Ed from OC

State of the States ... and Countries

92 posts in this topic

I'm currently looking at the differences between the states, in terms of politics and financial health. Clearly some states like Texas are in much better shape than California. California has 1/3 of all US welfare cases, the first cap-and-trade greenhouse gas emission law, and is head-over-heels in debt. The solution, given the recent state election, is: raise taxes even more. Some analysts are projecting 30 - 80% increases in gas prices over the next 5 years, for Californians. That's presumably over and above any national or international price or tax increases. The culture here is to punish the successful and pay out free goodies for votes, while further entrenching power in unions.

Texas, by contrast, leads the nation in growth, by the last census. It has fairly handled the great recession, with a relatively mild economic hit. It has low taxes, low regulation, and a pro-business government (even the Democrats are that way, I hear). The mindset is pretty much laissez-faire (in spirit if not consistent law).

What about other states? What other states are like Texas, politically? Which are more strongly pro-property rights?

Some states I haven't seen much discussion about are Colorado and North Carolina.

Colorado has very right wing, religious areas (Colorado Springs) and very left wing, socialist ones (Boulder). What about Denver and the state as a whole? I've heard the state was a lot like a Texas but so many ex-Californians have moved there in the past decade-plus that the state has tilted leftward to some degree -- though to what extent I can't say.

So, any Forumers out there in CO care to share a word or three?

And the same goes for residents of other states. I'd like to get a view of which states are particularly oriented toward or away from freedom.

Thanks!

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I'll second the request for information on states, and locales. :blink:

We've been researching a lot of different states, and our priorities might not be the priorities for others. But I'll share a little of what we're looking at.

We started with a number of states including North Carolina, Indiana, Colorado, New Hampshire, Wyoming, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and even Idaho. Nebraska, South Carolina, Kentucky and a few others were considered, but quickly dismissed for a variety of reasons. We even considered leaving the country and looked at what it would take to move to several other countries, depending on economic changes.

Priority is for low or no income tax and low business taxes. Property taxes can just eat away at savings, and we'd like to be in a place for the next 70 years together, health holding out :P So assuming late life concerns of living off of savings and a fixed income, property tax is a concern. Often these are locally imposed, so looking at the specific towns matters. Although California has the depth of companies in Silicon Valley, the taxes are right out. So we've been calculating the overall tax burden for various locales. North Carolina is out of the list based on overall tax burden.

Overall crime level is important. We'd like to be in a safe place, family oriented, yet not socially imposing values on us. Something like Salt Lake City and much of Utah might not be a fit for us. North Carolina, for overall crime, is also concerning.

We'd prefer a conservative bend to things, fiscally at least. The reality is we have a two party system, and the D's are making promises that cannot be funded, and should never be made. The R's are little better, but that margin is still better. I like some aspects of the Free State Project, although I wouldn't join it directly. Mitch Daniels has done some good things in Indiana, but economic outlook is still bleak there, and there's no technology base. North Carolina is trending more and more liberal and progressive.

We'd like access to excellent medical care and systems as you never know when you'll need that. We'd like pretty good access to stores, grocery, and restaurants, although driving a half hour would be fine. We just can't be too far out away from things. While ordering things over the internet lets you live pretty far away from urban areas, sometimes you just want a fantastic pizza, and those don't ship well. Some locales in Indiana have this, and southern NH is close enough to Boston and NYC for great food and shopping excursions. While we love western Wyoming, medical access is concerning.

We have also looked at the state gun laws, castle doctrine, etc as an overall take on the state's property rights. Texas is interesting here that they have concealed carry, but no open carry, which we found surprising. They have some very odd alcohol laws that vary greatly across the state. I like the local groups defining their local laws, but that also means looking carefully at each area to tell if the laws are compatible with your lifestyle. When you look at the overall "freedom index" for Texas, it's actually not as free as states like NH and WY. Texas and Wyoming have good castle doctrines in place, and NH looks like they will pass one in the next legislative session.

We've looked at employment prospects and overall economic outlook for the states, level of unfunded pensions that the state overall will be struggling with in a few years, etc.

