El Conquistqdor Francisco de Orellana

El Conquistqdor Francisco de Orellana
The Conquistador who put the Amazaon baisn "on the map"....Francisco Orellana

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"You're Out of Your Mind!"

From International Living

By Patrick Robinson

"You’re out of your mind!" This was one of the milder things people said when I announced that after 30 years of living in the paradise of Maui, Hawaii, I was moving to South America. And at 80 years of age. Alone. Without speaking a word of Spanish.

It wasn’t as if I woke up one morning and said: "I think I’ll move to the Andes of Ecuador and live happily ever after."

Actually, I’d spent the previous four years traveling to 12 different countries in search of my eventual retirement "Shangri-La."

So what was I looking for in that multi-country exploration? An entrepreneurial haven without undue governmental intrusion in my life, where taxes and the cost of living were not as onerous as in Hawaii (which boasts one of the highest tax rates in the U.S. and basic living costs that are a minimum of 30% higher than in the rest of the country).

Perhaps most important of all, it would be somewhere that had the kind of healthy environment that would nurture mind, body, and soul. These were the factors that ended up making me ignore most of the world.

Why Ecuador and why the tiny village of Vilcabamba, hidden away in a valley deep in the Southern Andes? Simple answer: Sweet-natured, welcoming people and a place that is said to be a "living laboratory of longevity."

Vilcabamba reportedly has one of the four healthiest populations on earth. As an octogenarian, that was the clincher for me.

Vilcabamba satisfies almost everything I had on my list of "druthers." The climate is almost equal to that of Hawaii, and the people are just as friendly and hard-working as those I left. Most important, my living expenses are around a quarter of what they were back in the U.S. Okay, not having a shopping mall or a Walmart in the village helps with that statistic. It’s amazing how much one does not need when stuff and things simply aren’t available.

What would I have done differently? I would not have had a container-load of household goods shipped from Hawaii to Ecuador. I could have literally replaced everything at half the cost of shipping.

My biggest challenge in moving to South America has been learning the language, which is an absolute must if you wish to fit into the culture. There is great beauty and a pleasant formality to the Spanish language. It’s worth taking the time to learn. My full-time Ecuadorian cook/housekeeper ($250 a month…less than I paid for electricity in Hawaii) helps me with my daily Spanish lessons.

Moving clear across the world to a new home need not be a daunting task. But it is not something to jump into blindly. I took the time to seek out the perfect place for me, which is what I would advise others to do also. It takes "boots on the ground" to check out the people and place of a prospective new home in making a decision like this.

After reading about it in International Living, I visited Vilcabamba three separate times before making my final decision. It turned out to be one of the best I’ve ever made.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Assange put on hold for Games

ECUADOR'S Foreign Affairs Minister will meet the mother of the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, who is holed up at the Ecuadorean embassy in London, Quito has announced.

Ricardo Patino is due to meet Christine Assange tomorrow to discuss her son's application for asylum in the Latin American nation, the Foreign Ministry said.

Ecuador will respond to Mr Assange's request on August 12, Mr Patino said, after the London Olympics.

''We will take decisions that do not affect our relations with Britain,'' he said, explaining that Quito would be careful not to disrupt the Olympic Games.

Mr Assange, 41, is seeking asylum in Ecuador to avoid his extradition to Sweden, where he is accused of sexual assault.

The WikiLeaks founder fears that he could subsequently be re-extradited from Sweden to the United States to stand trial for espionage, on account of the vast trove of leaked US diplomatic cables and military logs that were published on his website.

The President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, has often been at odds with Washington and offered Mr Assange asylum in 2010.

Mr Correa vowed earlier this month that his government would not yield to pressure from Britain, Sweden or the US in deciding whether to grant asylum to Mr Assange.


Assange's mum to meet Ecuador's top diplomat

Assange's mum to meet Ecuador's top diplomat

Ecuador's foreign minister will meet with the mother of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is holed up at the Ecuadoran Embassy in London, Quito announced Friday.

Ricardo Patino is due to meet with Christine Assange on Monday to discuss her son's application for asylum in the Latin American nation, the foreign ministry said.

Ecuador will respond to Assange's request on August 12, Patino said, after the 2012 London Olympics.

"We will take decisions that do not affect our relations with Britain," Patino said, explaining that Quito would be careful not to disrupt the Olympic Games.

Julian Assange, 41, is seeking asylum in Ecuador to avoid his extradition to Sweden, where he is accused of sexual assault.

The WikiLeaks founder fears that from Sweden, he could subsequently be re-extradited to the United States to stand trial for espionage, on account of the trove of leaked US diplomatic cables and military logs that were published on his website.

Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa has often been at odds with Washington and offered Assange asylum in 2010.

Correa vowed earlier this month that his government would not yield to pressure from Britain, Sweden or the US in deciding whether to grant asylum to Assange.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Friday, July 27, 2012


By Edd Staton
International Living

Many people dream of retiring to a foreign country and starting an exciting new life. But the uncertainty of such a bold transition...and the niggling questions it raises...sometimes prevents those dreams coming true.

"What will my life really be like?"

"What if I need medical attention?"

"What if I miss my family too much?"

These are important questions. Moving overseas is not to be taken lightly, and proper due diligence plus deep soul searching must precede your final decision. But in the end, you’ve just got to jump out there and make it happen.

After a "look/see" trip and a year of preparation my wife and I arrived in Cuenca, Ecuador over two years ago. We’d done plenty of research and felt like we had a pretty good idea of what to expect.

We were wrong.

The truth is, no amount of advance planning can replace "boots on the ground." There’s so much thrown at you that's new and different...some days it can seem overwhelming. But you get through those days and slowly begin to experience a more relaxed rhythm of daily life.

Why should you consider retiring in a place like Cuenca? If you now live with constant stress, deadlines, and complications, get ready to leave that all behind. The Latin American lifestyle is leisurely and unhurried. (And it’s not going to change for you.)

Better to decompress and learn to go with the flow. This usually takes a little time, but once you fall under the intoxicating spell of no schedules, long naps, and even longer lunches with friends, you’ll be forever transformed.

Maybe with your newfound freedom you would like to "give back" and contribute more of your time to worthwhile causes. A Third World country like Ecuador is brimming with opportunities for you to do so. Schools and orphanages are always extremely grateful for volunteer assistance.

If you’ve always wanted to pursue hobbies that you could never find time for, look no further than Cuenca for support. We have writers’ groups, painting and drawing classes, cooking courses, Spanish schools, music lessons and more. (If you can't find a group sharing your interests, feel free to start one!)

Perhaps you just want to have the quiet life you’ve always envisioned, but you are fearful that economic constraints at home will make even this simple dream impossible. You will be pleased to discover that here in Ecuador you can enjoy a fulfilling life at a fraction of your current budget.

And that includes everything from housing to food to medical care.

Relocating far from your family is where that soul searching is most important. Are you deeply attached to cherished grandchildren? Do you visit them regularly? Listen to your heart and stay close by.

But also know that within one day’s travel you can be almost anywhere in the U.S. or Canada from Cuenca.

By properly planning and being honest about your expectations, you can create a happy and healthy life overseas—in Ecuador or anywhere. Make a wise decision about whether it’s right for you and, if so, choose a location that emphatically says: "This is it!"

You won’t regret it.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Long Life, Low Costs in Ecuador's Sacred Valley

By Suzan Haskins

The morning mist burns away to reveal an expanse of velvety mountains and the green-carpeted valley in all its glory. Fresh air and blazing blue skies are to be expected here in the Andes.

Here, you feel like you could live forever. It’s no wonder that this boasts of being the "Valley of Longevity," where long, healthy lives are common and many of the locals claim to be centenarians—living well into their 100s.

Perhaps it’s the climate. Just shy of the equator in southern Ecuador and at an elevation of 5,000 feet, temperatures in Vilcabamba average between 65 F and 81 F, day in and day out. Some scientists say it’s due to the clean, mineral-rich water. Or the pure air itself. Or the fact that food has been cultivated here for centuries without chemical additives.

No doubt it’s thanks to all these ingredients…and to the fact that it was only a short time ago (in the 1960s) that "civilization" came to this part of the world…in the form of a reliably drivable road that connected it with the outside world.

There’s something for every price range. And if you’re not looking for a farm, you’ll find smaller properties, too. In the heart of the village of Vilcabamba, for instance, a two-story, 2,400-square-foot home has been divided into two rental units, the top floor with three bedrooms and two baths and the bottom floor with two bedrooms. There’s a carport on one side of the house, and a patio with two outdoor covered areas and a built-in pizza/bread oven…even a small vegetable or flower garden. This property is selling for $179,000.

If you’d prefer to rent in the village, you’ll pay $300 to $1,000 per month, depending on size, amenities, furnishings, etc. There are also some small, unfurnished apartments without appliances that rent for as little as $80 a month and others with shared kitchens and baths for about $200 a month.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Democracy....The God that failed.

