Previously by Jeff Berwick: I Finally Started Smoking
Hello from Libertopia in San Diego,
So far the conference has been excellent. So many great anarcho-capitalist minds here, it is almost overwhelming. However, hosting a liberty conference in the USSA almost seems insane at this juncture. It’d be like hosting a KKK member drive in Compton – a strange choice of locales that seems to go against the very nature of the surroundings.
That became clear right on the first day as I tried to grab a drink in the Hospitality suite. I was told by numerous people to be very thankful that we had the ability to buy alcohol on the private hotel grounds because, due to government regulation, it isn’t legal. A woman stood by the door and was very cautious to let more than two people at a time into the 600 square foot room. "Please wait outside," she said, to the line that was queuing up. "The room is full."
I looked inside at the two people and the large amount of empty space. She then said something about fire codes before admonishing me not to smoke – outside! There is a law that you have to be a certain amount of feet away from a doorway.
I finally got a little tired of all the rules and people telling me where I could go and what I could do when I got there and decided to head into town with TDVer Justin O’Connell, and his young group of friends.
"How are we going to get there?" he asked.
I was a bit confused. "Don’t you have a car?" I replied.
He responded that he did, but he had just had one beer and it would be too risky to drive. He went on to tell me that if he were to get a DUI it would cost, at a minimum, $15,000. and likely somewhere in the neighborhood of $30,000.
Again, I was confused. "How?" I asked.
"First," he stated, "the fine (or bail) for a DUI is around $15,000. Plus they steal your car and you have to pay them $300 per day to keep it stolen, but you’ll be in a cage and unable to retrieve it so the fines go up very quickly."
Not wanting him to have to declare bankruptcy after drinking a beer I then suggested we get a taxi.
Again, he shot that idea down. "There are no taxis around here and it’ll take 30 minutes to call one."
Coming from a place where I can’t walk outside for more than one second without being offered countless taxis, it was a strange notion. But, I guess if it costs anywhere near the $600,000 to buy permission to drive a taxi in New York, it makes sense. Massive employment in the US and a large demand for taxis and taxi drivers, but no one can afford to do it.
I gritted my teeth and asked him what other options we had. He told me that his friends would come pick us up and we sat around in the cold fall evening listening to crickets for another 30 minutes before 4 young 20-something boys drove up.
They huddled up, as though used to this process, and asked, "OK, who’s DD?"
Unfamiliar with the term I was again somewhat confused. "I got DD!" chimed one of the guys.
DD, it turns out, means designated driver. If you live in the US you probably knew that but I have been living in a place where we recently got drunk and paid a taxi driver to let us drive his volkswagon beetle cab – and he did obligingly, so DD means something different to me: "drive drunk".
We then drove at the excruciatingly slow speed limit downtown, stopping at what seemed like 30 traffic lights, although no traffic was ever impeding us. At one light, the car in front of us turned left well after the yellow light had come on and all the guys in the car went into a frenzy.
"Did you see that?!" exclaimed one.
"Dude, that’s crazy!" shouted another. The guy beside me nudged me, "Crazy, right?"
I put on a fake smile, not wanting to cause any problems and nodded, "Yes, he turned left a little late. Insane."
Finally we made it downtown and after another 15 minutes of looking for parking we began walking around looking for a place to go. As we did, a girl threw up on my shoe and a few seconds later another incredibly intoxicated youngster asked me for a drag of my smoke. I politely turned down his request only to have him lunge at me to tell me he was going to kill me. His friends held the tough guy back as I looked on with curiousity at the kind of animals that live in this area.
Finally, around midnight, and after showing my papers to the doorman I made it inside a bar and proceeded to try to relax after what seemed like a very unneccesarily stressful and hectic evening. After a few drinks I did start to relax and as I leaned up against the wall I took a deep breath and was thankful to feel that way.
But, just as I did it, all the lights in the club turned on and a bouncer put his elbow to the back of my neck as he pushed me and the entire croud out, shouting, "Move, move move!"
It was 1:30am and we weren’t allowed to be there anymore. I knew what was coming next. I’ve seen this scene countless times in the place where I was raised, the true north strong and completely unfree, Canada. After you violently push out what is mostly young males (the girls have the good sense to be gone by that point) out on the street at an unseemly early hour (and certainly not an hour that the business would want to close at – prime selling time) and cut off their access to alcohol, then comes the fights.
I somehow managed to evade most aggressions and spent another 15 minutes looking for a taxi on the mostly dark, deserted streets and, for a second, I peered south and seriously considered going to Tijuana. But, my speech at Libertopia was at 8:45am and if I went to Tijuana, the clubs would just be getting good at that time, so I decided against it.
As I walked into my hotel room, cold, lonely and very unsatisfied by the entire evening, I thought to myself, I hope the next time they consider hosting Libertopia in a place with at least a modicum of liberty. At the rate the US is going this will seem like holding an annual Judaism conference in Auschwitz in the late 1930s.
But, if there is one good thing about the location, it is that at any given time I am no more than a 30 minute drive from Tijuana. You can almost see liberty from here!
“Getting Your Gold Out of Dodge” is available here. It is free to TDV and TDV Golden Trader subscribers or for a one-time price of $44.95 USD. It may be the best use of your fiat Federal Reserve Notes you’ve ever spent. Reprinted with permission from The Dollar Vigilante.
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.