And finally, on a personal level, I love winter, so I'd like to be in a place that gets some snow. We'd like some acreage, some room to stretch out, and some good hunting. While we can get acreage in many of the places we've looked at, Texas winters aren't idyllic by my definition. I love the idea of NH winters a bit more. Maybe I won't when I'm old and creaky, though. Colorado has some odd hunting regulations and regulatory climate that would be annoying, but doable.

Not that we're over thinking this or anything :)

In Colorado, that whole I-70 corridor is quite liberal, although absolutely beautiful. If jobs weren't a concern, the Glenwood Springs area is great, or Grand Junction. If jobs and crime isn't a worry, I'd be more seriously looking at Alamosa, Pagosa Springs, and Durango areas. If the social conservative and religious beliefs in a community don't bother you, Colorado Springs is great. We have thought about Golden or Idaho Springs as a good compromise of all of our priorities, however the fire concerns there are very real, so something more like Larkspur or Parker might be a better long term location.

With Texas, we're watching to see what they do with this EPA thing, and with their house leadership. Depending on what they do with Straus, that will tell us a lot.

Something you may find useful is Sperling's Best Places. http://www.bestplaces.net/

You can put in any town and pull up a lot of data on it, or you can compare two locations. We've found it very useful in looking at specific cities and understanding their profile.

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This topic was discussed here on the Forum in 2006, but there doesn't seem to be any answer to it given the many factors involved and the general downward trends nationwide. Don't expect to predict what any place will be like in 70 years. What you pick may no longer exist as recognizable 70 years from now, or exist at all (even if the country still does). No place today is like what it was in 1940.

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I'll move to the US when I can (though it will take a while) and I'm thinking Delaware. Low taxes, no insane heat, good firearm/defense laws etc. New Hampshire is an alternative.

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I second ewv's recommendation of being careful with the longer term (although the German speaking part of Switzerland is pretty much like it was in 1940s, culturally and in looks).

Grey, I think earlier in your life, it is important to choose a location not based on fiscal attractiveness and the health of the state, but based on your career ambitions and the value that can be added by relocating somewhere. I wouldn't dream of living outside Silicon Valley or San Francisco if I was a programmer, or Boston/Cambridge (MA) if I was in biotech. If I ran a high frequency trading hedge fund, I'd look at Boston, Connecticut, or New York. For an artist, London is more attractive (Berlin is rumoured to be the next big place but it's full of commies who burn expensive cars) since the New York arts world has been completely taken over by the "liberals" who don't even understand their own favoured art (see e.g. the New York Philharmonic's production of Le Grand Macabre).

Most professions can easily cope with a move to another state if required. E.g. many banks and trading houses (mine included) moved from London to Switzerland as a reaction to the bonus tax and unfavourable political environment, and whilst the Brits mumbled a bit about having to go skiing on weekends instead of watching rain fall from inside the pub, they adapted fine.

Where are the top people in your field? For the commodities my firm trades (anything except oil), Geneva is the centre of the world (for oil, Zug and Houston) so I am stuck there. I don't particularly enjoy the place other than for work, despite my all inclusive tax rate being just a bit above 10%. This is even harder for US citizens who have to pay the difference to the Feds regardless of country of relocation (making Hong Kong, Switzerland, etc. less attractive for American citizens). Thus the talent cluster is currently my favoured factor in selection of a place to live.

My plan is to start off where I need to be, i.e. Geneva and the customer countries (Central Africa, Asia, South America), and eventually set up two bases in the US and Asia (probably LA/NYC and HK/SG) to be able to trade 24h, with secondary residences in tax-friendly, "conservative"-cultured states like New Hampshire and the better parts of Colorado mentioned above, and simply awesome countries like Australia.

As a trader I cannot help but think of tax rates as "prices" i.e. transmitting a certain amount of information. People, and talent, are willing to bear a certain tax rate in exchange for the value added by being in a particular location. E.g. when I was in New York, the effective tax rate, recycling etc. included, was around 54%, which was equivalent to a fairly socialist European state. People are willing to pay this (even if they don't enjoy it) because New York is arguably the most attractive place to live when you are young (less so when you are more established and have a family). I can't explain the mechanism, but I do notice that the more attractive places to live end up with a higher tax rate and more fiscal instability, perhaps because wealth fosters liberals.

