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                                  Chapter 13  
           TO SHRUG - AN ALTERNATIVE LIFESTYLE FOR AN INDIVIDUALIST 
   * Underlying Philosophy  
   * Historical Precedent  
   * Implementation of Shrugging  
   * A Different World-View  
   * Escape from the moneylenders  
   * A suitable dwelling  
   * Lifetime supplies  
   * Income reduction  
   * Occupation  
   * Security  
   * The Moral is the Practical  
   * Recommendations  
   * Bibliography  

   Throughout all my writings, I use the word "Shrug" (always capitalized) 
to designate a certain activity. That activity is described precisely in the 
book ATLAS SHRUGGED by Ayn Rand. 
   This essay is a consideration of some aspects of that activity. If you 
have not read ATLAS SHRUGGED, you will probably find this essay to be 
somewhat obscure. 

    
   * Underlying Philosophy 
   All civilization rests upon the productive achievement of creative 
individuals. Without that productivity, the amenities of civilization would 
be little, if anything, more than a cave, a bearskin and a chunk of raw 
meat. Observe that totalitarianism is not creative. A Sherman Tank is not a 
tool of construction, nor is the revolver on a policeman's hip an instrument 
of productivity. A totalitarian regime can exist only if it is able to 
obtain economic support from the productive members of society. Without that 
support the regime will collapse or dissipate, as there is no other means of 
maintaining its economic existence. The evil is that which is destructive 
and life negating. The good is that which is productive and life sustaining. 
Evil is impotent--literally impotent--in a very fundamental way. The only 
power evil has is the power it gets, one way or another, from the good. 
Consider any evil action which you can conceive of, and take a real hard and 
deep look at it. What were the means by which that action was perpetrated? 
What is the basis (particularly the economic basis) upon which the 
perpetration rests? If you look far enough into the matter, you will find 
that somewhere, sometime, something good must have happened before this evil 
could have come into being. To take only one example (but a rather blatant 
one): A thief cannot steal from me that which I do not possess. His act of 
theft presupposes my act of producing that which he would steal. If I have 
not produced it, he cannot steal it. It is only my sanction (in the form of 
my production) that gives him his power. Without my good, he is impotent. 
Without me, he can not even exist. This is true not only of the simple act 
of theft but of ALL acts of evil, no matter how complex they may be in their 
insidious manifestations, and no matter where or how they occur--materially, 
intellectually or spiritually. As you can see, this is the basic theme of 
ATLAS SHRUGGED. 
   All that is required for the defeat of evil is that good men stop their 
unwitting support of it. 
   A productive person who uses his creative energies in support of 
totalitarianism is acting according to an irrational morality--he is 
providing sustenance for an evil that tends to destroy him. The remedy is to 
STOP SUPPORTING THE EVIL THAT AFFLICTS YOU. Stop feeding the bastards--let 
'em starve! 
   The functioning of your mind--the creative application of your 
intelligence--is something that is entirely under your personal control. 
Most things you own can be forcibly removed from your possession. The one 
thing that cannot is your creative ability. This cannot be touched without 
your sanction. The guns of a dictator, though they may destroy you, cannot 
compel you to think (Thoreau and Gandhi taught us this). It is simply not 
possible to enslave a free mind. Your body can be enslaved regardless of 
your personal choices, but the creative power of your mind can be manifest 
only if you choose to express it. 

    
   * Historical Precedent 
   The idea of Shrugging was not unique to Rand. Its advocates include such 
other illustrious persons as Thoreau, Lane, and Ghandi. 
   Thoreau: "It is not a man's duty, as a matter of course, to devote 
himself to the eradication of any, even the most enormous wrong; he may 
still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at 
least, to wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not 
to give it practically his support.... Cast your whole vote, not a strip of 
paper merely, but your whole influence." 
   In 1943 Rose Wilder Lane implemented yet another exercise in subversion, 
which was an attempt to reduce her income below taxable levels. It was 
merely the next logical step in her exercise in self-sufficiency combined 
with political resistance. 
   Ghandi's policy of satyagraha can be viewed as an "activist" expression 
of Shrugging. 
   Judge Learned Hand (1934): "Any one may so arrange his affairs that his 
taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern 
which will best pay the Treasury; there is not even a patriotic duty to 
increase one's taxes." 

