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The State Hates Self-Reliance

March 19, 2013 by  

The State Hates Self-Reliance

When Henry David Thoreau decided to get away from it all at Walden Pond in Concord, Mass., he wanted to discover “what, to use the words of the catechism, is the chief end of man, and what are the true necessaries and means of life.” If he set upon the same adventure of carving out a spot for himself in the wilderness today, Walden would likely be a different story: one of bureaucrats, building permits and the overbearing power of the state.

At least, that’s how the story is going for 51-year-old Eustace Conway — a man, who for the past three decades has led a largely agrarian life on his 500-acre farm in the Appalachians of North Carolina.

A recent Wall Street Journal profile of Conway portrays a man living a rugged American dream and giving back to the community in the process. “The Last American Man” — as he was called in a 2002 biography and National Book Award finalist by Elizabeth Gilbert — grows and shoots much of his own food, makes clothing from pelts and mills wood felled on his property to build shelters and outbuildings.

Conway also offers tours and classes to anyone interested in visiting his property and learning the finer points of roughing it through Turtle Island, a nonprofit organization he has run for 20 years.

But last fall, officials from the Watauga County planning department, acting on an anonymous complaint, conducted a SWAT-style raid on Conway’s property. The officials then compiled a 78-page report listing health and building violations on the property. The list includes gripes about such things as primitive restrooms, an outdoor kitchen that could be contaminated by animals and insects, and a lack of fire sprinklers and restrooms in primitive cabins.

Perhaps one of the most ridiculous notes in the report is that Conway has used lumber that isn’t “grade-marked” — read “store-bought.” That is because he milled the wood from trees on his own land.

“These buildings aren’t fit for public use,” Joseph A. Furman, the county planning director, told WSJ.

So officials have ordered Conway to destroy his cabins, barn, kitchen, blacksmith shop and sawmill; he also must install a septic system to host any more visitors.

Conway has attracted the support of libertarian-leaning rights groups who argue that one should have the right to host visitors on his own land without bowing to the will of the state. And a petition of more than 11,000 signatures, urging officials to take a hike and allow him to continue his primitive living classes, is circulating.

It is yet to be seen if Conway will be ruined by the will of the state; but previous, similar happenings throughout the Nation illustrate the unwillingness of bureaucrats to back down when they want to crush individuals who dare question the absolute power of government.

Such was the case in the story of the Southern Nevada Health District’s attack on a picnic at an organic farm when it was deemed the freshly grown produce and organic meat being served were unfit for human consumption. Bureaucrats destroyed the feast with bleach and terrorized guests at Quail Hollow Farm during the unConstitutional raid.

There are a number of stories about government attacking raw milk farms or ordering farmers to raise only one type of state-approved livestock. Non-compliance often results in armed government attacks on the farmers.

And in Letha, Idaho, last year, a man known for his outspoken Constitutionalism was raided by excited SWAT police who believed they had uncovered massive marijuana grow operation in his house. It was actually a group of tomato plants.

The attempt of government to keep people from visiting property or consuming goods that have not been first fingered by the state can be summed up by 19th century Senator Daniel Webster in “Good And Bad Intentions.”

Webster writes:

Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.

Citizen self-reliance in any form, it seems, is not a great helper of those who mean to govern and be masters. So those who wish to be self-reliant must be made to jump through government-erected hoops which make it impossible to survive without the blessing of the state.

Sam Rolley

Staff writer Sam Rolley began a career in journalism working for a small town newspaper while seeking a B.A. in English. After learning about many of the biases present in most modern newsrooms, Rolley became determined to find a position in journalism that would allow him to combat the unsavory image that the news industry has gained. He is dedicated to seeking the truth and exposing the lies disseminated by the mainstream media at the behest of their corporate masters, special interest groups and information gatekeepers.

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  • GALT

    Another day in “mythology” land………from Thoreau to Conway.

    Like the “real” Thoreau ( seek and ye shall find ) the “self reliant myth” rises
    again with the “mostly”……non profit organization, “run for 20 years, hosting….

    and “the absolute POWER of government”, plus an “unconstitutional”,
    and we have another “mushroom feeding” day……

    Action, reaction……from one extreme to the other……so much for “judgement”
    and “justice”…..while the “law is once again an ass.”