Personally I think there is no better place to live than the USA, both in terms of culture - even in the leftwing hotspots like Detroit - and sheer quality of life and purchasing power of your salary.

Still, since you asked, here are my impressions on a few other international locations:

Dubai - tax rates are the most attractive there for non Americans. Americans will also be affected by the huge amount of business that is done with Iran (all of which you are supposed not to know about and cannot participate in). The main upside of Dubai is the enormous salaries which can be 6 times a US one. They're there for a reason: Dubai is not built yet, it's dull, you can't drink, there's no culture. If you like parties with Russian and Eastern European women and plenty of top shelf booze, from your 40th floor flat overlooking the desert and full of designer furniture, it's a nice place, I guess. Great place to work very hard and build up a cushion of capital, before moving back to civilization. Also a great place to set up offices if you intend to do business on the African continent and the Middle East (Israel excepted).

Zurich - 25% tax rate (again, doesn't matter for US citizens). Cleanest, most efficient city I have ever lived in, with sky-high salaries (twice the going rate in London in absolute terms). The office buildings are also the most comfortable I have ever seen, NYC included, with $10k coffee machines and striking glass architecture not uncommon. Public transport is so good (and priced accordingly) you never need a car. Controlled immigration (i.e. "if you find a job you get a visa, it expires when you lose your job") and a highly efficient police and justice also make this the most agreeable city to live in safety-wise. Gun rights are great for Europe - you can own pretty much anything, and there's a restaurant with AA guns and machine guns as decoration - but ammo was made illegal by the socialists in 2007, so for the range only. No concealed carry unless you demonstrate your life is in danger, but you really don't need it. The downside is that you MUST speak German (amazing the number of people who do not/refuse to speak English), and it's a tiny place. Really tiny. And spread out because trains are so good you can live 20 miles from the town centre and commute in 15 minutes. To give you an idea of the quality of life, a friend who is a junior analyst at a consulting firm, with a girlfriend currently unemployed, has a 2500 sq ft villa with jacuzzi on the balcony. Free markets! It's also probably the only place in the world where Americans are considered as citizens of a less civilized country because the locals are so damn wealthy and educated whilst keeping the right culture (remember the minaret ban? and there's fierce opposition to anything involving the word "federal").

Geneva - about 25% income tax rate too if you are above the "average salary" of 150k CHF (depending on where near the lake you live, this varies wildly - if you have enough money, your lawyers will let you know how to minimize it). The city itself is a French dump - loads of concrete Brutalist and 1970s-style apartment blocks, graffiti on many walls, streets becoming dangerous after midnight - but not as bad as France. It's the favoured holiday spot of Saudi wealth, unfortunately. Prices are the highest I have ever seen - expect to pay at least 8 USD for a beer, usually 20 USD if it's a decent place. Upside: you get to ski, and sail. The countryside parts (Nyon, pays de Gex, etc.) is both extremely nice (modern, good infrastructure, clean, no threats, and looks like this: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/comm...l%C3%A9man.jpg) and very easy to commute from. Public transport is decent but unreliable (my train is late maybe 30% of the time) due to French staff. The city is a lot more international than Zurich, and less wealthy although costs are higher. Salaries are high but again not quite Zurich.

Both Swiss cities are great for another reason - with a well developed network of bunkers and an army consisting of every male citizen that can be mobilized in under two hours, this is not a place neighbouring countries will invade lightly. Both lack what makes the US so attractive - a culture of ernomous achievement and radical innovation.

London - used to be the most attractive place to live in Europe. Has recently been hit by the insanity of the British left wing (the most aggressive ideologically in Europe), complete with 50% bonus tax and the potential termination of the non-dom tax arrangements (where you don't pay tax in the UK for your overseas earnings - allowing Hans Rausing, worth about 6bn USD, to pay TOTAL income tax of about 100k USD). Still, it's the only European country making steps towards fiscal austerity. London is the world capital of the arts world, with 5 world-class orchestras, the best opera house in the world, etc. all fuelled by the fact its income is mostly derived from financial services, whose employees are huge arts consumers. It's in many ways a darker, more backwards version of New York with a growling sound of leftist hatred occasionally surfacing in riots. It's also the best place in the world to travel from, with cheap, frequent flights to anywhere in the world. When I will fly to Asia next year, I'll go through London. When I fly to the US, I often go through London. Personally, the leftist hatred makes me very uncomfortable, but it's better than Paris and I don't have a green card. I used to think London was expensive to live in until I moved to Geneva. I now regularly fly there for a weekend - flight and meals included, it's cheaper than staying at home and cooking.