Democracy Reaches Its Limit

Government finance at all levels seems to be unraveling. The city of Stockton, California declared bankruptcy. North Las Vegas, Nevada would be in the same boat if the state of Nevada allowed for it. Michigan’s state government has taken over the management of four cities, and the state’s largest city — Detroit — has a $200 million deficit and has made a deal with the governor for the state to have a hand in fixing the city’s financial problems.

On the federal level, the bond rating agencies — S&P and Moody’s — have dared to downgrade the government’s debt.

On the other side of the pond, Greece is an accident that keeps on crashing. Spain’s government is propping up its banks with European Union help, so that these banks can keep proping up the government by buying the government’s bonds — the equivalent of two drunks holding each other up. And the sad fact is Italy, Portugal and possibly France are not far behind.

In a recent interview, Hans-Hermann Hoppe — the author of the forthcoming The Great Fiction: Property, Economy, Society and the Politics of Decline, which can be yours free, along with so much more, if you become a member of the Laissez Faire Club — explained:“... it is democracy that is causally responsible for the fatal conditions afflicting us now. The number of productive people is constantly decreasing, and the number of people parasitically consuming the income and wealth of this dwindling number of productive people is increasing steadily. This can’t work in the long run.”

Democracy is just a wealth-distribution (and ultimately wealth- destruction) scheme that pits the taxpayers vs. the tax eaters. In the case of Europe, Germany and the Netherlands produce and save, while Greece, Spain, Portugal and the rest consume. Eventually, a bankruptcy will bring to light the truth about democracy, which, Hoppe explains:“...is nothing more than an especially insidious form of communism, and that the politicians who have wrought this immoral and economic madness and who have thereby enriched themselves personally (never, of course, being liable for the damages they have caused!), are nothing more than a despicable bunch of communist crooks.”

Over here, the day of reckoning for the US may not be far off. Alan Hall, writing for the May edition of The Socionomist, writes that the era of big entitlement spending in America is over. Since the Great Depression, government entitlements have exploded, up 17-fold, as a percentage of total personal income. Hall uses Elliott Wave nomenclature to describe the phenomenon:“advance in entitlements from the Great Depression fits within a classic parallel trend channel drawn off the lows of waves 2 and 4. Elliotticians will also observe that wave 4 in entitlements is testing the upper parallel of the channel and needs only one more decline and rally to complete the pattern.”

Socionomics is all about the collective mood of society and how it is reflected in financial markets, politics, fashion and so on. Hall points out that entitlement growth slows during positive mood changes (3% average gain) and accelerates dramatically (215% on average) during negative mood phases.

Americans are more dependent on government benefits than any time in history, according to Hall’s work. “Seventy-five years of positive mood trend has entrenched the idea that the state can afford to support an ever-expanding percentage of its citizens, including even the more affluent,” Hall writes.

Government help is not just for poor people anymore. Binyamin Appelbaum and Robert Gebeloff point out in a New York Times article that government benefits to the bottom fifth of households had declined from 54% in 1979 to 36% in 2007. Applebaum and Gebeloff write:“The government safety net was created to keep Americans from abject poverty, but the poorest households no longer receive a majority of government benefits. A secondary mission has gradually become primary: maintaining the middle class from childhood through retirement.”

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) figures that with an aging population, the trend is clear: Benefit programs will increase nonstop for the next 25 years.

But the Socionomist folks at Elliott Wave Intl. believe there will be a major negative mood extreme around 2016, and there will be a reversal of historic proportions four years from now.

Even the Treasury Department concedes there will be a problem by 2080, when entitlement expenditures could exceed 60% of GDP, “making the federal government’s fiscal path even more unsustainable...”

However, government’s largesse will hit the wall long before then. Entitlement spending reached 102% of total federal tax receipts last year, so paying for the rest of government is covered by borrowing and printing, only allowed because of the dollar’s reserve currency status. But the last grain of sand is about to hit the bottom of the reserve currency hourglass.

Professor Hoppe doesn’t make his points with graphs and waves, but instead uses logic to theorize that democracy is not the wonderful system that American presidents spend so much money and so many lives spreading around the world.

Democracy, simply, in Hoppe’s view, decivilizes society. Civilized people save and plan so as to take care of themselves and their families in the present and future. Fiscal conservatism and prudence is valued in a nondemocratic society, as are sound ethics. Democracy undoes the tendency for people to act cooperatively and responsibly.

Politicians constantly look to appease voters with more benefits to care for them from cradle to grave, so as to win the next election. At the same time, the bureaucracy that hands out the benefits grows larger and larger and is unaccountable to anyone — especially voters.

As the old saying goes, “No matter who wins, the government is always elected.”

