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Do You Believe In America?

“Do you believe in America?”

We were seated around a table at La Posta, one of our favorite restaurants in Panama City, in the company of a small group of readers and colleagues in town to participate in our Wealth Retreat this week. Last night’s dinner was the start of four days of discussions focused on how one might, in the current global climate, take control of his investments, his assets, and his family’s future.

Today through Friday, the group is sequestered with the invited experts and advisors at a small resort on this country’s Pacific coast, considering and connecting the best strategies for wealth protection and legacy planning available today, as well as the top jurisdictional options for banking, residency, citizenship, starting a business, opening a corporation, etc. The conversations will be detailed and focused with a very specific agenda in mind, helping each participant in this unique event customize the most effective global wealth strategy possible, given his circumstances and his objectives.

However, last night, we allowed ourselves a chance to get to know each other a little better before getting to the important work ahead.

Among the advisors we’ve invited to participate in this week’s meetings is Steve Rosberg, a friend from Argentina who is also an economist and an expert, both from his studies and, as well, his long personal experience (being an Argentine born and raised in Buenos Aires), in financial systemic crises.

“Ah, you’re from Argentina?” one of our Wealth Retreat participants remarked to Steve after overhearing a little about Steve’s background.

“That country scares me.”

Steve and I smiled and nodded in agreement.

“Yes, and things are coming to a head,” Steve replied. “People have had enough of Cristina. Her antics are coming to light in ways she can no longer hide or recover from.

“There’s much going on in Argentina right now that’s worth focused discussion,” Steve continued. “But not now, not tonight. We don’t want to get too serious too quickly. There is opportunity on the horizon in Argentina, I believe very soon, perhaps before the end of this year. But let’s leave that discussion for tomorrow.”

Indeed, last night didn’t seem the time for serious analysis or considered opinions about emerging opportunity, crisis or otherwise.

Last night seemed more the time to remember why we’re all having these conversations in the first place. What are we doing, we 25 or so who have convened this week in Panama City. What’s the point?

The point is self-determination.

I’d suggest that those gathered with us in Panama City this week have all worked very hard for whatever they’ve got and would like to preserve it, as much as possible, as long as possible, for their children and their children’s children, if they can. It is a simple agenda.

Why are they in Panama to try to pursue it?

Because, in today’s world, the best opportunities for preserving and protecting whatever you’ve got can be found beyond U.S. borders. And anyone who’s paying attention to what’s going on worldwide right now understands this.

Some folks see it differently, though. Some wonder whether pursuing options for making money, doing business, and protecting assets “offshore” is bad, wrong, illegal, unpatriotic.

For the record, nothing we’re discussing this week is against any law, not any U.S. law or any law of any other jurisdiction we’re considering.

Is any of this unpatriotic?

That’s how we backed into the question I offered earlier, from one of my dinner companions last night:

“Do you believe in America?” he asked me.

“Very deeply,” I replied. “I believe very deeply in the idea of America.

“What is an American?” I wondered further. “After more than 15 years living among non-Americans, I’ve come to think of us as the ones who show up, the ones who figure things out, the ones who make things work.

“I’m speaking generally, of course, but this is what I’ve observed during my decade-and-a-half as an American abroad. More than any other group you could identify, we Americans like to take responsibility for ourselves and our families.

“We don’t like anyone telling us what to do. We’d rather determine that for ourselves. When you remember where we’ve come from, how we all came, originally, to be “Americans,” this makes sense. Self-determination is hard-wired into us.

“So, again, yes, I believe strongly, perhaps naively in the idea of America.”

“But couldn’t that idea of America be portable?” my dinner companion wondered. “Couldn’t it be possible to respect and preserve the idea of America someplace else? Why should the United States have the monopoly on where these ideals are embraced?”

“Indeed,” I replied. “Indeed.”

Kathleen Peddicord

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