As promised (and thanks to Peter who resolved my login problems) here is the piece I wrote for the Franco-American Flophouse after we got back from the Brussels meeting. We learned so much, we met so many interesting people who were genuinely interested in hearing what we had to say, and we got some very good advice about next steps. This trip was a group effort. Tim was the one who tipped us off that the meeting was actually going to happen. One official organization (FAWCO) wrote a letter before the meeting that Ms. in’t Veld read beforehand and clearly used during her talk. I covered the event for ACA and Ellen of AARO was there with business cards and lobbying experience. Another person in our group had invaluable experience with the EP. And hats off to M. who modestly said that he was representing just “regular folks” – what he did during and after the meeting was inspired. What he did gave me courage. Yes, mes amis, “Il nous faut de l’audace, encore de l’audace, toujours de l’audace…”
Here is Part I of the video of the EU FATCA public hearing that was held in Brussels last Tuesday. Part II is here. Many thanks to Tim who put it up on YouTube. The sound is not always perfect and sometimes it moves from those speaking to the interpreters, but the essentials talks are there. Transcripts of some of the speeches are being posted over at Isaac Brock in this thread by Just Me. Also see Lucy Laederich’s (FAWCO U.S. Liaison and AARO President) comments on the meeting and read her letter to MEP Sophie in’t Veld here.
There were reactions to yesterday’s post about some of the events around our participation. I think we are all genuinely confused by what organizations like the OECD and the EU mean by “public.” For us mere mortals that word says to us that we, the public and the eggs being broken in the making of policy, are welcome to attend and hear what is being said about things that concern us. Well, that is clearly a misunderstanding on our part. For the OECD it was, “Yes, you can attend if there is space once everyone else (the bankers and bureaucrats) has a seat.” For EP security it was, “The meeting is public but you have to be invited in order to access the building.”
Yes, there was pre-registration process, but this was not mentioned in the draft agenda that was published nor was it clarified in the calls we made to confirm the meeting time, date and place. We were very fortunate to have someone there who could help us. Not everyone did and we have a confirmed report of an AARO person who came and was turned away.
About the member of our group who had a chilling close encounter with someone during the meeting, I would like to make it very clear that this gentleman, who held up his passports and had a sign next to his seat, was not being disruptive, nor was he asking to get up and make a speech. Furthermore, he is an EU citizen, this issue is of direct concern to him, and these were his representatives in that meeting. There was no reason (and I should know because I was sitting right next to him) for someone to come over and get in his face.
These kinds of things could make one very paranoid. They certainly lend credence to charges of “policy laundering” – a term that means policy made in secret outside of the open, transparent democratic process. Are they afraid of what “the people” will say on this issue? Perhaps they think we aren’t capable of understanding the complexities around information exchange, FATCA and the fight against tax evasion. Looks like some of them have decided to do our thinking for us. And when the public is finally made aware of what has been done – and they will be once the search in the EU for the pesky U.S Persons who are not necessarily U.S citizens begins – will FATCA and an automatic system of information system be presented as a fait accompli for the good of us all?
The EP meeting resembled the OECD meeting in another respect as well – lots of discussion about the importance of fighting tax evasion, the “nuts and bolts” of implementation, and speakers falling over themselves to prove that they are “cooperating” by revealing their own proposals for their own systems. The most interesting speaker, I thought, was the gentleman from Action Aid who pointed out quite rightly that such systems and the information they contain must be made readily available to developing countries. He’s right. If such systems exist, then the Latin American, African and Asian governments should be able to access the information they want about their citizens in Europe and North America. I personally doubt that this is what the proponents of such systems in developed countries had in mind, but it would be hypocritical of them to deny access to the poorer sending countries of many international migrants (and their children) who have found themselves a home in more developed countries. I’m sure Eritrea which has a diaspora tax like the U.S., would be deeply grateful for help tracking down their citizens outside the country in order to get them to pay up.
