There's a storm coming.
The political, economic, and cultural problems in America and the wider world need no recounting. The challenge of breaking free seems insurmountable because these storm clouds have been gathering for many decades, almost since the dawn of the Republic. How can can we find sustainable solutions to problems that are so deep-seated?
Some favor educational methods like spreading knowledge of free-market economics and encouraging personal responsibility. Others counsel a purely political approach -- writing letters to your congressperson, showing up at city council meetings, organizing tea party protests, and the like.
Those are good ideas, but they are no longer enough.
Because our society has fallen so far from the high ideals of our Founders, we must find a path to freedom and liberty that goes outside or underneath the current system. As John Adams might say, we must seek a revolution first in the minds and hearts and habits of the people. We must strengthen the bonds of civil society so that we need not depend so heavily on an all-powerful government.
America was founded on the principle that all rights and powers inhere in the people, and that we voluntarily delegate a limited number of those rights and powers to government. So why do we petition government to relinquish its powers and give us back our rights? Those rights and powers are yours and mine to exercise as we see fit, as long as we respect the rights and powers of others.
This is not a matter of high-flown oratory or philosophical speculation -- it is a matter of practical things you can do right now, every day, to live more free.
You have freedom of speech, so speak! Start a newsletter, a weblog, or a discussion forum. Share your thoughts with your family and friends and neighbors. Silence is often taken as consent, so don't be silent!
You have the right to defend yourself and your family, so keep and bear arms! Learn to responsibly shoot a pistol, a shotgun, a rifle -- and practice your skills regularly. If you're not comfortable with firearms, learn a martial art or at least make your home or business more secure.
You have freedom of association, so associate! Exchange business cards with people you meet at freedom-oriented gatherings in your community. Connect with like-minded people on social networking websites. Work with others who think and act as you do. Seek out those with a reputation for personal integrity. Share information. Trade goods and services. Network, network, network.
You have the right to privacy, so protect your personal information by using strong passwords, encrypting your email, giving out your Social Security Number only when required by law, and minimizing the information about you in public databases.
You have the right to property, so keep the fruits of your labor by contesting your property tax valuation, lowering your income tax liability, and taking some of your purchases outside the system through swapping, barter, and cash-only transactions. If you live in a high-tax state like New York, New Jersey, California, or Maryland, vote with your feet by moving to a lower-tax state (especially good options are Alaska, Nevada, Wyoming, Florida, New Hampshire, South Dakota, and Tennessee).
You have the right to educational freedom, so home-school your children or take advantage of private, voluntary alternatives to government schools. Teach yourself about self-sufficiency, about the tools of liberty, about the history of America, about the requirements of a free society. There is no better education than the one you provide for yourself.
Now is the time to become as strong and independent and personally responsible as you can be, and to help others do the same. Only an independent people can achieve a free society.
Now is the time to ensure your financial independence so that you can weather the gathering storm. Downsize your expenses by moving to a less expensive home or apartment, and live mortgage-free if possible. Take control over your investments and learn to safeguard your wealth from government inflation and confiscation. Protect yourself from the funny-money financial system by purchasing gold and silver, including gold bullion, pre-1964 American coins, and some holdings outside the U.S.A.
Now is the time to take responsibility for your actions and your success. Work hard. Be scrupulously honest in your business dealings. Consider growing some of your own food. Maintain your health and learn to self-medicate. Turn your back on personal and corporate welfare, unemployment insurance, government loans to small businesses, and government grants to charities. Withhold your support from organizations that feed at the public trough. Boycott banks and businesses that accept government bailouts. Contribute to and volunteer with charities that don't accept taxpayer funding, and let them know why you're doing so.
Now is the time to seek out and work with those who honor the values on which America was built. You won't have anyone to trust in the future unless you start working with them today.
Now is the time to follow the wise advice of Benjamin Franklin: "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail."
There's a storm coming. We don't know exactly what form the thunderclap will take, but we do know that the future of our freedom is at stake. This is not a cry of despair, but a clarion call to action for the sake of a future that can be ours. And as Ayn Rand once said: "Anyone who fights for the future, lives in it today." It's time for us to build that future together.
Peter Saint-Andre > Writings > Essays