I'd live there if I could, but business is in Geneva...

I'd love to hear about Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia, as well as what it is like to live temporarily in the more civilized African states like Kenya.

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Interesting practical summary of your experiences, rtg, thanks.

"I can't explain the mechanism, but I do notice that the more attractive places to live end up with a higher tax rate and more fiscal instability, perhaps because wealth fosters liberals." I've observed this myself. I think it's fundamentally simple: the parasites go to feed on the healthiest hosts.

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Interesting practical summary of your experiences, rtg, thanks.

"I can't explain the mechanism, but I do notice that the more attractive places to live end up with a higher tax rate and more fiscal instability, perhaps because wealth fosters liberals." I've observed this myself. I think it's fundamentally simple: the parasites go to feed on the healthiest hosts.

Recently I have come to blame the trophy wives. It is they, usually Ivy-educated (the decline of academia is another subject, which Ayn Rand adressed substantially), who by allocating their husbands' assets fund those intent on destroying what has made this possible.

Here's an example, from the movie Bonfire of the Vanities, which explains what I mean. Sherman McCoy is a bond trader. He's at his father's ("MR MCCOY") house, with his wife ("JUDY") and daughter ("CAMPBELL"):

CAMPBELL

But what's a bond?

MRS. McCOY

(delighted)

Oh, yes, Sherman, do explain it.

MR. McCOY

Yes. Your mother and I really

want to hear this, Sherman.

SHERMAN

A bond is a way of lending people

money. Let's say you want to

build a road or a hospital and you

need a lot of money. Well, you

issue a bond...

CAMPBELL

Do you build roads?

SHERMAN

No, I don't actually build them...

MR. McCOY

I think you're in over your head.

More laughter.

JUDY

Here. Let me try. Darling, Daddy

doesn't build roads or hospitals

or anything, really. Daddy just

handles the bonds for the people

who raise the money.

CAMPBELL

That's what he said. Bonds.

JUDY

Yes. See, just imagine that a

bond is a slice of cake. Now you

didn't bake that cake, but every

time you hand somebody a slice of

that cake, a little bit comes off,

little crumbs fall off. And you're

allowed to keep those crumbs.

SHERMAN

Crumbs? Really...

MR. McCOY

(pointedly)

And many a man has sold his soul

for those little crumbs.

JUDY

(enjoying this)

Yes. And that's what Daddy does.

He passes somebody else's cake

around and picks up the crumbs.

But you have to imagine a lot of

crumbs. And a great golden cake.

And a lot of golden crumbs. And

you have to imagine Daddy running

around picking up every little

golden crumb he can get his hands

on. That's what Daddy does.

SHERMAN

Well, you can call them crumbs

if you want to...

JUDY

That's the best I can do. Excuse

me.

Watching this literally had me shivering. It was Susie Buffett that turned Warren Buffett into a Democrat, using the civil rights issue (which was a true issue) to make him go over to the Democrats' camp (see Snowball by A. Schroeder, a fascinating, detailed biography of the Oracle). Then you read about Steven Cohen's first wife, etc.

This theory is rapidly being validated by experience. I cannot tell you the number of conversations (here as well as in New York's "high" society) which have ended in silence after I made my political views clear. I remember in particular a couple that invited me for dinner, thinking I'd be a good French socialist, and later the wife pulled a long face when we discussed aid in Africa, and never spoke to me again. I also remember a press "special correspondent" married to a banker who wanted to tell me all about her new book on American imperialism in Asia. 10 minutes later, she was looking at me as if I was Adolf Hitler reincarnated. Well, I'm sorry for backing the US in the Vietnam War... (no I'm not)

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Although your theory makes a lot of sense. Maximise the looting power. Game theory says this is "rational" behaviour for a looter. By targeting power, they affect the maximum number of people. By feeding off the wealthiest, they have the healthiest flow of cash. By targeting people who are known to be individual thinkers who often think outside the crowd, they can sell their "nobody else thinks this, this makes you cutting edge and progressive" line. We need more Texans in Wall Street!

