“This isn’t good,” I remember thinking. Not at all.
I sat in a dingy office, on a backless stool, in a pool of nauseatingly yellow-green florescent light. I’d been pulled out of line as I transited Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria. I was on my way to Nairobi, and I wasn’t supposed to be in Nigeria at all.
But here I was, in a police field office on Nigerian territory. My crime? Traveling while American.
A uniformed cop with a Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine gun had pulled me out of line as I walked between arrival and departure gates. He wouldn’t tell me why. “Just wait,” was all he would say.
He took me to a small room on the Nigerian side of the X-ray scanner at the entrance to the departure gates. He whispered to a plainclothes guy in what I recognized as Yoruba. They came and went with no seeming purpose.
Eventually … as the last call for my flight echoed through the terminal … it was made clear to me that I would only board my plane to Kenya if I emptied my wallet.
So that’s what I did.
You could very well be in that situation soon … mark my words.
They’re Rusty … But the Gates Still Work
Under the Schengen Agreement, 26 European countries have open borders with each other. That means a citizen, resident or holder of a valid visa to one of them can enter any of the other countries without border formalities. For example, I have driven between Budapest, Bratislava and Vienna many times without even noticing when I entered a new country.
This is usually of little concern. But these are unusual times.
The recent influx of Syrian refugees via Greece into Central Europe has prompted rapid changes under a little-known 2012 amendment to European Union law. Denmark has suspended its rail link to Germany. Germany has closed its border with Austria. So has Hungary. Austria, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia and the Netherlands have put new border restrictions into place. Just yesterday, Sweden closed certain far-northern border crossings with Norway.
Under the 2012 rules, a state within the Schengen area can reimpose border controls for up to 12 months “when the control of an external border is no longer ensured due to exceptional circumstances.” The current wave of movement control is prompted by the rapidly deteriorating situation in the Middle East, which has seen hundreds of thousands of souls streaming northwest in a bid to escape the rising slaughter.
But what if this is just a dress rehearsal for something else … something that could involve you?
By Any Means Necessary
Earlier this year, at the height of the “Grexit” crisis, Greeks were limited to cash withdrawals of about €60 a day. For nearly two weeks, under the terms of an emergency decree, they could not send money out of the country.
But tens of thousands of Greek businesspeople had to pay for imported goods to keep their enterprises running. Those who’d thought ahead and stockpiled euros packed wads of currency into suitcases, flew to the countries where their suppliers were based and paid in cash. They didn’t have to declare anything and weren’t stopped as they boarded planes to other EU destinations.
That will probably not be allowed to happen again.
Those Greek entrepreneurs exploited (a) the existence of physical cash and (b) the EU’s open borders to circumvent emergency controls ordered by Europe’s banking and government elite. They extended a big fat Greek middle finger to those elites, who have, no doubt, learned their lesson.
Is it paranoid to see the current round of EU border closures as a test-drive of measures designed to prevent this from happening again? Perhaps … but it’s not paranoia if they’re really out to get you.
Cash Is the Enemy of Big Government
Cash is a paradoxical thing. It’s issued by governments, but it threatens them. Therefore, it must be crushed. We know that important voices have called for the elimination of currency in favor of digital-only transacting. This would allow central banks to impose negative interest rates … if you don’t spend your money, it will be taken from you.
That may take some time to achieve. In the interim, many countries are actively considering doing things like abolishing high-denomination bills and imposing a “carry tax” on cash. You’d have to pay it when you make a cash withdrawal or when you pay in cash. A third idea is to mandate that wages and prices be set in a digital-only currency, and manipulate its exchange rate with paper currency to devalue the latter.
The enemies of your freedom and prosperity are working overtime, thinking of ways to strip your wealth from you.
Events in Europe show that you need to be doing the same … to find ways to outsmart them.
Offshore and Asset Protection Editor