It’s really easy to love Italy. The food. The scenery. The weather. The art and architectural splendor. The welcoming culture.
Then there’s the history, which is one of my favorite aspects of this country.
In the 5,000-year record of our civilization, Italy was the world’s dominant superpower not once, but twice.
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The first time was in ancient Rome, an empire that grew from humble beginnings to rank among the greatest ever known.
Before Rome, it was the Greeks who ruled the known world. And Rome’s meteoric rise to power coincided with the Greek’s own terminal decline.
The Greeks knew it was happening, too. They could see it. Greek historian Polybius, who lived in Rome and witnessed its rapid growth in the 2nd century BC, wrote,
“Who is so worthless or indolent as to not wish to understand by what means and under what system of polity the Romans, in less than 53 years, have succeeded in subjecting the whole inhabited world to their sole government– a thing unique in history?”
The second time Italy was the world’s dominant superpower was during the very early Renaissance period, more than eight centuries ago in the northern city-states– Venice, Florence, etc.
While the rest of Europe was a plague-infested feudal backwater, Italy was thriving, prosperous, and free.
It was truly the America of its day– a civilization built on the principles of liberty, economic freedom, self-reliance, and independence.
The United States is not the first country to be founded on these ideas. And it won’t be the last.
But history shows us that nearly every tribe, kingdom, empire, and nation throughout history that became the world’s dominant superpower eventually screwed it up.
The Roman Empire vastly overspent its finances, debased its currency, and overextended its weary legions.
The Venetians imposed debilitating regulations that made it extremely difficult for individuals to engage in commerce and for businesses to succeed.
In short, these civilizations departed from the core principles that made them great.
We are, of course, witnessing the same thing in our own modern time.
Today’s America has managed to indebt itself over $20 trillion, with a ‘net worth’ by its own government’s calculations of NEGATIVE $65 trillion.
In fact the US government now spends far more money just on the military, interest on the debt, and Medicare/Social Security than they collect in tax revenue.
In other words, they could eliminate EVERYTHING ELSE in government, from the IRS to the national parks to Homeland Security, and they would STILL be spending more than they collect in taxes.
Just last year the US government posted an enormous $1 trillion loss for the year… an incredible feat considering they weren’t waging a major war, fighting a financial crisis, or bailing out the banking system.
It was just a normal year. And yet they still managed to overspend by a trillion dollars.
On top of that the annual trustee reports from Social Security and Medicare state that BOTH programs are rapidly running out of money and will be completely out of cash in around 12 years.
And then there’s yet another debt ceiling crisis looming right around the corner; the Treasury Secretary himself believes that that the government will run out of money in September.
The US tax code is still one of the most arcane and punishing in the world.
And bureaucrats across the federal government continue to create hundreds of pages of new rules every single day, regulating everything from how to raise your child to what you can/cannot put in your own body.
This is clearly not the path to prosperity.
(And by the way, it’s not just the US. Most of Europe, Japan, and much of the West are in the same boat.)
Sure, perhaps it’s possible that there will never, ever be any consequences from such reckless, irresponsible finances.
For that matter, it’s also possible the Dallas Cowboys decide to name 38-year old Simon Black as their starting quarterback this season.
But it seems foolish to bet everything you’ve ever worked for or hope to achieve in your entire life on such a dangerous fantasy.
You aren’t in a position to ‘fix’ your country. You can’t solve its fiscal challenges, pay off its debts, or make its trust funds solvent again.
But you can make sure that, should the consequences ever arise, you’ll never be a victim of this economic narcissism.
All that’s required is having a Plan B.
Having a Plan B doesn’t mean you think the world is coming to an end. It’s not negative or pessimistic.
It’s something that any rational person has, especially in light of such obvious risks.
By diversifying both domestically and internationally, you can dramatically reduce your exposure to these risks, expand your freedom, and take advantage of worldwide opportunities to increase your prosperity.
These strategies used to be available only to the super wealthy and to multinational corporations with access to armies of lawyers and advisors.
But technology now makes these solutions accessible to just about anyone with the right education and the will to take action.
A great Plan B is like a personalized insurance policy that increases your freedom, protects your current and future assets, helps increase your prosperity, ensures that you legally save tens of thousands of dollars in taxes every year.
Although we call it a “Plan B”, the primary requirement is that it makes sense no matter what happens (or doesn’t happen) next, and that you are never worse off for implementing these solutions.
This means that even if nothing bad ever happens, you’re STILL better off with your Plan B than without it.
Later this week we’ll explore this concept more, along with some real-world examples that you can follow.