Some guy called Schwartz

Daniel Mark Scwhartz, on his website OTG Permaculture, provided his 7 Reasons  for people NOT to Go Off Grid.  He was being tongue-in-cheek, of course.  He is an OTG convert, himself.  However, a few of the reasons, silly as they are, are also partly true.
  • One — Paying bills is what gets you out of bed in the morning.  He claims you would not normally get out of bed if you didn’t have a demanding job and you only took the demanding job to pay off demanding bills.  In other words, you need discipline and slavery imposed on you so that you can live your life.  That seemed specious at the very least until I remembered my high school days.  He has a point.
  • Two — Other people know better than you. And the government, corporations, and institutions have your best interests at heart. They do everything they can to keep you happy and safe. Why would you leave all that behind? Or do that for yourself? The best plan is to quit asking questions, put your head down and be confident that everything you deserve will come to you of its own accord. Believe everything that you are told by the media, politicians, and academics, because they are entirely selfless and much better informed than you will ever be about anything.  Silly, eh?  Total faith in the unselfish, un-corrupted, Capitalist system?  Well, there are some, I suppose.  
  • Three — You live for retirement. The best thing we can all hope for in life is a long retirement.  Everyday, the trying circumstances and grind of employment and citizenship are the penance you pay for the freedom you had as a child, and the hopeful freedom you might have as a retired person. Eventually, you will have the money and free time to do everything that you wanted, but just not now. Not yet!  Sadly, Mark might be a bit more correct on this point.  Many, many people suffer, endure and tolerate their lives so that they can maybe enjoy them when they are old and get a pension.  
  • Four — Nature scares you.  Nature is full of gross things — death, manure, bugs! The farther away from that you can be, the better. So long as the stores are stocked and your paycheck still holds out, you’re just fine. You know that people will buy out store shelves until there is nothing left. But you’d prefer the danger you know to the unknown worries of keeping a garden, or raising your own animals. Compost your own poop? You’d rather die than go without indoor plumbing or a flush toilet for a single day!  It turns out that a good percentage of urbanites actually feel this way.  I’ve met ’em!  The flush toilet thing is crazy!
  • Five — You hate the idea of real, physical hard work. Growing food! Isn’t that for poorly educated foreigner workers or brown people?  You have an office job because you don’t have to stoop down to the level of working with your hands, or acquiring intrinsically valuable skills. Your parents raised you get a degree, make good money and live a nice suburban life.  So what if your job is unfulfilling?  Just as long as you are able to eek out a comfortable living while doing as little as humanly possible, then you’re living the dream!  If you can go your whole life without ever sweating, then you may not be happy, but at least you won’t have suffered.  Again, sadly, many people feel comfort is essential.  I seek comfort now and then, too, but do not need to live cosseted by it.  There is a difference.
  • Six — You trust corporations with your life.  Corporations and the people who run them are the most selfless people on the planet. So you know that you can trust them to transparently run every aspect of your life. The less you know the better.  I.e.  GMO foods must be healthy! Otherwise, why would they sell them? Isn’t there someone who is supposed to take care of all that for you? Grid power rarely goes down, and if it does, it comes right back up again. You can rely on them.  Banks and real estate agents would never let you borrow beyond your means, or buy a house that is too expensive for your income, subjecting you to a life of virtual slavery to pay of an exorbitant mortgage. News and the media live for the truth and relevant news.  You can trust the things you’re told, especially the ones that scare you and keep you in line.  I think Mark may have gone too far on this one.  No one trusts the media, the medical profession or the police anymore.  Well, not fully.  Mind you, they DO rely on those institutions a great deal.  
  • Seven — You have no idea where your food really comes from. Isn’t picking food from plants or fishing potentially dangerous? Real food comes wrapped in plastic from stores and that has first been inspected and that’s all that you really need to know. Don’t you know that people die from things, and don’t you know that food is among those things? Big Agra may not keep us healthy, but they will keep us alive enough to buy more, and that’s all you really need to know.  This one is too true.  I know people who won’t accept a gift of prawns or oysters fresh from our back bay and picked only an hour or so ago because they were not inspected or refrigerated the whole time (still, packed in ice, however).  

So, what is my point in this blog?  Mark, I think, went a bit too far but there is an element of truth to each point.  Points numbered #1, #2, #3 and #6 may not be readily admitted but much of our behaviour suggests they are not that far off-the-Mark Schwartz.

19 thoughts on “Some guy called Schwartz

  1. Inviting those living OTG or those contemplating living off the grid to be credulous and believe what they hear leaves me incredulous. Credulous folk buy bridges, seek a partner on Tinder and send money to scammers in anticipation of great reward. The use of irony here is clear. Its tone is disingenuous. Clearly David you get it. Through my lens a deeper sub-text is evident. Some see freedom an ultimate goal of going OTG. My view is that liberty not freedom supports living OTG by enshrining rights for all. When the thirteen colonies rebelled against Great Britain the Thirteen Colonies’ motto was, “Give us Liberty or Death.” The Goal was Liberty writ large. Absolute freedom corrupts and leads to nihilism.

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  2. I don’t agree with Mark, but I suppose the majority of people would agree with him, because it’s the easiest way to go….if everything is decided for you, your life becomes “easier”….someone thinks for you every step of the way, untill you are so caught by the system, they have enslaved you and sentenced you to a life of hard work and paying your mortgages. But still, most people like this I guess.
    I see a difference though in young people, they do not care to “own” a house, they are satisfied with basics and do NOT want to work (at all) to pay the bills (they think they can live for a long time with their parents ;-)). So there might be a change in the youngsters, hopefully for the better. They don’t mind not owning a house, on the other hand thay don’t like hard work, so there Mark has a point…why would they get out of bed (most young people sleep till noon)

    In any case, I am NOT a Mark believer…I would definitely prefer OTG

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    • Well, like I said, Mark is already a convert to OTG and his 7 reasons to NOT do it were presented tongue-in-cheek. And I knew that, of course. But, in humour, there is always a grain of truth or else it is not funny. So I looked at the 7 points for the grain of truth and found that, actually, all 7 had a bit of truth to them. A tiny bit…the real shock was in seeing that there are actually those who ‘cannot live without a flush toilet’ and that sort of nonsense. In reality, a pit toilet with an outhouse is more than adequate 99.99% of the time. And the bears dispense with even that!

