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It was supposed to be another meeting of Hardyville’s Official
Unofficial Y2K Committee, but it didn’t start out as planned.

The rest of us were milling around waiting for Carty, the ex-military

logistics whiz who’s our unofficial official. Carty’s normally a
smack-on-time kinda guy. But this night he thundered in late, flung some

books and papers down on the table and roared, “I’m outa here!”

“No you’re not,” Janelle-the-waitress observed from behind her tray.
“You just got here.”

“I mean I’m outa here,” Carty boomed with a sweep of one big
hand. The rest of us — even those not in the path of the hand — reared

back a little. “I’m out of America!”

Now, understand: Carty is huge, shaves his head, and considerably
resembles Jesse “The Governor” Ventura. So we were all a bit loath to
“Whuh?” But Carty also breathes red, white and blue and we could not
believe what we were hearing. So somebody eventually ventured the

“You mean, like, leaving the country?”

“Damn right. Leaving. I got outa the service because I couldn’t hack
having that … person as Commander in Heat. And now that those
spineless, crooked, limp-di … oh hell, those senators said he
do anything he damn well pleases. I just am not living in a
where that SOB’s been turned loose to be dictator of the whole shebang.
tired of putting up with it. I’m outa here.”

While some of the others were still hmming and errring in shock, I
leaned over and looked at the pile of stuff Carty had thrown down on the


“Hey, I know who this guy is,” I said, picking up a book called
Escape from America by Roger Gallo. “He has Escape Artist, a giant Web site
people who want to live in other countries. The book is about how to do

“Is the book any good?”

“Dunno, I haven’t read it yet,” I answered, starting to page through.

“But he knows what he’s talking about on that Web site.”

A few others gathered and started pawing through the papers and

“Sovereign Society?”
Bob-the-nerd queried, picking up a fat envelope with a British postmark.

“Is this about gold-fringed flags and not having a drivers license?”

“No,” Carty said, a little calmer. “It’s about offshore investing,
second passports and like that. You’ve got to pay $195 a year to join,
looks like they’ve got real solid information. And you get either a
or an Austrian bank account with your membership.”

“Oh hoity toity, Swiss bank account!” someone scoffed. “What have
you got to put in a Swiss bank account, Carty? Those bankers
even want to talk to people like us.”

“I’ve got about as much as you got, beer gut. But look, you can get
things started in the account with as little as $5,000.”

Readings. Hms. Nods.

“I know about those guys, too,” I said into the silence. “They’re on
up and up — unlike some offshore investment hypers and hucksters. The
Sovereign Society is people like James Dale Davidson and Lord Rees-Mogg,

who wrote The

Sovereign Individual, investment guys like John Pugsley and Doug Casey,
Vince Miller of the International Society for Individual

“Hey, Claire, if you know so much about all this offshore stuff, how
come you’re still here in Hardyville?”

“Well, you can ask my banker and my Significant Sweetie about that.
Believe me, I’d be on an island somewhere if my checkbook and my honey
would go along with the plan.”

“Well, Carty here ain’t rich. So, Carty, how you gonna do it?”

“You don’t have to be rich anymore,” Carty said. “Only smart.”

“Well, that lets you out, then.”

“No, seriously,” I interrupted. “What these writers and groups are
all saying is that the Internet, free trade and other things are
enabling independent people to slip out of control of bad governments.
can set up a corporation in, say, Costa Rica,
Nevis or Anguilla,
a business on the Internet — and you could be here or there or
You can live in one country, bank in another, operate your business in
another. … It helps to be richer than I am, and it’s probably smart to
good legal advice. But I know perfectly ordinary people who’ve done it
only a few thousand dollars.”

“Makes it hard for gubmint grabbers to know where your money is,”
nodded. “And just think of all those other countries that don’t have
Bill for president.”

“Yeah, but they do have, you know, Generalissimo Whosis, El Supremo
Dictatoro of the People-o. Stuff like that.”

“Well, that’s why you research ’em all in advance and listen to
who’ve done it,” Carty shrugged, waving at his paperwork.

“And maybe,” I added, when countries see that all their bright,
affluent brain-workers and entrepreneurs are heading elsewhere, they’ll
eventually wise up. Then we might actually have countries competing for
can offer the most freedom. How about that?”

“Never work.” Nat Lyons shook his head. “No such thing as a
getting better instead of worse over time.”

“Only because people put up with it,” Carty insisted. “Now it’s a lot

easier to vote with your feet.”

“Weren’t there some people trying to start their own countries?”
Dora-the-Yalie asked me.

“Oh, yeah. All the time. People want to build artificial islands. Or
they want to negotiate some sovereign territory inside another country.

“The most interesting one I know is Laissez Faire City. Some heavy hitters

behind that one, too. They’re working on a cyber community — with its
banking system and everything — while hoping long term to build a
community, probably in Central America. Whether they’ll pull it off, who

knows? Their operation always seems to be under construction, and never
quite constructed. But even with their struggles, they seem better
and better planned than some other projects.”

Hey, I know. Let’s build Hardyville South,” Nat cracked, sweeping off

his cowboy hat and offering it around, brim up. “I’m takin’ donations
it. Swiss bank money accepted.”

“Me,” Bob-the-nerd sighed, “I’m holding out for the ultimate escape



“I really think you guys oughta come back to earth for a while,”
bossed, entering with coffeepot. “And Carty, you can take care of Mr.
Clinton later. Right now, I think you oughta get back to saving
from that Y2K thing.”

We all milled to our places. Carty pulled out his notes and began
something about availability of natural gas supplies. But I found myself

sitting in the back of the room with Escape from America on the
table in front of me, reading and pondering.

Could there really be places on earth where ordinary people don’t
to slave half our lives just to pay protection money? Where bankers
report every innocent move to some snoop agency? Where cops don’t stop
on the streets and steal the money from our pockets? Where we can live
way we want on our own land? I think I’m gonna find this Gallo guy and
if he’ll answer a few questions. I’ll let the Hardyvillians know what I
find out.

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