TBT: Egged Off

Shortly over a year ago I wrote a piece about officious bureaucrats shutting down two little girls selling chicken eggs in Texas.  The girls were trying to help people out and make a few bucks after the crazy ice storm massively disrupted Texan supply lines.

Since then, I’ve obtained a source to bring farm fresh eggs to my home on an as-needed basis; it’s one of many small blessings for which I am thankful.  With food prices even higher than they were a year ago, free eggs is a huge boon.

I ended this post with the admonishment “The time to start growing and raising our own food is now.”  But even yours portly has largely ignored his own advice.

Let’s work on changing that in 2022.

With that, here is 30 April 2021’s “Egged Off“:

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TBT^4: End the Income Tax

Here it is:  my annual call to end the income tax.  My disdain for the income tax is two-fold:  it’s incredibly annoying and invasive to file it every year; and it’s become a complicated, bureaucratic morass that attempts to social engineer our society by tweaking bits of the tax code.

I think there are downsides to a consumption tax—a national sales tax—but it makes way more sense than a tax on income.  Any tax is a disincentive to engage in the activity taxed, and no tax is perfect.  Being a necessity—perhaps an evil one—we should at least try to get the least bad tax possible.

Taxing income, then, is a disincentive to earning more income.  I faithfully track every dollar I earn in private lessons—even those paid in cash!—even though the tax burden is insane.  I suspect many Americans do not do the same, so there is already de facto tax evasion baked into an income tax.

A national sales tax would be virtually unavoidable.  That might be an argument against it.  Here’s an argument for it:  it would be a major disincentive against spending.  At a time when inflation is rocketing prices skyward, I don’t expect that such a proposal—which would make everything more expensive—will be very popular, but it would almost certainly encourage saving money.

Of course, you’d soon have all the other problems.  Industries would lobby for exemptions to the sales tax.  Should food be taxed?  If so, should it be taxed at the same rate as, say, computers?

Ah, well, forget it.  Let’s repeal the Sixteenth Amendment and let the chips fall where they may.  Tariffs aren’t so bad, eh?

With that, here is “TBT^2: End the Income Tax“:

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SubscribeStar Saturday: International Relations

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Continuing somewhat on last Saturday’s post, I’ve been thinking more about the war in Ukraine this week, specifically pondering how surreal it all seems.  Obviously, it’s quite real for the people in the Ukraine and Russia, as well as the various volunteers from around the globe who have enlisted to fight on behalf of the Ukraine.

But part of the surrealism—at least for those of us, like yours portly, who are swaddled in luxurious comfort here in the United States—is that we didn’t have to worry about international relations and foreign policy in any immediate way for at least four years.  At any rate, during the Trump administration, foreign policy largely receded from the national consciousness as a major concern.

Sure, there was the constant banging-on about “Russian collusion” and interfering in the Ukraine, and early hysterical rumors of nuclear war with North Korea.  But President Trump silenced the Norks, the Russkies, and even, to some extent, the ChiComs.  I was dismayed, initially, by the rocket launch in Syria early in Trump’s administration, but in retrospect it seems like that was a convincing show of force to the Russians (who have all sorts of interests in Syria).

After that—and after dropping some big ol’ bombs in Afghanistan, etc.—foreign policy seemed like an afterthought.  For years that had dominated headlines and—given my own interest in the topic—my mental conception of America’s role in the world.

Perhaps one of the great overlooked achievements of the Trump administration is that it achieved—however fleetingly—a semblance of global order and peace, so much that we didn’t have to think about foreign policy and international relations in any deep, consistent way for a few years.  I have no doubt that a second Trump term would not have seen the current escalation in the Ukraine.

A bold claim, but I think it’s accurate.  Regardless, the focus of this post is on that brief moment when the woes of the rest of the world seemed distant, and the United States could focus instead on its own domestic woes (of which there are many).  Now that that moment—gauzy and illusory as it turned out to be—has passed, we may be facing some profoundly existential questions about the future of the global order.

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TBT: One Week [and One Year] Under the Usurper

Well, it’s been one year and one week since Biden the Usurper seized the throne and assumed his reign of the federal government.  Of course, he’s a senile puppet—or maybe he’s playing at senility—and rubber stamps whatever the progressives want.

