Traveling through the "Land of the Free" (The Dollar Vigilante)
Monday September 10th, 2012
It was Friday morning and Gary Gibson and I had decided to go to San Diego and see a number of friends and colleagues at Casey Research's, "The Politicized Economy" conference. Trying to do everything we could to avoid the TSA and harassment by the US Government we flew direct from Acapulco to Tijuana on Volaris. But, upon arrival we immediately had our documents checked by numerous Mexican police officials and they pulled us to the side to rout through our luggage and ask us what we were doing and where we are going. Then, once past them, as I protested, we again had to put our bags through another scanning machine manned by armed soldiers.
I threw my hands in the air as though to say, "how many people need to look through our stuff?"... the answer is zero, by the way. As I collected my bags one of the soldiers said in spanish, "too many checkpoints eh?". I responded in the affirmative and he said, "I know." Even he saw the ridiculousness of it all... but being an airport on the border of Mordor they appear to have taken their marching orders from the all-seeing eye to the north.
We then rented a car on the Tijuana side and after having flown 2,000 miles in the prior three hours in the free market we then spent two hours advancing 500 feet in the world of the state as we slinked forward, to show our papers and await permission to enter the leviathan. Of all the things I hate about the state, borders has to be one of the most irritating. What, exactly, is the purpose? Some say that we "need" borders, to make sure "bad guys" are kept out. Well, if you truly believe that, then why not have border checkpoints between each state? Or at the entrance to each city? Heck, why not have one on each block? That way we can be assured total safety... because someone showing a government issued ID with their photo on it makes everything much safer! And why stop at having the TSA at airports, why not have them full body grope you at bus or train stations? Oh wait, they are already doing that.
Once approved for passage my stress levels immediately rose. After months of never having to look at my speedometer for any reason other than curiosity I now had to keep a close eye on it and ensure I didn't go past the state mandated limit while, at the same time, constantly checking my mirrors and the road ahead for police cars and helicopters who may be monitoring my speed and willing to use force in an armed robbery if I am deemed to have broken their arbitrary rules.
But, as I was about to find out, this was just the beginning!
We then met a fine young oil tycoon from Texas who was holding a nice cigar at the hotel lobby bar. As we were introduced he asked me if I could give him some advice on expatriation. I told him I certainly could but only if he could tell me where he got his cigar. He pulled another from his pocket and passed it to me. I thanked him and asked if he had a light. "Oh, well, you can't smoke it," he stated, nonchalantly.
"Why?" I asked.
"This is California... not only can you not smoke indoors but you can't even smoke outdoors if it is within 20 feet of a privately owned building or within 80 feet of a government office," he said.
"So, why do you even bother with the cigar then?" I asked.
He told me, "I've just been eating them. I ate about four cigars yesterday."
That seemed very unsatisfactory to me! I then said, "Why don't we go somewhere else where we can smoke them?" and we got in my car. None of our party was willing to drive, despite many of them being locals and my not having a clue where anything was. Everyone just said, with a blank stare, "I had two drinks already, it is too dangerous to drive". Apparently, even having two glasses of wine and driving can cause you to be kidnapped in Kalifornia. I was the only one willing to take "the chance" of trying to drive after a few glasses of wine. I figured, I don't even have a driver's license, so why not break a few more laws while I am at it.
As I lit up my cigar in the car I jokingly asked, "Am I allowed to smoke in my own car?" My local friend responded, "Yes, that is still legal. Although if there is a minor in the car, it is not legal."
Well, I thought, I finally found something I am allowed to do in the land of the free! It's hard to do as you can see the list of smoking rules in California here.
We then pulled up to an open air lounge bar and within seconds of walking in, with my still lit cigar, a minor ruckus had broken out. People were pointing and giving me angry looks... some feverishly looked around for the manager. Finally, to the relief of everyone, the manager rushed up, "You have to put that out right now!" he stated angrily. "If you want to smoke, you have to go outside!"
I responded, "We are outside."
He snapped back, "Out, outside," pointing to the street. Not wanting to cause a riot I put out the cigar and the slaves tried to return to a sense of normalcy after such a dramatic event. But, I noticed, other than slave-on-slave action where they enforce the rules upon each other, everywhere I went, hardly anyone makes eye contact.
Everyone seems skittish... and of those that weren't that way, the rest were falling down drunk. I guess when you live in a highly controlled police state it causes people to be leary of nearly anything and everything and/or to self medicate.
At 1:30am, as the music at the bar cut off and all the lights blasted on, a bouncer put his elbow to the back of my head and pushed me and the rest of the crowd out the door like we had done something wrong while shouting "Everybody's gotta go! Move! Move! Get out!"
As we ended up out on the street and fights sprung up around us as drunken, frustrated slaves took out their frustration on each other I looked to my friend, shrugged and said, "I don't know how much more of this freedom I can take."
Jeff Berwick [send him mail] is an anarcho-capitalist freedom fighter and Chief Editor of the libertarian, Austrian economics grounded newsletter, The Dollar Vigilante. The Dollar Vigilante focuses on strategies, investments and expatriation opportunities to survive & prosper during and after the US dollar collapse.