That is a possible impact on global migrants which is a worthy topic but not the focus of this public meeting. It was very startling to see that the impact of information exchange systems on people who are EU citizens was dismissed as being unimportant. MEP Sophie in’t Veld tried to refocus the discussion with limited success. She asked about the duals and the Accidentals (those who are not aware of their status as U.S. citizens). The reply was that member states should be responsible for protecting their rights. Did the person who responded really think this was a satisfactory answer? Is he aware of the scope of the problem? This was a moment where I really wanted to leap out of my seat to ask further questions. This is what I would have said:
My neighbor who lives in an adjacent apartment building here in France told me that she was born in Texas, USA. Her parents were in the U.S. for a short time and they (and she) returned to France when she was an infant. She did not grow up in the U.S., she has never returned to the U.S., and she does not speak English.
Is it up to her local French bank to explain to her that she is a U.S. citizen? Can that bank legally deny her services (access to a checking or savings account, a retirement account or an “assurance vie” or even pull her mortgage) because she is a U.S. person? Or will she be required to waive her EU privacy rights in her own country in order to retain access to banking services which she needs in order to lead a normal life?
What would happen if she was either turned in by someone wishing to collect the IRS bounty on U.S. tax evaders, or her name came up on the list sent by the French government to the American government? How would France and the EU respond if the American government decided that she indeed was a “tax evader” and went after her for American taxes?
Is the EU aware that if she wishes to renounce her U.S. citizenship, once she knows she is one, that she may be asked to pay a penalty of 5% even if she was completely unaware of the ramifications of having been born in the U.S. much less that she might be considered a citizen?
EU citizens in this case, be they duals or accidental U.S.persons, need answers to these questions as do EU citizen spouses of American citizens who have a right to know how this will impact them – will they be considered “guilty by association” and see their private data shooting off to the U.S. or their banks accounts closed, even though they are not U.S. citizens, Green Card holders or U.S. taxpayers?
These are THE questions that regular people, EU citizens and their families, are asking right now. This forum did not address them adequately. The reply that this was a matter for member states is a non-answer. It’s not only ducking the question, it’s almost a slap in the face to those whose lives will be seriously impacted.
MEP Sophie in’t Veld expressed it very well when she said that the question of whether or not to tackle tax evasion has already been decided. The answer is a resounding “yes” and there is a broad consensus on this. The MEP’s might be very surprised to learn that many of us who have questions about FATCA and its implementation in the EU don’t have a problem with the basic premise that states can go after people who illegally remove their money from a country with the express purpose of avoiding that country’s tax laws.
The issue on the table right now is how to do it. What are the unintended and very destructive consequences of the proposed systems of automatic information exchange on EU citizens and their families? I humbly suggest that if they were brought to light, perhaps they could be mitigated.
What we need is a real public forum where these questions can be asked, answered and possible solutions discussed. We spoke to some people after the meeting and they were very surprised by what we had to say. They had no idea of the scope of the problems FATCA implementation might pose for regular EU citizens.
The pro-FATCA MEPs seem to be seizing the day and using FATCA to do for Europe what Europe can’t do it for itself. Fair enough. What is not acceptable is that the only concerns they seem willing to raise publicly is how much it will cost financial institutions and access problems for developing countries.
And the cost to their own citizens? If they can’t raise those questions and get direct answers from their representatives in a truly public forum, then everything I’ve heard about the EU “democracy deficit” is, alas, true.
And I just saw that AARO published a short article about the meeting on their website:
They include a link to the list of MEP’s on the Econ committee.
Ellen Lebelle’s report on the meeting should follow very soon.
@Victoria, on discrimination, I read somewhere some time ago that there is or supposed to be this FATCA hotline that Americans can call to rat on banks if they discriminate against them. Unfortunately, I cannot seem to find that article right now. However, I did find the following regarding model II:
I believe that this is a change made to model II at the request of ACA. I don’t know if this also applies to Model I, though. I also don’t know if this change has made things any easier for Americans in Switzerland.
YOUR OFFSHORE IS MY ONSHORE; YOUR ONSHORE IS MY OFFSHORE
Rajiv Patel, the RTS commentator, has nicely illustrated this here:
@SwissPinoy, Yeah, that would be a start if it is part of all of the IGA’s. Just out of curiosity what would happen if, through practices (not necessarily a public policy) it appeared that US Persons at a particular bank were indeed being discriminated against? To what entity or institution could these people appeal to and seek relief? I’m already anticipating lawsuits in Europe by duals or accidentals either when they are asked (surprise!) to sign that waiver or if the banks give them trouble over new or existing accounts. It would be nice to get a statement from the EU about these cases and others.