    
   * Implementation of Shrugging 
   On dealing with the immorality of government, here are five courses of 
action to consider: 
   1) Refuse to engage in any implementation of your personal creative 
ability which benefits the State. Take your brains off the statist 
marketplace. Act so that only those who add to your life, not those who 
devour it, comprise your creativity marketplace. Do not abandon creative 
productivity, merely deny it to all who advocate statism. Work for yourself 
and the people you love. Reserve your achievements for yourself and those 
who will join you in the endeavor to build a sane and sensible world. This 
is the main ingredient of Shrugging. As Robert Ringer observed: "I am in 
favor of complete freedom of trade between companies and people throughout 
the world, but not under the umbrella of political partnerships between 
governments." Thus my attitude is that I will use my creative abilities on 
behalf of people who are STRIVING to act outside the authority of 
government, but I will not permit government to benefit from their use--
either directly or indirectly. I will not use my abilities in any way that 
requires a tax to be paid, and I will not help other people to pay or to 
collect a tax. 
   2) Arrange your circumstances so that the State benefits as little as 
possible from whatever sort of work you choose to do. 
   3) Propagate the philosophy of libertarianism. Make these ideas known to 
others who are seeking a means to combat totalitarianism. 
   4) Actively oppose the State in a political manner. 
   5) Contribute in a positive way to the establishment of a new 
civilization. Establish for yourself a lifestyle which will demonstrate that 
rationally moral behavior is in fact eminently practical in one's personal 
life. 

    
   * A Different World-View 
   Ayn Rand never advocated Shrugging (in fact, she was firmly opposed to 
the action) so there has never been any discussion of the nitty-gritty 
aspects of "how to do it." Nobody told me what to do after I Shrugged. I had 
to figure it out for myself. Most of my life's work since I Shrugged has 
been devoted to finding how to live an economically comfortable and secure 
existence while denying the State any benefit from my creative ability. The 
result of this has been the implementation of a lifestyle that maximizes my 
standard of living while minimizing my exposure to the oppressive elements 
of society. 
   I have been disappointed with most other libertarians because they 
manifest very little of any practical use--because they seem to want only to 
TALK rather than really DO anything to achieve freedom. To object verbally 
while non-violently submitting to (and economically supporting) an 
aggression is the behavior of a hypocrite whose talk and actions are 
diametrically opposed. My own goal has always been to eschew collective 
activities in favor of better ideas to apply to individual life, firmly 
believing that society will not be changed by people hollering and shouting 
in and about nation-wide mass movements, but will be changed only by people 
who choose to alter their own personal lives to live in accordance with a 
rational morality. Shrugging is an individualist endeavor, not in any way 
collectivist or communalist. If there is ever to be a society of free men, 
there must first be free men to comprise that society. Assembling them into 
a society would be an interesting proposition, but the prior act of becoming 
free is each individual's self-responsibility. 

   Most people who ask the question "Is there any hope for saving society?" 
will settle only for an answer that by its nature would enable one 
individual to make singlehandedly a mammoth immediate alteration in the 
situation. This, of course, is impossible. Sadly, the fact that one 
individual alone cannot put a complete end to an evil is often used as an 
excuse and justification for accepting and supporting the evil. While 
realism tells me that I cannot fix all the problems of the world, my 
idealism tells me that my inability to do so does not preclude me from 
addressing those individual problems that I CAN affect. I view the 
situation, and my approach to it, as a physician would view a society 
suffering under a catastrophic epidemic. He would not sit back, wringing his 
hands in dismay, lamenting the fact that he alone could not produce an 
immediate and total cure for the epidemic. What he WOULD do is simply pick 
up his little black bag and commence to treat as many afflicted individuals 
as he possibly could. I believe society is suffering from a disastrous 
epidemic of irrational morality, and that the remedy lies in the practice of 
a rational morality by each individual--especially by a certain type of 
individual: those capable of a high degree of productive achievement. (For a 
much more comprehensive treatement of this phenomenon, see THE AYN RAND 
LETTER, 3Jan72.) 

