A day in the life of Vas and Loki third-party.
Submitted by Vas Littlecrow Wojtanowicz on October 21, 2008 - 15:39
Vas gets up at 5 a.m. and Loki fills the coffeepot with water to prepare the morning coffee. They choose coffee today because they weren't forced to buy tea from a Colony at an astronomical tax rate. The coffee is Puerto Rican, as consumer freedom allows them to buy coffee grown by a family farm that Vas trusts, rather from beans produced by slave labor in Africa or South America. The well water is clean and free of toxic adulterants like flouride or excessive chlorine, because they decided to live somewhere without a municipal water systems that relies on minimum water-quality standards. The water is filtered, softened and/or distilled according to need and the most efficient price possible. With her first swallow of water, Vas checks her weight and measures herself. She no longer has any need for the expensive medications that were making sicker for the first 32 years of her life, Insurance didn't even cover these medications. She had insurance prior to divorcing her first husband. She learned about holistic medicine and decided to take control of her health. Stress management techniques and taking it upon herself to understand the triggers for her autism and schizophrenia, helped her lead a productive and happy life. Diet has taken care of everything else.
She has no insurance, or medical plan, and that's all right with her. She has no use for Western medicine anymore, unless she suffers an accident. When that happens, she finds it cheaper to pay out of pocket, than $600+ a month for insurance that Blue Cross denied her because of "incomplete medical records." She suspects that this was a loophole to avoid extending coverage because of chronic preexisting conditions. Her husband pays $153 a month for health insurance, that doesn't seem to cover anything but the fancy antibiotics that gave him diarrhea, constant nausea and did nothing to clear up his recurring fungal ear infection. Garlic oil was much cheaper than the co-pay and it actually worked. He keeps the insurance for farming accidents. He still has to pay thousands of dollars for his hospital visits, because his "premium" medical plan always finds a way to reject claims. The couple had decided that if something really awful happens and death is impending, they wouldn't fight it. Quality of life is better than quantity of misery after all.
Loki prepares their morning breakfast: venison sausage, and eggs with Puerto Rican coffee, after he does his morning Tai Chi and read the Tao. Loki got the sausage from a deer hunting relative who had too much meat, and wished to share his bounty. The eggs came from a neighbor's chicken. Vas drank the coffee straight, but her husband whitens it with a bit of soymilk and hot cocoa mix manufactured by a socially-responsible companies. The manufacturers for these products have gone beyond minimum government labeling and quality requirements. Husband and wife enjoy flavorful value-added products, that are worth the premium price tag.
In the morning shower, Vas reaches for her shampoo. Her bottle of "80% USDA Organic", "eco-friendly and cruelty-free" lather is properly labeled is with mysterious ingredients like "fragrance," and "tetrasodium EDTA." She likes how it works with her wild hair, so she uses it anyway. It's volume is clearly listed, and the ingredients are listed in order of quantity because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained. Vas laughs out loud wondering how many greenies actually believe that a product packaged in petroleum-based plastic bottle could possibly be truly "organic," "eco-friendly" or "cruelty-free." Still, she buys the stuff because the ingredients are of better quality than in most shampoos, and there's no generic substitute.
Vas dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because there is minimal automobile transit in the rural area where she lives. That will change during planting season. Tons of natural, purified, but still stinky, animal excrement-based fertilizer will be spread through thousand of acres of farm land. Her city slicker nose was offended by the air pollution at first. Now, she figures that's a good solution to farm animal waste, that actually yields profits and insane amounts of inexpensive foods with less scary chemicals.
