Episode 094 - Leaving the USA - The frog & the pot of boiling water

In this special podcast episode, I’m recording this from the rooftop of a condo in the beautiful town of San Miguel de Allende, in the heart of Mexico. I came here to explore life outside of the United States, and why so many expats come here, what they find and whether this is a solution to the growing problems in the western world. Today I want to discuss whether staying in the USA is sustainable in the long term and whether coming to a place like this might be worth your consideration.

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Show Notes

Discuss the previous paradigm that each new generation had it easier than their parents.  Now why that paradigm is broken.

In order to pretend to perpetuate this paradigm, our elected government have attempted to rain down money on society rather than embracing what all of us on the street already know – it is harder today to survive and thrive than in past generations.

This results in the inequity of wealth, where those that control the means of production own the vast majority of the assets of the nation, and those that do not have nothing other than a senseless devotion to work and a hope that they, in some way, can turn around this paradigm.  They cannot.

Real statistics tell the truth – 78% paycheck to paycheck, 18 yrs olds forced into debt to chase a pathway into the so-called middle class, those passing their midpoint despondent about their ability to finance the latter quarter of their lives.  

“The frog & the pot of boiling water”

When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

That’s why I’m here in San Miguel de Allende.

The engineer’s paradigm – in order to solve a problem, one must first study the domain of the problem and the requirements of the solution.  

Working in the world of software for 40+ years, I learned that our industry had a really poor rate of success when it came to building software.  We’d pretend away the core of the problem by inventing all of these software development lifecycle models with fancy names like Top Down, Agile, etc. but the truth was that the vast majority of reasons why a software system failed was that the engineers didn’t listen carefully enough to the people that wanted to use the system.  We call that “Requirement Gathering” but in reality it is the old “measure twice, cut one principle”.  

And this is core to how one’s life should be analyzed.  What makes you happy and fulfilled?
Have you spent any real time analyzing this?  Or, like most people, did you find it too hard to state it, and therefore you just followed the herd down a path not really knowing why you would doing that?

“Stacy got a great new apartment because she’s working at Amazon.  I should do that too.”  Or “Mike got is degree in Accounting, got hired by KPMG and now he’s making 6 figure income and lives in a gorgeous condo in New York.  I should do that too.”

Yet you don’t know what you want.

What should a meaningful & purposeful life be about?

-    The human experience
-    We get one chance
-    Challenging yourself makes you grow
-    Finding who you really are, and what makes you happy
-    Having abundant resource of time to spend with your family, on your journey
-    Living with the sense of being free from oversight
-    Free from co-opting your thoughts – overtly or covertly
-    And the freedom to roam as you wish

That’s the recipe for being unconstrained.

The question now is whether you have what it takes to be real about the problems of the world and make hard decisions.

The truth is really out there – but you have to go to it.  

That’s why I roam.  That’s why I seek out the wisdom of the locals in a new region and I listen to their stories.  What brought them here?  What were they leaving from?  What did they come to.  What did they discover?

The one thing I’ve realized is that one of two things are true:

1.    They were pushed out of where they came from
2.    They were drawn to where they went.

Remember the frog in the pot of boiling water?

What if the frog escaped the pot?

Are you the frog?

Maybe you have a pot that is large, the water is cool and you can control the temperature.  You are 100% happy to stay put where you are.  If that is you, why are you listening to me now?  You are obviously happy so press STOP now.

But if that is not you, understand you are with friends and community here that feels the same concerns you are feeling.  If you cannot specifically state the reasons, but believe “the country is going in the wrong direction”, the only way you stop following the herd in the wrong direction is to define specifically to you what you consider the right direction to be.

When you come to a fork in the road in life, and you are forced to choose which path to follow, you must do that with solid and evidence backed knowledge that tells you the answer.  If you mindlessly choose a fork because the rest of the herd did that, then you are not putting faith in your own ability to analyze something.  That means you need to work on that skill.

Faith is an interesting animal.  We all have faith in some way.  Some of us have it in organized religion.  We give up individual thought for collective thought, because many in those organizations have already analyzed our lives for us and we succumb to their teachings.  That’s ok if we have arrived at the same conclusions.  With it comes a sense of belonging and community.  

But if you haven’t arrived at any personal conclusions as to your belief system it is probably because you don’t have enough evidence yet to help you form that belief.  And over time as you participate more in life, you grow evidence and augment or change your belief system.  Your faith evolves and you evolve with it.

Right now I’m here in San Miguel de Allende because I’m seeking out if this place is the utopia it presents itself as.  I’ve been here before, but I didn’t get enough time to dig under the surface and find out what this place offers.  My wife & I know what we want as individuals, and we’ve created a requirements list of our needs.  We are now A-B comparing our requirements to what a place has to offer.  