In order to distribute these benefits, the government must violate property rights. Government produces nothing; it must take from one group in order to give to another. Hoppe makes the case that individuals are powerless to protect themselves from government theft and view taxation as they would natural disasters. This alters the behavior of producers, who will tend to be less future-oriented, given that government is constantly stealing from them.

This continuous theft, overtly through taxation and subversively by way of inflation, raises the producers’ time preferences, and they divert resources from producing future goods to present consumption. Over time, democracy leads to a lower level of capital being accumulated. With less capital, society is not only poorer, but less civilized.

In Democracy: The God That Failed, Hoppe explains:“if government property-rights violations take their course and grow extensive enough, the natural tendency of humanity to build an expanding stock of capital and durable consumer goods and to become increasingly more farsighted and provide for evermore distant goals may not only come to a standstill, but may be reversed by a tendency toward decivilization: Formerly provident providers will be turned into drunks or daydreamers, adults into children, civilized men into barbarians and producers into criminals.”

So what has kept this destructive force — democracy — alive for so long? Ironically, capitalism. Hoppe responds:“That the whole democratic house of cards has not yet completely collapsed speaks volumes about the still tremendous creative power of capitalism, even in the face of ever-increasing governmental strangulation. And this fact also allows us to conjecture about what economic ‘miracles’ would be possible if we had unimpeded capitalism liberated from such parasitism.”

So many people mistakenly tie democracy and capitalism together, when in fact democracy keeps capitalism from making all producers prosperous. Laissez-faire is not a matter of electing the right person; it means simply “leave it alone,” something politicians cannot seem to do.


Douglas French,
for The Daily Reckoning

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Ecuador to make 'sovereign' decision on Assange

Agence France Presse July 11, 2012 2:51am

QUITO  - Ecuador's President Rafael Correa vowed Tuesday his government would not yield to pressure from Britain, Sweden or the United States in deciding whether to grant asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

"We will consult with everyone we need to, but we will make a sovereign decision on whether or not to grant asylum to the Australian, Julian Assange," he said in an interview with local television station RTS.

Since last month, Assange has been holed up in Quito's embassy in London, seeking political asylum to avoid being extradited to Sweden on rape charges.

Correa said he had "great respect" for London, for Stockholm and for Washington but that Ecuador would not allow those governments to dictate its decision on whether or not to grant Assange political asylum.

He said the mere possibility that Assange could face capital punishment in the United States could be reason enough for his government to grant Assange's asylum petition, if there was a chance he could end up there.

"If Assange's life is at risk, that is sufficient cause to approve his asylum," the leftist leader said, noting that "the death penalty exists in the United States for political crimes."

Quito has said it is reviewing the allegations of sexual misconduct against Assange as it weighs the request. Assange maintains he had consensual sexual relations with the alleged Swedish victims.

As he weighs his decision, Correa said his government would "examine what the charges are in Sweden, how the judicial process is carried out, and if it is compatible with the humanist vision of justice that we have in Ecuador."

The WikiLeaks website and Assange enraged the United States by publishing a flood of secret information about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The site's founder fears that if his is sent to Sweden he could subsequently be re-extradited to the United States to stand trial for espionage, on account of the 250,000 leaked US diplomatic cables that were published.

Ecuador's Correa has often been at odds with Washington and offered Assange asylum in 2010.

Ending Your Taxes… Legally

Are You Smarter Than a  Boiling Frog?

Bob Bauman JD, Offshore and Asset Protection Editor

We all know the story about the frog in cold water that gradually heats up until the poor, inattentive critter is cooked.

 For millions of Americans suffering from that boiled-frog feeling, there is hope.

 Dr. Victor Hutchison, a Research Professor Emeritus from the University of Oklahoma’s Department of Zoology, says that as water temperature gradually increases, a smart frog will actively attempt to escape the heated water. According to a study by Dr. Hutchison, who is an expert on the thermal relations of amphibians, if the container size and opening allow the frog to jump out, it will do so.

 The question is: are you ready to jump yet?

Expatriation Anyone?

The number of individuals ending their U.S. citizenship or terminating their long-term U.S. permanent residence status and expatriating continued to soar in the first quarter of 2012. In the first quarter alone, 499 Americans expatriated through the IRS, meaning they probably won’t have to pay U.S. taxes anymore.

 Since its founding in 1997, The Sovereign Society has been almost alone in observing the accelerating trend of U.S. expatriation. State Department figures show that about 1,500 people formally ended their U.S. citizenship in 2010, compared with about half that figure in 2003. Last year, however, the number rose to 1,781, 16% more than 2010.

These are small numbers of course – with a July 2012 population of 311,591,917 million Americans, these expatriates are a drop in the ocean. Yet the trend is clearly there.
 Why is this happening?