   At an early age I started developing a world-view that can see outside 
the normal American lifestyle. I was in my early 20s when I went shopping 
for a house in the suburbs. I looked at a couple houses, noted the prices, 
and learned about financing arrangements. At this point I paused and the 
mathematical wheels in the back of my brain cranked round a couple times. I 
said "Hey! over the course of a 15-year mortgage I will be paying almost 
TWICE the purchase price of this house! I'm not gonna do that!" The real-
estate agent just gave me a funny look (I've been getting that funny look 
all my life) and terminated his presentation. And I began thinking about 
alternative lifestyles. 
   It didn't take me long to discover that there are also other people 
interested in alternative lifestyles--and not much longer to learn that by 
and large they are a bunch of losers. They don't drop out to find a better 
life; they drop out because they can't cope with the life they have. The few 
exceptions to this are those who drop out because of their environmentalist 
concerns. A laudable motive, but these people throw the baby of technology 
out with the bathwater of pollution by renouncing any use of civilized 
technology in the primitive lifestyles they establish. People interested in 
a "natural" lifestyle seem to have no concern at all for any of the 
technological prerequisites of a decently civilized life. Many appear to see 
not much further than grubbing for roots and cooking over an open wood fire. 
Even Thoreau did a lot better than that! They claim to be looking for a 
different drummer, but they don't know the tune. Our conflicting motives and 
disparate goals precluded much collaboration at all between myself and these 
people. 
   I think the best of the lot that I encountered was the Back-To-The-Land 
SIG in Mensa, but even they were a considerable disappointment to me, their 
primary focus of attention being the collecting of recipes on how to prepare 
natural foods. I wasn't interested in learning 47 different ways to cook 
organic turnips. My concern was "What am I gonna cook them WITH?" I was also 
surprised at how very few of these people actually had any genuine intention 
of converting their daydreams into real life. They were almost all city 
dwellers who had no notion of any practical procedures for getting Back To 
The Land, and no genuine motivation to find or create such procedures. 
   I had a philosophical motivation (based on my decision to Shrug) and also 
an economic motivation: I was strongly opposed to spending the major part of 
my life supporting the moneylenders. 

    
   * Escape from the moneylenders 
   The first element of my economic strategy was to escape from the 
moneylenders. 
   The banking industry is an absolute prerequisite to the economic 
functioning of a free-market society. Investors who accumulate capital and 
then lend people money are very much to be lauded. What I complain about 
here is not the existence or the functioning of the banking industry, but 
the misuse of this function by the debtors. Drinking a glass of red wine 
every day is an effective way to improve the functioning of your heart. But 
to drink so much of the stuff that you become an alcoholic is as self-
destructive as is the accumulation of a vast amount of debt. When I say 
"escape from the moneylenders" what I really mean is "stay out of debt." 
Just as I would say "stay off the booze!" 
   When most folks begin their working life they immediately start making 
payments on a car, paying off a mortgage (or paying rent, which is probably 
worse in the long run), and in other ways making long-term committments to 
moneylenders. They get economically locked-in to this syndrome and then find 
themselves in a situation which is very difficult, if not impossible, to 
break out of. They HAVE to live where and how they do, in order to keep 
making payments so that they can continue to live where and how they do. 
Many of them eventually become affluent, middle-aged and anxious. The kind 
of people who, having "everything," end up by finding they have nothing and 
search ceaselessly for some means of filling the spiritual vacuum of their 
lives. 
   I call this the "white collar squalor" syndrome. You GOTTA stop paying 
other people for the use of their property (rent) or the use of their money 
(interest). If you're not accumulating wealth, you're dissipating your life. 
   The procedure for breaking free of the moneylenders would be quite 
different for people whose financial situations were different. One man 
might need to scrimp and save for a long time, whereas another might only 
need to divert immediately available resources from one area to another. But 
unless you can get out of this "white collar squalor" syndrome you will 
never be truly free. 

    
   * A suitable dwelling 
   "To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, but so to 
love wisdom as to live according to its dictates....The philosopher is in 
advance of his age even in the outward form of his life. He is not fed, 
sheltered, clothed, warmed, like his contemporaries. How can a man be a 
philosopher and not maintain his vital heat by better methods than other 
men?" .... Thoreau 