I’ve really disengaged from national politics over the last year, as I find much of the wrangling fruitless.  I personally advocate for radical decentralization and focusing our energy and attention at the lowest levels of government to bring about change.  If economics functions on a “trickle-down” basis, politics “trickles-up”—(re)gain control of the mechanisms of power and the institutions locally, and you’re going to change—albeit slowly—the greater heights.

That said, even I am not ignorant to the state of the country.  Workers are quitting their menial jobs in droves—or not returning to them after being furloughed—as they can enjoy excessively generous unemployment benefits.  Prices are through the roof on everything, especially food.  Farmers are facing higher prices for the inputs for fertilizer, which means food is just going to get more expensive.  The supply chains are totally disrupted.  And we’re wringing our hands over The Virus, which has gotten milder over time, and was never all that deadly anyway.

Police officers are arresting nine-year olds in New York City for not having vaccine passports.  Masks—which don’t work at all—are a sign of the pious—the New Elect—and increase carbon dioxide levels.  Companies are forcing employees to get The Vaccine, which isn’t even a vaccine in the traditional sense, but an experimental gene therapy that appears to increase dramatically the incidences of myocarditis in even the healthiest individuals—including professional athletes, who are dropping like flies.

Americans might have lost their spirit of ornery rebellion, but if their kids are getting arrested and/or discriminated against and they can’t buy stuff they want at low prices, they’ll make a fuss.  They already are.  The Biden Administration might not bear the responsibility for everything that is happening, but they’ve done precious little to ameliorate—and much to exacerbate—our current situation.

That’s why now more than ever, we’ve got to get serious about fixing things where we are.  Grow your own food, stack cash (even if inflation eats into it), and learn to live lean.

With that, here is 27 January 2021’s “One Week Under the Usurper“:

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A New Term

Yesterday I was sworn-in to a full term on Lamar Town Council.  I was elected earlier this year in a special election, so this was my second swearing-in ceremony.  Now, however, I’m in for a full four years.

My colleague on Council, Councilwoman Mary Ann Mack, was also sworn-in to her first full term after being elected last July.  Our new mayor, Mayor James Howell, was sworn-in, too, marking the start of his administration.

The ceremony was short and sweet.  We gathered on the front lawn of Town Hall at 5 PM.  The judge ran each of us through the oath of office, starting with the new mayor and wrapping up with myself.  There was a nice Christmas tree on the lawn, and lots of family, friends, and city employees were in attendance.  Mayor Howell brought out the biggest crowd, with Councilwoman Mack bringing a few family members.  I arrived solo, and had to take my oath on the Bible the local Methodist minister brought for her short invocation (apparently, I missed the memo to bring my own Bible—d’oh!).

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Decline, Part I: Afghanistan

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Events of the past few years give one the distinct sense that the United States—and, indeed, Western Civilization—is in a steady decline.  As I wrote in an old post:

We’re no longer the Roman Republic, but we’re not the Roman Empire in the 5th century, either.  We’re more like the Roman Empire in the 2nd or 3rd centuries:  coasting along on the remnants of a functioning system, with a play-acting Congress shadowing the motions of republicanism.

We’re in what might be called the “decadent” phase of our existence:  past generations forged a nation from their sweat and blood; their successors solidified and consolidated on those gains, creating a powerful economy and culture, and winning major wars; their successors are currently coasting along on the fruits of their ancestors’ efforts.  But a culture, a nation, a civilization can only coast for so long before it loses all momentum entirely.

The recent unpleasantness in Afghanistan is a stark illustration of our current decadence—and our blind arrogance.  We believed we could plant a functioning democratic republic in a land that has been war-torn and riddled with autocratic warlords since time immemorial with an investment of twenty years of blood and treasure.  Instead, we botched a pull-out, abandoning American citizens and military equipment in the process, allowing the Taliban to seize control of the entire country in a leisurely weekend.

Ironically, The Pretender Biden was probably the perfect patsy for American withdrawal from Afghanistan, which was about nineteen years overdue.  Every administration has known we needed to get the heck out of a place known as “The Graveyard of Empires,” but no one wanted the bad optics of a withdrawal.  Biden is so senile and mentally foggy that he probably still doesn’t realize what he did, and certainly doesn’t feel any shame about abandoning Americans to the Taliban.

