How I Found an Ounce of Freedom in an Unfree World

Props to Harry

I believe it was 1994. I’d moved out of a house I shared with a guy when the business I’d started in the spare bedroom got some steam. I’d failed at two others, but this, I sensed, was quite different. While it had to be worked and attended to like anything, it just wasn’t hard, not too hard. That was a lesson to me I took to heart. When something seems too hard, it’s probably because it’s too hard. Perseverance can be a double-edged sword and procrastination can be a virtue.

I was only concerned with what I was doing. Zero concern to legal structures, licenses, all that stuff. At some point, I got a letter from the City of San Jose. Seems I had not gotten a business “license,” euphemism for a $90 tax. It wasn’t that I cared so much about $90. It was just the indignity of it for one, the distraction, primarily.

I ignored it. Put the letters in the trash. Soon enough, I got phone calls from a guy. I returned every one. At 12:30pm when he’s predictably be at lunch break; and I left a voice mail. After 3 or 4 of these exchanges, he quit calling, I never got a “business license,” and ever since, going on 20 years, have been shitcanning all notices I get in the mail.

That includes notices for jury duty. Never served, every notice has gone in the trash and I’m nobody’s slave. Ask nicely, you’ll have my attention…because I really would love to lie about my intentions to get on a criminal drug case jury, then monkey-wrench it if there’s no harm (jury nullification). Once, I got a notice about ignoring the jury notice and what sorts of penalties and fines I was in for. That, too, went in the trash. Nothing came of it.

The lesson? I want them to go after all you hand wringing volunteers, instead. You please keep them busy for me, OK? Thanks. Kisses. I have better things to do with my one and only life.

In the end, until you are personally served by a real person or sign for certified mail, it’s all trash. And I advise you to never open the door to someone you don’t expect or know, and never accept certified mail. Make them come arrest you.

…I got something or other official looking from some “Lawrence” guy with some title for the county in the mail today. I read half a paragraph of 4 or 5  for fun, tossed it in the shit can, smiled, and then moved my fingers on this keyboard.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. Matt on January 10, 2013 at 18:23

    A few years back I opened a training studio with a partner and we had to get our business license withe the city of Mesa, only because we intended to have massage offered on-site. The parcel was a shell when we got a hold of it and we had already started our build-out, which included installing doors where there were walls, installing walls where there was empty space, and generally just making the place look 1,000 times better than when we moved in. This was all done ourselves and not a single bit of it was “up to code” I’m sure.

    Anyway, after we had cut out space for a door frame in one of the main walls, we found out an inspection was necessary. The inspector needed to make sure the space was the same as the blueprints the city had on record. Only they didn’t have any on record so they asked us to supply some. So we drew up blueprints which included our door-sized hole in the wall and handed them in. They matched, we passed.

  2. uep on January 10, 2013 at 17:58

    I think it’s a bit like spammers using bad grammar as a deliberate filter for lower IQ and higher gullibility. That business registration would have indicated a susceptibility to bureaucratic nonsense and procedural threats, and would then have generated many more once you had their attention.

  3. Dude on January 10, 2013 at 18:35

    Kudos. Nice work.

  4. Andrew Ryan on January 10, 2013 at 19:48

    Lacking its own ingenuity, the parasite fears the visionary. What it cannot plagiarize, it seeks to censor. What it cannot regulate, it seeks to ban. The parasite makes nothing for itself. Its only tools are taxes and tithes meant to trick you into offering what it has not earned.

    A man chooses, a slave obeys.

    You are a man amongst parasites Richard, I commend you.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 11, 2013 at 06:47

      Excellent quotable, Andrew. It’s downright Mencken-esque.

    • Gordon Shannon on January 11, 2013 at 13:10


    • Gordon Shannon on January 11, 2013 at 13:14

      As an aside, this is one of my favorites:

      “It wasn’t impossible to build Rapture at the bottom of the sea. It was impossible to build it anywhere else.”

    • Joshua on January 11, 2013 at 15:02

      Sadly Andrew Ryan ended up being a statist cocksucker in the end though. It’s just that HE became the state.

