I’ve been smoking too much. It’s time to back off it for a few weeks, return it to the rare pleasure it used to be. Just, not today. I packed my pipe short and walked outside for a quick smoke while I contemplated my pile of raw steel and scrap metal for blacksmithing. During my think, I heard a flapping and rustling from the garden and went trotting over thinking I might catch some devious bastard bird devastating one of the plants. Rather I found a fat Thrasher, sitting on the barb-wire fence where the hose nozzle was hung, misting gentle over a bed of flowers. The Thrasher had inserted himself in the path of the mist-stream, and was taking the bath to end all baths. I watched him for a good ten minutes, before he finally hopped off the fence, fluffed and finally flew.
In that process, I lost track of my idea that had warranted an inspection of the great rusting heap of steel. No great loss, I’m sure, as ideas are dime a dozen recently. Money, resources or time to act on them is frighteningly short, but ideas I’ve got a’plenty. I’m ajumble with ideas.
I recently read a forum thread on one of the many fora I visit, in which someone was talking about the tobacco tax increase of this spring. He was saying that, rather than continue his long time cigar hobby and funnel a dollar on every tobacco product purchased into the pockets of the federal government, he was going to start using that money to buy guns, ammunition and related supplies.
In spirit, I very much like this idea. They (that grand, smirking, scheming, federal “they” – In fact, a gaggle of morons, mass greed and stupidity masquerading as conspiracy) have been waging a war on smoking for longer than I’ve been alive, and they’re finally doing some real damage. On one hand, I’m fine with not having to be choked by second hand smoke in restaurants, or in shops where the owner smokes. On the other, I’d like to enjoy my cancer with a beer and some live music in my favorite dive bar. On the gripping hand, I can live without that, but that’s not good enough, and smoking on the back patio of said dive is frowned upon by many (even where it’s legal). And now, there is this ridiculous tax increase. So yes, why not stop buying tobacco, and instead invest that money into something that “they” hate even more – Guns. Lots and lots and lots of guns and ammunition.
Well… Because I like tobacco. I truly enjoy it.
The obvious solution is to simply order Cuban cigars from Canadian shops who’re experienced in shipping such contraband into the US (replacing Cuban boxes with Dominican, Nicaraguan, boxes and box labels, careful labeling of the shipments, etc). This both avoids paying the ridiculous American taxes on tobacco, and delivers an extremely high quality smoke. Don’t tell me this is bad because it doesn’t stimulate the American economy, haven’t you been listening? It’s a Global economy now stupid. As for violating US law due to the embargo and what not, so what? The entire point of this exercise is sticking it to the federal government, yes?
The less obvious solution is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. Self sufficiency. Growing my own tobacco, aging it, rolling it, smoking it. Never selling it, never getting into the mountainous bullshit that surrounds tobacco commerce - Simply growing it for my own use. I’ve considered doing this in the past, more for the shits-and-grins factor of breaking out a really choice cigar, and then informing my aficionado friends that it is in fact one I grew and rolled myself but also for the experimentation factor of being able to do my own combinations of tobaccos for filler and wrapper. I hadn’t, until now, considered it as a serious effort at self sufficiency and cutting back on “feeding the machine”.
That topic, self sufficiency, has been on my mind a lot lately. There’s been some good stuff being said over at Querencia about increasing personal sufficiency via gardens etc. Plus, spending several hours a day in the garden has had my mind on such topics as well.
The more I think about it the more convinced I become of the utter necessity of developing self sufficiency – If not entirely, then to a high degree.
Having been, until a year ago-ish, a full time student, and being in that peer group of 20-30-something not-yet professionals and young professionals, I see a lot of people setting up their life. They are getting an education, building resumes, working the first “real” jobs, dating and partnering – Setting the foundations for their lives. The foundations that will be responsible for their success, and conversely, for their failure depending on how things go, how well they built. In doing this we (as I am one of them) either need to take into consideration the way things have changed, and how they’re going to continue changing, or we have to go with the model mom and dad used, and hope that it’ll hold out just long enough. The latter has already proven itself to be a no-go, and those who refuse to accept it are blind. Those of us who have even the slightest amount of vision (I always feel like there’s something I just can’t see) need to make some pretty serious adjustments from the Nuclear American Dream (American Dream 2.0, the post-war edition, whatever you want to call it).
Among the goals we set for ourselves, the things we aspire and desire toward, achieving a high level of self sufficiency should be prime in peoples minds. Their life plan, their degree plan, job plan, family plan, should all involve that. We've already seen the fallacies in the white picket fence, house, 2.5 kids model, and are slowly coming to grips, changing the model for the ideal life - A strong degree of self sufficiency needs to be part of this new model.
Self sufficiency leads to community sufficiency. Not everyone can grow cattle, but they can do something that’s’ of benefit to someone who can. I may not be able to grow something here, at 6500+ feet, that can be grown down in the Rio Grande river valley, but I can grow cattle, and hunt deer, rabbits, elk, pronghorn. I can harvest “tunas” (prickly pear fruits). In exchanging something I can provide, for something I cannot, I am meeting my needs at the same time as I am providing for my communities needs. This is the logical extension of thinking globally but acting locally. Acting locally, with global good intentions is acting globally. Acting personally, with good intentions toward your neighbor, is acting locally. And so on, and so forth.
One of my philosophy professors has repeatedly told me I changed her life with a comment I made in a Philosophy of BioEthics class. I wish I could remember exactly what I said, as it was a very well put and eloquent expression of a simple idea. The idea being; if everyone would work first to take care of themselves, before they start trying to fix their neighbors problem or beg their neighbors to fix theirs, we’d all be a lot better off. If people put the energy into their own lives and welfare that they put into busy-bodying their neighbor, and begging, there would be far less global need for begging, or people to intervene in others problems. Freeing up resources to actually focus on and make a difference in places which actually need a little help, or a little minding. This starts at home, with meeting your own needs first – Self sufficiency, leading to community sufficiency, and so on and so forth.
A highly technological society does not (can not, we're finding) be separate from an agrarian producer culture - To retain any degree of sufficiency, they have to be integrated. This enforced separation, the great chasm that exists between consumers and producers, must end – The consumer must be the producer.
For all my reactionary anarcho-primativism, I will say this - Technology is not anathema to sustainability or self-sufficiency. Technology, if we use it correctly, will actually make this more possible than it’s ever been. The resources of the network enable producers to more rapidly share information and disseminate innovation. Consumers can more rapidly network with producers for an exchange. People who have, and people who need (being the same people) can rapidly identify one another and work something out.
Modern preparation, processing and storage solutions will mean that even less of what we produce, has to go to waste. Someone can hunt rabbits all winter, vacuum pack and freeze the meat and trade it all summer. Ecologically sound practices, preventing devastation of species, land, natural resources can be used, thanks to being able to store what is needed longer, instead of constantly sucking on, draining and eventually destroying the resources.
And so on, and so on, and so on. I haven’t the room, exuberance or time to detail it all. I don’t even have a full enough grasp of it to do so, yet. But it is possible. People have but to actually act, build their lives on these new models.
Me? I’m starting with tobacco. And using every dollar I don’t spend on tobacco taxes for ammo and guns. Someone’s got to do the hunting. And there will still be those who refuse to participate, but will demand to take. They’ll always need to be dealt with.