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Five questions on the state of freedom

I apologize for the “lite” blogging. As you may have noticed, I’m suffering the worst case of winter blues I’ve ever had (compounded by daily doses of the bad news I’m always recommending that everybody else avoid). I’m beat and need renewal.

So I’m going to spend next week mostly away from the computer. Rather than let the blog go dark, I thought I’d preschedule some blogitude every day from Monday through Friday of next week. Here’s what I’d like to do: Pose a different question each morning about the state of freedom today (personal, political, global, First-Second-Fourth Amendment, whatever) and let the you, the Commentariat, have at it.

I’ve got a couple of questions scribbled down, but I’d like to start right now by throwing the “Question of Questions” out to you. What freedomista questions would you like to see discussed, debated, kicked around, and (who knows?) maybe even resolved here by the Living Freedom Commentariat next week?

Maybe there are some topics you’ve been wanting me to address but I’ve been neglecting. Maybe you’ve just got some pressing freedom issue in your life. Maybe you’ve got something you want the chance to expound on. Toss topic suggestions in the comments on this post and let’s see what develops …


  1. jed
    jed March 1, 2013 6:41 pm

    The state of Freedom?

    Well, we could mine the long train of abuses:
    * He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

    * He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

    * For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

    * For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

    * He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

    In the mean time, maybe you could use a nice back rub.

  2. puptent
    puptent March 1, 2013 6:46 pm

    Why do we (as a people, a society) seem to be so willing to exchange liberty for security? Freedom for convenience? Is it possible to make freedom and liberty (personnel responsibility) attractive, or even attainable? Or should the rights of citizenship be earned (as Heinlein suggested more than once) rather than… than what? bestowed? Crap, but I’m in a bad mood. I only get to check in once a week, so I’ll be looking forward to where this goes. It’s a good idea, I think.

  3. puptent
    puptent March 1, 2013 6:50 pm

    Will I get to play backgammon in the re-education camp?

  4. Mr Galt
    Mr Galt March 1, 2013 6:57 pm


    Backgammon is counter-revolutionary! “Let’s Move” dance routines for you!

  5. cctyker
    cctyker March 1, 2013 8:09 pm

    We aren’t peasants trying to please a landowner to stay alive. We’re educated, aware, and thinking.

    Who knows when the Default will come or in what way it will show itself? We’ll see it coming. We’ll have time to react. We know more about what to expect, and how to know what is going on as the Default unfolds than most people will.

    Hang in there, baby, the tree limb ain’t broke yet. We’ll find a way down the tree in time.

  6. Joel
    Joel March 1, 2013 9:19 pm

    Aw, Claire. You think too much.

    Here’s something I occasionally find myself noodling with, that I wouldn’t mind seeing discussed. The problem is that what is genuinely good for a society is generally not good for all its individual members. It may be impossible for people who don’t wish to live as part of some horrible flock to ever be happily free in a society where people think of the most basic political unit as being a gigantic nation-state.

    I’ll make no effort to romanticize tribalism. But if you can find a group of sufficiently like-minded people, and if you keep the scale small enough, tribalism does work: Even in meatspace.

    The world isn’t going to fundamentally change just to suit us, so no utopianism here. We have to do the best we can with what we’ve got. Is it practical, do you think, to discuss how people can just sort of form their own tribes and withdraw to the extent possible?

  7. Pat
    Pat March 2, 2013 1:14 am

    And another way of saying all of the above: How can the concept of “citizen” in people’s minds be changed to “free will”?

  8. Pre-press veteran
    Pre-press veteran March 2, 2013 4:33 am

    I’m noodling over a couple things that aren’t ready for “prime time” yet…

    big one is: why is gov’t spending so much time, energy and tax dollars on the “little stuff” of living… said little stuff being the personal freedoms, responsibilities, philosophies of life of each person? Why try to force an artificial hegemony on everyone? Isn’t that the opposite of diversity, tolerance and freedom? (this is the one that personally really gets me down) Meanwhile: all the BIG STUFF – like budgets, governing intelligently, and helping the machinery of international relationships – who’s taking care of that? Doesn’t seem like anyone is; there’s no driver at the wheel and the accelerator is wedged to the floor and the cliff-edge looms.