      FYI, Andrew Ryan is a character in the game Bioshock who goes off to build a libertarian paradise, and ends up being a dictator with libertarian trappings.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 11, 2013 at 15:22


    • Gordon Shannon on January 11, 2013 at 18:03

      More precisely, the game is meant to serve as a reductio of Ayn Rand’s Objectivism. Hence his name: Andrew Ryan, AR. The writers think Rapture and Ryan are the logical consequence of following out Rand’s philosophy. Other examples: the characters Atlas and Fontaine are derived from Atlas Shrugged and the Fountainhead respectively, and Rapture is based on Atlas Shrugged’s Atlantis. Despite their conclusion, the game is fantastic to play, because for the most part they get Objectivism spot on.

      And regarding the reductio part, the big problem with Rapture seems to be that it’s entirely Ryan’s property. Therefore, he has total power. But ultimately the collapse seems to happen for psychological, rather than institutional reasons. I.e. that sort of selfishness creates a certain type of personality, characterized by megalomania and so on. They’re actually harking to what they take to be Rand’s personality, and the relatively poor grasp of psychological underlaying her characters.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 11, 2013 at 19:49

      Interesting. Had never heard of it. Is it one of those mass player games over the Internet? I forget the formal acronym. I’ve never actually played Ny of them.

    • Gordon Shannon on January 11, 2013 at 20:45

      No, it’s a first person shooter. A few years old now. The premise is that you are a regular guy whose plane crashes at sea. You wake to find yourself in an underwater city called Rapture, the work of one Andrew Ryan, aka John Galt. He’s created the perfect society under water, away from the parasites. But in the process his scientists began experimenting with genetic manipulation, and the result was chaos and mass psychosis (the details of which unfold during the game). It’s VERY well informed vis-a-vis Objectivism. They even gave the city a pseudo-30s feel. Check out the game trailers on the Tubes (Bioshock 1, not 2 or Infinite). It’s by far the best presentation of O I’ve ever seen. The movies don’t even come close.

    • Andrew Ryan on January 11, 2013 at 23:23

      Pick up “BioShock: Rapture” by John Shirley, Richard. It’s a pretty smooth read and gives a real gist for the of the events of BioShock and it’s characters prior to the start of the game.

    • Andrew Ryan on January 11, 2013 at 23:26

      Btw, Gordon, are you looking forward to Infinite at all?

      Nationalism, racism, religious lunacy…it’s definitely looking like a game that right up my alley.

    • Gordon Shannon on January 12, 2013 at 09:26

      In terms of gameplay, I’m looking forward to it. But I’m not very interesting in the setting. I get what they’re doing – America gone wrong and all that – but I enjoyed Bioshock 1 precisely because, mutants and gameplay aside, it was a pleasure to run around in a world that so accurately represented Objectivism (their dystopian take on it aside). I’m far more excited about the new Tomb Raider – love the survival horror and inner strength take.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 12, 2013 at 09:32

      While I have an xBox 360 up at the vacation home (actually, recently got the red ring of death and have a replacement to take up), I really have never been able to get into 1st person shooter games. I suspect it’s mostly because the skill required for them is both a steep learning curve and then some relatively important devotion of time.

      When I originally got it for Xmas a few years back, I got the games Fear and Gears of War, two of the highly rated at the time. Just couldn’t get into it. So, I did the car racing stuff and that one where you run from the cops. I was able to get pretty damn good at them pretty quickly.

      Probably a generational thing. Back in the day, the original Asteroids arcade game was my style. I could pretty much play indefinitely on a quarter.

    • Gordon Shannon on January 12, 2013 at 10:34

      My wife was the same way. Couldn’t play and didn’t like FPSs. Bioshock was the game that changed that for her. At the time she didn’t know much about libertarianism or its Objectivist variety, but she saw me playing it and suddenly realized she agreed with everything Ryan was saying. So that encouraged her to give the game a shot and she got pretty good. Then she tried Gears of War and now plays FPSs like a pro.

      Also, you can pick up bioshock for about $10 now I think, so its no big financial loss.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 12, 2013 at 10:36

      I might have to give it a shot, then. There’s a GameStop 5 minutes away.

  5. Dr. Curmudgon Gee on January 10, 2013 at 20:13

    oh, wow. thanks.
    but can we apply the same trick to IRS?

