In some times and places, slaves could buy their own freedom

When my parents and I left the USSR in 1989, we had to pay to get rid of the Soviet citizenship. At the time, that was viewed as an outrage, rather similar to requiring slaves to buy themselves out. And, in the fact of the matter, it wasn’t far from the truth — living in a country like the USSR was pretty far from being free. I don’t recall the exact amount required, but it was substantial relative to salaries.

US government, in its infinite and humanitarian wisdom, is adopting the best USSR practices but with greater flair. Giving up American citizenship now costs $2350, a good deal more than it did in the USSR. At least it can be done without waiting over a decade and taking all kinds of risks to be allowed to leave. France, with its insane tax policy trends, is on the same path. They appear reluctant to give up well off taxpayers to competing entities.

In general, the difficulties in being a stateless person just point out that the concept of owning people just got modified to favor government ownership instead of private ownership. Such progress!

The similarities between conventional slavery and being a taxpayer aren’t all that close in reality. The similarities I am noting are in the attitudes of government bureaucrats and lawmakers and the slave-owners of the centuries past.


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7 Responses to In some times and places, slaves could buy their own freedom

  1. Kristophr says:

    Only two countries insist on taxing citizens living abroad: Eritria, and the US.

    Only four countries have had exit taxes: Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, the US, and now, copying the US, Canada.

    The rest of the world has a sane tax policy … you only pay tax to the country you currently live in.

  2. Patrick says:

    In what sense can any American citizen consider himself free?

    Prior to 2010 a US citizen could say goodbye to the US and walk away with no questions asked, no fee required, as it should be in a country of free men.

    After 2010 the price to leave was $450. And in 2014 the price jumped to $2,350.

    What’s it going to cost in 2016, $5,000, $10,000?

    As Chazz Palminteri said in A Bronx Tale “Now youse can’t leave.”

  3. Fakia says:

    Back when I was in college, I had a professor tell me his acid test for a government’s overall success in running a country.

    He said the only thing that counted was whether people were trying to get into the place or out, and by extension where they were coming from or going to.

    The US is at the tipping point or very close to it. We still have people coming in looking for handouts from poorer nations, but our best and brightest producers are starting to flee. That’s truly disconcerting.

    • Oleg Volk says:

      Even USSR and now Russia have a trickle of illegal immigrants entering. So does South Africa. The real test would be where people who could choose any country (based on a widely desirable skill set) are going.

  4. CarlS says:

    Hmm . . . as I recall (from work-related research while working in an overseas branch of gov) what the law says is if you publicly renounce your citizenship, you are set free. And . . . if you do certain things or commit certain acts, you are kicked out. So any demand from gov (IRS, too) that you must pay first is plain and simple B.S. Not to mention a crime, as in blackmail, extortion, whathaveyou.

  5. Paul Koning says:

    The bad list isn’t quite as small as you say. There are countries that don’t recognize renouncing citizenship. For example, last I looked, if you once were a Moroccan citizen, the government continues to treat you as one even if you don’t want to. This matters to the numerous Moroccans who have emigrated to western Europe and don’t want to have anything more to do with Morocco, its repressive governments, its draft laws, or anything like it.

  6. James Burns says:

    One of the obnoxious parts of this is that a lot of people renounce their citizenship so that they can get a non-US Passport and go do business in places that are difficult and then come back and be US citizens again.

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