“Are you more free?”
No one cares. The government, despite what they say, does not really care about you. That is a hard concept to grasp after just getting a speeding ticket or even getting a government benefit in the mail or not paying your taxes. They seem to care. But they don’t. They don’t hate you (I hope) but there is so much work for them to do to keep everyone else in line that a stray hair is allowed to fly away. OTG’er are like stray hairs or wild hares. We are free mostly because we are too much hassle to manage and control.
We are more free because they do not care.
But, make no mistake: government knows that and so they wrote rules for OTG’ers anyway. They will not likely enforce any of them but, just in case they need them, they have them. Some poor-sap woman trying to snip her tethers recently in Coral Gables, Florida, can testify to that.
You are technically and legally not more free. But you are, practically-speaking, much more free than the city mouse simply because they are not looking for you. Essentially you are out of sight and thus out of Big Brother’s mind.
We try to keep it that way.
And, in some ways, you are more free. Building codes, for example, don’t apply in the strictest sense when you are off the grid. They were not written to protect the individual homeowner, anyway. They were drafted to minimize the effects of shoddy construction on other citizens. Same for all the fire bylaws. They don’t care if your house is engulfed in flame, the fire trucks first make sure the houses next door don’t get engaged. How can any fire department save a house from fire damage – by the time they get there, there already is some. Fire departments are about minimizing damage to other buildings. They were created for insurance companies. Not you.
And that lack of personal caring is also re-enforced by the fact that most insurance companies won’t insure you anyway. They do not trust you to keep your own house safe from fire. And there is no one else to do that for you when you are OTG. So no policy is offered. They trust that firemen and fire-hydrants and fire-trucks will protect to the extent that less than 1% of the housing stock burns down. Fire departments are about fire damage mitigation. That is what matters. Those are the numbers the actuaries are looking at. But, without a bunch of neighbours, fire hydrants, roads, trucks and well-clad heroes, to hell with you. You are on your own.
Which is fine. We take care of it. We have fire extinguishers every ten feet or so.
“I built my house to code. Actually, I built my house better than code.”
“We don’t care. We’re never going to inspect you.”
“But, you can. Even my electrical was done to the code and that doesn’t even apply without us being tied to the electrical grid. But we did it. And then we built the rest to meet or exceed common alternative energy practice.”
“Dave! You are not hearing me. We don’t care. Live in a yurt for all we care. Just don’t do it in a subdivision. We care about yurts in subdivisions. Can’t have that! Property values would fall, tax base would drop. I’d lose my job. But, when you are as far off the grid as you are, we don’t care.”
That conversation was had by me and the head of the local government. NOT the head of the building department, the head of the whole local government. The top bureaucrat. Not only did he NOT care, he would not have had the resources to seek out and inspect and then follow up on all the OTG’er in the area they ‘control’. His staff was too busy keeping the local city folk in line. (I was there for another matter entirely. The conversation above was just said in an aside).
There’s freedom in that.
There is also freedom in NOT having umbilicals. We do not have piped in anything. There is no disembodied voice or impersonal notice informing me of some arbitrary decision that will affect my daily life. BC Hydro, for instance, wants another 4% from the public. I won’t get that notice. I am free of the invisible little bureaucratic busy bodies that interfere all the time with an urbanite’s life. Those intrusions are not much. And not that often. I know that. But we are free of them.
There is some social freedom, too. You don’t have to dress up to go out. Your car does not have to be clean. You do not have to line up for anything. There is no up-to-the-minute schedule to keep to. There are timeliness, to be sure, but they are measured in days if not weeks. Minutes don’t count out here. There are health parameters to consider, of course. But a lot of the social pressures lessen because there is no cooperation with hundreds of others required all the time just to get the bus, say, to run on time. There is no bus.
There is a lot of freedom in that.
Are we really free? Probably not. I was raised in a first world lifestyle, indoctorinated with capitalist and Judeo Christian ethics. I have suffered the propaganda machine for half a century or more. TV is in my DNA. I have imbibed a lot of Kool Aid. Even if you get out of the box, what did you just step into? A bigger box, I am guessing. But that is partly the answer. There is more room for you in a bigger box. You may never be totally free but expanding the box is worthwhile in itself.