A day in Paul country

"That's what freedom is all about ... taking your own risks."--Ron Paul's response to a debate question about what should be done with a hypothetical coma victim who had not purchased health insurance.

We arrive in the night, late. We'd made reservations at the Self-Sufficient Motor Inn on Yeronyerown Road, but Libertarianville has no street signs, so it is impossible to know where we are. For that matter, there are no street lamps or paving either, those conveniences normally provided by that which does not exist in Libertarianville--a functioning government. And as there is no city planning on even the most rudimental level, the streets meander about as though a herd of goats did the initial layout.

Our GPS hasn't worked since we crossed the No County county line. The satellite network which feeds data to a global positioning system was funded in part by NASA and, therefore, the information it emits is not welcome in this corner of the globe. (A local entrepreneur came up with a way to convert Fuzz Buster radar detectors into a locally legal device that disrupts all wireless signals in a radius of one-half mile. There are few homes in Libertarianville that don't have one of these "Get Outta My Airspace!" gadgets installed on the roof.)

We end up sleeping in the car after dead-ending at what would be, anywhere else, the city dump. Only here, there are no bulldozers or earth movers to cover the trash. The landscape glistens in our high beams with unburied Hefty bags and discarded appliances. In the morning, a man with a machine gun wakes us by emptying a clip next to the driver's window. He demands $100 from each of us for "camping" on his property, and another $100 for using his "toll road" to get there. We tell him we will report him to the police.

"Good luck with that," he smirks, then shreds an Amama with his automatic weapon. "Target practice," he laughs, "for if any of them EPA ass holes show up."

The skies look like there might be nasty weather ahead, so when we come across our motel, we check in. I lay down for a 40-winker but immediately feel my skin crawling. Bed bugs. Thousands and thousands of them.

"You gave us a room infested with bed bugs," we tell the manager.

"So? You musta heard there is some possibility of bed bugs anytime you sleep in a motel," she shrugs. "That's what freedom is all about, you know ... taking your own risks."

We check out, telling her we will report the Self-Sufficient Motor Inn to the Health Department. "Good luck with that," she giggles.

As the ominous clouds deepen, we stop at the Your Choice/Your Consequences Cafe for lunch. I order clam chowder and after eating most of it, I spot a cockroach head bobbing among the remnants. I complain to the waitress.

"You're lucky all you got is a cockroach head," she snaps. "Last person in that booth got salmonella poisoning from the potato salad."

"How do you stay open?" I say, loudly, as we leave.

"Ain't nobody left that could close us down," the man at the cash register smiles. Then he points to a hand-lettered sign posted on the wall just below a stuffed bald eagle. "That's what freedom is all about--taking your own risks."

The tornado hits Libertarianville as we look for a road that would get us out of here. The town is all but wiped off the map. Families are trapped under the rubble of houses built without building codes to conform to. School walls that have never been approved by an inspector collapse on grades Kindergarten through 12. The rains that come with the storm fill the leveeless Don't Tread On Me River so quickly that what is left of downtown is now under a flood of water, PCBs, untreated sewage, DDT, asbestos, unregulated radioactive waste, mercury, surgical refuse from St. Ayn's 100 Percent Private Hospital, corpses of people who made poor choices in life, coal mine tailings and oil from spills that were never cleaned up.

"Wasn't there any warning?" I wail to no one in particular, as there is not a police officer or fireman in sight. "Doesn't anyone here ever listen to the National Weather Service?"

A man paddling by in a kayak says, "We knew what we were getting into when we were born here. We don't need some jack-booted government weatherman telling us to take cover in a bathtub."

On a relatively undamaged road that we hope leads out of Libertarianville, we come upon a little girl and her mother standing atop a car surrounded by swirling sludge. "Mister," the girl pleads, "you have anything we could eat? Our house was all tore up and we got no clean water and we don't know where my daddy is."

We throw them what's left of our FDA-approved food and I say, "Don't worry, honey. The Federal Emergency Management Agency people are on the way, and they'll have boats to get you off there and clean water for you to drink and a place you can stay. And they'll get you back with your daddy, I'm sure of it."

Her mother pushes the girl behind her, as a momma grizzly might protect her cub from a park ranger. "We don't need no stinking FEMA!" she spits. "I'd rather have my girl starve than take a handout from some initiative-killing gov'mint bureaucrat!"

As we drive away, I can hear the mother's shrieking. "That's what freedom is all about, don't you know that? Taking your own risks!"

In the gathering dark, an airliner slams into a mountain--a casualty of someone's "Get Outta My Airspace" gadget.

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