    ” Just the facts, ma’am!” ( not really )…….makes you sorry they “outlawed dueling”
    in favor of “due process”…….

    Now the “facts here” would make a very interesting case for a “jury”…….

    In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

    So why not do that………? Oh wait, we no longer have common law courts,
    because we no longer operate under “common law” and ole Eustace,
    probably didn’t reserve his “rights” as required by UCC 1 -308, and further
    complicated matters by forming the non profit thing, further entangling himself
    in the web of “deception” that has somehow escaped the notice of everyone
    for 75 years………unconstitutional? Not really….and “ignorance of the law”
    is NO EXCUSE.

    Will the “revolution” begin in North Carolina? Is this THE CALL? Will Rand Paul
    filibuster? The “suspense”…..oh the “suspense”…….

    • Peter

      Galt, for all your grandstanding, you cannot escape the fact that the US was founded by people making their own way, without government interference. Just because the country has lost its way doesn’t mean independence is bad, just rare.

      • BigJim

        Peter, I think (hope) what Galt is saying is that this ‘pioneer’ lost his individualism when he went to the state for his non-profit status. It’s all about status: If you receive benefits from the state, then you are subservient to the state.

        Someday people will wake up and reject the soft chains of ‘gov’t benefits’ and actually live their own life – I hope

      • Butch

        Galt hates self reliance too and LOVES the state which is beyond hypocritical because the character from Rand’s novel was the polar opposite of this serial apoligizer for Hitler/Obumma and govt.

      • GALT

        Butch your mind reading skills are non existent and self reliance is a “myth”.

        You do know what a “myth” is…….NO? If you are self reliant, why do you require
        a non profit status? Non profit doesn’t mean you don’t get paid……it doesn’t even
        mean you don’t make a profit……..and despite, ole Sam’s word smithing
        and journalistic skill……grows and shoots much of his own food, makes clothing from pelts and mills wood felled on his property to build shelters and outbuildings.
        Reality does not meet “self reliant” standards……hosting does not mean free,
        tours and classes……property taxes alone, would require a source of revenue.
        So the fact is…..he was a business…….and my piece was about “balance”….

        But here are some more “myths” vs REALITY.

        Ah, those those “mythical revered founder’s” and their ideas…..and the “patriots” of by gone days………….if only……

        If only you knew that…….

        1.) There was a singularly unique and new idea expressed concerning government and its relationship to the people in the Declaration, and it did not originate with a founder.

        2.) That the stage for the “revolution” was set on its inevitable course by the Molasses Act of 1733; and the Sugar Act of 1764……the lack of enforcement of the former, the change of this policy 31 years later, based on the intrests of the East India Company in coincidence with the interests of the British Crown……which were in conflict with the “interests” the “patriots”……..which is to say “greed and money”, which is to say, history writ Large once again, and something that you did NOT learn “in school” and would never permit your children to be taught…. ( but the TRUTH none the less. )

        3.) That, the rest of this document, not counting the listed complaints, and after all if you are going to be a “traitor” you might as well make it look good and you need help, from others who might have little interest or stake in the game, was convenient “populist” rhetoric…..a gamble to be sure, and very noble……..but not a word of it was TRUE, then or now, but it is being bought now, just like it was bought then…….the largest signature on this document, was the Al Capone of his day…..not what you were taught, not what you know…….but were SOLD, none the less.

        4.) That the Constitution, was “composed” by a bunch of drunks, in secret, which was essentially illegal…….alchohol consumption was 3 times the per capita rate of what it is today, Madison, the only one to manage “notes” did a pint a day, and the people who won this were “federalists”……so when you point to the “federal government” as being “your problem”, you have them and the Constitution to thank for it.

        5.) These men were the “elites” of there day, land owners, slave owners, and soon to become theives of intellectual property, and machinery. No taxation without representation, really meant no taxation period, and the government learned this early on……..and this is just the “beginning” of the story………it will never be taught to your children, just like it was never taught to you……but you can find this “history” and follow it up to last week…….if you can HANDLE the TRUTH.

