Friday, February 25, 2011

How to work off the books

We had a 22-inch snowfall on Wednesday night. Thursday morning we were snowed in. Did anyone come around to offer their services? Not to our home, and not to any of our neighbors. Most of us are long on cash but short on muscle—we’d be delighted to get some help! To quote from my blog in December 2008:

      “When I was growing up in the 1930s, we kids took any opportunity at hand to make some extra money, including shoveling snow, running errands, and splitting wood for ten cents an hour."

This doesn't apply to just kids, of course, but to any man or woman currently physically fit.

Here’s a tip:

BEFORE a winter storm blows in, cover the neighborhood with door hangers that say something like “we’ll shovel you out for $35 an hour, we work fast, and we’re on call 4 a.m. to midnight! 907-555-1234.”

Remember: You won’t get on any New Hires list and no one needs to know your date of birth, your SSN, or your home address.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Can you beat the TSA?

A video shot in November 2009 at the Albuquerque International Airport shows a passenger very politely refusing officers' request that he show ID and stop videotaping them.

“Is there a problem with using a camera in the airport in publicly – in publicly accessible areas?” the passenger calmly asks.

“Yes, there is,” an officer answers.

“I think you're incorrect,” the passenger replies.

As the confrontation continues, one officer tells the man: “You're pushing it, OK? You're really pushing it.”

Another officer says: “Buster, you're in trouble.”

And yes, the pasasenger was indeed in trouble. True, he was cleared of all charges but it took 15 months to do it. It appears that it has been declared legal to take pictures of TSA agents in an airport and also, that you can refuse to show them ID. But is it worth the hassle? What do you gain?

Check out (mentioned in Bruce Schneier’s current newsletter) and decide for yourself.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Is it wrong to pay a bribe to get something done?

That was the dilemma we faced when we moved to Spain’s Canary Islands in 1959, and it will be your dilemma today if you travel to a third-world country. At first, we refused to pay anyone anything extra, not even the mailman—which meant mail delivery was quite sporadic! Fortunately, others with more experience in the land of Generalissimo Franco set us right.

“Here’s the rule,” we were told. “If you have to bribe someone to do what he is supposed to do anyway, go ahead and pay it. But do not bribe someone to cover an illegal action, such as importing a prohibited book or magazine.”

Some years later I was asked to help a company from the UK get a huge shipment of prefabricated houses off a dock on the island of Lanzarote. The shipment had been on the dock for SIX MONTHS. All efforts at getting the signed and stamped permit had failed. I was called in as a last hope.

First, I went to the bank to withdraw some cash. Then I headed out to the main dock to see Pancho, the local official who had to stamp and sign a permit before anything could move. He worked in a tiny shack that was similar in appearance to an outdoor toilet but slightly larger—perhaps 6 x 6 feet. Our brief exchange was in Spanish but I’ll give you an approximate English translation.

Me: “Hello,” I said, stepping up to the open door, “I’m here to clear the shipment for the prefabs from the UK.”

Pancho: “Permit’s not ready yet,” he said, sorting documents on a high shelf.

Me: (stepping back about four feet and raising my voice) “I’ll bet you that shipment never comes off this dock!”

Pancho: (Looking me in the eye for the first time) “How much will you bet?”

Me: “Ten thousand pesetas.”

Pancho: “Where’s your money?”

I pulled a roll of 500-peseta bills out of my pocket and held them up.

Pancho: (Quickly grabbing a form from a hook on the wall, stamping it, signing it, and handing it to me while snatching the money from my hand) “You lost your bet!”

Elapsed time from “Hello” to “lost your bet!”--less than three minutes.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Why many Egyptians in Cairo failed to prepare for the chaos

Copied from today’s newspapers:
Cash-starved Egyptians turn on each other
By Tarek El-Tablawy
AP Business Writer

CAIRO—For more than a week, Zaki Abdel-Aziz had been out of work and nearly out of money, joining millions of Egyptians living more on hope than cash as the capital plunged into chaos and the economy ground to a virtual halt. His wife and three children were hungry, tired, and tense. There was just $17 in their apartment, and no way to borrow more …

The obvious reason they failed to stash extra cash in their homes was that they didn’t foresee the coming chaos that included a shutdown of all the banks.