    The other thing that compliments that, maybe is actually a part of the above… sounds silly until ya ponder it awhile. That is, whatever happened to manners? and etiquette? Where: it was considered the height of rudeness to publically denounce someone else because they were different than you? Believed something that disagreed with your beliefs? How was it possible for ALL those YEARS for people with different ways of life, different religious beliefs, etc to pleasantly, peacefully get along and work together? Was it because we simply accepted the difference, kept our mouths shut and didn’t gossip about “them”, and treated everyone with the same kind of respect?

    I know it’s “manners”… but for the life of me… I can’t explain how should matter. I do know, that without the “magic grease” of whatever made this work… without that, people wear their personal ideologies on their sleeve, right below the big chip on their shoulder – insisting on their individual RIGHT to force me to accept them, believe the way they do, act and look like they do – or be demeaned for my differences… and passive-aggressively DARING me to start an argument over which one is better.

    All I want to do is point out that there’s room for both and go about my business without harassment.

    None of this makes any sense and heck, I don’t even think it’s any clearer than mud. But it’s the gravel that’s tumbling through my stream of consciousness… polishing something… and clarifying something. Hope I don’t confuse anyone.

  9. smitty
    smitty March 2, 2013 5:31 am

    I have been accused of being a “know it all”. I always reply that it may seem so, just ’cause I read lots of books and stuff, but I have far more Questions than answers…

    Here’s a couple I often ponder:

    Why do people who don’t believe the government’s claim that they want their ‘gun control’ measures in order to protects us, still believe and eagerly support the gov’t’s claim that they must: create a surveillance/police state; conduct perpetual global warfare; assassinate Americans and others via UAV drone attacks without a shred of due process…in order to protect us?

    Why do those claiming to support Liberty and freedom so often not support the particular forms that they don’t practice? And then be incapable of seeing that that obtuse attitude undermines all Liberty?

    This was nicely illustrated by the Jack Nicholson character George Hanson in the film, Easy Rider:

    George Hanson: You know, this used to be a helluva good country. I can’t understand what’s gone wrong with it.

    Billy: Man, everybody got chicken, that’s what happened. Hey, we can’t even get into like, a second-rate hotel, I mean, a second-rate motel, you dig? They think we’re gonna cut their throat or somethin’. They’re scared, man.

    George Hanson: They’re not scared of you. They’re scared of what you represent to ’em.

    Billy: Hey, man. All we represent to them, man, is somebody who needs a haircut.

    George Hanson: Oh, no. What you represent to them is freedom.

    Billy: What the hell is wrong with freedom? That’s what it’s all about.

    George Hanson: Oh, yeah, that’s right. That’s what’s it’s all about, all right. But talkin’ about it and bein’ it, that’s two different things. I mean, it’s real hard to be free when you are bought and sold in the marketplace. Of course, don’t ever tell anybody that they’re not free, ’cause then they’re gonna get real busy killin’ and maimin’ to prove to you that they are. Oh, yeah, they’re gonna talk to you, and talk to you, and talk to you about individual freedom. But they see a free individual, it’s gonna scare ’em.

    Billy: Well, it don’t make ’em runnin’ scared.

    George Hanson: No, it makes ’em dangerous. Buh, neh! Neh! Neh! Neh! Swamp!

    Here’s the youtube clip:

  10. Jake MacGregor
    Jake MacGregor March 2, 2013 7:51 am

    Confronted with what we know, and as importantly – don’t know, about Mordor descending upon us: What are the credible options for those who choose freedom?

    some options off top of my feeble head
    – Gulching
    – Expatriation
    – Grey man
    – declare awkward time is over, lock and load
    – many others (please chime in)

    I would like a running blog thread on this on a day of the week (or Month) and see where it goes

    What are the monetary, physical, emotional, spiritual costs to the above. Pros/Cons. Real examples. Basic How to guide per each.

  11. MTY
    MTY March 2, 2013 8:35 am

    Along the lines of Jake above….

