"Mr. Smith? The Mayor can you see now. Please come on in." said the secretary.
"Thanks Ma’am." replied Mr. Smith.
"Hello Mr. Smith, Welcome to Baum Fauk. What can I do you for?" said the Mayor.
"Hello Mayor Goff, thank you for your time.
My pleasure sir. So, Mr. Smith... What’s all this business with these protesters you’ve brought here? Why Baum Fauk? What is it you want?
Would you like the long answer or the short answer?
Well, how about we cut to the chase and you start with the short answer first.
Very well. The short answer is that we are going to establish what I’ll call a “farm” inside the city limits of Baum Fauk and we’re not going to pay any taxes or fees or get any licenses or adhere to any rules that we do not explicitly negotiate.
Well Mr. Smith... I’m sure you realize that we can’t allow any of that.
Of course Mr. Mayor. I’m not surprised that's your first reaction to our idea. So perhaps you’ll permit me to give you the longer answer. This is a matter of extreme importance and I think that in the end you’ll agree that everything will work better if you and I can figure out how to cooperate.
Well, ok, shoot…
The bottom line is that…
We believe that the economic crisis is not going to pass. In fact, not only will it not pass, but it’s going to get much, much worse.
We believe that the upper layers of government are increasingly disconnected from we the people and are in fact profoundly hostile to our interests and well being.
We believe that any “help” that government can conventionally deliver to us is in fact sabotage in disguise and possibly by design. By paying people to do nothing the government deprives them of their power to live as human beings. They bribe us with trinkets and then bully and deceive us in order to relinquish our freedom and power.
We believe that the electoral process is so completely hacked and rigged against us that addressing our grievances via the ballot box is futile. Worse than futile. By participating in their game we give it legitimacy and must therefore graciously accept our inevitable defeat in that process.
Therefore we believe that the only way for us to deal with this problem is to engage in some serious non-violent civil-disobedience in order to force governments of all levels to accommodate us.
Well now Mr Smith… that’s a whole lot of believing. And I’m sure you’re aware that other people don’t necessarily agree on all or any of what you just said?
Yes, I’m certainly aware of that and that’s a major reason why we are doomed to loose at the ballot box.
But Mr. Smith, just because you don’t get what you want doesn’t mean you’re above the law. You can’t just say “fuck this” and take your marbles and go home. You have to engage the system not give it the finger.
Why not? Who says so?
Because if everybody just decided to obey or not whatever law suits their fancy, then we’d have chaos and anarchy!
Don’t you think that’s what we already have?
No, we don’t. This country has many big problems but we’re going to work them out and life will go on.
Oddly enough Mayor Goff, I agree 100% with what you just said. With the proviso that “work them out” is interpreted broadly enough. I do in fact think these problems are going to be “worked out” and that’s what’s happening right now on this grass roots local level with you and I discussing the matter.
I understand that you’re a busy man. In fact, you were too busy to book an appointment with me when I called two weeks ago. When your secretary heard what I wanted to see you about she she put me on hold for a few minutes. When she came up for air she referred me to the Zoning department. That’s a minor example of the bullshit that ordinary people deal with even on the local level. Imagine the impossibility of dealing with State, Federal, UN, or Federation of Planets officials. It was only when I came here with my protesters that you found some time to see me.
Ok... I’m not promising anything and you’ve yet to persuade me to change my mind.Nevertheless, please tell me more about this “farm?”
In order to properly address that question I’d like to first ask you a question. What’s your opinion about the “economic crisis.”How long do you expect it to last?
I don’t have any idea. I’m as concerned about that as you are.
Can we agree that endless and massive Federal deficits are probably unsustainable?
Yes we can.
Can we agree that there’s probably no chance in hell for an ordinary “political” solution?
No, I don’t agree. It’s going to be an ugly fight but in the end they’ll all find some grand compromise.
Like what? Give me a clue about what that might look like?
They’ll just have to raise some taxes and cut some spending. That’s going to make everybody squeal, but there’s no other choice.
But surely you can image that 1) anybody who votes to raise taxes will loose their job, and 2) anybody who votes to cut spending will loose their job? And even if taxes are raised, what good would that do? Spending would only continue to rise in order to eat any additional revenue.
You see, that’s one of the big problems. The machinery of spending in government on all levels is so out of control that it’s impossible to bring it back under control.
Ok, this is fun stuff to talk about, but what does that have to do with Baum Fauk and your farm?
The relevance is that we believe that one consequence of this economic crisis is going to be economic and political collapse of most governments. Especially the Federal government. At some point things are simply going to spin out of their control and the Feds are going to lose control.
Not gonna happen. Not in my lifetime.
Well, I suppose only time will will tell. In any event, that's our position and that's what were working from. And what happens if it does? Have the good people of Baum Fauk prepared for this eventuality in any way?