There is no government-provided sidewalk to reach her Government Sponsored Enterprise delivered mail that's a five minute walk from her house. There is no public transportation for her husband's government-subsidized farm job. His county got bilked out of millions of dollars on a light-rail train system that was supposed to begin operation to Rice in 2006, was later delayed to 2010, and now might not even happen at all. This, in spite of overwhelming community support, and private efforts like business-funded billboards to educate people about the benefits of the LRT. Apparently, some bureaucrats decided that the project wasn't financially feasible, after all. No one got a refund for undelivered goods. No one really knows what happened to those tax-revenues. They obviously didn't go to the promised Highway 10 exchange bridge that didn't materialize either. The guy whose home stopped the project, was lucky that Eminent Domain didn't force him out. The Judge Scalia controversy that was going on at the time of the proposed construction. The government's intervention in his resistance, would've been political suicide according to public opinion polls.
Biking saves Loki considerable money in gas during the summer, but he has to drive in the winter. Thankfully his employer provides ample privately-funded parking for the employees. There's no need for public parking lot fees. Because of government regulations, and the fact that most businesses in rural areas are small and family-run, getting paid $10 or more an hour is considered nothing short of an outrageous pipe dream, for most people. Most non-manufacturing businesses pay in the single digits. Those that are not honest hire undocumented workers (be them local teenagers or foreigners that immigrated illegally) and/or pay much lower "tax-free" rates under the table. For this reason, Vas has to drive a minimum of 9 miles, but more often than not, 90 miles each way to get contract work that pays an acceptable wage. By driving below the speed limit, maintaining her car in top condition, avoiding stop-and-go traffic and, driving only when necessary, she keeps her gas expenses low enough to justify her work trips.
Whether she takes a job from a government-subsidized unionized college, or an amateur starving artist, she's usually works as an independent contractor. Even with employment-based gigs, she gets no insurance, no benefits and has to be responsible for her own taxes. On the bright side, she has more money to spend on the things that she actually wants and needs out of life, so it all evens out. She might never see a cent in Social Security benefits, but she's betting on a better future by doing things her way.
Loki begins his work day. He has a dangerous job with so-so pay, but has medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation, in order to retain him and the other workers at the farm. Too many capable adults are leaving the family farm for the city to seek easier, better paying and more prestigious lines of work. When Loki and his co-workers die, there is a good chance that there will be no one to replace them, because farming is not "cool." Loki's family has been lucky because they have a supportive bunch of workers that want to keep the agricultural dreams alive, and a solid business strategy. Other farms haven't been as lucky. Many have been forced to replace their retiring and dying workforce with undocumented labor, or they've had to shut down because there was no way to run these farms efficiently. More fortunate farms, have been successfully taken over by entrepreneurial Chicano, Mexican and Asian farm worker families without any other marketable skills, and no choice but to succeed or starve. The future is uncertain, in spite of capriciously distributed government farm subsidies. Loki's employer pays these standards because employees are considered a valuable asset, and the idea of people at church gossiping about how relatives and friends are treated, is downright mortifying.
If Loki is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he'll get a worker compensation or unemployment check. This will hurt his chances of being employed at any other farm, as he will be viewed as a bad risk by less scrupulous employers.
It is noon and Loki needs to make a bank deposit so Vas can pay some bills when she returns home. Loki's deposit is federally insured by the FDIC because some godless liberal wanted to protect Loki's money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression. Of course, it was because of this government intervention that his dollar has been inflated to the point where the buying power of his paycheck is much lower than it was during the Great Depression. Thanks to the same godly government intervention, the dollar is no longer backed by the gold standard. If the umpteenth bail-out proposed by our godly government fails and the economy collapses completely, that greenback will be worth as much as a Confederate note.
Vas never had to pay for her state college education because non-profit charitable organizations gave her grants based on her artistic ability, grades and skin color. Before she graduated, she discovered that public education jobs were hellish vats of bureaucratic misery. Her degree could've gotten her an equally miserable interpreter job. She quit drugs and got her head on straight, after she realized that her behavior was making her unemployable. Finding out that she had no recourse after being "legally" defrauded out of food stamps by her ex-husband, was another excellent motivator. It Starving to death or facing the rest of her life working as a street hooker, were not the outcomes that she desired.