   The biggest expense most people have is the cost of their housing, so I 
gave a lot of thought to what kind of dwelling would be suitable to the 
lifestyle I wanted. 
   I had no intention of giving up the comforts of a civilized life, 
especially since my philosophical principles require no such sacrifice. It 
is not at all necessary to settle for what Rand described as Galt's dingy 
little quarters: 
   "a long, bare garret with a bed in one corner and a gas stove in another, 
a few pieces of wooden furniture, naked boards stressing the length of the 
floor, a single lamp burning on a desk.... the wooden rafters of his 
ceiling.... the cracked plaster of his walls, the iron posts of his bed." 
   Extending the idea of "escape from the moneylenders" to include escape 
from other institutions that have economic control over everyday life (the 
foremost among them being the utility power companies), I concluded that 
what would be appropriate to my goals would be an inexpensive, energy-
independent, mobile dwelling possessing the comforts of modern technology. 
   I considered living in a motor home, but I quickly discovered that motor 
homes and travel trailers are NOT designed for permanent residence, and are 
even less than not designed for living in a cold climate, [I went to college 
to learn how to write like this?!] and are certainly not energy-independent, 
or even energy-efficient. So I decided to create one myself. I began by 
doing renovations of vehicles--converting them into little "rolling homes." 
I gradually figured out how to use my knowledge of physics and engineering 
to convert an old van, truck or bus into a very nice little house--an 
inexpensive, energy-independent, low-polluting, transportable dwelling--for 
a whole lot less money than the cost of a new house, or even the cost of a 
new motor home. After building several such dwellings--and living in one of 
them myself for a few years--I came to realize the truth of Thoreau's 
observation: 
   "Most men appear never to have considered what a house is, and are 
actually though needlessly poor all their lives because they think that they 
must have such a one as their neighbors have." 
   Because of his insightful remark, I have come to call my way of living a 
"Post-Delusional" lifestyle. If you can once get around, get by, or Shrug 
off, the delusions foisted upon us by the culture we are immersed in, you 
can then adopt a lifestyle that provides more economic security and 
prosperity. You don't really HAVE to "keep up with the Joneses," you can get 
off their racetrack, out of that ratrace, and instead enjoy a life of 
cruising along country byways, looking for the "road less traveled." I know 
you can do this, because I did it myself! 
   Either as a permanent alternative to a fixed-box type dwelling, or as a 
temporary transition between the city rat-race and a quiet existence in the 
country, a motor home can offer an inexpensive and comfortable lifestyle. 
   As a transition device, a motor home offers the city-dweller the means by 
which he can get out of the city in whatever spare time he has (weekends, 
vacations, holidays) and travel about in the country seeking land and 
housing suitable to his desired rural lifestyle. If he does find land 
without a dwelling on it, he will have a temporary living arrangement after 
he has left the city and is building his permanent home on the land. 
   It is an excellent way to test your ideas about independent living: you 
load up your motor home and trundle up into the mountains. Find a nice, 
secluded place and live there for a few months, making a list of all the 
things you discover that you don't have and all the things you can't do. 
Then you trundle back down into civilization again and start crossing things 
off that list. When the list is gone, you are ready to live an independent 
life. I want to stress the importance of DOing it experimentally before you 
make a full committment. The actuality is never just what you expect it to 
be. 
   As a permanent residence, I think this sort of home is a wonderful way to 
beat the housing racket with its multi-kilobuck lifetime mortgages for 
shoddily constructed boxes with built-in and almost irrevocable dependence 
on the energy companies. A nice little home can be built in an old school 
bus for a modest amount of money and, if carefully done up, will keep you 
cozy and warm in the coldest climates (I have lived quite comfortably 
through more than two dozen Wyoming winters). 
   It's amazing what living in a Rolling Home does for your economic 
situation. Gone are the mortgage payments. Gone are the rent payments. Gone 
are the huge tax bills laid on a stationary house. Gone are most all of the 
utility bills (a small house takes much less energy to heat, and if, like 
me, you don't drive it too much, petrol is a small expense). Sure, there are 
still some living expenses but they are a tiny portion of the expenses 
associated with a "regular" house. I can live on a MUCH smaller income than 
I needed before. 
   And then, of course, there are all the benefits of mobility. If I don't 
like it here I can always fire up this old clunker and trundle off down the 
road, seeking warmer climes, more congenial neighbors, or even just a 
different view from my window. 