Let me guess… the first thing you would do in the event of a problem bigger than you can handle would be to call State and Federal officials, am I right?
Yes, of course.
Last I heard the State and Uncle Sam are both pretty far stretched for resources. In the event of an actual emergency the State will be pretty busy. Maybe you’d have to take a number and stand in line while the zombie hordes are pouring over your walls. What happens when you dail 1-800-FUCKMEUNCLESAM and all you get is do-de-da…I’m sorry... the number you have dialed is no longer in service…
The entire well-being of this town is dependent upon calling in reinforcements at the first hint of real trouble. And in fact, my little protest group has already overwhelmed your capacity because I don’t believe BFPD has the actual capacity to arrest even 25 of us without turning to other governments for help.
In fact, that weakness on your part reflects what’s happening to every person and organization in this country. Our individual power to live and manage our lives is being systematically drained from us. In its place we receive vague promises of help of dubious reliability, if we should ever need it. But how solid are those promises? What happens when and if the system goes tits up and we’re just standing here wondering what to do?
Hmmm…. I see your point.
As we’re fixin’ to find out, you’re soon going to tell me something like “Gee Mr. Smith, although I sympathize with what you’re saying, there are State and Federal laws that prevent me from….”
I was thinking exactly that.
You know, somehow this reminds me of a time when I was kid. I was fiddle-farting around in the morning and got off to a late start on my walk to school. When I finally arrived at the big street, there was no crossing guard! I was stumped.
"What on Earth should I do?" I wondered.
Wow! You were fucked!
I truly was. Guess what I did?
Uhhhh... You stood around for a while, crying and wondering what to do and then went home to find mommy?
Exactly! But although that’s perhaps reasonable behavior from a 7 year old, adults cannot live like that.
Ok, ok. Tell me about the farm.
The basic idea is that we’re going to find a suitable place in this city and were going to settle some to-be-determined number of let’s generically call them “homeless” people on the land. And we’re going to put them to work building a farm. They will live in tents and build a latrine. They will tend a garden, raise some farm animals, and do other farm like things that we think of. They’ll eat some of this food and maybe sell some of it. As I said earlier, they’re not going to pay taxes or suffer government rules in doing this.
How many people?
Well, that’s where your cooperation can be useful. If you play ball with us, then we negotiate the amount and we start very slowly in order to build rapport. But if you play hardball instead, then the number will be much higher and they will be mostly protesters instead.
Ok, Mr. Smith, this is all very interesting but, as you predicted earlier, my hands are tied in 100 places. And even if they were not, I personally don’t think this is a good idea and I cannot allow it.
I understand Mr. Mayor and I did not expect that I’d get your approval today. My goal today was to establish an introduction and start a dialog about these issues. That I have done. In the future, you’ll know what we want. Even though we’re seemingly on opposite sides of this issue I wanted you to understand that we’re not devils that must be destroyed at all costs. We’re going to play a political game and I hope we can do it with civility and professionalism. Speaking of professionalism…
I want to tell you a bit more about the Brothers.
Although they come from troubled backgrounds, please do not underestimate them. Although our Brothers have fallen from grace lately, they have remarkable diversity of sometimes impressive backgrounds. Our ranks include lawyers, engineers, doctors, veterans, and more. And we have gone to great lengths to train and discipline them for our work. We have some intellectual firepower at our disposal; we’re not just a mob of crazy people. When we settle in this city, there’s not going to be an epidemic of “ordinary” crime.That is, killings, beatings, rapes, theft, etc. Nor are you going to have problems with safety and sanitation of the farm.
Some of the Brothers have military backgrounds and we have organized “basic training” for all the men in order to promote their discipline, physical fitness, and their general ability to cooperate and defend themselves. Some of them even have various weapons. We expect that we can defend ourselves against private-sector hoodlums and troublemakers.
However, we have very strict training and doctrine to not use this physical power against government officials. In the event of arrest by your people, we will peaceably comply. I want to personally ensure that you understand this. And I ask that you communicate this to your police department.
Given this peaceful posture, I also ask that you make it your personal responsibility to ensure that your police force act with utmost professionalism. If it’s their duty to arrest us, then just do it by the book. There’s no need for brutality or theft or destruction of our property.
Ok, that’s reasonable enough, I can do that.
Another thing I’d like to ask is that you and the City Attorney and the police chief all agree that it is in fact legal for us to record our encounters with BFPD and other government officials.
Sure, it’s a free country.
Well, I suppose we disagree. But regardless, it’s important that the police officers at the scene know it as well. There’s a lot of controversy about police stealing and/or destroying recording equipment. In fact, there are even horror stories about the government bringing criminal charges against people who record the police.
Ok, I’ll make sure you’ll have no problem there.
Well listen Mr. Smith, it’s been a pleasure meeting you. I will carefully think about what you’ve said and I hope we can work something out.
It has been a pleasure as well Mayor Goff. Thank you for your time.