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Something you may find useful is Sperling's Best Places. http://www.bestplaces.net/

It's useful, but such things don't give a good perspective on the culture and the sense of life of the people. I appreciate the other info. That's the kind of info I'm looking for here. the more pro-freedom the sense of life, the better the place will be in the long run. That makes Texas good.

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I was in public finance for thirty years and we - the bank I worked for - were the biggest buyers of municipal bonds in the country for a few years in the 1980's. I saw Texas make the trip from respectability to crash - financially - twice and Massachusetts twice. I have lived in Michigan the whole time and watched Michigan crash in the 1970's, come back under the Engler administration and now crashed under Granholm and the public employee unions. If we move I will make an effort to see what the influence of public unions is in the State government.

But equally as important is to look closely at the municipality in the state you are considering. Local governments are under extreme duress and often post retirement obligations imply years of very high tax increases and nasty political fights. As noted in the statements above on Colorado, there are regions of states that differ dramatically. An example is the differnce of the detroit area in Michigan and the Grand Rapids area.

Looking at local audits in the last year before I retired, I saw huge differences between cities and counties right next to each other.

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I was in public finance for thirty years and we - the bank I worked for - were the biggest buyers of municipal bonds in the country for a few years in the 1980's. I saw Texas make the trip from respectability to crash - financially - twice and Massachusetts twice. I have lived in Michigan the whole time and watched Michigan crash in the 1970's, come back under the Engler administration and now crashed under Granholm and the public employee unions. If we move I will make an effort to see what the influence of public unions is in the State government.

But equally as important is to look closely at the municipality in the state you are considering. Local governments are under extreme duress and often post retirement obligations imply years of very high tax increases and nasty political fights. As noted in the statements above on Colorado, there are regions of states that differ dramatically. An example is the differnce of the detroit area in Michigan and the Grand Rapids area.

Looking at local audits in the last year before I retired, I saw huge differences between cities and counties right next to each other.

An afterthought - we will likely look for the culture we wish to inhabit - southwestern Michigan, for example - and then look at the condition and influences on local units. These will make a very large difference in day to day life in the long run.

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But equally as important is to look closely at the municipality in the state you are considering.

This is very true. When my family moved a few miles from Los Angeles (city and county) to Thousand Oaks in Ventura County it made a huge difference. The crime and local sales taxes were lower. (Property taxes didn't change because they are basically limited to 1% of a home's purchase price throughout California, thanks to Prop. 13.) The quality of the schools was outstanding and so was the available local medical care.

Thus, although the homes cost more, we saved money because we didn't have to send our son to private schools and we also saved about $1000 a year each on our home insurance, car insurance, and medical insurance. It is also nice to be able to go out walking at night and not worry about my personal safety.

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The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board - MSRB - was just as I was retiring rolling out a new system called EMMA, to serve as a national repository of information on municipalities issuing debt. Municipalities are generally required to post an official statement for debt issues above a certain limit and provide audited financial statements while debt is outstanding. A recent "OS" would contain a lot of commentary and a lot more "color" in addition to the financial statements. You have to remeber the advisor issuing the OS is trying to sell bonds; nothing relieves the individual of satisfying himself that what's offered as knowledge is so. But mainly the information is a better starting place than driving around the place.

Many states keep similar data bases, including audits on local units whether they have debt outstanding or not.

If you were contemplating a big financial committment, say a business, you might consider hiring a professional financial advisory firm to do a report for you. The publisher of the Daily Bond Buyer publishes a research book (The Red Book) each year listing dealers, lawyers and financial advisors in all 50 states. A large library near you may have it or your broker may be able to access it for you.

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I wouldn't dream of living outside Silicon Valley or San Francisco if I was a programmer,

If I were a high earning programmer I'd drop my US citizenship, bank in a tax haven or somewhere like Singapore, and live somewhere nice with a good internet connection. Why pay California rent prices when you can have a château in the Andes for a quarter of the price? Why let the IRS follow you all over the world?

Most professions can easily cope with a move to another state if required.