   Some comments on technology: many people seeking an alternative lifestyle 
reject technology. I think this is a mistake. I have a very high regard for 
technology--insofar as it is the practical application of human intelligence 
and creativity to the problems of living a SANE and SENSIBLE life in the 
environment of this planet. What I greatly object to, however, is the use of 
technology in irrationally insane manners that inhibit decent human life and 
contribute to the destruction of earth's environment. The big difference 
between me and many other environmentally concerned people is that unlike 
them, I do not advocate the destruction of a pricelessly valuable tool 
(technology) just because it is being used by some vicious people for 
improper purposes. (Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater!) 
   So I integrated two usually disparate ideas--a profound love for the 
ecology and an equally great respect and admiration for technology--and 
thereby established a style of life that incorporates all the stated 
objectives of the most enthusiastic environmentalist with all the comforts 
and conveniences available from modern technology. 
   I worked on the technological problems of self-sufficient living for many 
years, concentrating on the use of solar energy as the primary source of 
household power, and I found that a motor home--or a trailer house--makes a 
splendid dwelling if it has been designed and constructed to be energy-
efficient (very well insulated) and frugal in its use of heat, water, and 
electricity. The operating expenses of such a home can easily be reduced to 
a few thousand dollars per year (assuming it stays parked in one place). 
   But the lifestyle I have developed consists of more than just an unusual 
dwelling; it is a comprehensive set of practices that have led me to 
substantial economic success while reducing the extent to which I am 
victimized by the government and other huge social/economic institutions. 
Through the practice of this lifestyle, I have lowered my living expenses to 
not much more than what I spend in the supermarket, and an income of about 
$500 per month can support me very comfortably indeed (in 2010). 
   Quite a long time ago I encountered something called Micawber's Equation. 
(Micawber is a character in one of Charles Dickens' books.) It looks like 
this: 
   Income 20 pounds a year: expenditure 19 pounds, 19 shillings and sixpence 
= HAPPINESS. Income 20 pounds: expenditure 20 pounds and sixpence = MISERY. 
   The more I thought about this equation, the more it seemed to make really 
good sense to me. I derived, as a variant of Micawber's equation, something 
I call "Micawber's Ratio." It is simply the ratio of your income to your 
living expenses. If that ratio is greater than one, you live in happiness. 
If that ratio is equal to one, you are just barely managing to make ends 
meet. If your Micawber's Ratio is less than one, you are (or eventually will 
be) living in misery. I believe this is a much more sensible assessment of a 
person's economic condition than is the commonly-used measurement based 
solely on income. My own Micawber's Ratio is over 2. But my annual income is 
only about $12,000. Am I living in poverty? Some people think so. (My income 
is so "low" that I am exempt from the income tax.) But my standard of living 
is higher than that of many of those same people. It is my lifestyle that 
enables this. 
   True prosperity is measured by the satisfaction of a person's material 
desires, not by the number of dollars in his pocket. 

    
   * Lifetime supplies 
   After I had reduced my housing expenses to just about nil, I had all that 
"mortgage money" to spend on other things--and I soon found a lot of other 
things to spend it on. As I observed in Chapter 4, there is a critically 
important distinction between being rich and being wealthy. One of the most 
economically successful things I have ever done was to implement that 
distinction in my personal life. Whenever possible, I have opted to acquire 
merchandise rather than money--or to turn my money into merchandise. 
   See reference 
   It really doesn't take much money (or much storage volume) to acquire a 
lifetime supply of X. For X, just substitute anything that you need to live 
comfortably and that can be stored away indefinitely. Socks, for example. If 
you have a few dozen pairs of socks in the back of your closet, then you 
don't have to be at all concerned that the price of socks is increasing 
continually--or that those socks may vanish off the marketplace entirely. 
Recently I took a brand new pair of trousers out of my storage trunk. While 
I was ripping off all the tags I noticed the price tag attached to the 
waistband. I thought it might be interesting to see how much the price had 
risen since I bought them, so I stopped in at the store where I had 
purchased them seven years ago, and was told: "Oh, those pants aren't being 
made anymore--they're no longer available!" I'm sure the lady thought I was 
completely crazy, because I burst out laughing. 
   If you save dollars, the government simply eats them up via its inflation 
of the money supply. But if you convert those dollars into books, tools, 
clothes, or even just cans of beans, then you beat that inflation. The 
government will eat the dollars, but YOU will eat your beans! 
   A home should be the first item on one's "lifetime supply" list. I 
advocate living in a motor home because I have found it to be a very 
economically efficient lifestyle. 
   THE ALPHA STRATEGY by John Pugsley has some good advice on how to  
convert your money into merchandise. Try it - just a little bit - and you'll 
see that it is an excellent way to avoid inflation. 

    
   * Income reduction 
   The best way to gain economic freedom is to cut expenses. People who 
squander their prime years on excessive work to pay unnecessary expenses, 
and then spend the remainder of their lives working just to stay sheltered 
and fed, can't enjoy much freedom. 
   As part of her exercise in subversion, in 1943 Rose Wilder Lane began an 
attempt to reduce her income below taxable levels. My own implementation of 
this has been a great success. As of 1992, the base (federal) taxable level 
of income in the USA was above $5000 per year. At the time, this represented 
over twice the amount necessary for me to live comfortably. For the final 14 
years of my working life I worked two 8-hour shifts per week at or near the 
minimum wage (as dishwasher/janitor in local restaurants). My standard of 
living rose continually during that time, mainly because almost the entirety 
of my income was "disposable income." I had followed Ms Lane's example and 
reduced my living expenses to just about nil. 
   My standard of living has been rising continually since 1975, when I had 
fully implemented my lifestyle. Whether I consider the amount of material 
wealth that I possess or the amount of leisure time available to me or the 
amount of time I must devote to earning my living or the amount of economic 
security I have. In all these respects I am better off now than I have been 
at any previous time of my life. 
   An interesting thing about all this is that I believe ANYBODY could do 
what I have done. Anybody in America could work 10 years at minimum wage and 
then retire for life. As screwed up as it is, this is still the richest 
society the world has ever seen. 

