Coping: Bugging – In or Out?

As we would expect, the folks in Atlanta who are caring for the first arriving Ebola victim in this country are finding themselves on the butt-end of hate mail for the decision.,

While it’s true that medical researchers generally have a good handle on infectious disease control, I’m all about absolutely risk avoidance as the first step toward any containment strategy.

Not that my opinion (or yours) matters; it doesn’t.  The PowersThatBe are gong to play this out as they will, but we keep coming back to a terribly important question which we’ll be asking our kids up in the Seattle area when we’re up there later this month.

Does it make sense for middle income families to rent (in the city, near work) and then keep a place in the country as a back-up or bug-out retreat?

Just for the heck of it, I put search parameters of one bedroom, one bath, five acres, and a top price of $75,000 over at the website – a decent place to watch (and lust after) farm and ranch properties.

As you’ll see, most of the properties in this price class are in Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, and other lower income states and they’re too far away to make sense to people living in Florida, Connecticut, Washington, or California.

Despite the aversion some people have to mobile/modular homes, it’s about the most bang for the buck you can get in  terms of square footage and there were a bunch of home on acreage in Central Florida for under $100,000.

Pennsylvania seems to be a fairly expensive place, with only a few listings, but even in NY state you can find a place that might be a useful bug-out location for less than $100K.  One in the vicinity of Spencer, NY was asking $78,000 and included these tidbits: 









Not that I’d want to winter-over in Spencer, but it’s down toward the border with Pennsylvania and thanks to the Amish, there’s a lot of “other than paper” ways of getting by in that area.  

I’m sure the reason more people aren’t going this route is that it often includes actual hard work and people (me included, don’t get me wrong) are more interested in plugging in a power tool to make something happen.

Or, in the case of real estate, adding some leading numbers and just buying what you want where you want it.

Every so often, though, something like Ebola comes along (though it’s only here in a Petri dish, so to speak, presently).  It’s this kind of thing that makes me consider if I should be recommending to my son that he live in a zero bedroom, cheap as he can studio apartment and then put a actual money into something a couple of hours out of town where he could hunker down if necessary?  About 5/8ths to 3/4’s of a tank of gas would be ideal.

To be sure, there’s always something to do in the Big City.  But there’s always something to do in the country, too.  In town it comes down to which restaurant, which movie, which bar, which concert – and all that further reduces to “How much money do you want to spent on today’s experience?”

Out here in the country,  there’s not too many restaurants to chose from, movies are mostly streaming, though there’s a six-plex somewhere in town, and concerts are a rarity and always local talent, though some of it is good.  The community theater out here is especially good, however.  Shrek the Musical just wrapped up.

Probably, the best of all lives is finding something to do in a small to medium town and then living (ever so slightly) away from crowded conditions.  A few acres is all it takes to achieve self-sufficiency in a pinch, yet surprisingly few people thing about such things.

I happened to be watching a documentary about one of my favorite Japanese musicians while idly working on the studio here.  Genki Sudo (World Order), a martial arts expert turned musician and choreographer, makes a wonderful point when he said something to the effect that “Problems of the Environment are the manifestation of spiritual problems.”

That’s a sobering though to wake up to on a Monday, isn’t it?

As our Monday morning ponder, though, consider what your “ideal life” would be like:  Where would you live, what would it be like, and how could it improve even if you never made a penny more than you make right now?

We are our own prison guards.

Have a nice day…

If You Want to Leave America…

Why would you?  I have no clue, but I mentioned a while back that Uncle Sam wants his due even if you hit the silk.  (Reference to parachuting, as in “bailing out” if you didn’t follow, and it’s early, so no faulting you there…)

Hi George,

We had some communications last year regarding renunciation of citizenship after you had written that it was necessary to pay taxes for another 10 years after renunciation. This is only partially true. You’re making the same mistake in what you wrote today.

“Odd that we are welcoming people from such places, yet when people try to leave America, we hound them for at least 10-years of taxes…but I digress.  Just seems a bit one-sided and seriously denominated, if you know what I’m saying.”

This only applies to people who renounced prior to 2008. In 2008 the HEART Act was passed which changed everything. Anyone renouncing since passage of this act is required to pay an “exit tax” if net worth is over 2 million. So basically it is a clean break for most people.

Best Regards,


The Wikipedia discussion of the Heart Act is worth reading

The HEART Act, passed on 17 June 2008, created the new Section 877A, which imposed a substantially different expatriation tax from that of the earlier Section 877.[6] The new expatriation tax law, effective for calendar year 2009, defines “covered expatriates” as expatriates who have a net worth of $2 million, or 5 year average income tax liability exceeding $139,000, except for certain dual citizens by birth and certain minors as defined in Section 877A(g)(1)(B) who are not considered “covered expatriates”, provided they certify under penalties of perjury that they have complied with all federal tax obligations for the preceding five tax years and provided they file Form 8854.[10] Under the new expatriation tax law, “covered expatriates” are treated as if they had liquidated all of their assets on the date prior to their expatriation. Under this provision, the taxpayer’s net gain is computed as if he or she had actually liquidated their assets. Net gain is the difference between the fair market value (theoretical selling price) and the taxpayer’s cost basis (actual purchase price). Once net gain is calculated, any net gain greater than $600,000 will be taxed as income in that calendar year. The tax applies whether or not an actual sale is made by the taxpayer, and whether or not the notional gains arise on assets in the taxpayer’s home country acquired before immigration to the United States. It is irrelevant that the gains may have partly arisen before the taxpayer moved to the U.S.

The new tax law also applies to deferred compensation (401(a), 403(b) plans, pension plans, stock options, etc.) of the expatriate. Traditional or regular IRAs are defined as specific tax deferred accounts rather than deferred compensation items. If the payer of the deferred compensation is a US citizen and the taxpayer expatriating has waived the right to a lower withholding rate[clarification needed], then the covered expatriate is charged a 30% withholding tax on their deferred compensation. If the covered expatriate does not meet the aforementioned criteria then the deferred compensation is taxed (as income) based on the present value of the deferred compensation.

In 2012, in the wake of Eduardo Saverin‘s renunciation of his citizenship, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) proposed the Ex-PATRIOT Act to levy additional taxes upon citizens renouncing their citizenship.

I’d note in reading a Chuck Schumer’s bio, that he’s a career politician, a class of people I regard with unending suspicion.  Calluses make me callous, perhaps.

What’s not clear to me (in just a few minutes of research) is whether someone who has Social Security benefits would lose those benefits (income) if expatriating.

Even if they are not today, the people in Washington have made whole careers out of taking from the poor (people) and giving to the rich (government) so I would expect over time if too many people decided to exit and head for different climes, they’d be subject to a law they wouldn’t have an recourse to challenge or amend because they gave up that right…

Well, that’s got the blood pressure up to 125/77 PR 60…but drop by tomorrow and we’ll maybe find out if Social Security goes away with Citizenship…

Write when you break even…


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George Ure
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