 Several lawyers told the Wall Street Journal that many expatriates are wealthy Americans who are leaving because of President Obama’s policies and the general direction of the nation’s political leaders.

 Wow! Do you really think so?

 “There is growing concern, particularly among the wealthy, about the future financial direction of the country,” said Paul L. Caron, Professor of Law at the University of Cincinnati College of Law.
“This President constantly demonizes the wealthy, who undoubtedly are concerned about the tax policy that would emerge in 2012, if a re-elected Barack Obama, unconstrained by re-election concerns, finally confronts the budgetary train wreck that he has done so much to cause.”

 And some wonder why Americans might want to leave their homeland? Obviously, they feel the water heating up.

Politicians Try to Put the Lid On

Even as smart frogs prepare to jump, politicians are trying to find ways to slam the lid on top of them.

 Some recent examples of this come from very unexpected places, which includes even funding for our highways.

 Last Friday, President Obama signed H.R.4348, the $118 billion Surface Transportation Act – minus an unconstitutional Senate amendment from Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA). In March, the Senator tried to add language that would have allowed the U.S. State Department to revoke, deny or limit U.S. passports for anyone the Internal Revenue Service certified as having “seriously delinquent tax debt in an amount in excess of $50,000” without any right of appeal. The House killed this addition.

 Also deleted from the bill was an amendment by the leftist senator from Michigan, Carl Levin, that would have allowed the U.S. Treasury to cut off foreign banks from the U.S. financial system, as well as dishonoring the banks’ checks, credit and debit cards and financial instruments as punishment for not following IRS orders concerning U.S. clients.

 The attacks on your liberties stretch across party lines and beyond trying to force through unrelated amendments. U.S. Senators Schumer (D-NY) and Graham (R-SC) are renewing their push to create a biometric Social Security card that would function as a national ID for every American … at a cost of $40 billion! It would require everyone to report to a Social Security office, line up with a birth certificate and other paperwork, be fingerprinted and photographed and then issued a biometric card.

The Only Legal Way to End Your U.S. Taxes

Yes, expatriation is admittedly a drastic plan.

 In truth, there are other suitable offshore strategies that can result in significant tax savings or deferrals. These include international life insurance policies and offshore investments made through annuities and retirement plans.

 But for U.S. citizens and long-term residents who want to stop paying U.S. taxes legally, expatriation is the only option.

 Expatriation requires expert advice, careful, long-range planning and, in its final step, a U.S. citizen must sign a formal document relinquishing citizenship – an intentional act that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld as an individual’s right.

 In 2008, a Democrat-controlled U.S. Congress, with the acquiescence of President George W. Bush, managed to impose an onerous “exit tax” based on the net worth of some expatriates. I examined this act in a 2009 article.

TIME magazine suggests that the complex reporting requirements of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) explains why there are now long appointment waiting lists at U.S. embassies in Europe and elsewhere for U.S. citizens seeking expatriation.

Look Before You Leap

Before you take the leap, make sure you’re heading for calmer and cooler waters. There is more to expatriation than simply handing in your U.S. passport. Choosing a new country is not to be taken lightly, and there are several key factors you should investigate first:
1. How Do I Become a Legal Resident?
 Make sure you meet all the requirements to become a citizen of your country of choice. Some foreign embassies in Washington can tell you how to become a legal resident. Find your “new” country’s link at www.embassy.org/embassies.
2. Is the Country Safe and Stable?
 Your new home must be a place where you can feel secure. The U.S. State Department publishes “background notes” on 200 countries available online at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn.
3. What About Taxes?
 You want to be sure the taxes imposed will be lower than those in the U.S. Find out the tax facts at http://www.lowtax.net/lowtax/html/jurhom.html.
4. What About Banking?
 Be sure your new home has stable, secure banks. Countries such as Switzerland, Austria, Singapore and Uruguay have solid banking privacy and world-class banks, but remember you need not bank in the country where you live.
5. What About Lifestyle?
 You want to be sure you are choosing a country where you will enjoy life, a place to make home. Make an extended visit of several months to your new home to be certain it really is comfortable and compatible with your needs.

 Answer these questions before you go and it will smooth your path offshore.

 As the water heats up and the government clamps down the lid, now is the time to think about your offshore options.

 Faithfully Yours,
 Bob Bauman

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Assange asylum 'may spark US smear tactics'

Ecuador's ambassador to Washington expressed concerns Monday that granting political asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could be used to discredit Quito in the United States

"Giving asylum to Assange would be used as ammunition to attack the country," Ambassador Nathalie Cely said in a radio interview.