    
   * Occupation 
   After I had thought about Atlas Shrugged for a while, I realized that 
Shrugging is appropriate not just to someone at or near Galt's level of 
productive capability, but to anyone who is concerned with the ethical 
propriety of his life. I believe that even though there are immense 
differences between Galt and a track walker, they are differences merely in 
quantity, not in quality. Thus Mr. Walker may well have just as legitimate a 
concern for the ethical nature of his behavior as Galt has for his. When I 
contemplated the question "If Galt steps down to the level of the track 
walker, what would the track walker step down to?" I identified this as the 
essence of Shrugging: DO NOT PAY TAX ON YOUR CREATIVE ABILITY. I believe 
that EVERY person has some creative capacity, and that the proper way to 
respond to government is to deny it the benefit of that creativity. As Rand 
observed: "Physical labor as such can extend no further than the range of 
the moment. The man who does no more than physical labor, consumes the 
material value-equivalent of his own contribution to the process of 
production, and leaves no further value...." 
   Consider that it is not merely taxation that supports totalitarianism, 
but the exploitation of productive achievement. No government could survive 
merely by taxing ditch diggers, track walkers and dishwashers. These people 
do not create civilization (although I readily admit that they do help 
maintain it); civilization is created by those whose productivity generates 
the need for ditch diggers, track walkers and dishwashers. The taxes imposed 
on a dishwasher will not support a totalitarian state, simply because the 
dishwasher does not generate wealth. He merely manipulates the wealth 
generated by someone who is functioning at a considerably higher level of 
productivity. If this "someone" were to stop generating wealth, eventually 
there would be nothing for the totalitarian State to tax--and it would 
perish. If you wish to strike at the State then strike at its root--deprive 
it of its economic foundation. The functioning of your mind--the creative 
application of your intelligence--is something that is entirely under your 
personal control. The guns of a dictator, though they may destroy you, 
cannot compel you to think. 

    
   * Security 
   There are three major aspects to my security. 
   The first is that my house is both mobile and energy-independent. Even 
though I have not moved my little house in many years, I could readily do so 
if the need ever arose. Since my domestic utilities are almost entirely 
solar-powered, I am not dependent on outside hookups. I do not have 
blackouts or brownouts; I am not subject to power rationing, and they can't 
raise my rates! 
   The second element of my security is that I have provided for my future 
in ways that are linked as little as possible to money. I own my home, and 
it is quite capable of housing me for the rest of my life. Thus I will never 
have to worry about getting money in order to provide myself with shelter. I 
have sufficient clothing and other household goods on hand to keep me 
comfortable for longer than I expect to live. Unless all this property is 
physically destroyed, I will never have to obtain money to replace any of 
it. I have, in my parlance, "pushed self-sufficiency all the way to the 
bananas." All the way to those things that I cannot provide for myself 
and/or cannot lay up a lifetime supply of (such as bananas). I am as 
unaffected as I can be by the government's continual destruction of the 
American economy. 
   The third element of my security is that my philosophy, and the fact that 
I actually LIVE by it, are so unthinkable to statists that I am essentially 
invisible to them. I call this the "Thompson Invisibility Syndrome" (see 
ATLAS SHRUGGED Part3 Chap8). This syndrome is their response to someone who 
is so far removed from their frame of reference that they literally cannot 
perceive him as a genuine philosophical entity. They can ignore me, or they 
can ridicule me, but they CANNOT take me seriously. Rand was quite wrong 
about the need for secrecy: their ignorance and self-blindedness are my 
shield. 