        Smuggler Nation
        How Illicit Trade Made America
        Peter Andreas

        ISBN13: 9780199746880
        ISBN10: 0199746885
        Hardcover, 472 pages
        Jan 2013, In Stock
        Price: $29.95 (02)

        America is a smuggler nation. Our long history of illicit imports has ranged from West Indies molasses and Dutch gunpowder in the 18th century, to British industrial technologies and African slaves in the 19th century, to French condoms and Canadian booze in the early 20th century, to Mexican workers and Colombian cocaine in the modern era. Contraband capitalism, it turns out, has been an integral part of American capitalism.

        Providing a sweeping narrative history from colonial times to the present, Smuggler Nation is the first book to retell the story of America–and of its engagement with its neighbors and the rest of the world–as a series of highly contentious battles over clandestine commerce. As Peter Andreas demonstrates in this provocative and fascinating account, smuggling has played a pivotal and too often overlooked role in America’s birth, westward expansion, and economic development, while anti-smuggling campaigns have dramatically enhanced the federal government’s policing powers. The great irony, Andreas tells us, is that a country that was born and grew up through smuggling is today the world’s leading anti-smuggling crusader.

        In tracing America’s long and often tortuous relationship with the murky underworld of smuggling, Andreas provides a much-needed antidote to today’s hyperbolic depictions of out-of-control borders and growing global crime threats. Urgent calls by politicians and pundits to regain control of the nation’s borders suffer from a severe case of historical amnesia, nostalgically implying that they were ever actually under control. This is pure mythology, says Andreas. For better and for worse, America’s borders have always been highly porous.

        Far from being a new and unprecedented danger to America, the illicit underside of globalization is actually an old American tradition. As Andreas shows, it goes back not just decades but centuries. And its impact has been decidedly double-edged, not only subverting U.S. laws but also helping to fuel America’s evolution from a remote British colony to the world’s pre-eminent superpower.
        the first book about the history of smuggling in America from the colonial era to the present.
        Provides a provocative new twist on America’s founding, expansion, and rise as a global power.
        Counters today’s overly alarmist accounts of borders as under siege and illicit globalization as out of control.
        “In Smuggler Nation, Peter Andreas recounts the well-worn story of American independence less as a lofty quest for freedom per se than as a struggle for freedom from onerous trade restrictions. He points out that many of the important freedoms protected by the Constitution, though they owed their intellectual pedigree to Locke and Montesquieu, had their origin in the travails of colonial smugglers trying to get molasses or gunpowder or Madeira past British customs agents.” –Eric Felten, The Wall Street Journal
        “Deftly explains how the battle lines of the American War of Independence were drawn largely because of people’s varied and often self-serving relationships to smuggling…Smuggling is here to stay, and how we cope with this most American of practices will define our destiny in the years to come.”–Cam Martin, The Daily Beast
        “In this captivating new history, Brown University political science professor Andreas documents smuggling in America from the colonial ‘golden age of illicit trade’ through the Industrial Revolution and on into the current ‘war on drugs’… Throughout the riveting text, Andreas also discusses the sociopolitical climates that gave rise to these storms of illicit commerce. Far from romanticizing or condoning illegal trade, Andreas convincingly argues that the flow of illicit goods has defined and shaped the nation, both in terms of who and what goes in and out, and how society reacts with regulatory policies. A valuable and entertaining read for historians and policymakers.”–Publishers Weekly
        “In this well-researched history, the author examines illegal commerce in the United States from its earliest days into the modern era…An illuminating look at the historical impact of America’s illicit economy.” –Kirkus Reviews
        “In this terrific book, Peter Andreas shows that illicit trade is as American as apple pie.”
        –Darrell West, Vice President and Director of Governance Studies, The Brookings Institution
        “Smuggler Nation is a tour de force. Porous borders and the efforts to seal them are not new to the 21st century–Andreas convincingly shows they have defined the American experience.”–James Goldgeier, Dean, School of International Service, American University
        “Through his extensive historical research, Andreas shows us that illicit trade in America is not an aberration but has in fact shaped the modern economy in fundamental ways. An extraordinary re-narrating of familiar episodes that makes visible America’s hidden connections with underworlds and parallel worlds.”–Saskia Sassen, author of Territory, Authority, Rights

