Tuesday, April 06, 2010

More People Renouncing U.S. Citizenship (But Not Enough)

Hong Kong

More U.S. citizens and permanent residents are severing their ties to the United States, the South China Morning Post reports (reg. req.). But I doubt it's in sufficient numbers for the U.S. government to change its worst policies.

Irene Jay Liu reports:

In the last quarter of 2009, 502 people relinquished their citizenship or long-term permanent residency status in the United States, a nearly eight-fold increase compared with the last quarter in 2008, when 63 people did so, according to the US Federal Register, which publishes the names of such people on a quarterly basis.

In recent years, the number of people worldwide giving up US citizenship or permanent residency has ranged from 22 to 144 people per quarter.

I've been critical of the state of California for overvaluing its uniqueness. The state has high taxes and low-quality services and, in the right combination of circumstances, people will migrate to other states that have sand, space and sunshine.

The same is true for countries.

The United States is a high-tax country with services, depending on what you want, ranging from terrible to terrific. The universities, heavily subsidized with federal dollars, are top-notch. Amtrak is not.

Americans are not culturally disposed to renounce their citizenship. In Europe, people cross borders regularly, and swapping (or adding) a passport, while unusual, is not unheard of. In America, it's unthinkable.

This cultural reality gives the U.S. government leeway to be heavy handed. If the government infringes on liberty (by, for example, requiring all citizens to purchase health insurance from a private company upon pain of fine), people may protest by writing blog posts or by voting for the opposition. A few brave souls will engage in civil disobedience. But almost no one will expatriate and renounce their citizenship.

If the government were worried that decreased population and an out-flow of wealth were possible, legislators and bureaucrats might try to avoid framing bad laws.

But the loss of 502 people per quarter (many of whom were PRs, not citizens) isn't going to scare Washington.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to compare the number to other time periods and see if this is unique.

6:51 AM  
Blogger Michael P. Manti said...

Cripes! Their registration is so onerous that I couldn't be bothered with reading the article.

Looking at the accompanying graphic, though, there was a similar spike in early '05. I wouldn't infer too much from such a short time series. And I'm always suspicious of journalism about trends.

8:27 AM  
Blogger Tom Salemi said...

It would be terrible to lose Madonna. Tell me we didn't lose Madonna.

1:32 AM  
Anonymous USCIS Forms said...

LOL! Madonna! you serious?!

6:44 PM  
Blogger Pierre said...

"The United States is a high-tax country..."

You're joking, right?...

9:33 AM  

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