    Have you changed your line in the sand now? Not that I expect specific answers on a public blog, but thinking about where you draw the line now as opposed to 10 years ago would be a good reassessment.

    Tips for dropping out, or links. Again, I would not want to see people put personal stories out there, but I and people I know have been brainstorming ways to detach ourselves and basically peacefully resist by having as little to do with government regulations and laws as possible by living the NAP and forming personal community ties.

    It is difficult……I am amazed every day that my decisions and even my thinking is shaded by the belief of government involvement, and I am frightened a bit by how connected I still am.

  12. Jake MacGregor
    Jake MacGregor March 2, 2013 10:12 am

    another idea: seeing as how we have been a tad somber lately why not have a series of blog posts on how to keep laughing (so we don’t cry)

    you, Claire, do an excellent job of mixing in fun stuff about Dogs, rescue and other

    this is not to say ignore the crap in the world

    rather, lets learn to compartmentalize and continue to focus on things that are good, wonderful, happy and downright hilarious

    “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” – Dr. Viktor Frankl

  13. Jim Bovard
    Jim Bovard March 2, 2013 11:33 am

    Claire – no need to apologize for lite blogging. It is important not to let any computer interfere too much with one’s life.

    I hope the sun breaks through in your part of the world and that you can have some great times with your dogs in the coming week.

  14. Gus S. Calabrese (@99guspuppet) troll
    Gus S. Calabrese (@99guspuppet) troll March 2, 2013 12:23 pm

    how bad will it have to get ? What act of the government will finally cross your line in the sand ….. when will you do a Henry Bowman ? 99guspuppet

  15. Tahn
    Tahn March 2, 2013 12:35 pm

    How are we to communicate with emotionalists? They care not about truth or facts, they are ignorant of history but they feel. Oh how they feel and emote and see no problem with controlling others because it makes them feel so good and worthy.

    Of course this is not true of their puppet masters who use their emotions for their own purpose and power.

    What works? How can the emotionalists be separated from their controllers?

  16. RB
    RB March 2, 2013 12:44 pm

    Winter blues: Have you tried Vitamin D3? A light box?
    They do help Seasonal Affective Disorder.

  17. Tim
    Tim March 2, 2013 1:20 pm

    Well, how would a person feel in 5th or 6th century AD watching society crumble about him?

    We’re going to live through a nasty bit of history, so there’s no point in being upset about it….I know I’m going to sound like a bogus Dr. Pull Up Your Socks…..but I think you simply have to accept that hard times are coming and prepare. And enjoy as well as you can the time we have here on Earth.

    And take care of the dogs!

  18. Paul Bonneau
    Paul Bonneau March 2, 2013 2:19 pm

    How about asking this: “Does it bother you that people in general don’t measure up to some ideal or other?” In other words, that they appear to value security over freedom, for example (something I happen to dispute).

    I think it’s better to take the human race as it is, and to exercise one’s right of association, hanging out with those who are on the same page as we are. Let everybody else go to Hell in their own handbasket. It’s none of our business.

    Yeah, we can suffer side effects of this phenomenon, but hey, that’s life. We were not born with a silver spoon in our mouths. Humans became human in the Pleistocene Era, a very tough time. We can usually handle what comes at us.

  19. Steve
    Steve March 2, 2013 3:43 pm

    How about questions about libertarianism? I’m completely anti-gubmint and still wonder how some rules might work…

    If you own your property (allodial), how far would/should it exist in the z plane? ie, how high in airspace? how low underground (fracking takes place 2 miles horizontally below ground.)

    Also on your property, what rules would govern pollution from neighboring properties? Noise (all night parties)? Someone decides to have a tire fire?

    All roads, sidewalks, etc would be private. How would that work if you wanted to walk over to Bud’s place two properties over?

    I’m sure others could come up with more.

    Also, wondering what/how the gubment’s going to try to ban when 3D guns, receivers, magazines become so easy to make – these guys got a printed AR to handle 600 rounds:

  20. naturegirl
    naturegirl March 2, 2013 5:29 pm

    Thanks for the flashback, Smitty. I haven’t thought about that movie in ages. It didn’t end well for them, either; but it reminds me how long the fight for personal freedom has been going on. And how much of it has really been lost during the last 4-5 decades.

