10/19/2020 - The Sovereign Individual

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I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be a Sovereign Individual lately. In its simplest form, becoming a Sovereign Individual is choosing to take personal responsibility to pursue a path toward personal freedom. It's about gaining decision making control over as many elements of life as possible. 

TSI Articles: 

The Sovereign Individual: What You Need to Know & Why -  The Sovereign Individual is a newly forming social class unique to the information age. The Sovereign Individual class is filled with people that seek out technology to gain freedom from restrictive government policies. Primarily relying on the internet, they cultivate diverse sources of income/assets to gain freedom of movement in a multitude of countries.

Formed by the internet and location-independent income, a Sovereign Individual creates a lifestyle that emphasizes a high degree of personal freedom.

Increasingly, this class of people will choose to vote with their feet. Relocating to other cities, states, and nations with favorable policies and away from governments with policies that are harmful.

In a way, the mobility of these individuals allows them to become consumers of government and in time, will allow them to choose from customized sovereignty services that nations will use to attract these individuals. 

Why you should care? There is a growing class divide forming within society. It's forming between those that can work digitally from anywhere in the world and those that are stationary and location-dependent for their work.

This class divide creates new policy needs and will ultimately lead to a change in societal structure. If digital workers can easily relocate, then local governments will be forced to adapt their policies or face a loss of tax revenue from fleeing constituents.

This new class divide will be the fault lines for most political issues in the coming decade. 

A Roundup From Around the Web

Yes, People are Leaving San Francisco -  "Plunging BART and Muni ridership. The weakest online sales tax collections in the state. A 20% drop in apartment rents. Spiking office vacancies.

San Francisco’s bleak economic vital signs over the past six months strongly suggest residents are leaving amid record job losses, the entrenchment of remote work, and a coronavirus pandemic that shows no signs of ending."

Why you should care? San Francisco is a fascinating early example of the Vote With Your Feet phenomenon characteristic of the Sovereign Individual. The city has been hit by recent challenges including Covid, wildfires, rising real estate costs, and punitive government policies aimed at the "wealthy". 

As a consequence, there has been a significant flight of individuals seeking out better places to live. Many of these individuals that are choosing to leave have the ability to do so because they are digitally oriented workers. ie: they have remote work jobs

The consequences of this exodus provide a great benchmark for the early impacts of the mobile Sovereign Individual Class. Especially the impact on local governments. So far, we've seen rent and housing prices plummet and now sales tax revenues have begun to fall. It will be interesting to see longer-term consequences unfold including government policy reactions. 

Americans Are Renouncing Citizenship in Record Numbers - "In just the first half of this year, 5,315 Americans gave up their citizenship. That puts the country on track to see a record-breaking 10,000 people renounce U.S. citizenship in 2020." 

The number of people renouncing their citizenship around the world is becoming an important data point to track. As the ability to conduct work remotely increases, we can expect individuals to seek out new places to live and work. This also means relinquishing citizenship to avoid bearing the punitive costs many countries (like the US) place on dual citizenship. 

"these people say they're dropping their U.S. citizenship because American anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism regulations make it too onerous and expensive to keep."

Why you should care? The Vote With Your Feet mentality of Sovereign Individuals isn't just a domestic phenomenon. They will increasingly vote with their feet on an international basis. They may choose to give up citizenship in one country in favor of another with more ideal policies. Moving forward, countries will need to reevaluate their laws, weighing the pros and cons of policies that restrict and punish freedom of movement. 
Dropbox is the latest San Francisco tech company to make remote work permanent - Dropbox joins many large companies in moving to a more permanent models of remote work.  "For employees who need to meet or work together in person, the company is setting up “Dropbox Studios” in San Francisco, Seattle, Austin and Dublin"

Why you should care? The Sovereign Individual class is not exclusive to entrepreneurs and business owners. As more companies adopt remote work policies their employees will increasingly join the Sovereign Individual Class. It's unclear whether these new remote workers will have freedom of international movement yet, but it represents an important development to follow. As more people become members of the Sovereign Individual Class, they will have more collective bargaining power over government policy decisions. 


How 3 prior pandemics triggered massive societal shifts - "People are beginning to understand that the little changes COVID-19 has already ushered in or accelerated – telemedicine, remote work, social distancing, the death of the handshake, online shopping, the virtual disappearance of cash and so on – have begun to change their way of life."

But how else might this pandemic alter society?

"First, they can profoundly alter a society’s fundamental worldview. Second, they can upend core economic structures. And, finally, they can sway power struggles among nations."

Why you should care? History is full of examples of the long term consequences of pandemics. We can look to the past to get an understanding of the types of changes society might face moving forward. 

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