Travel

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We move around, in this newly-free America, for the usual reasons: to visit family, to find business or employment, and for the delight of seeing all the amazing, spectacular beauties this great land has to show. The big difference is that since E-Day, there has been nobody to stop or hinder us.

Forty years ago there was a TV miniseries produced called Amerika, with a K. Its premise was that there had been a nuclear exchange between the governments of the US and USSR, and that the former had capitulated rather than see more millions of Americans vaporized; so Soviet governors were sent here to rule. The movie well portrayed the profound poverty and misery that resulted, and I recall that one feature of their rule was that internal passports were needed to cross the borders of the several administrative regions they established.

Communists in the trade union operating in ABC-TV prevented the film from ever being broadcast again, but little did anyone guess that within three decades, our own government would do to them that very thing, without assistance from outside. So we had become quite used to carrying papers everywhere for identification, with fingerprints and other biometrics, and to hearing government agents bark (albeit in English) "Ihre Papieren, bitte!" What an irony, that in the 1940s some 400,000 American lives had been sacrificed, allegedly to erase such arrogance. And what a relief now, to be rid of all that nonsense.

Government surveillance of travel achieved nothing productive; it was done just because they could. It was part of the thrill of exercising power, the only purpose of which is power itself. My favorite children's author, traveler Arthur Ransome, noted in his autobiography that prior to 1914, one "could wander pretty well anywhere in Europe" without a passport, Czarist Russia excepted--so we can blame the Czar for starting it all. Then in that year all those governments had themselves a big war (for no particular reason, as Forrest Gump might have said), and in wartime it's important to prevent spies crossing borders, so passports were mandated, and once the laws were in place they never got repealed--that was the nature of laws. Not until 2027, that is; and even then they weren't repealed exactly--they just became unenforceable when all government employees here had walked off the job.

So, since in that year all the silly border posts and customs barriers fell into disuse for want of anyone to operate them, anyone can come to America who wishes to do so, for any peaceful reason--and if his reason is not peaceful, he gets handled the same way as any other aggressor, few though they are. Naturally, he pays his own way--and he pays it in gold, for nobody accepts payment in the form of any government's paper--so he is welcomed as a buyer of our goods and services, or as a provider of labor or merchandise at favorable rates. If he's unable to trade in such ways and runs out of gold, he goes back home; for of course there is no government welfare here and though charities help out in exceptional cases, they are of course efficient in their use of funds and see to it that no welcome is overstayed. All that is straightforward, predictable and predicted.

The tricky bit came--again, as predicted--when Americans wanted to visit overseas, for business or pleasure. We have no passports issued by any extant government, so the question arose: shall we find a welcome?

Initially, the answer everywhere was in the negative. All governments have enormous inertia; if the paperwork isn't just as the clerks are drilled to find, the visitor is turned away--and their political bosses were and are scared stiff (with excellent reason) that something similar to the fate of government here will befall them too. So they viewed Americans like aliens.

That lasted about four months. By early 2028, each of those foreign economies was hurting, because of the reduced trade with America, by far the biggest market for their goods as well as the biggest supplier of the merchandise and spare parts they needed. Clearly, all but the biggest of them had to reverse course and welcome Americans back--and the first to do so were the governments in the islands to our South, starting with Cuba. The Caribbean has long depended on the tourist trade, and pretty soon advertisements were popping up all over the Net saying "Come on down again, mon" and "Americans welcome--no papers needed." They wanted our gold, and I don't blame them. In such ways is our new-found freedom being exported.

Most foreign governments have now followed that lead, and trade with foreigners is now brisk again, though games with paper money on credit are of course no longer played. The rule is that of cash on the barrel head, and it's much healthier. The steady flow of Mexicans heading North in search of work has slowed to a trickle because of the large adjustments to our domestic labor market already in process, due to so many former government employees needing work, and because at long last the Mexican economy is in danger of collapse for want of labor; the former surplus has changed into a shortage so wage rates are actually rising--albeit in paper pesos. A final factor is that the Spanish version of the Academy has attracted a fast-growing number of Mexicans and their own "E-Day" cannot be far off now, and the people are gaining a sense of that and want to be around for the liberaci'n.