I think more young Americans should think about getting out of the US and leveraging the internet to earn their income. For some, it might take the leap from being an employee to owning one's own corporation that is based in a different country, but it can probably pay off in a lot of cases. It's complicated to be an American, now they even want to tax everything you own when you give up your US citizenship since people are doing it in droves (heard there is a 12 month wait in Geneva to do so). I'm glad I'm Canadian and not taxed on foreign earned income. Only a handful of countries are so backward as to do so (US included).

Here's some interesting reading: http://www.sovereignman.com/

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Sorry for drifting away from the topic, "What is the best state?" Jim Rogers explained his reasons for expatriating from the US to Singapore in this Q+A:

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If I were a high earning programmer I'd drop my US citizenship, bank in a tax haven or somewhere like Singapore, and live somewhere nice with a good internet connection. Why pay California rent prices when you can have a château in the Andes for a quarter of the price? Why let the IRS follow you all over the world?

For me there are other considerations. I am from Sweden and here, the sacrifice of innocents to the guilty has reached dystopian proportions. It is basically illegal to defend yourself and certainly your property. The country is being gradually overtaken by Islam, and much welcomed so by the politicians. It is Marxist in most other issues.

The fact that one could blow up a school bus and still get out of jail is one of the most disgusting things about this country and as such, I am looking for a place with the Castle Doctrine and shall-issue CCW laws. Delaware has both of those and low taxes as well. If I can work from home, it seems like a great place to live.

Not to disparage California, but going by what I know about it, I'd say I'm trying to move away from Sweden. :blink:

Then again I think any US state has a lot more potential for people willing to work. In Sweden you mostly find people with wages ranging from $30000 (workers, clerks) to $70000 (senior engineers, dentists) a year pre-tax, and the few multi millionaires and super stars that every country has, with not much of the American type of relatively wealthy self-made men inbetween. So in that sense the "Sweden Mk. 2" accusation is probably inapt.

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I wouldn't dream of living outside Silicon Valley or San Francisco if I was a programmer,

If I were a high earning programmer I'd drop my US citizenship, bank in a tax haven or somewhere like Singapore, and live somewhere nice with a good internet connection. Why pay California rent prices when you can have a château in the Andes for a quarter of the price? Why let the IRS follow you all over the world?

Most professions can easily cope with a move to another state if required.

I think more young Americans should think about getting out of the US and leveraging the internet to earn their income. For some, it might take the leap from being an employee to owning one's own corporation that is based in a different country, but it can probably pay off in a lot of cases. It's complicated to be an American, now they even want to tax everything you own when you give up your US citizenship since people are doing it in droves (heard there is a 12 month wait in Geneva to do so). I'm glad I'm Canadian and not taxed on foreign earned income. Only a handful of countries are so backward as to do so (US included).

Here's some interesting reading: http://www.sovereignman.com/

As a foreigner who has lived and worked in the US (briefly) as well as in various places on 2 continents (including an "emerging" market a long way from emerging) I heartily, absolutely disagree.

The value of having Americans around you and breathing American culture everyday is easily worth the 30% income tax. The potential upside for a hard working smart person is also much higher in the US, even if you start lower on the salary scale. And for a programmer, there is no environment like Silicon Valley.

I studied at the University of Cambridge, supposedly a wonderful technology hub, a heaven for tech startups. Any startup worth its salt, however, rapidly a. got an American VC on board and b. moved their HQ to the US (usually Silicon Valley with a few Boston exceptions). I can't think of one that stayed except ARM (the company that makes every processor/chip in every device that is not a PC), the mother of all exceptions. In Silicon Valley you are surrounded by driven and extremely smart people like you. It is not just knowledge that is shared but also drive.

I can tell you that living in Europe, I am constantly fighting to stay on target with my goals. Productive Americans I meet here are by and large depressed by the culture, and all dream of going back (except the "food and scenic view" tourists, who are usually much more established).

I'll be checking out Singapore and Hong Kong later this year, but from what I hear, see and experience, they don't get anywhere close, although HK is a wonderful place to be an FX trader as it is becoming for the CNY what London was for the USD when the US had massive exchange controls.

Pay the 30%, let the IRS steal from you to feed Democrats' wild spending, it's a small price to pay for being around Americans. Spend your spare energy and resources on fighting statism, instead, as this is the best way to obtain the best environment for yourself, rather than leaving the country only to find that the rest of the world is at a much more advanced state of breakdown than the US, and has no interest in improving things.