One important piece of advice we got was to forget the Econ folks and try to get this brought to the attention of the people at this level who work on civil liberties/citizen’s rights. We could also do a petition, register as a lobbying organization and other things.
To be brutally honest with you, SwissPinoy, we have to be very careful including what’s going on in Switzerland. It’s not fair or right but if we start talking about that to the MEPs, they are going to run for the hills and never talk to us again. Their constituents would never understand. Too many scandals including a recent one here in France. In my humble opinion the very best organization to work with people in the EP is FAWCO (Federation of American Women’s Clubs Overseas). They have the following going for them: a woman’s organization (which is sexist I know but this is case where sexism might work for us), a network not tied to one particular country, 15,000 members all over the world AND legitimate NGO status (consultative status to the UN Economic and Social Council). Hard to beat that combination.
Nice post – thanks for attending hearing. Re, what you would have liked to have said:
The assumptions underlying the situation you are describing are:
1. The U.S. can define who its citizens are.
2. The U.S. has a property right in those it defines to be U.S. citizens.
Sophie Indveld asks whether the U.S. ought to be able to apply its law in an extraterritorial manner in Europe? That’s a valid question. But an equally important question is whether:
The U.S. can exercise direct supervision and control over the lives and conduct of people who do not live in the United States. That’s a bigger issue. This needs to be addressed “head on”.
The U.S. assumes that it can. It owns its citizens and it can define anybody it wants to as a U.S. citizen. FATCA is an attempt of the U.S. to impose law on the rest of the world. But, the very idea of “citizenship ownership” is also an attempt to apply its law in an extraterritorial manner.
The time has come for the rest of the world to organize opposition to the extraterritorial application of U.S. laws. This issue must be heard by an international tribunal where the U.S. will be forced to justify its ownership of people in other countries. The time has come to stop assuming that if the U.S. believes something, that something has validity.
FATCA is not about tax. It’s not about reporting. It is certainly not about tax evasion. It’s about exercising control and ending human freedom. To put it simply:
The United States of America is now one of the greatest threats to human freedom the world has ever known. Not even the most nasty and brutal countries have tried exercise direct control over the lives of people outside their borders. Those Soviets who escaped the geographical borders of the Soviet Union were reasonably sure they would never have to deal with the Soviet Union again. Is this true for Americans? As your post indicates, there are some who don’t even know the U.S. considers them to be Americans who must be afraid.
FATCA is just a specific instance of the general principle that the U.S believes that its law can override the rest of the world.
The world needs to align itself against the U.S. now. In his inaugural address President Kennedy said:
“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.4 This much we pledge—and more.”
There may be short term costs to opposing FATCA. But the rest of the world:
– must meet any hardship
– support any opponent of FATCA
– oppose any country that signs an IGA
in order to ensure the survival and success of liberty.
At least one prominent opponent of FATCA and spokespersons for American Abroad has referred to FATCA as being “Orwellian”. There is a reason for this.
This is not about tax. It’s about human freedom. The U.S. will get away with this if the issue is defined in terms of tax.
I agree 100%.
Now the question becomes, how do we make this the issue. As all students of Orwell know, the language used to describe the issue will define the issue.
I propose that from this point we redefine “citizenship-based taxation” to be “residence based life control”. Nobody cares about citizenship-based taxation (partly because nobody cares about Americans – courtesy of the conduct of their government). But,
“Residence-based life control”
that might be something they can relate to.
Also, nobody understands tax. Shulman and Geithner admit to not understanding tax. But anybody can understand when they aren’t permitted to do things.
To illustrate the absurdity of this:
A U.S. person spouse can’t enter into a business partnership with the other spouse without filing a form that details the partnership”. I propose a full scale campaign to educate U.S. persons abroad about their Homeland imposed disabilities.
U.S. citizen abroad: Sorry, I can’t have a partnership with you. Barack Obama says I can’t. This is the kind of stuff that will get people angry (and my anger level is rising as I write this.)
Citizenship-based taxation may smell bad but pass legal muster. Residence based life control will not. A North Korean citizen who defects from North Korea has more freedom than a U.S. citizen outside the Homeland.
