The Freedom Advisor


Dear Advisor,

I just turned down a job, and my wife is pissed. The job, which meant a pay raise, would require a lot of air travel within the U.S.A. But as a matter of principle, I refuse to cooperate with unconstitutional searches, of myself or my property, just to enjoy the 'privilege' of traveling.

My wife says she values my principles. She says they are a lot of why she married me. But she insists that sometimes it is proper to compromise. I think she may be right. If I had kids, I think I would obligated to suffer that airport crap to support them. But we don't have children. Yet; we want to have at least two kids eventually. But right now, it is just us, and we are not in dire need of more money.

This argument is bound to happen again because I get occasional job offers. I know what I think (right now). I know what my wife thinks. But I would like to get opinions from other people: Given the state of the economy, should I compromise on air travel -- and by extension, other principles -- for the sake of future planned children? Does my marriage promise to my wife of support trump these philosophical principles?

Too damned principled(?)

Dear TDP,

First, congratulations for sticking with your principles. That's becoming increasingly rare, even among libertarians, these days. So you can get rid of the question mark -- in our opinion, you're not too principled (can there even be such a thing?).

Having a partner who values your principles is good; yet it sounds like you're questioning the degree to which your wife really does value your principles. If you've read any Ayn Rand you know what she says about compromise -- it just isn't an option for a principled person. And would you really want to compromise, and lose your self-respect?

Here are some more questions you might wish to consider while thinking through all this. Were you willing to cooperate with unconstitutional searches of your person and property at airports prior to 9/11? If so, what's changed your mind about cooperating? How would you feel about compromising your principles and then explaining that to your children? What's more important to you -- being true to your principles or marital happiness?

We understand being angry about the abandonment of civil liberties in the wake of 9/11, and trying to avoid airports and other more egregious demonstrations of same. We understand that compromising on principles leaves a nasty taste in one's mouth. Yet there are ways to work through the situation without compromising.

Have you talked with your wife about your willingness to revisit the issue of flying in the future, once you do have children? If she knows this, it should make things better now. It's probably a good idea to take a close look at your budget, too, to see if you need more income to be able to provide for any children you may have. They don't need to be as expensive as many folks seem to think: midwifery care is generally safer and less costly than using an MD for prenatal, delivery, and postnatal care; breastfeeding is easier and much cheaper than formula; and basic common sense about buying things and handling the inevitable scrapes and sniffles will keep child care costs down.

If you were to choose to cooperate with the Thought Police Security Follies at airports, that wouldn't be compromising, in our view. You would be choosing a more important value -- keeping a job that enabled you to meet your responsibilities to your family -- than that specific political protest. You might wish to engage in other protests in order to be true to your principles. Or, it might be possible to avoid the problem altogether by finding or creating an income stream that doesn't require air travel. Or, is becoming a pilot and flying yourself to job sites an option? Choices are rarely "either-or"; a little creative thinking often turns up other solutions that will work for the parties involved.

Regarding your concluding question, if your wife knew what your principles were when she signed on, then your marriage promise was made within that context. She shouldn't expect you to compromise them. But if your principles changed to a more freedom-valuing position after your marriage, then the issue is different. You've changed, in a fairly fundamental way, and your wife may not grok all those changes. If this is the case, have you tried to have a thorough talk with her about the changes you've undergone, and what they mean? She needs to understand your way of being in order to be a good partner to you. And you need to be honest with yourself, and her, in order to be a good partner to her. Which commitment is more important -- the one to your wife or the one to yourself -- is something that each individual needs to decide for him- or herself. We wish you all the best.


Hey, noticed that you do a Q/A. I am a recent graduate of college, single and capable. I've decided to move out off this fiefdom and had some questions as to where to strike out with my companeros. I'd prefer a Caribbean tax haven, but that's a little too close for comfort in my opinion. Right now, Central and South America look at least adventurous. I'm not looking to become wealthy off any of what I do, I have no problem working a Joe Job either. Do you have any recommendations on a location that isn't as despotic as America is, has a good economy (and has a bright future)?

Feel free to clarify any of what I'm asking.


Hi Tim,

We don't know much about South America, and if you've been following the news, several countries there are in various states of turmoil (Venezuela, Colombia, and Brazil come to mind). They've historically been fairly collectivist in orientation, and not particularly respecting of individual rights -- especially for "ordinary Joes" -- so we really can't recommend that as a destination to you.