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Pay the 30%, let the IRS steal from you to feed Democrats' wild spending, it's a small price to pay for being around Americans. Spend your spare energy and resources on fighting statism, instead, as this is the best way to obtain the best environment for yourself, rather than leaving the country only to find that the rest of the world is at a much more advanced state of breakdown than the US, and has no interest in improving things.

Good post. It is an impression I've gotten that a good number of Americans seem to underestimate the US' standing in the world, philosophically. The sentiment us outsiders can bring is: don't think there will be another America out there waiting for you, if the America we're looking to join goes down.

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I'm currently looking at the differences between the states, in terms of politics and financial health. Clearly some states like Texas are in much better shape than California. California has 1/3 of all US welfare cases, the first cap-and-trade greenhouse gas emission law, and is head-over-heels in debt. The solution, given the recent state election, is: raise taxes even more. Some analysts are projecting 30 - 80% increases in gas prices over the next 5 years, for Californians. That's presumably over and above any national or international price or tax increases. The culture here is to punish the successful and pay out free goodies for votes, while further entrenching power in unions.

Texas, by contrast, leads the nation in growth, by the last census. It has fairly handled the great recession, with a relatively mild economic hit. It has low taxes, low regulation, and a pro-business government (even the Democrats are that way, I hear). The mindset is pretty much laissez-faire (in spirit if not consistent law).

What about other states? What other states are like Texas, politically? Which are more strongly pro-property rights?

Some states I haven't seen much discussion about are Colorado and North Carolina.

Colorado has very right wing, religious areas (Colorado Springs) and very left wing, socialist ones (Boulder). What about Denver and the state as a whole? I've heard the state was a lot like a Texas but so many ex-Californians have moved there in the past decade-plus that the state has tilted leftward to some degree -- though to what extent I can't say.

So, any Forumers out there in CO care to share a word or three?

And the same goes for residents of other states. I'd like to get a view of which states are particularly oriented toward or away from freedom.

Thanks!

So in California they punish the successful? Maybe it would be fair to say that the state of California (and Massachusetts too) is a Swedish outpost in the USA?

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As a foreigner who has lived and worked in the US (briefly) as well as in various places on 2 continents (including an "emerging" market a long way from emerging) I heartily, absolutely disagree.

I am having trouble seeing what about my post you disagree with. Are you saying that one needs to breath the air in the US to benefit from it?

The value of having Americans around you and breathing American culture everyday is easily worth the 30% income tax.

You can have Americans around you and breath American culture everyday from your flat in Singapore, and nobody said you shouldn't be going to the US. I said you should stop paying taxes in the US. And if you're worth your salt you're probably paying close to 50% total when you throw in property taxes, sales taxes, social security and whatever else.

The potential upside for a hard working smart person is also much higher in the US, even if you start lower on the salary scale. And for a programmer, there is no environment like Silicon Valley.

Why can't this complement my advice? You can provide programming work from anywhere including to American clients and for American companies.

In Silicon Valley you are surrounded by driven and extremely smart people like you. It is not just knowledge that is shared but also drive.

If you talk to people from Silicon Valley who've been doing well ask them where they've had successful start-ups over the last few years. Anyway, there's no reason why you have to be an American or let the state eat half your paycheque to work with good people, including those in Silicon Valley.

By far I get the most drive working here in Asia, where there are no homeless bums, drug addicts, welfare dependents, and beggars all over the streets like in the US and Canada. Kids go to school 6-7 days per week 350 days per year, and so do most businessmen. But then again, I'm not a tech whiz kid or something, I'm just a college student working part time. Maybe when I'm more productive I'll agree with you about having to be with the best people, but like I said the ideal situation is to work with them but not pay US taxes.

Spend your spare energy and resources on fighting statism, instead, as this is the best way to obtain the best environment for yourself, rather than leaving the country only to find that the rest of the world is at a much more advanced state of breakdown than the US, and has no interest in improving things.