What do you think, folks—could U.S. banks someday shut down for whatever reason? If so, here’s a tip: You will not be alerted beforehand!

Some of you readers may hesitate to keep cash at home because you fear that it may be stolen. However, if you follow the instructions in my e-book Invisible Money you need fear no more.

I feel that this subject of having extra cash at home is as important as any other advice I have ever given. To encourage you to start preparing at once for whatever emergency awaits us, I am making the offer below. Yes, there is a time limit in which to act. This is because the time to act is not next year or next month but right now!

1. Order Invisible Money online for yourself or a friend not later than February 12.

2. Then e-mail me a copy of the payment receipt.

3. I will then give you the choice of:

   a) Any other two e-books, FREE, or
   b) A $50 discount from the $397 price of any shelf LLC, or
   c) A $75 discount on a ghost address in Alaska, or
   d) A $100 discount on a ghost address in Spain’s Canary Islands

What are you waiting for?

Click here.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Five reasons to set up a foreign "Principal Place of Business"

If you use a corporation or an LLC (from any state) for business purposes, then consider these five reasons for establishing a Principal Place of Business overseas:

--- Disclosure on official government documents, applications, tax returns, public contracts, etc.

--- Listed in private documents, contracts, letter agreements, term sheets, etc.

--- Publication in marketing materials, websites, blogs, domain registrations, etc.

--- Required for banking purposes

--- Storage of business records available for review by authorized parties
(owners, investors, shareholders, government agencies, etc.)

An International Business Center can provide a real but physically remote location for you to adopt as your Principal Place of Business, and which can be disclosed publicly and privately. Furthermore, it can be defended as legitimate for business and personal privacy reasons.

Read this complete legal report for important information on understanding how such an overseas business center can and cannot protect your privacy. Then contact me regarding our current bestseller, Plan B.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Why, where, and how to send cash in the mail


The "why" is easy, especially for we privacy buffs. There is no trail of identification numbers connected with money orders, checks, or wire transfers. No fees either, other than the cost of first class stamps.


As for "where," a friend I will refer to here as Bob has been receiving cash for the past 21 years from the United States, Canada, UK, Germany and Spain. His only loss was when a Brit told him he stuffed $4,000 in U.S. currency into a "jiffy bag" (whatever that is) and mailed it to him from London. It never arrived. (Since it would have been a package, Bob assumes it was sent to customs, opened, and the contents pocketed by someone.)

. . . Warning: Never, ever, mail cash to Mexico, Central, or South America. Not even "normal" letters always arrive in these areas.

In general, Bob considers all EU countries to be fairly safe. He does not have experience in Asia or Africa. He says the safest way to check any specific country is to do several mailings of small bills (such as five $1-bills) and find out if they arrive intact.


There is only one way to send cash and that is in a normal (size #10) business envelope that weighs less than one ounce (28 grams). (The problem with sending a gift card in the odd-sized envelope is that a few crooked postal employees have been known to open such envelopes, remembering that cash is often included with a card.)

Limit the enclosure to three or four bills. Wrap them in a thin magazine page, one with lots of pictures with a dark background. Then enclose that in a sheet of white copy paper. With one bill inside (such as a 500-euro note) it will weight just half an ounce (14 grams). With four bills (such as four $100 bills) it will weigh just a few grams more.

A friend of mine says she would never send cash unless it is by certified mail. Her reason is that the receiver might otherwise claim it never arrived (even though it did). In the rare cases where someone asks me to accept a payment in cash, I instruct him or her not to use certified or registered mail. This is because I trust my clients to be honest. Further, I suspect that such mail might draw unwanted attention.


See Chapter 2 in the book How to be Invisible