Chapter 3: Poor Man's John Galt

Now that Larry had quit his job, he set about the business of living and working full-time on his '5-acres-of-happiness'. He still had a few grand in the bank, plus a whole bunch of collectables that he could unload. But more importantly, he had skills that his new found neighbors and community could use. Even though it would mean making less money than Larry would have made doing the same in Metro-Detroit, it would be enough to pay the bills. His only real expenses were the mortgage, taxes, and basic utilities. This tallied up to be just over $300 a month. Larry was confident he could earn that.

The two primary industries in the area were agriculture and the vacation-recreation trade. This was mainly seasonal work. Larry knew from talking with Uncle Pete, that winters were deads-ville. "If you're gonna make money here, you got to do it between April and October.", his Uncle warned. Larry had some basic business cards made up, with just his name, address, and phone number on them. He promoted himself as a 'all-around-Mr.Fix-It'.

Things started to happen after the July 4th weekend. Plenty of the transient vacationers needed work done around their cottages. With Huron County bordered on three sides by Lake Huron, one of the Great Lakes, there were plenty of people who could repair cars, marine engines, and household appliances. Most people closed their cottages up during the winter and this meant preparing the home by draining the plumbing and other winter-izing proceedures.

Larry had taken out a small ad in the local paper and started to get some business shortly there after. At first, it was just fix a TV or an engine. He got a few inquiries about doing landscaping, mainly mowing lawns for people who only came up on weekends and didn't want to be bothered with such menial tasks. Larry had no problem with that. Five bucks here, twenty there, it started to add up.

One of the local machineshops called and informed him that one of their surface grinders had broken down. Larry was there in an hour and had it up and running before the end of the day. He charged $200 and got it. He fixed a neighbor's lathe and was paid with a half dozen chickens. Larry bought another dozen and a rooster.

By the mid-1990's, Larry had a decent trade going. He earned more than enough to pay his bills and buy a few goodies once in awhile. More often than not, he found goodies, too. On slow months, late fall through winter, Larry would drive down to Detroit for a bit of foraging. They had begun the practice of having their garbage picked up in front of the house as opposed to in back-alley dumpsters. Once a month, the city would pick-up trash too big for the small 70 gallon personal trashbins each home was issued.

Larry couldn't believe the stuff people threw away! He got all sorts of lawn mowers and snow blowers that only neeeded minor repairs to be made functional again. Old TVs, water heaters, and plenty of furniture, too. Larry had to be a bit choosey since he only had a Ford F-100 to fill. He soon developed a keen eye for junk, and knew what could be salvaged and resold and what couldn't. One day, he even scored a 12 ft. TV satellite dish! Larry stopped off at a surplus electronics store he knew of and picked up a controller and signal converter for $75.

Larry's garden was steadily getting bigger and better, too. He added a small greenhouse along the southside of the house. This kept the home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Following instructions in one of his how-to books, Larry built a windmill using the rear axle and yoke from an car. He got a surplus generator and was soon making enough of his own electricity that he was actually being paid a little bit each month by the power company. There was always a decent breeze.

Larry's barnyard started to really shape up with the addition of dairy goats, again, obtained in barter for services rendered, and by his little fish farm. Larry read an article on how to raise fish in 55 gallon drums. It seemed like a good idea to him, and didn't cost much since he got most of the materials either for free or cheap. Each drum unit wound up costing maybe $25, and he got fingerings for free from a state fish hatchery. A worm farm cost about $20 and soon produced more than enough food for his aqua-farm. His neighbors really got a kick when they'd see him fishing from his back porch!

His resale business from Larry's foraging excursions got so good that he needed help. Fortunately, the sherrif had a brother who seemed to have trouble holding down a job. Bobby was a slacker, who didn't mind working as long as he could have a nip now and then on the job. Larry made his day when he showed Bobby how to make a samll still from odds and ends and use it for turning cheap wine into high-octane brandy. Bobby soon began accompanying Larry on his forays into Detroit and lent a hand on weekends with a road-side yard sale.

This association was a very profitable one. Larry already had a cousin for a deputy. Now, with Bobby, Larry had the inside track as far as law enforcement went. When the county decided to fund the conversion of the department's .38 Specials to Glock 9mm, Larry got a deal on one of the surplus revolvers. For $200, he got the gun, a belt & holster, cleaning kit, and 500 rounds to boot. He also began to become good friends with many on the department. They threw business his way, repairing appliances and such, and would often stop by for some of that high-octane brew.

Over the years, Larry became well known as a can-do kind of guy. He had a talent for breathing new life into refuse. Either restoring it to working condition, or modifying it for a whole new purpose. He sometimes drew confused stares when discussing politics. Larry had long ago started listening to various programs on shortwave radio. Many of these were supportive of the 'patriot' or 'militia' movement. Quite a few locals were also involved in these. They didn't trust the government and were all concerned about the decline in values and percieved freedoms.

But Larry, while sympathetic, had a different perspective. He saw tyranny as a function of the Establishment, for the sole purpose of maintaining their powerbase. The System was set up and run to support them. But while the original founders may have been intelligent, even benevolent people, such as America's founding fathers, Larry had no doubts that the current crop of rulers were a few rungs down the ladder from their ancestors. Having read works like Elmer Pendel's "Why Civilizations Self-Destruct", Larry knew that with each new generation, the quality of leadership would decline. For that matter, the quality of subjects would decline as well.

When Larry would voice his opinions that there was no political solution to the problems at hand, and that it would be better just to let The System crash and start over, he earned some mean looks and arguments. But Larry was well read and with his active mind, could defend his position. When the patriot-types would argue about restoring the original intent of the Constitution, Larry quoted Lysander Spooner. "If the Constitution isn't the cause of our current problems, it certainly has failed in preventing them."

Larry suggested that there were intrisic flaws in the constitution. Afterall, he would declare, it's authors were just men, not gods nor angels. He pointed out that all through history, whenever the power to tax and spend were given to a single body of government, as the U.S. Congress has, tyranny would soon follow. "The Constitution has a lot of good ideas and was an extraordinary document for it's time. But it had flaws and needs to be modified."

Larry put forth his belief that by remaining part of The System, people were supporting it and the tyranny it caused. He told his neighbors that he was not a violent man, and chose not to fight tyranny in that manner, but instead to confront it economically. Denying it the sweat of his brow and the ingenuity of his mind. He would just do the minimum of what was expected, and no more. At least, until The System crashed. Then, afterwards, Larry had an idea or two for how society should be organized.

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The material you have just read is a chapter in the on-line fictional story, "When Autumn Leaves Fall" by Andrew Zarowny, copyrighted 1997. All characters and circumstances are fictional and are not intended to bare any resemblence to actual people alive or dead. You have the author's permission to copy or reproduce this material so long as you charge no money for it's reproduction or distribution.