Citizenship based taxation is what it is – no need to redefine it or give it another name. However, what you are calling ‘residency based life control’ is real and the direct result of citizenship based taxation along with FBARs and FATCA. I’m not sure the term adequately captures the meaning, but I get where you are coming from – perhaps ‘US connected person life restrictions’ (or something like that) would work better?
I seem to get some traction when I call it a “diaspora tax” or an “emigration tax.”
I see that Don used it in this article in the Global and Mail and it got quite a reaction. See the comments where people leap up and say, “It NOT the same!”
US-affliated life control?
Its not just a ‘tax’ though. It is, as USCitizenAbroad says, a form of ‘life control’ If it was just a ‘tax’, we could figure it out and pay it (or not). However ‘US connected persons abroad’ (I think I just invented another new term) live with restrictions that other residents of the same country do not.
As to Victoria’s point I would avoid discussion of Switzerland in EU circles. It is not an EU member state and the situation there is more complex than in the EU 27(soon to be 28). If l lived in Switzerland I would definitely get involved in the domestic Swiss politics of this whole mess. I just can’t see what the hook is at this point to interject the Swiss situation into Brussels. To be blunt if Switzerland was an EU member state I don’t think the US would be going after them as hard as they are. Perhaps if Switzerland was an EU member state bank secrecy would have long ago been eliminated on the other hand Austria and Luxembourg have it too.
@WhiteKat, yes, it is about controlling and not so much about tax. Americans are prohibited from having fun in Cuba, drinking raw milk, selling peanuts to Iran, smoking plants in Amsterdam, being a citizen of another country, etc. America is very ‘protective’ of its surfs, telling them how to walk so that they don’t accidently stumble over their feet. In the case of tax, America attempts to prevent Americans from gaining a tax advantage when not living in America. I’d call it:
Sophia In’t Veld has a new blog post up in Dutch. It translates relatively well.
There are also links to some of 4000 pages of documents on FATCA she has received.
The controlling of USC’s outside the USA is the biggest issue, imo.
Sure, there is money at stake and that’s always a big motivator for the US but power is what the USG is and always has been about. Power and control.
Start by re-establishing ownership of your emigrant citizens than rope in their children and spouses. Come up with a way to extend control through the use of US Personhood, which captures more people and pretty soon through various avenues, the USG has authority over a whole lot of people who aren’t physically present in the USA but whose govts have foolishly allowed the USG to co-opt.
The most important thing, again my opinion, is making people and govts aware, that more than tax money is at stake. If the USG can force me to obey its tax compliance laws in spite of the fact that it might violate privacy and other laws of where I live, then what other laws can it force me to obey in direct contradiction of the law of the land where I actually live?
Slippery slopes and we are all sliding.
@Victoria, I like the term ‘diaspora tax’, because it gets at the concept that this goes far beyond any actual economic connection with the US, includes emigrants, and the descendents of emigrants. Catchy too. If it gets traction, then it hits a nerve or opens up the discussion past the assumptions about this being about US resident citizens temporarily ‘abroad’ on short term assignments for US corporations and the like, or US residents with accts in Luxembourg. That it includes EU duals and their EU joint account holders and business partners is obviously something that those at that meeting either don’t know about, or dismiss as a minor pesky problem to be overlooked in the greater sacred quest against tax evasion.
And they would prefer to defer to the US and elevate US citizenship status over EU state citizenship – that is obvious. One has to ask then – if born in the EU, which status is more salient? Seems so glaring that the EU should so comfortably give up EU citizens in sacrifice to the US without question or pause to consider the issues of sovereignty and citizens rights.
I was glad to see that at least once or twice, there was mention of the essential core difference between the US tax system and that of the EU and the rest of the world in terms of who the US considers owes it tax and financial reporting ‘fealty’ (in the sense of “the obligation or the engagement to be faithful to a lord, usually sworn to by a vassal” http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/fealty ) – i.e UScitizenship-US-taxable-person-status based (for lack of a better term) vs. residence based. Without elucidation, many in attendance would not understand the ramifications of the essential conflict between the US system and the rest of the world. The issue of FBARs – and the FATCA that builds on that base, is probably something that most of that EU audience had no clue exists, it’s history, and the manner in which the US treats ALL accounts outside the US as ‘foreign’ and thus immediately suspect and criminal merely based on geographical location in relation to the US. I doubt that is what the EU had in mind given that they have much freer movement of EU citizens across borders – for work, study, etc. Whereas for the US, you’re either in it or out of it, and it doesn’t make meaningful distinctions between US residents and US citizens/taxable persons living ‘abroad’ as owners of the ‘foreign’ accounts.