 Since last month, Assange has been holed up in Quito's embassy in London, seeking political asylum to avoid being extradited to Sweden on rape charges.

 Quito has said it is examining the request, and examining the allegations of sexual misconduct against the Australian national as part of the process.

 He maintains he only had consensual sexual relations with the alleged victims.

 Cely said salvos already have been launched by pressure groups seeking to "disparage her country in the eyes of US business leaders and policymakers."

 In the interview with Radio Majestad, the envoy said that recriminations against Quito for sheltering Assange "already have begun."

 Cely said her government remained "ready as ever to defend our position and our decisions," without providing any clues as to when Ecuador might make its decision on Assange's fate.

 WikiLeaks and Assange enraged the United States by publishing a flood of secret information about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

 The website founder fears that if extradited to Sweden, he will be subsequently re-extradited to the United States to stand trial for espionage, on account of the 250,000 US diplomatic cables that were published.

 Ecuador's leftist President Rafael Correa -- who has often been at odds with Washington and offered Assange asylum in 2010 -- has said that the South American country will take its time considering the application.

AFP/The Local

Monday, July 9, 2012

Prepare for Departure

Why More and More Americans are Abandoning Their US Citizenship

Reporting from Laguna Beach, California...

In November, millions of Americans will trudge to their local polling places to cast votes in the hope of improving their lives here in the USA. Between now and then, a few hundred Americans will vote with their feet in the hope of improving their lives outside the USA.

Last year, nearly 1,800 Americans surrendered their citizenship. In a nation of 300 million folks, 1,800 émigrés is hardly a rush for the exits. But the recent trend is, nevertheless, intriguing.

As recently as four years ago, only 200 people checked out of America for good. Back then, surrendering US citizenship would have seemed as unthinkable to most Americans as declining a free vacation to Hawaii to pay for a vacation in Newark. It would have seemed as crazy as:

...giving away a brand new Aston Martin Zagato to buy a used Buick Le Sabre.
...surrendering your membership at Augusta National in order to start playing Augusta Municipal.
...trading away an original Van Gogh painting for an original Peter Max poster
...refusing a date with Mila Kunis in order to watch re-runs of her animated counterpart, Meg Griffin, in Family Guy.
...abandoning a beachfront mansion to live in your car.
Giving up citizenship would have seemed as incomprehensible as...go ahead, create your own metaphor.

Bottom line: Surrendering US citizen was absolutely unthinkable. But not anymore. Now it is “thinkable,” albeit still relatively rare. The absolute numbers are still tiny, but the trend conveys a very large message: Discontent is on the rise.

Increasingly, the used LeSabres and Augusta Municipals are winning the contest. And probably not because they are so alluring, but rather because the “Aston Martin” is starting to sputter like a used moped and “Augusta National’s” fairways are starting to sprout more weeds than its deep rough.

To be clear, your California editor remains an American citizen with a valid American passport...and no pending petitions in any American embassies to surrender his citizenship. His observations, therefore, are not personal...but they are heartfelt.

When Americans begin abandoning the “Land of the Free” to seek greater freedom elsewhere, it is time to sit up and pay attention; it is time ask yourself, “Why? Why are they leaving? What’s wrong?”

Is it just a “tax thing” or are other forces in play? Is it because folks don’t like:

...drones watching their every move while the mow their lawns or skinny dip in the pool with their spouses.
...enduring a political “ethic” that increasingly declares, “What’s yours is mine and, if not, it ought to be”...
...suffering financially for behaving responsibly, while Wall Street bankers reap rewards for behaving irresponsibly.
...cohabitating with an NSA that builds mega-spy centers in the Utah desert to eavesdrop on their phone calls with Granny or their steamy chat messages with a significant other.
...living in a land that increasingly seems to be saying to would- be democracies around the globe: “Do you need a Constitution? Why not take ours? We’re not using it.” [Thanks, Jay Leno].
Who knows the exact reason why 1,800 Americans chose to leave last year — nine times as many as left four years earlier. Certainly, each one of them had their reasons. But like a corporate insider that sells his own stock, there’s one thing you know for certain about his motives: he is not selling because he believes the stock will go up. Maybe he doesn’t believe the stock will go down, but no one sells a stock they believe will go up.

Likewise, Americans who bail on their country may not think things are going to get any worse any time soon, but they clearly do not believe things are going to get better. So far, the pitter-patter of footsteps heading for the exits is barely a murmur...but the murmur is getting louder.


Eric Fry
for The Daily Reckoning

The hidden side of Salinas - The Ecuador Insider

Damn, this is some delicious shrimp." My new friend said.