        “Americans have long projected national power through open, free, and legal markets. Andreas, one of the world’s leading scholars of the dark side of globalization, presents us with a fascinating account of the role of illicit trade in the making of the American nation itself. This iconoclastic and timely book is an engaging and accessible primer for anyone seeking to understand the illicit dimensions of the global economy.”
        –Louis W. Pauly, Professor and Chair, Political Science, University of Toronto

        “An extraordinary retelling of the American epic. Peter Andreas shows us how smuggling shaped politics, economics and culture from colonial times to the present day. Meticulously researched and elegantly written, Smuggler Nation is an important contribution to the literature on American political development. Fascinating, powerful, persuasive, unexpected, lively, deep, and highly recommended.”–James A. Morone, author of Hellfire Nation and coauthor of The Heart of Power

  • Warrior

    Possibly, one day in the future, there wil be more “sequester” and Eustace will enjoy some peace and quiet during mr and mrs “furlough” days.

  • rendarsmith

    “primitive restrooms”?

    I visited a village in Kazakhstan where they used outhouses, even at the courthouse. And you know what? The people there were just FINE! This crap is ridiculous! No pun intended.

    • GALT

      Booming tourist industry?

  • Doc Sarvis

    I suspect that Mr. Conway would have been fine with the County law if his facilities were just for visitors as opposed to paying clients.

  • FreedomFighter

    I won’t back down

    You must be reliant on the system, if you are not it is more difficult to control you, If you teach others to be self reliant and independent from the system – you are a threat.

    Laus Deo
    Semper FI

  • Doc Sarvis

    Looks like the state and county government are working toward resolution of the issues to keep Turtle Island’s business open:

    • GALT

      Link is seven days old…… much for journalistic research……

      What is the equivalent of “if it bleeds” in patriot speak? Or PLD speak?

      Can’t mention any names……..

  • cawmun cents

    Who made who?
    Did their government bureaucrats make us,or did we make them?
    If you listen to the hoi polloi that issues forth from the defenders of largess around here,its how they make us.
    If you are independent and individualistic,its us who makes them.
    If we let them do this to Conway,we are giving them permission to do it to us.
    Past precedence says it all in their courts of injustice.
    Dont worry Mr. Conway,God is watching,and has a special place set aside for these folks when the game is over.
    Its as cold and dark as their hearts.
    Its called government subservience.
    Robespierre got out the head chopper.
    I wonder what kind of medieval device todays aristocrats will be made right again by?
    They think they can go on forever without blame?
    Oh,thats right….I forgot that its George W. Bush’s fault.
    I forgot that it is convenient to point the finger of blame elsewhere in the hopes that the throng will be satisfied with that.
    Or perhaps we are just racist?
    We obviously dont know that nanny state is just what the doctor(whos a bit overworked under current medical practice standards)ordered.
    Thank Obama that we have such an awesome healthcare plan for the nation….join or be fined.
    I pick the latter and may they have fun squeezing blood from a turnip.
    Our system of government wasnt designed to be this intrusive,but its defenders come on here and tout it anyway as if it is the only answer to their needs and wants.
    Good luck with that people.
    I have a feeling you wil need all of that you can get eventually.

  • John

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
    ― C.S. Lewis I can’t say it better.

    • Liberty Lover

      Amen, John. The “robber barrons” of history have done far more to advance society’s best interests than any collection of government bureaucrats you want to put together.

      • GALT

        Then you should have no complaints, because they control the
        government…….so you will have precisely the future you desire…..enjoy.

  • Franklyn Molina

    In America, The outdoorsman hunts for his food, and tills the soil much like a farmer would, trading the strength of his arm for a home and lands of his own. But the parasites in the government say, NO! ‘You must do what WE say; what was yours is OURS. We are a state, we are god! We demand our share!’


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