Our mode of travel is changing gradually. All the usual ones are still used, of course, but since E-Day as I've mentioned before in this series of reports from 2030, a fast-growing industry is that of personal aircraft. Flying them is very easy thanks to the abundance of triplicated safety and automatic-pilot systems on board, and the market is exploding--so those slow trips to the airport and tiresome check-in procedures are on the way out (the repulsive TSA scrutiny that began in 2001 ended, of course, on E-Day) because we can now simply climb aboard our personal helicopters, press a few buttons, and fly anywhere. They are really smart; they won't obey a command to fly into heavy weather or towards another nearby aircraft, nor will they fly out of range of gas stations! Instead, friendly reminders appear on-screen to remind the driver what to do. For long journeys, of course, the airlines are still used but the old bugaboo of a hijacking danger has not resurfaced since most of them not just allow but encourage passengers to bring handguns on board. More than that, the motive for making mayhem in the air has disappeared since there's no longer a government to aggravate Islamic or other malcontents with its foreign policy.

I've reported elsewhere that a few well-heeled travelers visited the Moon this year, but here on terra firma one new popular Summer destination of travel has become Greenland, for average global temperatures are now 0.3'F higher than when the big "Global Warming" scare was drummed up a quarter century ago, and--as predicted--that has caused the useful melting of a little ice. The result is that for the first time in twelve centuries, Greenland has begun to live up to its name; I had long supposed the Viking founders named it with irony, but it's not so. It really was green then, at least near the coast, and now it's green there again--so resorts are being built, minerals have been found and are being mined, and some spectacular scenery, concealed for a millennium, is being enjoyed. By the way, that warming never related to anything mankind had done and was indifferent to all that governments did to try to stop it; all that happened was a huge misallocation of resources. (No surprise there; everything governments spent was misallocated, because the optimal spending decision is always made by the owner of the money, since it's his money.) Now, however, the growing season in the former Northern States is appreciably longer and American farmers are profiting from harvests even more abundant than usual.

The fuel for travel remains primarily gasoline, for it is the most efficient in terms of power/price, power/weight and power/volume ratios. Plug-in electric cars are useful for some commuters, and hybrid cars such as appeared early in the century have retained a market share, though after the initial taxpayer subsidies were withdrawn, they stopped gaining more. The price of gas has not increased (in terms of gold, of course)--in early 2027 it was about 100 milligrams per gallon, just as it was in 1968 and ever since, on average. Then, however, the taxes on it vanished! So it fell, to around 40 milligrams today, making it easier for those less well off to travel more--which is stimulating the road, rail and hotel businesses. There was a significant shift towards nuclear as well as coal, wind, wave, geothermal and solar energy sourcing during the last quarter century as they became less costly compared to oil, so much less oil is now consumed for other purposes, for example to generate electricity; hence there is no shortage of gasoline for cars. Europeans are still paying the equivalent of 230 milligrams a gallon, and so are fast turning green--but green with envy, no longer with eco-fanaticism; and that all helps move the rest of the world to liberty. As Huber & Mills pointed out in The Bottomless Well as long ago as 2005, there is an abundance of energy in this Planet--all we have to do is exploit it to our best advantage; and for that, our free market society has no equal.

As for the reasons to travel, explorers have explored ever since a rational inquisitiveness was reawakened in the Renaissance, and mankind has traveled ever since the first members of our species evolved in East Africa and migrated all over the world, forming as they settled in its various regions the ethnic varieties we know. Thomas Sowell's masterpiece Migrations and Cultures documents many of the more recent movements of populations in search of freedom and opportunity. One of the obscenities of recent governments was to have put obstacles in the way of further patterns of such travel, at the very time that technology had so dramatically reduced its cost--all the more obscenely on the part of American ones, given that in this country, uniquely, some from each of those ethnic groups have come together again for the very same reasons their ancestors originally separated. At least in our case, and I think very shortly the whole world will follow our lead, that outrage has now ended. People are, once again--as our nature demands--on the move; to visit, to explore, to find a better life, to enjoy the marvels of nature, to wonder at the vast majesty of the universe--and just to have fun with the kids. Freedom includes the freedom to travel, and the pleasure of that freedom is now ours.

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Jim Davies's picture
Columns on STR: 243

Jim Davies is a retired businessman in New Hampshire who led the development of an on-line school of liberty in 2006, and who wrote A Vision of Liberty" , "Transition to Liberty" and, in 2010, "Denial of Liberty" and "To FREEDOM from Fascism, America!" He started The Zero Government Blog in the same year.
In 2012 Jim launched http://TinyURL.com/QuitGov , to help lead government workers to an honest life.
In 2013 he wrote his fifth book, a concise and rational introduction to the Christian religion called "Which Church (if any)?"