Getting to Galt's Gulch: Everyday Secession
This month, the United States once again celebrated her independence on the Fourth of July. After a year of lockdowns, masks, and now even mandatory vaccinations in workplaces and universities, the idea that the USA is a beacon of freedom to the rest of the globe seems far-fetched. This attitude was reiterated in the new Toby Keith song “Happy Birthday America.” Keith’s downtrodden lyrics reflect on his observed disappearance of the American patriotism which had been present not long ago.
The problem with the version of national pride of the singer of “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue” is that it equates love for his country with approval of imperialist tendencies. When invading foreign countries and toppling their governments is the source of pride in one’s country, then diminishing military power and a disrespected flag at the Olympics feels crushing.
For the libertarian with a foundation in property rights, personal responsibility, and financial literacy, the way forward is not joining in left-right political boxing matches, but secession. When the rule of law fails Derek Chauvin and common sense regarding gender-based separation in sensitive spaces disappears, libertarians need not wallow in their pillows and chocolate like after a devastating breakup. The political pendulum brings hope or disappointment for those loyal to a particular party. Instead, journal the grievances against Uncle Sam and hypothetically block him from dominating your life.
Secession is needed daily, especially in education and healthcare. The immense suffering of individuals in 2020 caused by government bureaucracy and politics illustrates the importance of personal independence.
The character of the public education system revealed its true colors. Many teachers protested over returning to in-person teaching in the classroom despite the unsubstantiated fears that children are superspreaders. Where schools resumed formally, administrations and states masked children without evaluating secondary consequences such as extended exposure to bacterial growth on masks.
The outcomes of virtual schooling were worse. Accusations of virtual truancy prompted Child Protective Services visits, especially where internet access was problematic. The “learning loss” disparity was largest in low-income communities, hurting academic outcomes for black and Hispanic students.
Unfortunately, the priority is not the health outcomes of children even now, a year later. With covid vaccination being required for school attendance, there is concern that for children, the vaccines are statistically more deadly than the illness. In Washington, DC, minors may be coerced by school administrators into vaccination without a parent’s consent or knowledge.
The public education system is failing children and, thankfully, school secession provides a silver lining. Homeschooling rates approximately tripled during the pandemic, when public education options were unsatisfactory. In 2021, a plethora of options for home education are present, ranging from self-paced curriculums to more community-based plans. Support for this lifestyle can be obtained through formal online communities, co-ops, and homeschool groups.
“Unschooling” for the elementary grades supports flexible education styles where children are free to discover and obtain skill proficiency based upon their interests. This early learning supports specialization and entrepreneurial tendencies from youth, benefitting children far into adulthood.
If the purpose of education is to enrich the whole child, public schooling clearly falls miserably short of this goal. Secession enables primary caregivers to raise their children with their values, over those of government overlords, and keep them safe physically from bullying, emotionally, and socially from teachers and students with misplaced priorities alike.
Similar to public education, American healthcare already had preexisting conditions of inadequacy. The pandemic clearly demonstrated the problems that plague the US medical care system, directly covid related or otherwise. Mothers suffered poor birth outcomes resulting from the policies of hospitals and government bureaucrats. Inexpensive, unpatented drugs such as hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin were either made unavailable altogether or certainly more difficult to obtain despite having positive success at treating the manifested illness.
In the current healthcare system, doctors, even those with good intentions, are restricted by hospital procedures and follow the recommendations given by larger authorities, both public and private. The reality is that the American medical system is not free market in any sense of the word, no matter how often the claim is countered.
Doctors in mainstream medical care do not have the autonomy to make specialized decisions for their patients. For example, insurance companies require that a certain percentage of children be fully vaccinated according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommended vaccine schedule, otherwise the pediatrician may not meet the threshold for quality of care bonuses. Unyielding support for these one-size-fits-all recommendations comes not only from the governing agency and the health insurance company, but also from the major professional organization for pediatricians, the American Academy of Pediatrics. Swimming counter to the stream is neither financially nor reputationally wise for physicians, even if specific patients have a higher risk of adverse reactions.
In the specific treatment of covid, procedure dictated that hospitalized patients be placed on ventilators (with a death rate for covid patients on ventilators being approximately 58.8 percent). Oxygen supplementation, a noninvasive treatment, should have been provided initially for low oxygen levels but there were financial incentives to diagnose for covid-19 and ventilate. Thanks to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) bureaucracy, doctors were limited in their ability to prescribe drugs with high success rates to patients earlier in the pandemic. How many lives were needlessly lost due to red tape?
With the release of Dr. Tony Fauci’s emails, the public may now observe that the CDC pandemic recommendations were not based on “science” or concern for the public’s health. Fauci understood masking was inefficacious at halting viral spread, kept successful treatments from becoming widely practiced, and knew that the covid death rate was similar to that of a severe influenza season. Shutting down the economy was never warranted.
Under a system bogged down with the conflicting interests of regulating agencies, medical practice procedures, and health insurance companies, patients may have a simple solution: fire the doctor. Demand more midwives and home births because of better health and birth outcomes. Visit alternative care providers who prescribe highly successful vitamin C and zinc treatments. Take business to noninvasive practitioners like chiropractors and naturopaths, who desire to treat the underlying conditions rather than purely symptoms.
Fear is sadly associated with taking this leap. But the overlooked reality is that preventable medical error persists as the third leading cause of death in the US. Secession from health insurance networks may not only provide better overall health outcomes but may be more affordable as practitioners resort to refusing health insurance payments to gain greater autonomy.
Getting to Galt’s Gulch
The success of libertarianism is independence from the state’s influence. Increasing one’s reliance on free markets, where personal responsibility and decision-making prevail over complacency, makes for an effective patriotism. Stopping the Randian motor of the world so that libertarians may thrive in the hypothetical Galt’s Gulch beyond government’s grasp (i.e., in external markets) requires exit. Leave a school or healthcare system which does not deliver desired ends.
Finally, be brave. Courage is not restricted to standing in the public square at Tiananmen. The defense of liberty is often more mundane: removing your children from the influence of tyrants in schools or exiting a job where an employer requires injections, which violate your moral principles. While these actions seem daunting, and they indeed are, those who love liberty are the ones who will be the impenetrable bulwark against evil. In the words of Mises’s favorite motto by Virgil, “Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito.” (Do not give in to evil, but proceed ever more boldly against it.)