Let the world be your playground for pennies on the dollar compared to the US (not just taxes, but rent, maids, restaurants, etc) and leverage the internet, low cost international calling and other technology to do business remotely if you can. And just get out and see the world so you don't make comments like "...the rest of the world is at a much more advanced state of breakdown than the US, and has no interest in improving things." I think a lot of countries are on their way up.

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I wish that you American Objectivists could move to Sweden on masse and subvert our cesspool of a culture. But there are not enough of you yet!

Maybe the Chinese could do the job instead? There sure are a lot of them! And they supposedly think that it is "glorious to get rich". So maybe they are opposed to envy?

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Let the world be your playground for pennies on the dollar compared to the US (not just taxes, but rent, maids, restaurants, etc) and leverage the internet, low cost international calling and other technology to do business remotely if you can. And just get out and see the world so you don't make comments like "...the rest of the world is at a much more advanced state of breakdown than the US, and has no interest in improving things." I think a lot of countries are on their way up.

Lived and worked in 15 countries so far and counting (hoping to add some Africa and Asia within the next year to the list, and South America within next 2). I think I know what I'm talking about.

Harder to understand for North Americans, perhaps, because you're used to living in that environment.

Even Dubai doesn't compare to New York. In Dubai I had enormous space (including sofas on my balcony), fantastic furniture, Hermes toiletries, a view from my window on the Burj Dubai (now Khalifa) and cheap comfortable taxis everywhere. In Germany the taxis were S-class mercs and the meals were always some of the best food money can buy you in the Western World, followed by a night's sleep in some of the best suites in the world. I was miserable as hell. In Mumbai I drank cocktails on top of towers overlooking Victoria Drive by night, I attended parties on skyscrapers surrounded by the most spectacular scenery in the world - raw growth, if you will. My purchasing power was equivalent to that of the CEO of a mid-size corporation and I had several servants. Yet I greeted Heathrow's tarmac with a sigh of relief. Every time.

In New York I lived in a rented room in a pre-war building in UWS. Usually ate sandwiches or pasta and cheese. The heating switched on at 4pm, the rest of the time I was wearing a jumper and sometimes a coat. The taps leaked. The metro broke down half the time, I ended up walking 45min stretches because it was faster than taking buses and I feared for my life more often than in India where I spent some time living next to a huge slum. My doorman earned more than me. Culture in New York is pitiful, the fine dining costs a fortune and is at the level of a bistro in Paris or London, the New York Philharmonic is equivalent to a mid-size German town's orchestra, theatres play Moliere as if it was the most serious Greek tragedy every written... yet it was the happiest time of my life.

Mark Zuckerberg in his recent interview with TIME Magazine (who elected him Person of the Year 2010) mentioned that the recent movie about him had it all wrong. They pictured him starting Facebook for various reasons including wanting to get laid, to get some cash (large amounts), to matter, to be a player, to be better than those who "row crew". He said he just liked to build stuff. He had a vision, of reconnecting the world in his way, and he is executing it, still living in Spartan conditions as a billionaire, focusing only on work (he only recently bought a bed to put under his mattress). It's the same for life. Ultimately, the philosophy of the environment you are in determines your happiness. In New York, everybody matters, everybody has a vision, everybody is busy executing it, and that is invaluable. That is why hedge fund managers who have lived in over 40 countries always come back to New York (or Connecticut, its suburb) to set up their shop.

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I'll add I know enough people fleeing Singapore, HK, and South America's presumed "high growth" economy for better fates in the US to have formed somewhat of an opinion as to the attractiveness of relocating there. And I have family in Shanghai - they can't wait to move back to Europe (and married to Chinese folks, too!). If you look at the CVs of leadership in banks and hedge funds, you always find they started off with a stint in Asia, usually Shanghai, Hong Kong or Singapore (it used to be Tokyo). Why do you think they came back?

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As for working remotely, been there done that (startup housed in another company's office, with 3 staff, in some forgettable London burb). You can't beat working at the heart of your industry, where the energy is. It gets terribly lonely on your own. It gets terribly lonely when you have to go online to discuss what you're doing, because nobody within hundreds of miles has the faintest idea about the implications of your work. Trust me on this one - nothing beats the productivity of an open plan office in a company/environment that values productivity and is selective with hiring. Think Google, Facebook, Goldman Sachs (Securities Division, anyway)...

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