by Fred Reed: White
Trash and the American Experience
a country works reasonably well when the schools teach algebra
and not governmentally mandated Appropriate Values, when the police
are scarce and courteous, when government is remote and minds its
business and works more for the benefit of the country than for
looters and special interests, then pledging to it a degree of allegiance
isn't foolish. Decades back America was such a country, imperfect
as all countries are, but good enough to cherish.
begins, and government becomes oppressive, self-righteous, and ruthless
yet incompetent, as official spying flourishes, as corruption sets
in hard, and institutions rot, it is time to disengage. Loyalty
to a country is a choice, not an obligation. In other times people
have loved family, friends, common decency, tribe, regiment, or
church instead of country. In an age of national collapse, this
field of disengagement might be called domestic expatriation the
recognition that living in a country makes you a resident, not a
subscriber. It is one thing to be loyal to a government that is
loyal to you, another thing entirely to continue that loyalty when
the Brown Shirts march and the government rejects everything that
you believe in. While the phrase has become unbearably pretentious,
it is possible to regard oneself as a citizen of the world rather
than of the Reich.
is an admirable form of disengagement for those who cannot physically
expatriate. The primary schools once taught enough of reading and
arithmetic, and little enough of medioccritizing propaganda, as
to render them other than pernicious. Today, no. Here it is worth
reflecting, contrary to governmental insistence, that schools are
needless, at least for bright children. An intelligent child quickly
reads several years ahead of his grade level, at which point school
becomes only an obstacle. He will be savagely bored, regard his
teachers as imbeciles, and learn nothing that justifies his being
there but much that justifies being somewhere else. In the deepening
twilight, home-schooling becomes almost a responsibility, a parallel
to medieval monks copying Greek manuscripts.
from the system of universities, or as I should say, universities,
is also advisable. This is true, first, because if you seek cultivation,
to gain a grasp of such matters as history, literature, the arts
and the sciences, you can do it better on your own. Professors serve
little purpose other than to ensure that the student does his homework.
If the student wants to study, he can do it by himself, and if he
doesn't want to study, he has no business in a university.
these days, with exceptions I hope, are citadels of intellectual
darkness. They teach little, and chiefly serve to force the young
to borrow backbreaking sums from colluding banks. The wasted time
and phenomenal cost cannot be justified unless they provide some
remarkable recompense, and they do not.
largely prepare the student for a life of office work in some dismal
institution, trapping him in the retirement system and making him
a prisoner of the state. In a nation subsiding into the third world,
institutions cannot be counted on.
It makes more
sense to become, say, a commercial diver, or a master auto mechanic.
The training costs less than piratical fifth-rate USOs (university-shaped
objects). Both are interesting, challenging, and well-remunerated,
which cannot be said of law for most who do not go into Wall Street.
Crucially important, cars can be found everywhere, and such as oil
companies the world over need divers. You are not tied to the United
States, where the death rattle begins to be heard over the thump
of the storm troopers' boots.
from the consumerist zeitgeist is essential. Yes, I know. Distaste
for a life dedicated to buying the unnecessary can seem a pose:
I, I, am of such lofty character that I do not dirty my philosophical
hands with mere...things.
No. It is not
a pose. In a time of economic retrogression, rejection of consumerism
is utterly practical. And almost treasonous.
One might ask
oneself, What do I really need, and what things really matter
to me? How much money do I really need, and how much am I willing
to pay to get it? Remember, you pay more for money than for
I once lived
briefly in an old one-bedroom trailer set in a patch of pine woods
near Farmville, Virginia. A brick barbecue came with it, and a large
floppy pooch, apparently a mixture of Irish setter and whatever
was around. The place was blessedly quiet. Birds and bugs aren't
noise. When it rained I delighted in being almost in the storm,
but dry. I think the whole shebang cost the owner five thousand
dollars, including a well and septic system.
If you are
thinking, Why...no...I couldn't possibly live that way,
you are probably right. But if I were doing it now, I would have
staggering amounts of pirated music on today's monstrous memory
sticks, a set of very decent speakers for a few hundred doomed green
ones, a Kindle or the free computer version for reading books from
Amazon if I had the money or Project Gutenberg if I didn't, and
a fairly large flat screen for watching movies donated by uTorrent.
Net cost: Under a grand.
differ, yes. But you get the idea: Comfort, quiet, music, books,
barbecue, undefined dog, storms, friends, for practically nothing.
Mutatis mutandis, the principle applies almost everywhere.
It also fits
well with Fred's Bifurcate Law of Economic Independence: If you
can't pay for it, don't buy it; and if you don't need it, don't
buy it. Therein lie the seeds of the utter destruction of America,
but I'm not Wall Street's mother.
To labor the
point a tad, where I live, near Guadalajara in Mexico, at least
two friends are living quite comfortably on a thousand a month,
to include beer, Internet, and in one case substances crucial to
the bloated salaries of DEA. Each has a tired truck, but no granite
countertops or riding mower.
toward independence is to disengage to the extent possible from
the maintenance cycle. You are much better off in bad times if you
can do the kind of plumbing, wiring, and auto maintenance that used
to be commonly understood. This is easy to say, I know. Yet, if
done, it gets you farther off the grid.
differ and details vary. The principle remains: Disengage, cut your
expenses, seek the interstices, and don't believe in anything unless
you are sure it was your idea to believe in it. What is coming looks
to be ugly. If so, it will be every man for himself, his family,
his friends, and what principles he believes. The government doesnt
give a wan, eitolated damn about you.
is author of Nekkid
in Austin: Drop Your Inner Child Down a Well and A
Brass Pole in Bangkok: A Thing I Aspire to Be. His latest
book is Curmudgeing
Through Paradise: Reports from a Fractal Dung Beetle. Visit
© 2011 Fred Reed
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