Saturday, July 27, 2013

What if we just disengaged?

What would it take to drop out of society? What would happen if we just stopped paying property taxes? What if we just said NO! Unless you get paid in cash, which doesn't happen much anymore if you have a "real job" (as opposed to working "under the table") or are retired, the Feds have control of your paycheck before you even get your share. The federal and state governments take percentages of your salary and leave you what's left. Taxes are mandatory. Not paying taxes is breaking the law. You can be arrested and serve jail time for non-payment of taxes. Then, if you are lucky enough to own property, local government mandates you pay even more in property taxes. These taxes have nothing to do with fees charged for the privilege of living your life, or fines imposed if you don't pay up.

With the rising costs of living, how do we even do it? How do we balance that dwindling paycheck with living a happy life? I am assuming happiness is your ultimate goal. It is certainly mine. As L'Oreal proclaims in it's advertising, "I'm worth it." But I am losing sleep these days worrying about having enough money to live happily, and according to the lifestyle to which I have become accustomed. My husband and I are retired now and in good health. We lost a bundle in the economic crash of 2008, and our property is not worth what it once was. Who knew real estate would become an unwelcome investment? Owning property is a wonderful thing. Property ownership connotes independence, doesn't it? Nobody has control over how long you live there or what you can do with it, right? You make the rules; not some landlord. Not so. The reality is that if you own property, you can do what your town says you have the right to do, and charges you through the nose for that privilege. If you live on the water, the government charged with overseeing that public resource dictates what you can and cannot do, and charges you hefty fees for that privilege. More importantly, it threatens you with fines and jail time if you don't comply. Who isn't threatening us? From every direction the slaps come. Why? For the privilege of living in our screwed up society? What town's government isn't screwed up? What county's? What state's? And how 'bout those feds? What can we really do about it?

Well, this morning I woke up before the crack of dawn wondering what it would take to just say no to this financial drain, disengage from the game of living and just try to live. What would that change really take? What would it cost me? How does one go about taking back control of one's life? I am lucky to live in America where the rep is "Freedom". I don't deny I am grateful to be here. I just don't feel very free. Compared to countries where citizens are killed for speaking their minds, I am free. I am writing what some would called an anarchistic message. I am not an anarchist. I just want my money and my right to choose back. I am beyond child-birthing age, so the right to choose takes on a whole new meaning. I am talking about the all-American right to choose how to live my life. I am talking about real freedom. That concept got lost along the way to attaining and maintaining what we call freedom.

I let my imagination go wild lying in bed, wide awake in the dark this morning. I imagined just not writing that property tax check. I imagined cutting down the shrubs to four feet high to improve our water view once again. I imagined reclaiming our lawn and mowing down the government-imposed, illogical, "buffer" that draws wild foxes closer to our door. Tall grass and weeds are a great place for critters to hunt and hide. We own twelve-pound lap dogs. The buffer is a great place for them to poop so we don't have to clean it up. That's the only "up" side of having it. But it makes it more difficult for us to protect our pups from predators. I dreamed of baracading ourselves in by surrounding our entire property with a six-foot fence. The fencing material became a debate in my head: wood or chainlink? Wood is solid and nobody can see what we're doing behind it. The gates could be electrified, or not, but certainly locked when we wish them to be. Chainlink would allow shrubbery to grow through it so it eventually would disappear, leaving nature as our primary view barrier. This latter choice is far more desirable, but the metal would have to be coated to withstand salt air corrosion over time. Wood also rots over the years and would require replacing. In that case, plastic fencing would be required. The fencing would be a huge initial investment, but with no maintenance or replacement costs in our lifetime, deemed worth every penny. When "Big Brother" comes to get us for stopping payment on those checks, they'd at least have to break down the fence before they can get to our door.

We'd have to also invest in self-sustainable electricity. Wind and solar are logical options for us right now, but would also require a huge initial investment and maintenance costs over time, unless my husband figures out, like he does most things, how to maintain them himself. We would continue to pay our electric and propane bills, until the government cuts our lines and stops delivery to punish us for non-payment of taxes, fines and fees. Generating our own electricity would allow us to heat and cool our home, run our water well pump and our septic system. We'd have to figure out how to still get propane for the backup system that heats our home below a certain temperature. Maybe we can work an "under the table" deal with the local propane dealer. Hopefully, the government won't find out about the propane dealer and punish them for helping us.

Gardening our own food will be required and not just a hobby. And, we'll have to buy a gun to hunt for food. We'll certainly have to fish. We'll have to invest in a huge freezer, and I'll have to go back to canning vegetables and fruits. I have always considered the "pioneer" lifestyle romantic. But, could I really live it as a senior citizen? I am healthy and relatively strong still. So is my husband. How long will that good health and strength last though? Longer than our finances in this environment? It may be a toss up. But, therein lies the nightmare. Will we run out of cash before we die? I really don't want to be a WalMart greeter or be eating out of dog food cans when I'm eighty. Would you? What, then, can be done? How do we turn this downward spiral we call our economy around? How do we stop the financial blood-letting by all the governments that run our lives? Can we just say NO? Could we ALL just stop paying? Could we just refuse to play this game anymore? Can we truly disengage from the dance of our current society? What would it take and how would we change things? Are we willing to live with less in order to have more money in our pockets to last our entire lifetime? Are we ready to take back control? I know. It's complicated. And, complicated problems require complicated solutions. Can we just begin by saying NO?