    
   * The Moral is the Practical 
   Moral laws are principles that define how to nourish and sustain human 
life; they are no more than this and no less. Morality is the instruction 
manual for human life. It is the science of human self-preservation. Moral 
principles serve as gauges to guide a man's choices in the achievement of 
concrete, specific purposes. The task of applying these principles to the 
purpose of living a life proper to a rational being belongs to every 
individual man, and the life he has to live is his own. 
   Moral values are distinguished by two attributes: They are chosen values, 
and they are fundamental in nature. They are "fundamental" in the sense that 
they shape a man's basic character and life over time. Other kinds of 
values, by contrast, are specialized - e.g., a man's estimates in regard to 
government or art, which constitute not his moral, but his political or 
esthetic values. 
   A moral principle, accordingly, is not something sui generis. Properly 
speaking, it is a type of scientific principle, identifying the relationship 
to man's survival of the various basic human choices. 
   The only alternative to action governed by moral principle is action 
expressing short-range impulse, or whim. But for man the short-range, viewed 
long-term, is self-destructive. This is the practical point missed by 
pragmatism. 
   The realm of facts is what creates the need to choose certain goals. This 
need arises because man lives in reality, because he is confronted by a 
fundamental alternative (life or death), and because the requirements of his 
survival, which he does not know or obey automatically, are set by reality 
(including the reality of his own nature). The particular evaluations a man 
should make, therefore - both in regard to his ultimate purpose and to the 
means that foster it - do not have their source in anyone's baseless 
feeling; they are discovered by a process of rational cognition. 
   Moral value does not pertain to reality alone or to consciousness alone. 
It arises because a certain kind of living organism - a volitional, 
conceptual organism - exists in a certain relationship to an external world. 
Both these factors - man and the world, or human nature and reality - are 
essential in this context. The good, therefore, is neither intrinsic nor 
subjective, but objective. 
   This is the only approach to morality that does not culminate in 
disaster. Only a code based on the demands of reality can enable man to act 
in harmony with reality. 
   Objectivism is true. As a result, it has practical effects and beneficial 
consequences for human existence if properly applied to one's life. 
   The thesis that morality must be totally subjective because reason is the 
slave of the passions does not explain why it is that although some people 
are indeed slaves to their feelings, others guide their lives by reason. 
Furthermore, if morality is subjective, then why is it that some moral 
principles promote success and happiness in life while others do not? 
   The assertion that morality must be derived either from dogmatism or from 
subjectivism is a false alternative. Man DOES have the capacity to choose to 
follow reason, to internalize healthy feelings harmonious with reason, and 
to live successfully according to a rational code of morality. 
   Before Ayn Rand, there was a perceived dichotomy between being good and 
being practical. This put morality in a dilemma because "how should I act?" 
rested on two antipathetic goals: to be "moral," or to be "practical." It 
was thought that to flourish you needed to be immoral to some extent, and 
that the actions which make you moral inhibit flourishing. Now that Rand has 
given us the basic science of a rational morality, the pretext for thinking 
this has been eradicated. 
   The principles of Objectivism give rise to a set of guidelines for 
practical actions. If those guidelines are followed, the result will be a 
successful life. Objectivism is not a mere philosophical assertion, but a 
living, concrete procedure by which a rational individual can learn the laws 
of the universe and implement them in his personal life. It is, as Rand 
observed: "A Philosophy for Living on Earth." Once you understand what you 
can accomplish by means of this procedure, your methods change; eventually 
the entire pattern of your life changes. 
   This living, concrete picture is itself profoundly convincing: the 
observation of my personal life has produced conversions and induced a 
commitment to the idea of rationality in some other people. As this sort of 
conversion and commitment spread to more and more people, it will, 
hopefully, become a movement, adherence to which will distinguish a person 
as enlightened, and ignorance or denial of which will mark one as 
intellectually retarded or superstitious. Those who reject Objectivism are 
akin to those who renounce the Scientific Method, thereby depriving 
themselves of humanity's most powerful instrument of knowledge. Both groups 
are doomed to a stunted level of intellectual and functional capability. 
People who ignore Objectivism are simply going to become irrelevant and, 
eventually, extinct. People who accept and use it are, like me, going to 
prosper. 
   The extent of your failure to live by rational principles is reflected in 
the extent of your failure to flourish. The more you use your mind properly, 
the more you'll flourish--succeed at survival. As the economy of America 
becomes more and more fouled up by government, those people who can bypass 
their dependence on this economy can function more efficiently, but those 
who continue to live within the mainstream will have their economic 
efficiency diminished by a parasitical government. 
   "You have been using fear as your weapon and have been bringing death to 
man as his punishment for rejecting your morality. We offer him life as his 
reward for accepting ours." ... John Galt 

   Nothing encourages ethical practices so well as a practical, profitable 
alternative to evil. We can't make people want to be poor. If we want to 
clean up the Earth and establish a free society, we'll have to show people a 
way to be wealthy without harming the environment or depending on the State. 
   Not only must we demonstrate how to live well, we must show how to make a 
profit. As one investor remarked: "As soon as the environmental sector 
starts producing profits, we'll start investing." 
   A lifestyle should be adopted on the same basis as the advocacy of an 
environmental issue: If you object to pollution, the first thing for you to 
do is to stop your own polluting behavior. If you advocate the conservation 
of some natural resource, the first thing for you to do is to diminish your 
own consumption of that resource. And if you want to contest a tyrannical 
political system you must reject tyranny in your own personal lifestyle. 

