Opting out

I'm taking the radical decision to start removing myself from the banking system

I have paused all credit card billing on my Substack account. It is no longer possible to create a new subscription and it is no longer possible to pay for my service via credit card. As of now, all of my income through the blog from credit cards - $165,000 per year - has been cut off.

For the past few weeks I have been getting absolutely hammered by compliance requests from governments and banks. I had a transaction frozen for a sale of precious metals I did in Singapore - a fully taxed, fully declared, fully documented transaction all in the name of my company. It was frozen by a bank in Panama for a week. I was only able to regain access to the funds by going up the ladder at the bank via contacts on the wealth management side.

This morning, I was asked by Stripe to provide an absurd amount of documentation for credit card processing, including my water bill. Today I learned that my wife was having all of her deductions thrown out (on a 100% voluntary return) because the amount of individual receipts presented slightly differed from amounts on the return.

I have structured much of my life around trying to find a way through the system that involves as little taxation and as much freedom as possible. The amount of compliance required for taxation in many countries has become absolutely absurd. I spend an entire month, every year, on my US tax return, in addition to paying my accountant thousands of dollars.

In Panama, I have to keep every receipt and type in the exact amounts paid to and received from every single entity I do business with.

A modern interaction with government - as described in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Between occupational licensure, permits for everything, operating licenses, tax returns, public transportation - our lives are inundated with interference from  bureaucrats who are always asking for something from us, but giving nothing in return. We have gone from people who started a revolution because the British wanted to force them to put a stamp (that they had to pay for) on all legal documents to people who have accepted complete and utter tyranny in our daily lives. In many “free liberal democracies” around the world, it’s not possible to even build a shed on your own land without a permit. You can’t even exercise free speech anymore in much of Europe - so called “hate crime” law punishes those who express their opinions on a variety of issues.

The trigger for the American Revolution, a 2 shilling, 6 pence stamp tax on all official documents

How did we get here? How do we get out? The chains keeping us bound mostly revolve around centralization of digitized records. The head office at every bank know what happens in every branch. Every country knows what happens in every bank. They all share information. And despite what they tell you, it isn’t criminals they’re going after. They’re going after you, and me, and everyone else. Every single person operating in the modern financial system is now subject to the arbitrary whim of random officials and automated account flags. People are being funneled into narrower and more restricted systems where the amounts they can transact, and who they can transact with, is more tightly controlled with each passing day.

For years, I thought that with just a little bit more knowledge of the system, just a little bit more structuring between entities, using tax deferred vehicles, having assets in different domiciles, I could claw onto just a little bit more freedom to become wealthy and pursue happiness. But now, I realize that we have a global system, and the world keeps getting smaller. I’ll never file the last form. It won’t be the last time a transaction gets held for no reason. The choice is either to accept a daily diminishing of my soul for the sake of convenience, or to take the risk of pain and break free from a system that has enslaved me.

The choice for freedom is so clear. Another passport won’t make you free. Another place won’t make you free. The only choice we have is to stand and fight - to finally accept that our comfortable lives may become less comfortable.

Practical steps for freedom

Well, as with most things, it all comes back to money. If you are using the banking system, you have to play by that system’s rules. That system demands that you fill out a bunch of forms. Yes, you can hire someone to do it, but you can’t opt out of it. We’ve created a civilization where much of the population spends much of their working hours pushing paper around.

As long as your money exists in the bank and government ruled financial system, they and they alone will decide when and how you can spend it, and how much of it you have to give to them. In many places, banks don’t even pay interest to depositors anymore. They make money as government enforcers. Canada has recently raised capital gains tax to 67%. Now Biden wants to raise capital gains tax in the United States. It will never stop. It will never be enough. They want everything; They are coming for everything; And as long as you keep giving it - they will keep taking, everything.

So how do we break free?

  • Refuse to use banks and digital central bank currencies and payment systems (bank accounts, credit cards).
  • Keep our wealth in real things and real businesses. Keep the cash economy alive.
  • Opt out of things that can only be paid for via the banking system.

I am going to start the process now of gradually moving all of my wealth into tangible assets that cannot be easily seized. I will opt out of the banking system completely. This will include liquidating my investment portfolios. I realize this seems like a very radical step, but I can simply no longer accept the daily diminishing of my soul and dignity.

Other forms of payment

The next question is, if you can’t use government digital currencies via the banking system, what can you use?

  • Bitcoin/Crypto - The issue with Bitcoin up until now has been the insistence on fiat ramps to get in and out. As I have written about before, you’re using it incorrectly. I haven’t purchased Bitcoin from a regulated exchange in several years. Nor have I sold on one. Nor will I. Bitcoin is meant to be used in place of the existing financial system, not alongside it.
  • Monetary metals - Gold and silver have been used as forms of payment for thousands of years. They are money. I accept these forms of payment.
  • Cash - Good old fashioned cash money. A security concern, but that’s what gun rights are for.

The future of the blog

I will keep writing every week as I have done so for years. I believe in living a life based on honoring one’s commitments. Some of you have purchased lifetime subscriptions. Those subscriptions will be honored. Even if I stop writing on Substack (because, Substack makes its money from taking 10% of credit card transactions), I will keep writing.

I will also keep writing about companies. I will keep analyzing companies and looking for opportunities in the traditional financial system. However, I will also write about investing outside of the traditional financial system. Most of you pay me because I make you money, and I will continue to do my best to do that, even as I make the personal decision (and advocate for others) to opt out of mainstream finance.

If you don’t want to keep your subscription, you don’t have to do anything. You won’t be billed automatically anymore. For those of you who do want to keep your subscriptions to my weekly writing, first of all, your price won’t change. I made you a promise and I will keep that promise. Your rate stays at what it was when you signed up. But it might be a while till I bill you.

I thank you for supporting my work.