  21. Mari
    Mari March 2, 2013 5:40 pm

    My interests are physical communities and the connections among them. A fragile infrastructure connects me to people who share my world view and when the ‘net goes down, I’m totally isolated.

    Ten years ago I discovered a truly great idea – the “Found” physical communities described in Claire’s I AM NOT A NUMBER (2003). At that time, I couldn’t find much support for the concept of building a community within an existing infrastructure and not even attempting to convert the natives to the libertarian church. There was much enthusiasm for then for “free states” and other allegedly free political arrangements. Then retreats and redoubts became popular – now they are just excellent drone targets.

    Obviously, organizing a Found community is an off-line endeavor. It’s exciting, time-consuming and a great cure for all the depressing news.

  22. Mic
    Mic March 2, 2013 6:55 pm

    Since many Libertarians feel all the main news sources that are out there feed us garbage and “news” sources like Fox News are even considered thinly veiled entertainment and not real news source. So all that said where ARE good sources of information and news to be found?

  23. Terry
    Terry March 2, 2013 7:03 pm

    Who owns you?


  24. smitty
    smitty March 2, 2013 11:42 pm

    One more:

    There is much ‘tough talk’ about using force…

    And I surely don’t fail to recognize that such may be required.

    But, Why do people fail to see we still have a peaceful means available, the incredibly powerful capability of individuals serving on Grand and Trial juries???

    Distilled to its base, the power of the state is a police power. But they still can’t use the legal system against us unless we cooperate as rubber-stamps.

    The Grand Jury-if they recognize their power and ignore the government prosecutor that guides them as if by remote control, can be a serious check on the indictment process. They can refuse to indict people for imaginary offenses such as non-violent ‘drug’ ‘crimes’.

    At trial, they need 12 votes of guilty, while we need one mere vote of not guilty to throw sand in the gears.

    If we’d do this, more would see the value in insisting on their right to trial, rather than be extorted into a plea bargain.

    When enough insist on a trial, dump trucks of sand bring the gears of injustice to a halt.

    Then reform becomes not only possible, but absolutely necessary…

    This sort of citizen action was displayed in slave times (the Fugitive Slave Act) and alcohol prohibition. Juries refusing to convict were a major factor in ending slavery and prohibition.

  25. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty March 3, 2013 6:30 am

    “When enough insist on a trial, dump trucks of sand bring the gears of injustice to a halt.”

    Sure, Smitty. Trick is that “enough” part. Right now, there are not enough people who even understand how it should work, let alone how it is used and abused now. The “powers that be” have done a great deal to destroy the jury system already, and the chance of even getting a jury trial is slim in most cases.

    Keep in mind that our would be masters do NOT play by the “rules.” They are no longer bound in any real way by the “laws” that supposedly restrain them. They can and do move the goalposts at will. Right now they are in control of that and a lot of other things and, trust me, they don’t intend for that ever to change.

  26. Bear
    Bear March 3, 2013 7:34 am

    Mic Says: “Since many Libertarians feel all the main news sources that are out there feed us garbage and “news” sources like Fox News are even considered thinly veiled entertainment and not real news source.”

    Depending on which polls you decide to semi-trust (a similar question- with similar solutions as presented below), most Americans think most lamestream muddia sources are crap, ranking somewhere below Congress in trustworthiness. It isn’t just libertarians.

    “So all that said where ARE good sources of information and news to be found?”

    A question that illustrates why I gave up. Because that’s a question that’s been answered so many times that — like “reporters” calling a WASR-10 an AK-47 assault rifle — there’s no real excuse for it in anyone over the age of 15.

    But maybe you’re 14: Review all the news sources you have time for. Identify their biases. For news items that concern you get, reports from multiple biases sources, apply your brain, and attempt to pick out the common facts amidst the spin. Discard news sources that are all spin, no fact. Often spin from different outlets cancels out. Put more trust in outlets that present you with source material (scan of leaked documents, unedited video, and the like); that’s more likely to be a blogger (see for RKBA related issues) than a traditional news service. Apply your brain and evaluate for yourself.