   I have proved in my own life that he who actually lives by the morality 
of Objectivism can thereby have a HIGHER standard of living than the 
majority of people in America, who are hobbled ethically and economically by 
circumscribing their lives within an authoritarian frame of reference, and 
that the adoption of such a lifestyle is much less expensive and much more 
technologically feasible than most people surmise. Amidst a population of 
individuals employing one strategy, I employ a different strategy which has 
a higher payoff. It is a strategy which delivers tangible benefits TODAY, 
not "someday" or "when we win." 
   That which is practical is that which corresponds to reality. If you 
derive your moral code from the facts of reality, it will correspond to 
reality and will therefore be practical. As Rand repeatedly asserted, "the 
moral IS the practical." This means that if you live a life that is moral, 
you will make the happy discovery that it is also quite practical.  

   And I can look into a mirror and know that I did not work all my life to 
help make possible the burning of babies in Philadelphia and Waco. Can you 
say the same? 

    
   * Recommendations 
   Keep in mind that Shrugging doesn't have to be one big jump--it can be 
done in stepdowns, thus avoiding traumatic shock to your present lifestyle. 
   I believe the best way to go about implementing the lifestyle I have 
described would be to start by buying a pickup truck as your first (or next) 
vehicle. When you are financially ready to do so, buy a camper to put onto 
the truck--or a small trailer to pull behind it. Spend weekends, vacations, 
and as much time as you can living in this thing. This will prepare you for 
later full-time residence, and teach you what domestic facilities you should 
modify or add in order to create a comfortable situation. 
   I have lived since 1974 in a 30-foot school bus and find this plenty 
large enough for one person (and two cats) to live in. But if I were to do 
it over again, I would opt for a truck/trailer combination, as that makes 
for more transportation convenience. When you want to stay parked in one 
place for any length of time, it is convenient to just detach the truck for 
your occasional trips to town. 
   Once your little house is fully prepared, take the next big step by 
moving completely and permanently into it. At this point your financial 
situation will take a big leap upward as you begin to reap the benefits of 
the rent/mortgage money that you no longer have to pay out. 
   Two things you should consider doing with that money are stocking up with 
supplies of merchandise (such as the socks I mentioned above) and investing 
in a pension for your future years. It shouldn't take much to convince you 
that the government's Social Security scheme is of dubious (and diminishing) 
value. There are other ways in which you can provide for your future. 
   When you have got yourself set up in your new lifestyle you can begin to 
think about changing over from full-time work to part-time work. For the 
final 14 years of my working life I worked only part-time (as a dishwasher 
and janitor). I usually worked one or two days a week--and had a five- or 
six-day "weekend." I retired completely at the age of 48. 

    
   * Bibliography 

    These first two contain excellent "how to" advice for folks who are 
considering taking up a nomadic lifestyle: 
          FREEDOM ROAD by Harold Hough 
          HOME IS WHERE YOU PARK IT by Kay Peterson 
    These two contain lots of inspirational pictures and sketches: 
          THE TINY BOOK OF TINY HOUSES by Lester Walker 
            A lovely collection of little, mostly stationary, dwellings. 
          ROLLING HOMES by Jane Lidz  
            A beautiful picture book showing how buses and trucks have been 
artistically converted into handmade houses on wheels. 

   I strongly suggest you run an Internet search for the word "yurt."  You 
may be, as I was, astonished at what you find. 

   J.C. Whitney Co  Box 8410  Chicago IL  60680      www.jcwhitney.com 
         Parts, accessories and appliances for cars, trucks and RVs. If you 
intend to build your own motor home, this company is an excellent source for 
parts and equipment. 

   THE ALPHA STRATEGY by John Pugsley has some good advice on how to  
convert your money into merchandise. 

   On the subject of transportation, I have found some nice alternatives to 
the automobile: 
   PedalPower 

   As of 2002, the average American car-owner spent $6000 per year on his 
automobile, but he drove that car less than 25 miles per day. 



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