Freedom and self-sufficiency are so closely related as to be almost inseparable. Yet for far too long, the renewable energy movement and the push for limited government have trundled along unaware of each other at best, and more often as mutual antagonists. This page exists to demonstrate the parallelism of two of my favorite causes.
Perhaps you've dreamed of the day when you could finally disentangle yourself from the destructive and doomed industry that is fossil-fuel energy. Or maybe you've looked forward to that day as the day when you would at last extricate yourself from the self-consuming government cycle of taxing and subsidizing. Or it could be that you're like me, and just want to be left alone to do for yourself.
There's a reason why you came to this page. I invite you to kick around, discover the links section, learn things you didn't know. Discover for yourself the fraternal relationship between sustainable self-reliance and political self-determination.
As time goes on, I will be perpetually adding rants, more links, and the Question of the Week.
You are also invited to contact me, Andrew Wiegand, through the Self-Sufficiency Coordinator, at any time regarding anything. I will try my very best to answer any questions or comments you may have, and if your point is interesting enough I'll even post it here.
Question of the Week
Q: Dear Andrew,
I am a Type A suburbanite, but I dream of self-reliance. I have subscriptions to several of the magazines you link to, as a matter of fact. How self-reliant do you think it's possible to be? I've been considering moving to AK or even some really remote place in the South Pacific because I think it's too hard to live a self-sufficient lifestyle in most of America. What if I just started doing more gardening, but kept my grid connection? Would that be self-reliance?
Peter in Connecticut
A: Dear Peter,
The degree to which you can be self-reliant depends on a few things. Your desire, your means and your skills. It's just about that simple. Personally, as much as I like the idea of being more self-reliant, I can't see moving out to the Australian Outback or the wilderness of Alaska. Those that can are true survivalists, and that's fine. But it really comes down to your vision. If you want to live east of the Mississippi and be self-reliant, you're probably going to need to own some land and be able to work it, because there just isn't much unsettled land you can just roam without having claim to it. So that's going to require at least some money up front, and some source of income.
In theory, it is possible to be completely self-sufficient. There have been experiments conducted by NASA to test the feasability of colonizing Mars which created completely closed systems called bioshperes, where everything is recycled, remotely generated and organically produced and broken down, even the air. These experiments included human test subjects who actually lived in these biospheres for upwards of two years.
In practice, you can be as self-reliant as you want to be, but the point here is that being self-reliant is hard. It's harder than the easy way, and that's why most people don't do it. If one of your systems breaks down, you must fix it properly, even if it's cold outside and you would rather be at the bar watching the game with the guys. That's the deal you make. I have my limits of what I am willing to sacrifice, just as anyone does. I'm willing to give up some nice luxuries such as the latest electronics, the newest car, the best clothing. I am not willing to give up the ability to go see a first run movie, or watch a ball game on tv. The limiting factor in self-sufficient living, as with most things, is our own will.
Rant of the Week
The Right to Fail (4/26/04)
Risky business, homesteading is. There are about a million things that can go wrong with any endeavor that puts you in a position of ultimate responsibility for your own success or failure. When one is piloting an aircraft, sailing a boat on open waters, walking an iron beam several stories above the ground, or running a homestead, it gives a feeling that is at once humbling and emboldening, sobering and exhilirating. I have been giving this some considerable thought lately, and I think that part of what makes an individual feel so very alive in such situations is the possibility of real failure. I mean, none of the above undertakings is especially difficult if you know what you're doing, but in each of them you are truly putting your fate in your own hands.
So why is it that when we think of owning our own fate, we think of such things as flying, sailing, bungee jumping, mountain climbing? Do we not own our own fates every day that we are alive? Is there not the possibility of real failure, with real consequence, in every move we make? Well, in fact I was inspired to write this because it seems to me as I live every day that there isn't. That whether I succeed or fail in whatever I attempt today, that tomorrow will dawn the same regardless. If I lose my job, I know I can collect from the state. If I commit a crime, I know with a surety that the state will feed me, shelter me and care for all my needs in a fine penitentiary. When I get old and no longer able to work, I know the government will help me with social security and medicaid.
Let us examine for a moment the penal system. What does it profit us to take individuals who obviously come in having little regard for consequence and then radically impair their ability to observe the relationship between action and consequence? Prison inmates are held powerless inside a great system of subsystems which they can neither comprehend nor control. To the inmate, shelter comes from the warden. Food comes from the cafeteria. Everything originates from that poorly understood place called "outside." The American penal system instills a mindset of dependency, so that inmates are re-inserted into society having no concept of indpendence or accountability.
It's not just the penal system. Do we really understand any of the systems that make our lives possible? Ask a child where anything comes from. The likely answer? From the store.
We have worked tirelessly to distance ourselves from the possibility of failure. We do so little for ourselves directly that we have surrendered our natural right to fail. The cable fails, we call the cable company. The car doesn't start, we call the mechanic. Innumerable support systems, both public and private, exist to ensure against the possibility of failure. And that's not entirely bad. But if we really want to call ourselves free, then there must be ample room for failure. True responsibility, true freedom, cannot exist without it. Next time your hot water heater breaks down, or your computer catches a virus, why not try to fix it yourself, or at least try to understand the problem and its solution? There are only two possible outcomes. Either you will succeed, in which case you will have gained a measure of independence unknown to the next guy, or you will fail, in which case you will have merely excerc! ised one of your most important natural rights.
You don't have to fly an airplane right away.
- Cato Insitute
- The American Cause
- NH Liberty Alliance
- Advocates for Self-Government
- Free State Project
- Fully Informed Juries
- Libertarian Party
- The Voluntaryist
- Renewable Energy
- New England Solar Electric
- Int'l Human Powered Vehicle Assoc.
- Home Power Magazine
- Biodiesel: Journey to Forever
- Hemp Car
- Veggie Van
- Homesteading Resource
- Vermont Castings Majestic Products
- Barre Army Navy Store
- Aladdin Mantle Lamps
- Tiny Power Steam Engines
- Self-reliant Homesteading
- 2nd Amendment