SubscribeStar Saturday: The Second-Hand Economy

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A neighborhood friend of mine and I have worked out an arrangement regarding my fig tree and grapevines:  I provide the fruit, he provides the jelly (before he gets angry, let me clarify that he actually makes preserves, and they’re delicious).  It’s a pretty good deal for me:  he and his son come by and pick figs (and grapes, soon), converting them into delicious preserves, which I enjoy after the fact.  All I do is keep the plants alive and give him access to my property.

Earlier this week, he and I spoke for a bit after he and his son partook in some morning fig harvesting (God is Good—it’s been a bumper crop this year, and the figs haven’t gone entirely to the birds and the beetles).  We talked about the figs and the muscadine grapes that will be ready for harvesting soon.  In doing so, he pointed out all of the possibilities in our neighborhood for similar collaborations:  those with some resource or item (in my case, figs and grapes), and those with the time and inclination to put them to use (in this case, my neighbor making preserves from them).

In years past, I’ve shamefully let my figs go unharvested, letting the brown birds and beetles strip the tree of its fruit before I could get to it.  One year I managed to get maybe a half-pound of figs from the tree, but my own negligence, coupled with a busy schedule (not to mention South Carolina’s intense summertime heat) has dissuaded me from picking the luscious fruit.  Even having gotten the fruit, I’m often at a loss as to what to do with it, other than pop full figs into my mouth.

Thus, the magic of this arrangement:  my neighbor has the time and the knowledge to put my resources to use; I simply have the resources.  He gets a good portion of preserves, and I get to enjoy some jars, too (and they’re really good preserves).

Regardless, in discussing the beauty of our arrangement of the possibility of other such collaborations around the neighborhood, we also discussed how much stuff—not just fruits and vegetables, but just sheer, material stuff—is just sitting around, unused, waiting to be put to some higher purpose—if only someone with the know-how, time, and ability could come along and put it to use.

The possibilities exist for an entire second-hand or recycled economy.  How often have you driven past someone’s home—usually way out in the country somewhere—to find their yard or a half-open shed full of goodies untouched by human hands (even if touched quite extensively by the ravages of time)?  But that junk—one man’s junk is a another’s goodies, I suppose—is actual, usable stuff—it can be put to good use.

In an age of hyperinflation, the expansion of a second-hand or cast-off or recycled economy takes on a whole new level of attractiveness.

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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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Lamar Election Results 2021

About forty minutes after polls closed, poll workers posted election results to the front door of Lamar Town Hall.

Here are the receipts for Lamar Precinct No. 1, which is south of Main Street, and Lamar Precinct No. 2, which is north of Main Street (I live in the latter district).

Those don’t include the absentee ballots, which a poll worker announced aloud.  Here are the final vote totals (winners in bold green):

Mayor’s Race

James Howell – 164

Inez Bess Lee – 155

Town Council (2 Seats to Fill)

Tyler James Cook – 162

Mary Ann Mack – 176

Jerry Shull (Write-In) – 111

Here is a picture I took from a lady’s phone; she managed to get a photo of what I think is the sheet the poll workers used to tally everything:

Lamar Election November 2021 - Totals

The numbers on the left are the vote totals.  The first number to the right of each name represents the absentee ballots, which is what the Darlington News and Press is reporting at the time of this writing; the second number represents votes from Lamar Precinct No. 1; and the third number represents votes from Lamar Precinct No. 2 (cut off in this photograph).

Barring any chicanery, these look to be the official numbers.

Thanks to everyone who came out and voted today.  I appreciated your support!  Congratulations to all of the candidates for putting themselves out there to serve the public.

SubscribeStar Saturday: Another Election

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One month from today, my little adopted hometown of Lamar has another election.  There is a competitive mayoral race, between a current Councilwoman and another resident.  That should be an interesting race to watch.  If the Councilwoman loses, she’ll maintain her seat on Council, as she is in the middle of her term and not facing re-election this election cycle.  If she wins, it would trigger a special election—I think—to fill the vacancy.  Either scenario is interesting, but either way she would remain on Council.

There are also two Council seats up, both with incumbents running—another Councilwoman and myself.

For the Council races, residents will be able to vote twice—once for each seat.  Since there are no other filed candidates, it should be a fairly straightforward election.

That said, I lost my first run to a surprise write-in candidate (indeed, to the other Councilwoman running), so I don’t take anything for granted.

So, what is my approach this time?

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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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SubscribeStar Saturday: East Coast, West Coast

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An enduring question—perhaps the enduring question—of our present age is whether or not a peaceful political solution is possible to resolve our current issues.  Any casual observer of national politics cannot help but notice that there is a deep division in the United States, one grounded in (at least) two fundamentally opposed philosophies.

To the dissident—that catch-all term to encompass of any number of alternative philosophies or worldviews to the prevailing “progressive-conservative” dynamic—both modern progressivism and modern conservatism are two sides of the same coin.  Indeed, Buckleyite neoconservatism accepts, essentially, the basic tenants of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, ideas that serve as the foundation for modern progressivism, though the two interpret that foundation in wildly different ways.

Thus, there is a paradox:  modern conservatives largely share a worldview that is incompatible with that of modern progressives’; yet, there roots originate in the same soil of the interventionist state.  The difference, perhaps, is the fertilizer:  the Leftist progressive overwaters with “equality” (now, increasingly, “equity”); the conservative presents a more balanced mixture of equality, liberty, justice, etc.

(Indeed, these shared roots likely date back even further, to the liberalism of the eighteenth- and nineteenth-centuries; again, both the Left and the Right evoke the tenants of such liberalism [“all men are created equal”] while disagreeing vehemently on how those tenants should be expressed in public policy [equality for the Left means egalitarianism and equality of outcomes; equality for the right means “equality before the God and the law”].)

That might make the possibility of some reconciliation seem possible—with shared roots comes some shared values, some shared history.

That’s the most optimistic view.  It’s one I do not share, but nor do I adopt the view that all is lost.  I believe that a blend of hyper-federalism, radical decentralization, and institutional control by dissidents could tip the balance in a positive direction.

The problem, of course, is that none of those goals is easy to achieve; some of them are currently inconceivable.  The federal government is unlikely to devolve more powers to the States (and many States probably secretly don’t want more); radical decentralization means losing out on corrupting but succulent federal largesse; and the institutions are firmly controlled by the Left—and not likely to rewrite the rules to let us challenge their supremacy.

So we come to a fundamental divide among dissidents:  what Curtis Yarvin calls the divide between West Coast dissidents (that includes Yarvin) and East Coast traditionalists (like me and, I suspect, photog at Orion’s Cold Fire) in his essay “The real Great Reset.”  The East Coast traditionalists believe that local control and working within the system can swing things in our favor and reverse course in the Culture Wars, what he calls voice; the West Coast dissidents believe that voice is useless at present, and instead reset—a total regime change of reset and replace is the answer.

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