    Probably you have at least one area in which you are fairly knowledgeable: As you view reports from outlets that touch on your knowledge area, ask yourself if the reporters/editors have a clue what they’re talking about. Apply your brain; if they’re screwing up badly on stuff you know about, what are the odds they’re getting things right in other areas?

    Simple word of mouth. The Internet gives you access to people around the world who often witness the things you see reported. Ask them what they saw. Sometimes you can go and see for yourself. (Example: A protest was reported as having drawn no more than 500 people. However, I happened to have attended it. Doing a grid estimate, I put the crowd in excess of two thouand. Other people doing independent grid estimates compared notes afterwards: the lowest estimate was two thousand, the highest closer to three thousand.)

    You may recall Jarbidge and the “Shovel Brigade”. I wanted to know more about what the locals really thought, not just what the muddia told me. I talked to people that had been there. I drove out there and talked to people.

    Apply your brain. But popping the top on another beer, and turning up the volume is so much easier.

    Yeah, this takes some effort, and if you really give a damn anymore, it’ll cut into your reality TV time and Monday Night Football (is that still Monday night?). And it’s not as fun as being in an organized group like Democrats, Republicans, or Libertarians who will helpfully tell you what you should all happily think together (Caveat: The Libertarians will argue over what you should think. Incessantly. Often never getting around to telling you, which is good because now you’ll have to go out… and apply your brain.). But you’ll end up with a couple more facts at the end of the day. That and five bucks will get you a cup of coffee.

  27. smitty
    smitty March 3, 2013 8:21 am

    @ MamaLiberty Says

    You are right.

    I know firsthand all that you described as I was myself processed through the judicial meat grinder some years ago.

    After 2 years and 11 months of lying cops, a corrupt prosecutor and a misbehaving judge, I was in the courthouse for trial.

    I’ll never forget looking into the eyes of the assembled pool of potential jurors. I could see it clearly in their eyes: so this guy is the reason we’re here-let’s hurry up and convict in order to be home in time for supper.

    Still though, I wonder how many of us supposed Liberty avocates avoid jury duty like the plague?

    Jury duty is a peaceful means to check tyranny, so it seems it is a worthy effort.

    If even those on our side are unwilling to perform that duty, then it seems a pipe dream that significant numbers of us will step up when forceful action becomes needed.

  28. UnReconstructed
    UnReconstructed March 3, 2013 10:29 am

    For me, many of the things that I want to know probably should not be discussed in this forum…as a humerous example, and totally hypothetically, do hogs really completely dispose of biological evidence?

    But for others, (and to a lesser degree, me), exactly how far do you (the collective you, not you personally, Claire) take the NAP?

    For instance, Most of us would probably say that it is not aggression if someone forcibly enters your house and you use force to stop them. And I think most of us would agree that if one was accosted on a public street, that the use of force would not violate the NAP.

    But what about the people who make it an active business to take away your freedoms? To rob you, and use force to ensure compliance with immoral demands?

    We talk about ‘lines in the sand’, and for each, its an individual choice exactly where to draw it. And for most here, its fairly hypothetical. I don’t think anybody (including me) is about to pull a Henry Bowman. But, was he violating the NAP?

  29. G.W.F.
    G.W.F. March 3, 2013 2:08 pm

    Claire, congrats on getting a few days away. Anytime you can get away from the routine and recharge the personal battery it is always a good thing. I usually force myself to go out and spend a few days away from any technology a few times a year and think its helps keep me sane (some may disagree on its effectiveness 🙂 ).

    For questions: I would be curious on expanding on the question of stay or go with a simple matrix for those with countries in mind:

    Tax rates Gun Ownership? If so What? Income Requirements? Time req, to gain citizenship? Main Language? Currency? Currency Stability? Gold/Silver Ownership Restrictions? Import Duties? What is required to import pets? Etc, etc.

    I have always looked for some way to take it all down to a common denominator and see if there are any real other countries that would work.

