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View Full Version : The American Dream Is Unrecognizable


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Eric
08-09-2010, 06:40 AM
By Tim Rudizuli

As I sit here in Switzerland, I consider lands that have been developed for hundreds of years, usually by the members of one family. Businesses that have been and are being conducted by members of a family that may have been in this business for generations – and proudly so. I wonder about Americans and their failure to comprehend that, in the final analysis – family is what continues. And family should be protected from (to as great an extent as possible) the vagaries of fate.

Don’t misunderstand me, please. Americans do want their families “taken care of." But, usually, this involves the fantasy of huge amounts of money and no work; a leisure class, pseudo-aristocracy sort of vision. Not a continuing family business, vineyard, hotel, et alia. A more boring existence I cannot envision. The sort of wasted life, failure to develop and use talents … drudgery, not a vision I would wish on an enemy. To be reduced to looking for something to break the boredom. Please, gift me with no such life. But, when you speak to Americans this is what they envision for their heirs.

From these experiences with Americans I began to examine the current state of “The American Dream”. It isn’t what it once was – believe me, it is unrecognizable.

Once this dream was to be free and with the liberty to pursue any occupation or trade you could educate yourself to; to be self-supporting and dependent upon no one else. To generate an economic and social good/service needed and desired by others at a reasonable profit to yourself and pay a reasonable wage to your employees. Even to consider the welfare of your employees as this affected their usefulness to you and to the economy and the country itself. Of even greater import was the concern of having your children follow you in the business or profession. This was part and parcel of the “American Dream”. No more.

Now this “dream” has become a nightmare. Instead of investing and growing the family-fortune one consumes it with spending and get-rich-quick-schemes (forgive me, I consider mutual funds in this category – recent history bears me out, eh?). No thought is given to the creation of a family holding and future – only the immediate, short term “profits” that may be expended to prove ones' monetary, and therefore social, worth.

Somewhere, somehow Americans became convinced that only by spending could the individual prove their worth and position. While some merchants may adore and whole-heartedly endorse this I cannot and you should not. This is called consumerism – as opposed to capitalism. Consumerism leads to bankruptcy, as many have found out, and the absence of any meaningful inheritance for your heirs. The family starts over, each generation.

Even when these persons do plan and acquire assets for their families it is not so that their family members may run the company or continue to amass the fortune. It is so that their heirs will not have to work … at anything.

To overcome this it will be necessary to re-envision the dream. I commend to your attention the fashion of education used in certain European counties. That being the absolute knowledge and requirement that each person will have to work and produce something of value to the society.

In Switzerland and several other European States this is considered the norm and to ignore this in the education of the young would be a disservice. In the USA it is not even considered until the child is in high school.

But, education aside – what of the investments made by Americans? Do they have lasting value? Few, if any do. They are, like the rest of American economy: transient, temporary vehicles and not meant to be held for any length of time. Ttax considerations are the primary concern.

In the USA houses and apartment buildings are not designed for permanency – only a few decades, at most, as this is the length of time before they will be demolished and something else erected on the site.

Compare this to the German standard: The base line duration that is to be built in to a house or apartment building is two hundred plus years. This is the sort of building in which one may invest. Is it much more expensive? No. Does such a consideration reduce maintenance and up-keep costs? Yes. But, – big but here – the depreciation standards and other tax considerations are vastly different in Europe than in USA.

Americns only consider building or buying single-family dwellings. The uses of multi-family and renting to other persons doesn’t seem to occur to them. A friend of mine bought an apartment building in Turkey and uses the top-floor for himself and rents (to Europeans and Amercians) the remaining apartments. Did he have to make improvements? Yes, of course. Euro-USA standards are more demanding than Turkish. But, the profits are “improved” as well. By the way, did I mention that the rents are payable in Euro/US currencies and those to be made to a Swiss corporation?

Could one build a low-rise mixed use facility in the 3rd world and do well? Yes. Especially if one builds using technologies that are earthquake and hurricane resistant. Are these technologies affordable? Yes, cheaper than “stick” construction and faster as well. Can 3rd world construction crews use the tools? Yes. In fact they may find it so easy that you will have to start a construction company to provide others with these structures.

The point is: Build a base of for family wealth where you are – wherever that may be. Never restrict yourself and your fortune to one country or even one continent. Always have places to go if the situation becomes unpleasant. Not just a place – places. This is why apartment buildings are so nice. Keep the “penthouse” for yourself – if needed or desired. After all you are going to build in a beautiful and desirable location for an expat…are you not?

Ah, I hear you out there: “Some countries do not permit non-citizens to own property in certain locales or even in the country at all.” You are quite correct. However, no country, to my knowledge, that permits foreign investment, forbids long-term leases. How long the term is a matter of local law and local counsel should be sought.

Some counties will permit 999 year leases – close enough to “in fee simple absolute” to suit me. I may be long-lived…but, eh? My family can always re-negotiate in 500-600 years.

Corporations and nominees are other methods of dealing with the technicalities of ownership and control of real property. Local counsel, local counsel. Remember, these entities of use can have bank accounts, in fact, for business reasons, must have them. However, they aren’t yours – are they? Ah, the joys of trans-national business and freedom.

Don’t forget the niche’ markets of the USA and how the 3rd world and Europe can answer their needs and you can make a business.

One concern that European and 3rd world business people have in common that USA business persons do not is that of relationship(s). These are built over time and mutual experience(s) of each the other. Most of business in the world is based upon this – relationships. Not, of course, the major businesses but the small and medium businesses.

A small glass manufactory in Florence, or the Slavic Republic, if you are un-known to them and to anyone whom they know…. Ah, there may be concerns and considerations that, after a time will not be a problem. Billing, credit, shipping and even doing business at all – if the factory is at capacity.

Develop relationships and visit, talk, dine …how is it said? “Shmooz”? Get acquainted with the people and show appreciation for the products – honest appreciation. Recall, these people have , probably, been in these businesses for generations. And, they wonder if you will be in this business next week!

Throughout the world Americans are not considered “stable” in business. A few years and they are in some other, retired, gone. No relationship is possible in the European, 3rd world sense. But, this does not have to be the case – for you.


There was once a man named Spinoza, who has become a “great philosopher” in history’s eyes. At the time of his existence he was a lens grinder. It was his contention that one should learn to make ones living with ones left foot. I take this to mean with as little effort as possible and with as great a return ,in satisfaction and in remuneration, as possible. So, if I am going to travel, expat or otherwise, I will be aware of and for business and real property opportunities. My family and my concern for them require it of me. How about you? Will you become a person who is independent of any countries foolishness …or remain one who has fallen into the “have-a-heart-trap” of American consumerism?