A little farther north you might find some viable options, depending upon what you view as "despotic". Sad as it may be, overall the U.S. is still among the freest countries in the world, particularly when it comes to gun ownership. Mexico is a very affordable place to live, and if you can blend in to some degree, and keep a low profile, you'll find that in many ways it's much freer than the U.S. For example, many people earn their livings off the official books, and many also don't file taxes and such. However, being able to do this and other things may occasionally necessitate greasing a few palms here and there. If that kind of thing is repulsive to you, it could be difficult to do business in Mexico. Also, the gun issue is a big one; they simply don't allow firearms ownership for most people, and forget about trying to bring anything in. If you're caught, you'll be sitting in a Mexican jail for a long, long time. There are occasional stops of all road traffic for searches, and they're pretty harsh about illicit drugs, but if you keep a low profile and stick to the ingestible intoxicants that are licit, you should have few problems. With respect to that last, Mexican pharmacies are much more open than American ones -- other than barbiturates, you don't need a prescription for pretty much anything. (Mexico is a place where drugs just aren't taken as commonly as the U.S.) Not everything that's available in the U.S. is available there, but we know of individuals with chronic medical problems who've been able to find medications that work for them with few problems.

Another option that a lot of Americanos have been examining lately is Costa Rica. It does allow firearms to be brought in (but you'll need to be prepared to be stamped, indexed, briefed, etc. sigh Our correspondent The Breeze has written on both of these places, and others have written on Mexico as well. We suggest you browse the articles available, and talk with people you know who've been to whatever places you end up considering. Before you pack all your stuff in the truck and set out for tropical climes, we strongly suggest you plan an extended visit first. You can enjoy the tourist stuff, but your primary goals should be to discover what it's like to live there, in the manner you intend, and to see if the culture is one you can live in. Despite people's strong desires to live more freely, the change in culture can be a shock that's difficult to adjust to. See our article on blending in for some idea of what to expect.

With the uncertainty and turmoil around the world, trying to find a safe haven is a very tough proposition. Some may think that sticking it out in the U.S. is the safest bet; others, like you, look south of the border. Both Mexico and CR have as-yet untapped potential, with CR having the political edge, freedom-wise. Do your research, plan as much as you can in advance, and go for it full-out to make your dreams come true. We wish you a great, fulfilling adventure.

Mail Drops

Advisor, I am interested in setting up a very secure mail drop for discreetly receiving sensitive items. With the PATRIOT Act and the proposed Domestic Security Enhancement Act, I'm a bit paranoid about privacy. Can you give me any suggestions on how to go about receiving mail without it being linked to my name, address, SSN, or other personal information?


Hi Keith,

Hoo boy! Even without knowing what kind of "sensitive items" you're interested in, we know what a tough nut this is. Still, there are ways to do it, if you've the resources and/or friends to help you.

The "easiest" way to accomplish this would be to get a mail box at a place like Mail Boxes Etc using completely fabricated information. But getting fake ID that's convincing can be a challenge (although many of these places won't run a check on the information -- they just want to see the "proper papers"). And these places will often cooperate with the Thought Police's nosiness without letting you know you're under surveillance. If you're the only customer getting boxes of stuff marked "ammunition", for example, you'll be very memorable to them, and that's not in your favor. All things considered it might be better to consider other solutions.

A fairly straightforward solution is to enlist a trusted friend's help. You have to be able to trust this person, not only to handle your sensitive stuff, but to be able to withstand possible interrogation by the Thought Police. If your sensitive material is things like books or merchandise that's politically incorrect (like, anything from Paladin Press or Loompanics, or gun parts or ammo), it'd be less flag-raising if your friend already receives such mail. The downside of this is that it makes your friend a target. Do you really want to risk trashing a friend's life over your contraband or politically unpopular shipments?

You know, despite the increased rhetoric the US Postawful has given to checking addresses and only delivering to "valid" addresses, they don't seem to do it a lot. We have a friend who regularly receives mail at her box for several "people", and no one has questioned the arrangement or asked to see ID for all the names getting mail delivered there. If someone you trust already has a private box, perhaps you could simply add a name to the recipient list without the rigamarole of showing papers and the like. Or, if there's an empty (but not too derelict) house close to you, consider using that address. Give it a test run by mailing an envelope with a couple of sheets of blank paper to the name you wish to use, and see if it gets delivered (we bet it will). If so, you're in business ... and you don't need to be out of business, necessarily, if someone move in to the house. You can explain that your friend lived there previously, and you pick up the mail that occasionally finds its way there, and send it on its way for him (or her). This won't work as well for packages, especially if you receive them frequently, but again, providing a plausible cover will often work.

If you aren't in a hurry for the items, other things to consider are combining these solutions into a chain of mail drops. If a friend in the chain will repackage the material for you so it looks more innocuous, so much the better. Or, if you've the money (and possibly the patience), consider hiring a private courier who can pick up the material at its point of origin/sale and deliver it to you without going through any postal system. Again, the details of such an arrangement might be tricky, and require an individual you can trust implicitly and who's willing to bear the risk of the task, but it can be done -- especially if you're willing to pay to make it so.

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