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In Biden’s America, Americans Should Go Where They’re Treated Best

With President Biden’s approval rating down to 36 percent, he is now more unpopular than his two predecessors ever were in office.

But, beyond politics, the very idea of America is losing luster. Nearly two-thirds of Americans (and rising) believe their country is headed in the right direction. For decades, it was assumed that America is the place to be an entrepreneur. The U.S. economy was synonymous with the American Dream. No longer: Upward mobility may be more alive in Canada than in America.

Indeed, upward mobility has been disincentivized, while the climbers are punished for daring to succeed. Government benefits are plentiful, while “taxing the rich” is the easiest refrain in politics. Under President Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan, the average top tax rate on personal income would reach 57.4 percent in the United States—the highest rate in the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD). All 50 states, plus Washington, D.C., would impose top tax rates on personal income exceeding 50 percent.

Today’s experiment in Big Government won’t end well for the United States. But it will make entrepreneurs, investors, and other wealthy Americans reconsider their place in the world and reevaluate their options—and that’s a good thing. Countries should compete for residents. If people aren’t treated well in one country, why shouldn’t they go where they’re treated better?

People with means ultimately go where they’re treated best, and Americans are reaping the benefits of globalization more than ever before. From Croatia to the Caribbean, digital nomads across the socioeconomic spectrum are leaving one lifestyle for a better one. 

As an offshore consultant who guides clients to where they’re treated best, I regularly advise high-net-worth individuals on second citizenship and residences. And, in recent months, I have seen a 300 percent increase in wealthy Americans seeking better tax climates and brighter futures. They have had enough of 50 percent tax rates.

While tax policy is a top complaint, there are other gripes. One is “woke” culture, which tightens the parameters of free speech and forces people into submission through political correctness. In a world of seemingly endless cancellations and contrived apologies, the First Amendment is under attack from all sides, while its public defenders are fewer and farther between.

Put it all together, and the result is a less appealing America to those with options. Other than patriotism and personal allegiance, why should a New York entrepreneur remain in a city with rising crime and legal drug injection sites? Why put up with constantly changing COVID-19 policies in Washington, D.C., when foreign governments may be more transparent? Why stick with 50 percent tax rates when tax climates are better in dozens of Asian, European, and South American countries?

I have lived in dozens of countries around the world, and it’s reassuring to escape the radical Left’s grasp abroad. In some Eastern European countries, “wokeism” doesn’t even exist. Politics isn’t a fact of everyday life. People treat each other like human beings, not Twitter bots. In many Latin American countries, you can live more affordably and retain your individualism—free from government overreach. The same goes for certain Asian countries that continue to value entrepreneurship and upward mobility—with no disincentives, no punishments.

This is not to be alarmist for alarmism’s sake. But Americans need to ask themselves, and they are: Am I treated well here? Can I live better elsewhere?

With each passing day, more and more Americans are rethinking the meaning of “home.” The ongoing exodus to Florida is a perfect example. If people can move from New York to the Sunshine State for a better tax climate and brighter future, why can’t they move abroad too?

They can, and they are. The American exodus is here to stay and growing by the day.

Andrew Henderson is the founder of Nomad Capitalist, an international offshore consulting firm.

AZ Electric Utility Rates: Regulated Monopoly or Free-Market Competition?

gavel1-300x223In May, 2013, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) opened a docket to gather information on how Arizona might allow competition among electric companies. On September 11, they shut down the docket with a 4-1 vote, citing “legal issues” that were apparently just too much trouble to tackle. Maybe the ACC will tell us more about that later(?).

So until & unless a new docket on the subject is opened, it’s over.  Of course, Arizona residents do still have a choice: either sign up with the one company legally allowed to provide electric service in your area or go without electricity altogether.

APS and SRP are regulated monopolies. The ACC sets the rate of return that they are allowed to earn on their capital investment in generating stations, transmission lines, and so on*. Their day-to-day operating expenses, depreciation expenses, taxes, etc. are fully covered, dollar-for-dollar, by their customers (you and me). That’s the law.

power-transmissionIs that so bad? Yes, it can be. This is the classic problem of regulated monopolies. While their rate of return is firmly capped by ACC, what are the incentives these monopolies have to hold down their capital expenditures on which they earn that guaranteed return? And what are their incentives to minimize expenses such as payroll? Technically, there aren’t any, other than their own good will and the ACC looking over their shoulder.

So can’t the ACC guarantee that the monopolies are run efficiently?  Oh, would that it were!  No, ACC politicians can’t hope to micromanage a monopoly for efficiency.  On the other hand, if there were competition, the utility would have to run itself efficiently or lose customers to a more efficient competitor that could charge lower prices.

Even when the monopolies are run by people of good will and good intentions**, they can easily slip into inefficient behaviors when there is no overriding free-market, profit-motivated, competitive incentive to stay efficient and keep prices down.

Bell_System_1939I’ve been through deregulation before. From 1969 to 1984, I worked at Bell Laboratories, the research arm of the biggest regulated monopoly ever — the old Bell System (“Ma Bell”).  We even had our own tightly coupled manufacturing arm called Western Electric.  The old Bell System was heavily regulated at the federal, state, and (in some states like Texas) local level.

In the old Bell System our advertising proudly claimed that we provided the world’s best telephone service at the world’s lowest prices. And we really did. But the DOJ Antitrust Division broke up AT&T anyway in 1984, opening the long-distance and equipment manufacturing businesses to competition. It was traumatic for us.  It was complicated.  But the job got done, and today’s telecom industry is much more competitive, innovative, entrepreneurial, and a lot cheaper than it would be if we still had one grand national monopoly.

powerlinesWouldn’t it be nice if the same thing happened with electric power in Arizona?  It could — but not until the ACC opens another docket and attacks those “legal issues” anew.

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*Correction: As shown on the ACC website, ACC regulates rates for APS, but on SRP, ACC is only involved when SRP wants to build large power plants (100 Megawatts) or very high voltage transmission lines (115 kVolts.)  ACC also regulates Tucson Electric Power (TEP).

** Regarding good intentions:  A look at the SRP and APS websites will show that these utilities are indeed responsible corporate citizens, offering ratepayers tips, a choice of rate plans, rebates, and other assistance to help customers lower their electric bills. Both utilities and their employees are involved in conservation, and I know first-hand of their contributions to public education in Arizona. But business is business, and there’s nothing like the pressure of competition and the incentive of higher profits to drive a company to run the most efficient operation and offer the lowest prices possible.

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