We’ve spent countless hours watching travel vloggers on YouTube talk about their journeys.  They tell you what a travel vlogger would want you to know.  Everything is unicorns and rainbows wherever they land.  Because they know that gets viewers.  You sit at home in your rinky chair watching them have adventures in Thailand, Bali, Mexico, Ecuador, etc.   You see the beautiful 4K video splendor of Machu Pichu, or bungie jumping in New Zealand, etc.  It entertains you.  You might think it informs you, but until you get out of the rinky chair and head down to the airport, you are watching a TV show.

Many that I’ve met pass through a place as tourists.  They distance themselves from the difficulties of adjusting to societies by staying in 5 star hotels or AirBnBs, and they Uber around to the tourist destinations with their cameras.  That’s fine for a week or two, but do they really get to seek out the locals.  Do they go to the same markets to buy the food that the locals eat, or do they shower cash in fancy restaurants and marvel at just how much cheaper it is here, but never pay attention to why?

Or, as I’ve found with the vast majority of people in the herd, they are told by others not to go there.  Danger lurks.  Cartels, violence, kidnappings, extortion, etc.  Because the pot they are stuck in doesn’t want them to leave.  The same nightly news that features some horrible story about violence at the border, slaughter and death, is designed to garner attention due to shock & awe – not inform people with the truth.  They don’t A-B compare the same horrible story with the homeless problems in the inner cities, the addiction to opiates and other drugs, the loss of hope for the future.  Yet they are so hypocritical to feature advertising from “big pharma” between their segments, promoting the very same addiction to magic pills that got people into the problems in the first place.

If you agree with my perspective of things, you either get real with the problems around you and escape things you have no control over, or you accept the problems and return to your pot.

I’m not exactly sure what I’ll find as I dig deeper.  My findings are personal for me.  They may not be for you.  I believe that what my wife & I discover should be based on our requirements list for what we need.  I don’t know your requirements, so I can’t speak to the relevance of my discoveries to your needs.  If you have no requirements, then you are no better off than the herd, mindlessly chasing some shiny object without any understanding as to why.  And with the industry of marketing using psyops to ensnare people into that trap, it is not surprising that the future generations won’t have it better than the past.

You are the solution to your requirements, but you must have the courage to seek out the solutions.  First, don’t fall into the same mistakes that I learned in the software business.  75% of the failures in life come from not understanding the problems and rushing to any solution that might feel good at the time, but never addresses the underlying need of something.  First, be your own analyst and codify your problems.  Then prepare to seek out solutions that *might* fit those problems.  Be objective.  Be pragmatic, and be willing to pivot if you went down one path of the maze only to find a deadend.

If you never attempt this journey because it is hard, you will never escape the pot.

Now one thing you must do is to be realistic to the process of transition.  The world looks entirely different from the outside looking in.  When you reside in one country but travel to another, after you get past the tourist phase and realize that you have made that change when your metabolism either rises or falls to the natural level of the place you are at, you can then see things more clearly.  You discover that looking back to where you came from is clearer.

The distractions that you probably welcomed into your world back at home are real – but they are just that; distractions.  They don’t represent the important things.  Family, security, peace, fulfillment.  Those things must be re-cast in your life and that means to return to the basics and do just that.  Don’t land back in your home country and immediate be attacked by the distractions that you left (and probably welcomed) when you were away.  The person you are when you are not being distracted is really you.  The rest is an illusion that is often built up around you by the parties that wish to enslave and extort you.  Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to defend against that.  And be prepared to defend hard.

I wrote the notes for this podcast episode first after about 3 days arriving and settling down here in San Miguel.  I have completed out my notes about 8 days later.  The comparison is outstanding.  I see that the first part of these notes are from the perspective of looking back from where you came.  The second part of these notes is a recognition of where I am now.  I must say that where I am now is far more peaceful and meaningful than the notes I took on escaping the enslavement of where I came from.

Objectively, I’m not negative to where I’ve come from.  I never have been.  That would be immature and naïve and certainly self-defeating.  We all go to a place that we believe is better than where we came from.  But there is reason that we were at the place that we began that journey.  One must respect it, and realize that maybe one day you will return because you left a place that had more than the place you arrived at.  I’m not naïve to believe that this is not the case.  From our perspective, the goal is to really transcend geography and become the country of you.  Doing that, you never leave it.  Just move it from one place to another.

But with this journey you must be located in some place physically and you must find a compatibility between you and the place you are in.  If there is a true compatibility there, they you can reside for a long time.  You must, however, be objective about the fact that over time you will change, and over time the place where you reside will change too.  If you don’t constantly return to analyze whether you and the place are still compatible, you can find yourself in a world of despair.

So I, again, ask the question.  Is it getting better?