Goes without saying how fantastic Ms. in’t Veld is! How brave and dynamic! Wow!
And the EUP should be very ashamed that those documents were thousands of pages – with everything redacted, while having claimed that no real talks were taking place with the US re FATCA. And then, the spokesperson had the gall to gloss over it as if no-one had the right to know what was being agreed to – until after they were to be sentenced to it.
How very disingenuous Stark the US speaker was – ignoring the data protection issue, pretending that reciprocity was even a remote possibility, AND, most of all – pretending that the US is ‘sacrificing’ it’s markets and that FATCA is not extraterritorially imposing this on the rest of the world:
Stack says “…on the extra territorial point simply because it relates to the last point I made. Uh, I believe the, the members here present today and the participants understand that the United States, ah, put is Market at risk in doing FATCA. It did not impose its law extra territorially,…” http://www.linkedin.com/groups/EU-Public-Hearing-on-FATCA-3731046.S.244458355?qid=d2ce9cb0-c8c3-4f6b-8b21-133a56f8c2ef&goback=.gna_3731046
And he goes on to say that after the faux ‘reciprocity’ that basically will never make it through Congress, then the US might address Delaware and other US domestic tax havens. Hope the speaker who raised the question of Delaware understands that the Florida and Texas bankers already have filed a lawsuit against having to provide any of the information that FATCA would require. Hope the EU speaker knows that if over half of the Fortune 500 is incorporated in Delaware, there isn’t a hope in hell that the US is going to provide transparency re beneficial ownerships to the EU.
What carefully crafted and disingenuously delivered BS. I hope that the US media and Congress picks up on Stack’s claim that the US FATCA is ‘putting the US Market at risk’. Somebody should alert Rand and send him the transcript and video. But, the fact that this is one point – extraterritoriality – that Stack CHOSE to address means that it may be a major sore point with everyone, or at least a recurring issue that those representing their countries in the IGA talks probably raise as something that they are concerned not to be seen to be colluding with the US on – because sovereignty and autonomy are very touchy issues in domestic politics.
Another bit of BS is the US rebuttal to the point made that only 5 countries have actually signed anything, and that none have gone to implementation. And the US pretends that they are making progress by that BS line about active talks with 75 countries. More and more pitiful every time they repeat it.
I also question whether Stack really couldn’t hear the preceding dialogue, or just used it as a convenient excuse not to address the most inconvenient comments by MEP in’t Veld and others.
My default position is not to trust anything the US says. I don’t think we can go wrong by treating everything it says as false, disingenuous, dissembling lies of omission. Or the OECD – which is largely controlled by the US.
Thanks so much for your efforts and travel and excellent first hand report Victoria, and thanks too to Tim for alerting all to this event, Just Me and others for the video, Ms. in’t Veld for assisting you and the others to enter in order to attend, and the others who accompanied you into the hearing.
I recommend that everyone listen to the video more than once.
If we think that the EU was engaging in ‘policy laundering’ (thanks for the term Victoria), what do we call what the Harper government is doing re FATCA talks?
@Badger, I tihnk you’re right. Diaspora tax reframes the debate very nicely and “homelanders” (another term some find very annoying) get very defensive when it’s used which means it strikes a nerve.
One thing I’ve taken away from the OECD and the EP meeting is that it’s not really a US-centered topic. This GATCA (thank you, Marvin!) has been brewing for some time. People at the EP meeting were practically falling over themselves to talk about THEIR ideas either in progress or still in the planning stage. The US just got there first with a concrete proposal that got everyone’s attention. There were other countries, regions and international organizations that were right behind them, cooking up their own proposals for Automatic Exchange of Information.
Control is, alas, one of the less attractive features of nation-states. James C. Scott’s work, Seeing Like a State,
is not only an entertaining read but he shows how states have worked to control their populations “for their own good” or just because they need the money. 🙂
Vivtoria, the US opened Pandora’s box and I doubt will be happy when the EU and others begin to insist that it’s a two way street.
@all, I urge you to read through the redacted documents that Sophie in’t Veld obtained after much effort and over a year of delay tactics by those who sought to stonewall her.
