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  • Sam Darling

Why don’t you move to Canada?

There are a host of frequent refrains you hear from American conservatives around elections and one of them is laughing at celebrities who don’t move to Canada after the Republican candidate manages to win the US presidency.They’re right. You hear a lot of noise from artists who say they’re going to move away, but then they don’t. So it got me to thinking: why not? Apart from pure patriotism, what makes them stay in the USA? I think I may know.

There are artists who are mega wealthy. For those in the global elite class, it doesn’t truly matter to them who is in charge of the US government.  They are existing in the 1% layer where they can flit off to their summer home in New Zealand during a long dark Northern Hemisphere winter. They don’t need to dramatically flounce from the USA because they already exist as global citizens. These wealthy artists already have ways to shelter their assets from the tax man and they are shielded from basic issues like airport safety protocol (private jets), public school funding (private school), cost of groceries (private chef).

The ones who are middling wealthy have different obstacles if they wanted to move to another nation as they’d get dinged with the USA double taxation. The US is almost unique in the fact that they tax you on income even if you earn it in another country. If you get taxed by two nations for money you earn why would you open yourself up to that problem by moving? Plus, these artists probably have enough income with their US-based job that they can minimize some of the pain of a crappy government. For example, they don’t worry about ACA/Obamacare because they pay cash for their medical care. Most doctors that work with celebrities of means take cash only and don’t even accept patient insurance. If you can live above it all within the USA, why not stay?

The artists who are below those levels may be working but perhaps not in a financial position to easily move overseas. These are the ones most likely to leave the US and try a different nation, but it’s a massive headache and a large expense to take the gamble. I count myself in this particular group. The thing you have to remember though is that if you don’t have a million dollars in the bank then the only way another established nation will take you is if you have a job in that country or the means to earn money while you live there. Some nations may be pretty mellow about it, so if you show you make money on your Etsy store, welcome to Ecuador — you’re going to live like the 1% back in the USA and pay cash for services but with a favorable exchange rate it’s all going to seem like a bargain! Unfortunately, if you don’t have a local job offer you can forget trying to move somewhere like Australia, Germany or Canada. You’d need to have a local company sponsor you and then go through a lengthy and expensive residency application process.

Then there are the struggling artists. The ones who depend on their day job for rent money and health insurance. They are unlikely to make the leap to another nation for obvious reasons.And yet, twice as many people than average did move from USA to Canada after Bush was elected than in previous years. Did you know that the US and other countries don’t track why folks move overseas? Perhaps the mockery is wrong. Perhaps people are moving away from the USA in record numbers.

So, really, when Trump supporters snidely ask, “Why didn’t all those people move to Canada like they said they would?” remember that it’s not because they don’t *want* to move there. If given the opportunity, most people do go to where the grass is greener. Look at how the 1% chooses to educate and care for themselves and their families. They get homes on Lake Como, Italy, or estates in Queenstown, New Zealand, or send their children to be educated overseas. They can leave the USA anytime they want and they often do, coming back for work engagements often enough that you think of them as still based in the USA. Folks will tell you a celebrity lives in their small town when in reality they may only be in their Montana ranch a few weeks out of the year. Where do they really live?

But if you keep telling artists to fuck off then maybe they will. And if they move away I think you’re going to be left with a sad sort of place with no culture. Call me an elitist if you wish, I do like a country with some poetry in it and where the poets won’t die due to lack of healthcare.

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