gun everywhere I go (I do possess firearms, though) — but rather the statement it makes about the relationship between the citizens, state, and ne’erdowells.

    Also as a previous poster had mentioned…there’s quite a bit of difference between certain states. Texas, Tennessee, and Montana are very different places in both culture and law than, Chicago (yes, I know it’s a city, not a state — but IL is NOT Chicago), Massachusetts, and New Jersey. There are quite a few places still here where one can escape “it all.”

    As to another posters comment about “when is it going to happen,” etc. Well — I hope NEVER, quite honestly. We had one of those not-so-civil wars a mere 140 years ago. For some of us, that’s still a little too recent. However, if I had to speculate on the spark that lights the powder keg, I’d go with revoking the 2nd amendment. Just prior to the recent Heller decision, the Gov. of Montana was (half heartedly???) claiming that the wrong decision in Heller would render the compact between the state and the federal gov’t to have been severed. If he was serious, that’s a rather powerful statement.

  • nick g.

    Nate, a friendly suggestion- if you come to OZ, see if you can move to Nimbin. It is famous for its’ relaxed lifestyle and marijuana farms. Marijuana is still illegal in the state of NSW, but the local police take a relaxed attitude to marijuana culture- they seem to be too busy chasing speedsters and catching real criminals to bother smokers who keep to themselves….
    As for gun restrictions, they are real, but we are killing each other with knives now, so the homicide rate has not fallen. Paul Hogan’s famous line was a prophecy (That’s not a knife..)

  • Nate

    Nick g.:

    Thanks! I’ll make a note of your suggestion. 🙂