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      • In rainy, cold weather hanging an ass over a log above a pit toilet with bears around does not work for some people 99.9 % of the time. This works for you? How about when the log is frozen? How about when the horse flies and the deer flies are active?

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      • Observant and sensitive reader, you are right, of course. EXCEPT on the West coast. We have ‘moderated’ temperatures along the south coast and the closer to the sea one resides, the more temperate it is. One can poop in a hole all year long out here and only rain is pervasive. And, and, and….we do not have black and Horse flies. The worst we get are flies (if the outhouse wasn’t done right) and, of course, the odd mosquito. Do I prefer it? No. The bathrooms at the Four Seasons complete with sniveling attendants and towels is preferred. But, like most people, I move what needs moving only once a day. The rest of the time I can gently sprinkle the immediate neighbourhood. Frozen logs? No, thanks.

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      • Gently sprinkle the immediate neighbourhood, that’s what I call Freedom and Liberty!!! Nothing beats that

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    • MY comments? Moi? I must admit to not having made much of a distinction. Freedom is not having anything more to lose (Janis Joplin) and Liberty seems to invite the possibility of death (Patrick Henry, a major character in our last book) but other than in context, I read them as much the same. Hmmmm…..

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      • If they are the same why did the leaders of the American Revolution seek liberty? They didn’t claim give us ‘freedom or liberty’ they clearly asked for liberty. The choice is not a mere preference. The choice has weight and gravitas.

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      • Well, if they used both then it would be a case of redundancy, wouldn’t it? PHenry said give me ‘Liberty or give me death’. But many others might have expressed the same thing by saying ‘Give me freedom or shoot me dead’. ‘Give me Freedom or give the booby prize’. Same message – basically. Methinks you are a smidge hung up on the semantics. But – just to be clear – I do NOT write that comment, Liberty did.

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  3. I try to respect people and accept their choices. I appreciate this blog and the books which tell the story of one couple’s OTR values and choices. Why? because it gives me an unvarnished version of the choice I once thought I might never have the freedom to exercise. I dislike those who try to be prescriptive for others and tell them which choices are best for them. I can’ think of anything more distasteful than telling someone else how to live their lives. Maybe I’ve lost something here:?

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    • Maybe you did miss something…….. I do not think Mark is telling people how to live but I guess he is pointing out that many live their ‘style’ without really thinking about their choices or else being driven by fears and myths. He thinks most people are comfort-seeking sheep who trust the system too much.
      The reason I thought it relevant was because the slings and arrows he presents in a ‘light’ manner happen to have been a bit true for me. I lived as I was expected to do for awhile and then paused and thought about my choices. So, then I chose to live on a boat rather than obey the landlord and, in the process of that minor rebellion, discovered I really had even more choices. I sought comfort until I realized that being temporarily uncomfortable made me feel more alive. I thought about pursuing money until I realized how futile and misdirected that was and on and on and on…..I think Mark’s points are lost a bit in his exaggerated style. So, I kinda tried to ‘explain’ him but, in that way, I may have confused his message.
      Bottom line: Mark is saying the ‘main reason for not living OTG is unconsciously NOT realizing how you got to the lifestyle you did. And that was partly true for me.

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  4. I’ve bought into two worlds. My parents wanted me to go to college and get a good job. They were the first in their families to do so and wanted the same or better for me. Being in my 70s that meant my parents grew up OTG or close to it in my dad’s case. I chose the field of education like both of my parents and by and large loved it until my retirement. We did choose to take an early retirement to enjoy our OTG cabin longer, which was the best choice we could have made. I agree with some of Mark’s points of view (even if tongue in cheek), but others are off the mark for at least me. – Margy

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    • I do want freedom. Tha’ts true. But i apolgize if I have ‘insisted’to the point that I am a shrill tout haranguing my readers. I thought it was a fact and that I mentioned it only when apropriate. Unrestricted freedom is the only kind , tho. What kind of freedom has restrictions? Ill go with unrestricted. What are the limits on librrty?

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  5. Freedom and liberty differ in many ways. Try these two sentences. ‘I do not want anyone taking a freedom with my family. Or “I do not want anyone taking a liberty with my family..” liberty and freedom differ in effect, scope and degree. Freedom has no restrictions, limits or restraints whereas liberty has restrictions, limits and restrains. Liberty is circumscribed by law, charters, bills of rights, courts, constitutions, contracts, democracy and the agreements that society makes in order to function within a state. Liberty protects your family. Unconstrained freedom leads to inequality. If one really believes in unrestricted freedom then what happens to personal property? Land ownership? Democracy? I’m very certain that you do not want the ‘tooth and claw’ of the jungle. Do you recall verse ‘freedom is just a word for nothing left to lose’ ‘’Me and Bobby McGee!”

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  6. Dave please be assured that I was not trying to be pedantic. I’m not trying to teach you anything. Schwartz is making a very good point on his blog permaculture regarding the social contract that ensures our liberties. The sources of our liberties. As I said earlier Schwartz’s blog makes a good point about acknowledging and accepting the constraints on our lives whether one lives on or OTG. Schwartz is at times doing some spoofing but his subtext is serious.

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