But even given our incompetent, mentally hobbled executive, the withdrawal from Afghanistan—quite necessary, I think—was botched so terribly, it condemns the entire US government and our military leadership.  Any ten-year old could have said, “Yeah, get all the weapons and people out first, then withdraw the last of the American troops.”  Instead, we did the exact opposite.  Ripping off the Band-Aid and getting out of Afghanistan was necessary, but did we have to rip the skin clean off the arm?

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Allodial Rights

I’ve made reference before to the concept of “allodial rights” or “allodial land rights,” the idea that a person’s land is his, completely and absolutely.  The land is not a grant subject to the authority of any king or magistrate, or subordinated into smaller plots under one governing authority; rather, the land belongs fully to the landowner.

When writing my piece Saturday about the Dukes and their struggle with the Town Council in Society Hill, South Carolina, I found a piece at The Center for Social Leadership on the topic of allodial rights.  The piece argues that allodial land rights—which are the norm in the United States—differ from those of the feudal system.  In a feudal system, the lord or king of a land controls all of the land, and leases or grants that land to subsidiaries with certain fees or obligations to the lord in exchange for the use of the land.

Under an allodial system, however, every landowner owns his land free and clear (or has the potential to do so), and is not subject to any higher authority in the use, maintenance, and disbursement of that land.  He is, essentially, the king of his parcel.

Of course, that’s never completely true.  The use of the land is subject to the restrictions of local ordinances.  Some towns enforce certain minimum standards of upkeep, and issue fines for particularly dilapidated and dangerous structures on private property.  Local governments assess property taxes; if those taxes go unpaid long enough, the government can and will strip you of your land.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Homesteading in the City

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Recently I’ve taken subscriptions to Backwoods Home Magazine and its sister publication, Self-Reliance.  Both magazines are treasure troves of information on how to be, well, self-reliant.  Backwoods Home focuses more on handy projects around the homestead and garden, sprinkled with articles containing recipes for canning veggies and baking homemade bread.  Self-Reliance seems to cover many of the same topics, just maybe with fewer recipes.

A major emphasis of both publications is establishing and maintaining a functioning homestead that is as self-supporting and sustainable as possible.  The authors often acknowledge that such an ideal may be impossible to realize in its truest, Platonic form, but point out that it is still an ideal worth striving toward.  Besides that grand ideal, though, the publications are very practical—how does one go about doing all of the tasks and completing all of the myriad projects that maintaining an independent homestead requires?

The goal of near-self-sufficiency is maximal liberty—if you can grow your own food and raise your own livestock, who cares if your employer mandates The Vaccine for work?  You can just live off your land, at least until you can find a job that doesn’t force you to inject yourself with an experimental drug.  That requires a great deal of hard work and focus, but the reward is freedom from the whims of the workplace and the world.  We all know corporations and even smaller employers are growing more woke by the day; in the case of big corporations, following the popular “morality” of the day to keep up appearances is more important than the well-being of their employees.

As someone who would like to raise a few crops and maybe some chickens on my little half-acre, a local story here in Darlington County, South Carolina, caught my attention.  A couple in Society Hill, the Dukes, has around thirty-one animals on their forty-four-acre property, which sits within the town limits of Society Hill.  Their livestock includes “chickens, goats, cows, horses, hens, a duck and a rooster.”

The Town Council for Society Hill passed an ordinance limiting livestock to six chickens and two “equines”—horses, mules, donkeys, etc.—on property within town limits.  The Dukes were apparently in violation of an older ordinance from the 1970s that limited livestock numbers on property within town limits.  I’m not sure what those limits were, but it seems Society Hill’s Town Council believed it needed to update the ordinance.

There are multiple issues here, which are reflected in the Council’s 3-2 split on the ordinance.  The Dukes claim that the current Mayor of Society Hill, Tommy Bradshaw, is targeting them because Dwayne Duke seeks to challenge Bradshaw for mayor.  The Dukes also claim that their animals are used for emotional support therapy for trouble kids.

Neighbors, however, fear that the Dukes plan to turn their home into a petting zoo of some kind, and there have apparently been repeated complaints about the livestock (no one wants a rooster waking them up at the literal crack of dawn).  Even before the new ordinance was passed, the Dukes were already in violation of the older ordinance, which was nearly fifty years old (a reminder to town governments to update their ordinances periodically, lest they be forgotten from lack of use).

So, who is right?  Should the Dukes give up their livestock—and their chance at homesteading freedom?—so their neighbors can get some peace?  Or should they be allowed to keep the animals they raise?

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