Thanks to Tim for finding and posting that link at his comment here http://isaacbrocksociety.ca/2013/05/31/public-hearing-on-fatca-at-the-european-parliament-in-brussels/comment-page-1/#comment-364407
I haven’t read everything, and it is hard to see what sequence they may have been in datewise. See particularly pg 23 and 24 of the documents at the link http://d66blog.nl/sophie_intveld/2013/05/31/4200-e-mails-en-tientallen-documenten-2/ . One starts with a very crucial set of questions about data protection issues – totally applicable to our Canadian concerns (and that of all other countries), and worthy of asking our Privacy Commissioner and MPs about. I would cut and paste but couldn’t defeat problems with formatting.
Well worth reading through. Provides additional evidence for us to use in our efforts, and also demonstrates the detail of these negotiations/meetings prior to now. It is very likely that the FATCA talks have a core commonality, so though the US may have tailored them somewhat for the particular body they are meeting with/corresponding with, we can be certain that the issues – and their answers are valuable clues to the types of things that our Canadian federal government may have discussed. If not, Canada should know what the US is saying to the EU.
Very intriguing to see the amount that is redacted, and try to guess what it might have been and why it was scored out!
Victoria, what a useful term “policy laundering” is!
Oh, badger, I love it too. Just for fun I’m working on a list of sayings, acronyms and definition for people just joining the FATCA/CBT conversation. This one will go in there for sure 🙂
“Diaspora tax” does not exist in Wekipedia. Anybody care to create a new page/entry?
Recent examples of ‘policy laundering’ by the Harper government in trade treaties demonstrates what we can expect re Canada’s federal government negotiations with the US about FATCA?
‘Policy laundering lies behind Ottawa’s support for trade treaties:
A long-awaited report on intellectual property is classic case of policy laundering as the government has manufactured support for trade agreements not even raised before the committee.’ by Michael Geist, Published on Fri Mar 22 2013 Toronto Star
“….why did the government representatives on the Industry committee include a recommendation to ratify four international treaties that were not discussed during the committee?
The answer likely lies in the Canada – EU Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the two prospective trade agreements that top the government’s current trade agenda. According to leaked documents, the Canada – EU Trade Agreement includes provisions that require Canada to make all reasonable efforts to comply with the Singapore Treaty and the Patent Law Treaty as well as accede to the Madrid Protocol and the Hague Agreement.
There are similar requirements in the Trans-Pacific Partnership as leaked documents indicate that it includes provisions that require countries to ratify or accede to the Madrid Protocol and the Singapore Treaty as well as make reasonable efforts to ratify or accede to the Patent Law Treaty and the Hague Agreement.
These treaties would require significant legal reforms in Canada. In the case of the Singapore Treaty and the Madrid Protocol, the procedures associated with Canada’s trademark laws would face an overhaul, which the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada has noted would benefit only a small number of trademark holders.
The other two treaties also create new procedural requirements, with the Hague Agreement for Industrial Designs establishing a system for registering industrial designs in multiple countries with a single application and the Patent Law Treaty seeking to harmonize formal procedures such as the requirements to obtain a filing date for a patent application, the form and content of a patent application, and representation.
These treaties might make sense for Canada, but it is hard to know without careful study. Instead, the committee has simply recommended their ratification – and all costs associated with doing so – without any debate or analysis. That represents a case of policy laundering designed to fabricate a record of support for the four treaties. Should Canada reach agreement on CETA or the TPP, the government will presumably use the report to claim support for the treaties that did not really exist.”
Started doing some searching using the new phrase I learned from Victoria “policy laundering”. And this was an interesting result http://www.policylaundering.org/about/
Try it out. Use “policy laundering” AND ———–
with the quote marks to search it as a phrase, use AND as a search connector, and add anything else you want – like this:
“policy laundering” AND FATCA
“policy laundering” AND US AND Treasury
I was going to suggest ‘US slave’, but that seemed a bit dramatic. I like yours better: ‘US controlled subject’. Yes, it is important to get across that this more than just about tax.
I agree – ‘diaspora tax’ captures the issue nicely.
FWIW, I googled the phrase and came across this wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_diaspora
Of note was this section:
The “causing minor problems for more affluent Americans” part is badly in need of a dose of reality.