    I have explored Belize and visited a few times to the point I could fill in the matrix for that country. The issues for me are 1.) crappy gun control act… can push for an with some bribes maybe get a permit, but you have sever limitations on WHAT you can own…..maybe a 9mm and shotgun….anything more forget it. 2.) Pets…so hard you may just want to leave Fido at the Mexico border. 3.) 2 full years of residency before you can gain citizenship 4.) Heavy imports on getting your stuff into the country. 5.) Need a steady non-Belize generated income to get that citizenship….if you have a million $ retirement account you draw interest from, no problem. If you are too young to have that….too bad. I finally ruled out the country when the realtor I was talking to disappeared. Literally! I find out later she and he husband were the victims of a home invasion and robbed and executed for a little cash and the car they shared. You can’t have guns, but the bad guys so….No thanks! I will stick with the evil I know here.

    Still, I’d like to put together a matrix for freedom loving individuals to do that side by side comparison and take some of the places discussed: Costa Rica, Panama, Chile, etc and look at them side-by-side WITH THE USA. I think it would help in the discussion….just a thought.

    Anyway, first step would be asking the questions. What columns go int he matrix? (climate, political, economic, individual rights, etc.) Then, with such a group of knowledgeable commentators, we could fill in the blanks and come up with some nice working document.

    I tried something a while back, but came to the conclusion that for all its evils, the US still works best for me. I would look to move if I could find a place with that right mix to start over, but I would need the data to see

  30. Shel
    Shel March 3, 2013 6:05 pm

    I have been having a difficult time as well with our rapid decay. I used to read the Drudge Report regularly, now I settle for getting my fair share of abuse, as the Rolling Stones put it, by what I receive in email. I was going to add some of those things, but I think I need a break, too. So I’ve decided simply to submit intentional, as opposed to unintentional, doggerel.

    John Muir has by far the best walking the dog story that I’ve ever read.

    Kipling totally understood, as he did incredibly with so many things, the bond between dogs and humans. Warning: don’t read this if you’ve recently lost one.

    A couple of videos that went viral are still good views. In the Denver one, I think the owner went a little too far at the end but it’s still good.

    In the second, no, she’s not stupid at all.

    And to avoid any accusations of discrimination, I’ll get catty and reference Poe. His cat wasn’t stupid, either.

  31. Bear
    Bear March 3, 2013 6:46 pm

    (Huh. Love that autoformatting.)

  32. ILTim
    ILTim March 4, 2013 5:40 am

    I need to share something from my weekend.

    I watched the (lousy) History Channel version of Top Gear Friday, and the first thing that appeared on screen, before even the intro title screen, was a black screen with the following in white text:

    “Local authorities monitored the filming of this show. No laws were broken.”

    I had to hit pause and leave the room for a minute. The words that came to mind were “Cowering Pussification”. The scene that came to mind was a news clip flashback of the present time from some decades in the future. It flashed thru images of a line of shoulder to shoulder riot ready swat. A flash of something reminiscent of North Korea, something like the height of the Soviets, but in the US this time. Several clips of residential invasions by the black clad goons. Helicopters and a red-n-blue flashing entourage chasing a car down the freeway.

    I could picture billy bob and the crew cut crew tossing an office. Television producers crying in the corner shaking a fistful of papers at the thugs “but we had a PERMIT “.

    After the red curtain of blood receded, I watched the show. There were about eight different freeze frame moments with police escorts visible in the background.

    I cannot help it. I see war. I see it here and now. We are in TROUBLE here. This is no way to live. This is BAD. The History Channel is afraid, AFRAID! to air some pedestrian television show!

    Afraid of the police, sheriffs, and all twenty or thirty separate layers of authority. But, chillingly, also afraid of the MASSES OF PEOPLE who participate in the oppressive aggression with vigor.

    I remember the first time someone told me that Hitler had been elected, and was liked by the people. I had never even considered the possibility before. But now I’m living it.

    Sorry for piling on, this surely won’t help your blues.

    As to questions, something which prods at what people see as oppressive prosecution, arrests, taxation, travel theater, etc in the vein of my breaking point visions above.

  33. Laird
    Laird March 4, 2013 8:40 am

    I like GWF’s idea of a country matrix. Perhaps it could be “stickied” and permanently available/editable?

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