"I know, I didn't even like shrimp until I got to Ecuador." I responded.

We were sitting in a small, open-air restaurant mainly frequented by locals in a small town I see a lot of short-term potential for near Salinas.

The one we'll be talking about today.


Libertad is a small town a few minutes north of Salinas, which is the main draw for foreigners in the area.

Salinas, primarily a resort town, a weekend retreat for the local rich from Guayaquil, with a steadily growing expat community, is a town of contrasts.

The boardwalk has a "Waikiki" feel with side-to-side upper-class, expensive (for Ecuador) high-rise condo buildings. But the majority of the condos pass eerily vacant through most the year.

While a block back from the ocean the area quickly takes on a quite impoverished, "dirt streets" look.

2 bedroom Condos right on the boardwalk in an older building with a beautiful ocean view start around $50-60k. Vacant beachfront lots are virtually non-existent.

Heading up the peninsula, on one side is Punta Carnero, which is comprised of one long row of houses on the opposite side of the highway from the ocean. Most of the deals here have evaporated over the last two years, it's now hard to find a house under $80k in this area.

But I don't know why you'd want to buy here, the ocean has a serious shore-break/rip-current and there's no where to shop and no where to eat.

On the other side of the peninsula, the ocean is almost table top flat up through the areas of Ballenita and Punta Blanca.

But these areas as well are not real towns with things to do and places to eat and shop. They're just a collection of mainly vacation houses along the ocean. You'd need a car to live there.

Plus, it'd be hard to find anything already-constructed beachfront in these areas for under $60-80k.

That's why I like Libertad.

Libertad is WAY UNDER the foreigner radar.

At least it has been so far.

It's very "local" with still very local prices, with a few vacant lots near the sea with great ocean views going for around $15-20k, which are prices now a bit harder to find on this peninsula and this higher-priced area of the coast.

Plus, it's an actual town, with hoards of fresh-produce street markets, restaurants and a boardwalk (but a much quieter one than Salinas).

And plentiful taxis abound. In fact, you're right in between Salinas and Ballenita, just a few minutes by car from the main Salinas boardwalk area.

Dom Buonamici
Traveler, Investor

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A 4th of July Tribute?

The 236th Year of American Independence: Freedom Imperiled

In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776
The Unanimous Declaration of the 13 United States of America.
When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the  pursuit of Happiness.

On this day, 236 years ago in Philadelphia, the revolutionary Declaration of Independence drafted by Thomas Jefferson was proclaimed throughout what was to become the United States of America. One of the most memorable freedom documents of all time, it proclaimed every human being’s right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

 Founding Father, and second president of the United States, John Adams also gave us words to consider today: “you will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in heaven that I ever took half the pains to preserve it.”

Both of these founders, friends until the end, died within hours of each other on July 4, 1826.
 Ten days earlier, Jefferson, from his home in Monticello, sent a remarkable letter to the citizens of Washington, D.C., saying he was too ill to honor their invitation to their 50th anniversary celebration of the Declaration of Independence.

 Though addressed to the citizens of Washington, Jefferson speaks across the years to all generations of Americans – to you and to me.

I urge you to read his eloquent letter here.

 This letter is considered one of the most sublime exaltations of individual and national liberty ever written. Jefferson’s personal vision of the Declaration of Independence he helped to write, and his vision of the American nation are vivid examples to the world of the blessings of self-government.
 In this last letter, Jefferson expressed his wish that “the annual return of this day will forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.”

What Would He Think Now?

I shudder to think what Jefferson would say about what has happened to these cherished rights in modern America.

 Ask yourself, have we as a nation and as a people shown an undiminished devotion to the rights Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Hamilton and so many others fought for – rights for which over a million Americans have died defending in all our wars?

 How could our third president comprehend that a conservative 43rd president and a liberal 44th president have both forsaken the constitutional rights about which Jefferson spoke in the Declaration so eloquently?

Tragic Policies

Too many Americans don’t seem to realize that misguided artisan violations of our Constitution and the Bill of Rights, under both President Bush and President Obama, have turned the destruction of our rights and liberties into government policies. To list only a few:

• President Obama targets American citizens for: a) assassination; b) indefinite detention; c) unprecedented violations of the right to privacy with warrantless wiretapping and government mining of electronic communications
 • Attorney General Eric Holder supports the president’s “right” to order the murder of U.S. citizens without trial or due process, claiming: “’Due process’ and ‘judicial process’ are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security. The Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process.”
 • On May 19, 2012 by a vote of 238-to-182, the U.S. House agreed with the Senate and the president that the U.S. military has the power to arrest and hold U.S citizens indefinitely without charges or trial. Former President Jimmy Carter denounced this law as a violation of the right to freedom of expression and the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, both of which are enshrined in the Declaration of Independence.
 • On March 16, 2012 President Obama signed Executive Order 13603 on National Defense Resources Preparedness, giving him emergency control of virtually everything in the nation and the dictatorial power to issue regulations to prioritize and allocate resources and to act as “necessary and appropriate.”
 • Financial privacy is dead in America, killed by the PATRIOT Act that forced bankers to act as government spies.
 • Unreasonable restrictions have impeded Americans’ rights to conduct business offshore to the point foreign banks and businesses reject U.S. clients.
 • The Drug Enforcement Administration, experts at breaking down doors in the night and champions of the failed multi-billion dollar drug war, now wants to put automatic license plate reading (ALPR) devices on public Interstate highways where they will sweep up records of Americans’ travel and store it for two years. The DEA is pushing to deploy a test in Utah, and has already done so in states on the U.S.-Mexican border.
 • The Federal Aviation Administration allows local police departments to use aerial surveillance drones that can peer inside windows, and even through solid barriers. A Defense Department report says the Pentagon and Dept. of Homeland Security need "routine access to U.S. airspace" in order "to execute a wide range of missions including... surveillance and tracking operations."

This is but a small sample of what is going on all around us every day.

 Americans fought and won independence from Great Britain against enormous odds. But now, politicians from both parties are destroying more of our liberties than King George III and the British ever did.

Undiminished Devotion Needed Now

On this 236th anniversary of our Declaration of Independence, 186 years after Jefferson expressed his dying wish that “the annual return of this day would forever refresh our recollections of these rights and an undiminished devotion to them,” no honest, observant American can say that we have truly honored his wishes. Unless America changes its course, we have failed.

 Yet, is not too late for Americans to reclaim and reassert the rights for which so many gave their last full measure of devotion.

May we as a people have the strength and will to change our course – and may God bless America – now more than ever.

 Faithfully yours,
 Bob Bauman
Offshore and Asset Protection Editor

"We Decided to Enjoy Our Lives"

Dear International Living Reader,
Ecuador is a place for reinvention, for starting a new chapter and striking out on a grand adventure.
Often, it's simply that decision to "do something" that puts you in the way of opportunity—whether or not you're looking for it.
That's what happened to Edd and Cynthia...
Len Galvin
 Managing Editor, IL Postcards

By Suzan Haskins
Just four short years ago, Edd Staton and his wife Cynthia, were working in sales jobs in Las Vegas. Then they were both laid off. They were in their 50s. Things didn’t look good.

It was Cynthia’s second time being "downsized"—and she and her husband decided that enough was enough. It was time to stop putting life on hold...and time to start living it.

"We saw the value of our savings plunge as we were nearing retirement age," says Edd. "Rather than continue to work for too many more years trying to correct this problem, we decided to retire, relocate, and enjoy the rest of our lives."

They decided to pursue the things they’d always wanted to do: writing...painting...sculpting... They also wanted to be of service and in some small way to leave the planet a better place...maybe even start a new business if the opportunity presented itself.

To have this kind of life, they knew they’d need to move to a place with a lower cost of living. After lots of research they decided on Ecuador.

In 2010, Edd and Cynthia moved to Cuenca—a vibrant city of about 500,000 people in southern Ecuador. They quickly fell into the rhythm of life, exploring the city and making new friends.
One of these new friends was Ecuadorian Juan Heredia, who had begun his career as a Galapagos Islands tour guide before developing his own tour business. Juan wanted to share his love of Ecuador and to tap into the growing market of expats in Cuenca.

"Our involvement with TerraDiversa happened organically," Edd explains. "Juan had other business commitments, and he mentioned that he really needed a partner he could trust."
Edd and Cynthia considered what it would mean to jump back into the workforce...and in a foreign country. But one of the reasons they had left the U.S. was to lower their monthly expenses so they could travel more. This interest, they decided, combined with their skill sets in sales and marketing, were a perfect fit for TerraDiversa's needs.

The partnership combines the "best of both worlds," Edd says. "There would be no clock-punching required, so we offered to come aboard and Juan readily accepted."

Edd wrote and designed the new website that launched recently while Cynthia has been helping the staff learn how to better advise clients in choosing the best travel experiences possible. In March, the Statons represented the company at the New York Times Travel Show.

"For expats in their later years, I believe this is the time to follow your passion," Edd says. "Too many of us, me included, pursued careers more for money than enjoyment. I feel blessed that we and TerraDiversa found each other. We’re having a blast."