My friend worked around the table. As luck would have it I was one of the last asked, and so I had leisure to consider my reply. And as I listened to the discussion of each of these foreign places, I had occasion once again to find that not one of those answers attracted me in any way.
Alcohol was involved, and so I regret to say I don't recall exactly how I replied though I'm certain my words were so transcendentally profound that to merely hear them would have enlightened you beyond the realms of fear and doubt. I really should carry a tape recorder on these occasions, because when these things happen I really, really sound good to myself. And then the next morning I don't remember what I said.
To be truthful, I had put that discussion right out of my head until this morning, when I was directed to this Wendy McElroy essay, awash in fear and loathing of the American Police State. She said, in part,
People who value their freedom and safety should leave...if possible. Having said this, I cannot fault those who stay to be near family and friends or a business that took a decade to establish. Nor can I blame anyone who says "Hell, no!" and draws a line against surrending their freedom on the soil of their birth. Hell, I have all those urges warring within me. But I don't think it is wise to heed them. I think it is wise to GET OUT and fight for freedom from comparative safety. Get your assets out, get your family out, get your body out of the reach of the United States government.
I won't argue with any of that. She has given the matter a lot of thought and research, and she's been a lot closer to the issue than I have for years. She's entitled to her opinion, to be sure, and may very well be right. But every time this subject comes up we come back round to the question, where would you go? Sure, freedom-loving folks aren't very happy here any more. That's a damned shame, but is moving somewhere else really an answer? I've been to a number of other countries where there are American expats. Aside from the ones who seem to have devoted themselves to drinking to death, they don't seem unhappy. I certainly don't argue with their choices. But they're also not noticeably more free than they were here. They spend a lot of time dealing with the special problems endemic to colonies of Americans overseas; ie keeping the local authorities from raining on their party. Is that different from here? Aside from the bribes sometimes being more open, I don't really think so.
I've met numbers of expats in Central America, the Middle East, and parts of Asia. I've never been tempted to join them. I don't think I ever will be. And it's not just because I'm one of those gunnies who can't feel free unless I've got a gun nearby. Maybe it's just because I'm old before my time and stubborn, I don't know. But I was born here; this is my place. I can be backed up, but I don't think I can be driven right off. I know I don't want to be.
And there's certainly the question, how far can you retreat? If life in freedom really has become nothing but a series of tactical withdrawals, mustn't there come a time when there's just nowhere else to go? In that case, why wait? Why keep running?
Mind you, I've got no argument with people who want to go expat, or PT, or with those who see some chance in the various "free state" options. I wish them well. But I've given it a lot of thought, and just decided that this is my place, it's where I was born, it's where I've lived my whole life as blamelessly as possible, and I won't be driven away from it by anyone for no better reason than because they want to kick sand in my face.
No, it's not for me. Others must do what they think right, and I'm not saying they're wrong. It always comes down to what's right for you. But no. I'm staying right here, however that ends up.