Realizing that her college degree was useless, and her life was a mess, she sought help outside of the government that deemed her life to be too much paperwork to save. After she fixed herself with the help of a donor-supporter women's crisis center and the Catholic church, she decided to go into business for herself as a professional freelancer.
Loki paid for his education out of pocket because his parents were too affluent for him to get aid. The well-read and worldly young man dropped out of college three times. He was absolutely miserable attending classes with professors who read nothing but Cliff Notes. Many of these unsympathetic and tenured "educators" purposely interfered in Loki's ability to work and make enough money to pay for school. He tried community college, but everything he was taught there, he learned from farming at a young age. Loki gave thousands of dollars to the state for an education, and he got nothing. At least he didn't take any out student loans.
Vas is home from work. She gets out of her car after the drive. Her car is among the among the safest according to government standards. That wouldn't have helped her any, had she not driven defensively earlier in the day. Some trucker was talking on a cell phone handset, speeding and high on cocaine. His state of being was a result of him engaging in behavior that would help him exceed his mandated maximum hours for legal driving, in an effort to deliver the goods on time. He nearly side-swiped Vas's car when he ran through a red light, near a street that has been in perpetual road construction mode for half a decade.
Vas arrives at her unfinished, but habitable home at 7:00pm. The home could've been finished, but when the roofer illegally used his former employers' contractor license number, to do a substandard job. The couple lost thousands of needed funds from being defrauded and getting the penniless jerk incarcerated. Fortunately, they borrowed the money from Loki's parents. Had they taken a sub-prime mortgage, they would've been homeless as well.
The house was supposed to be fully-powered by solar, wood, biomass and wind-energy, with battery backup, gray-water system and non-electric appliances, until some big-government liberal stuck his nose where it didn't belong and demanded that they get rural electrification and fresh water for every use. This was done under the threat of being denied telephone service access and massive building code fines. If the couple had wanted alternative energy, they would've had to purchase it in Kilowatt blocks from their energy cooperative at a premium price. This happened before market forces had enough time to lower the price of wireless communication devices to the point where Vas and Loki could've thumbed their noses, at one of the threats. Instead, Vas is content that they still have some control of their well water and were able to refuse gas-heating, by paying additional mandated insurance for the wood burning stove.
Loki gets ready to leave work at 8:00pm. He sees his proud and accomplished Democrat father, who is now retired. His father lives off the hard-earned fruits of his farming enterprise, which he still oversees as a somewhat of a hobby. Dad asks if Loki wants to go up to the hunting shack on a weekend and spend some time together. Loki could work overtime, but decides that hunting deer on the opener is time better spent. Earlier in the day, the Nader-supporting Loki aims his hunting rifle that some whacked-out conservative fought to protect. He checks to make sure that his liberal-mandated hunting license is in his pocket. He shoots rabbits to prevent them from dying a grislier and more painful death in the grinding jaws of slow-moving farm equipment. He saves his father's family-owned corporation thousands in repairs. Most of the rabbits scramble as they usually do, but the one he got will end up in a stew at a later date.
Vas turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good, after the mid-hour news reporter tells her just the opposite. Vas rolls her eyes and wonders who is the bigger fool, as she simultaneously blogs and scans several news articles. She barely lifts her gaze from her laptop while she browses the Internet that came as a result of a Department of Defense project that went wonderfully out of control. She mutters, "The people are totally getting the government they deserve." Her ears perk up as she hears Loki takes off his Australian-made boots. She runs to the door to greet her husband with a goofy grin on her face. He hugs her and grins back right at them. For the rest of the night they drink beer with supper after Loki blesses dinner by clapping once. He speaks of the Tao. She speaks of girlish vanities. They speak of the day.
They go to sleep, after eating homemade bread with homemade jam made with foraged plums that they found in their food storage pantry. Blissfully they slumber, pretending to forget how much control they actually have over their lives, in spite of living in a gilded prison ruled by politicians and an apartachick that care less whether they live or die, until April 15.