Monday, April 26, 2004

Freedom...Not Free S#*T!

I have to give credit for the title to my friend Aaron. We just returned from the Grand Western Conference II. At the conference, some discussed coming up with a slogan for the western free state and Aaron came out with that. I think it fits perfectly. People either want freedom or they want free stuff from the government - they can't have it both ways.

Last year I attended GWC I in Missoula, MT and it was great. This was prior to the FSP voting on a state and all the western states made a showing to vie for the FSP to select their state. I met some notable friends of freedom and made some new friends. This year, I was invited to GWC II and was very excited. I urged two of my friends to make the trip with me.
Overall, I had a great time. However, before I get into the good parts, let me make a few criticisms of the conference. First, the conference has been promoted for about 5 months - primarily by Ben Irvin. Oddly enough, Ben did not attend. I was hesitant to come this year because the cost was $75. Ben urged me to come explaining what a good value it was saying that it included breakfast and lunch all three days, and that Boston T. Party and JJ Johnson would be the key speakers. Oddly enough, I was told that Ben didn't come due to financial difficulties, there were only two lunches served, and JJ Johnson never showed up. If I am not mistaken, this is not the first time that JJ pulled a no-show/no-call. Bait and switch really disturbs me. If I had known in advance that there would be 2 lunches and one key speaker in a three-day event, I might not have gone for that kind of money. I may have, but my decision to pony-up the money was based on bad information. Another thing that bugged me was that it was that the 'panels' were not representative of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. They were heavily Montana.
OK, now that I have gotten that off my chest, I can tell you that I am glad I went. There were some friendly faces and I made some new friends. The best part was the breaks when the guests got to visit with each other.
We camped about 14 miles from the Sacajawea Hotel and did a little fishing on the Madison River. Had it not been so windy, I think our campsite would have been an ideal setting for the conference.
The Hotel was beautiful, all the help at the hotel was extremely nice, and the food was good.
The visitors from Alberta marveled at the setting. We walked in and out of the hotel with bottles of beer and side arms. It really was an amazing site. Motorcycles riding by with no helmets, people wearing guns everywhere and getting NO dirty looks, bringing our own drinks into restaurants, teenage girls riding in the back of pickup trucks on the wheel wells, dogs with no leashes, and folks sharing home brewed beer with friends. My friend Dale was stopped by the police because one of my headlights was out. Dale informed the officer that he had a concealed firearm and the officer seemed appreciative to learn that, but not alarmed. Then, Dale said he had no idea where the registration and insurance card for my truck was and the cop said, "OK, well to your friend to get this light fixed." Dale was so stunned and this polite treatment that he felt compelled to shake the cop's hand.
The overall message was that a western free zone is imminent. Boston believes that focusing on 5 Wyoming counties offers the best chance for success. After reading his novel "Molon Labe!” I think you will agree that he might be right. The fact is that if we can attract freedom lovers to five counties - one county at a time - we will be far better off than anywhere else in the country.
Towards the end of the conference, we broke out into state groups. When we did this last year, 80% of the group went to the Montana table and only 7 people went to the Wyoming table. This year, it was just the opposite - about 80% of the group came to the Wyoming table and the rest went to the Montana table. We talked about jobs, and housing, and time frames. What we learned was that just from the folks at the table, there was almost a perfect balance for a community effort. We had folks from every walk of life and many self-proclaimed "jacks of all trades". We also had entrepreneurs who could provide jobs to others. It was a very positive realization. Seven folks at the table plan to move in the next 2 - 12 months. Most of the others plan for 18 - 24 months.
I think the next "conference" should be more of a "Rendezvous" in Wyoming. Everyone pitch a tent and bring something to share. How about some time in August???

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