Here’s what I do know.  History tells us that things change.  Often they change unexpectedly.  Imagine living in the city of Pompei.  That changed pretty much immediately.  On the other hand, imagine living in the USSR.  That changed over decades but the individual didn’t have the option to roam outside of the Soviet Union.  But then imagine the beauty of emerging wealth & power as it was in the early days of the USA.  Think about the roaring 20s and the exhuberance of wealth then, even after they had finished WW1 and then the Spanish Flu pandemic.  Between dancing the Charleston and the opulence of sailing on massive cruise ships, all looked rosy.  I’m sure the decade of the 1920s was a wonderous time.  

The thing is that it all came crashing down in 1929.  These cycles of up and down, ying & yang, rise & fall, positive and negative, are part of our universal truth.  Without polarity, there can be no balance.  Our planet cannot spin safely without all of us being cast off it, unless there is magnetic balance between our north and south pole.  So thinking that things are only ever going to be bull markets, upsides, “to the moon”, etc. is just stupid.  You need to realize that things will wane as much as they will wax.  And if you are sensing that things are not getting any better, is that not an indication that you are reaching (or have reached) peak upside?  And now the downward spiral begins?

The one thing that was a huge lesson for me, came in 2008.  The global financial crisis.  We had purchased a 4 plex real estate property in 2007, at what we now know as the peak of the real estate boom of that era.  I had to do something that I would never do ever again, and knew at the time that it was risky.  We had a number of properties in Australia that had tripled in value.  We made a strategic decision to sell them and take the gains, because they were under performing as smart income assets.  The rents were being controlled by government policy and we could never really see a decent profit there.  So we put them in the hands of an agent who promptly sold them.  The gains were fantastic, but because of the difference in the calendar of a tax year in Australia vs. a tax year in the USA, we had to leave the money in Australia to eventually be able to calculate tax liability on the gains with our accountant.

Meanwhile this opportunity presented in the USA, and we needed to purchase this 4 plex.  In order to fund it, we (stupidly) borrowed against our personal home.  In doing this, we raised our Loan to Value high, and we did this based on lies that were being told to us by Moody’s and all the other valuation companies.  

Then 2008 happened.  Our property valuations plummeted almost overnight.  For the first time in my life, I was underwater on my primary home.  I had this money still sitting offshore, but I couldn’t touch it.  Meanwhile I’m now carrying multiple properties that were underwater.

As it happens, we turned those lemons into lemonade by being able to fund the cashflow needs of the bankster mortgages, and rather than paying down the debt load, we used the cash from the properties that eventually arrived from overseas to purchase other distressed assets and then rode it out for a few years, waiting for things to recover. They did, and we went from $0 net worth to multiple millions.

What did I learn from this?  First, having your assets in multiple geographic locations is key.  One country may crash, but others may not.  As it happened, Australia was going through a boom time due to Chinese demand for natural resources, and the US was clearly going in the opposite direction.  By playing one against the other, we went from zero to hero.  And in the worst possible time.

Think of it this way:  If I had sat in the USA, in the pot of boiling water, with no international diversification, I would have been destroyed.  But by diversification as a risk mitigation strategy, not only could I recover from this bad position, but I could thrive in it.  

Today I see the waning of an empire going on all about me.  The USA has had its time.  The 20th century – the US century – has come and gone.  So many of my friends would love to just “vote harder” and see more opulence, wealth and dance more Charlestons today.  But I think if you are an objective analyst, there are too many artificial manipulations in the USA right now to try and pretend away the universal truth that all things that go up must come down.

I guess timing is everything, but doing nothing is the frog’s job.  It is not mine.  I’m not abandoning my homeland, but I’m certainly noticing the difference in peace and opportunity that are around me at this very time and that is evidence that has to be codified and captured, so that I can eventually decide when to get out of the pot.

Look, being willing to embrace your passport and roam presents you with opportunities that you can’t see on your smartphone screen.  The people you meet – the places you go – the things you see.  These are real.  The TV news, the twitter feed, the Facebook pages, are all fiction.  You know that.  No real opportunity will be found there.  If there are some hint of opportunity in those places, they are being seen by millions of others, so likely they are being recognized when it is too late to really benefit from them.  

I believe that when it comes to safety, it comes down to you and your mobility.  Protect and invest in that.  Know that things change.  The trends of things getting better from one generation to another can’t last forever.  

Be aware of things like “The Fourth Turning”.  Let statistics help you see things clearly and we willing to know that universal cycles go on all around us and we must learn to surf the waves of rise & falls in economics and power.  With that we can see the opportunities clearly and take advantage of them.

I leave you with this one phrase that follows me where I go:


Get prepared and get mobile.  If history teaches us anything, it will be a bumpy ride.


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