Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Career Options Stymied

If I wanted to become a hunter-gatherer in America today and live as my ancestors did back in the Paleolithic, could I do this without breaking the law? I suppose that I might be considered a vagrant in some quarters and run out of the county. I would almost always be trespassing on somebody’s land or violating the rules for using government land. I would probably violate hunting regulations galore and regulations that prohibit collecting plants and such. If I built a shelter anywhere, I would be camping and subject to time limits and a crap load of other rules. And if I earned my living by foraging, would the IRS impute the value of my food, animal pelt clothing, stone tools, and rudimentary shelter to me as taxable income? If so, could I pay my tax with beaver pelts? If I lived in a band of foragers who roamed the backwoods, I am pretty sure the Bureau of Land Management would try to remove us. If we had any children, the child welfare folks would take them away from us.

If I wanted to be a subsistence agriculturalist in America today, would this even be feasible economically? How would I pay property taxes, assuming I could afford any land? Would my hovel be up to code? The tax thugs might be all over me on account of any bartering I might do.

If I wanted to be an itinerant tinker like the Goat Man who used to pass through our village, I am not sure that I would be allowed to ply my trade in peace. How many business licenses would I have to take out, and how much business tax would be exacted from my meager earnings?

What if I wanted to follow the caribou herd and prey on it? Would I be allowed to do that? Or to drive herds of goats to seasonal pasture and live the life of a pastoralist? Is there a program for primitive goatherds on federal wasteland?

I am just thinking through my options.


Dr. Lenny said...

Just thinking though my options - does that imply the current optimized value of your law degree on the current market? It seems like the answer to all your concerns is yes, and if we let them, they will also tax the air that we breathe and the water that we drink. Can we say bechtel?(shhh)

I also noticed we posited the same relative comment at the same time on JL's site concerning Maslow's hierarchy. great minds think alike. or rather great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. or something like that :-)

Steve Scott said...

Could the problem of homelessness be more a product of zoning laws, building codes and all the regulations you mentioned than of Reaganomics or some other such usual suspect? I've thought this same thing through and I've concluded that "homelessness" (or a state of being disenfranchised) is outlawed by the same laws that mandate it.

Vache Folle said...

Dr Lenny-

I have been trying to live down my law degree ever since I got it.

Dr. Lenny said...

i thought about patent law on top of my pH-d (chemists have a thing about pH), but after school from 1964-1989, my years as a professional student had to be converted to an occupation.

so now i am playing games with bio-fuels, even though they are an intermediate rather than a solution. But it is much better to be part of the solution, than part of the problem - so i'll see what i can do to run a wankel engine on a pile of weeds. (no blind idealism for this amerikan, eh - but then again - what is around to burn for fuel if there is no petroleum flow?)

steve - point well taken