    • aminoKing on January 10, 2013 at 21:14

      From personal experience I can say “unfortunately not”.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 11, 2013 at 00:52

      That’s why I said an “ounce”

    • Joshua on January 11, 2013 at 06:05

      Yeah, you had me wondering there about property taxes & the IRS.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 11, 2013 at 07:28

      Yea, this is about finding a little more freedom by not bothering yourself with functionary minutiae that usually just goes away when ignored. But I don’t put myself family or employees in peril should something get serious, such as being actually served a subpoena or some other official thing.

  6. Sandra on January 10, 2013 at 21:17

    Good for you, Dick. It follows (out of coherence) that you must also get all your stuff (food, meds, etc) from folks who themselves don’t give a fuck about “licenses” and that kind of shit. Let freedom rock!

    • Sean on January 11, 2013 at 01:43

      Statist bootlickers gonna be statist.

      You mean like all the paleo people who buy their meat from local farmers, often violating laws and regulations? Or buy raw milk directly from a local Amish farmer? Good thing the FBI spent a year cracking down on that existential threat to western civilization. No one ever chose to go to a doctor who had a medical degree back before the government got involved in licensing doctors. Without sanctioning and licensure by the all-knowing State it would just be dogs and cats, living together. My God, I’ve heard some states allow people to cut hair without a license, what kind of barbarians could allow this to happen?

    • Sandra on January 11, 2013 at 04:00

      When your kids get sick, you are free to take them to unlicensed doctors. Yet, you don’t. It does not mean you believe the government to be good or god. Investigate your reasons.

    • Joshua on January 11, 2013 at 05:54

      “you are free to take them to unlicensed doctors”

      Really? Find me an unlicensed doctor anywhere in the USA. I’ll wait. Unless – are you counting nurse practitioners and physicians assistants as unlicensed doctors? They are kept very busy last I checked.

      The government licensure scheme gives you a false sense of security. It catches SOME of the quacks and charlatans and malefactors, but it lets just as many through. It can not be proven that this is materially better than a free market system where patients determine which doctors should remain in business.

      The state-sponsored licensing scheme also drives out of business all persons who aren’t willing to jump through the hoops that government monopoly devises. One of the reasons that US health care is so expensive is that the government has cooperated with the AMA to artificially limit the supply of doctors, thus artificially raising compensation rates.

    • Jesrad on January 12, 2013 at 03:22

      “The government licensure scheme gives you a false sense of security. It catches SOME of the quacks and charlatans and malefactors, but it lets just as many through.”

      Worse still, sometimes it elevates the quack above the sane doctor. See Ancel Keys. How many dozen thousand avoidable premature deaths ? More than the combined toll of all the quacks and scammers so far.

    • Sean on January 11, 2013 at 07:49

      If I had a choice between a non-monopolistic non-coercive government licensed doctor and a doctor licensed by a competing private organization I would choose the latter. Hell, I’d take the Amazon rating system over a government licensing system for my kid’s health. Crowd-sourcing will kick mindless bureaucratic bullshit’s ass any day of the week. When it comes to any sort of health decision, especially for my kid, I do my own research and trust my own unlicensed conclusions.

      Check out this page on pyelectasis and check out who created the page. I made that page six years ago after scouring the web for research because my then unborn son was given an unnecesary test which increased the chance of his dying in a miscarriage thanks to a stupid doctor who was licensed by the state.

      You may now return to your statist bootlicking, already in progress…

    • Richard Nikoley on January 11, 2013 at 07:03

      “It follows….”

      Uh, no, it actually doesn’t.

    • Sandra on January 11, 2013 at 15:20

      We both know it does.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 11, 2013 at 15:27

      “We both know it does.”

      No, it doesn’t and your trite quip says so even more. You haven’t made an argument, just a so-called “coherent” assertion which is simply bullshit.

      So, make your argument, or do the right thing and shut the fuck up and quit wasting bandwidth.

    • Super Hans on January 14, 2013 at 12:01

      I guess she chose the latter.

  7. CatherineakaCate on January 10, 2013 at 21:55

    Oh, heat your food up or wash it off, and shut up. 😉

  8. Ian on January 11, 2013 at 09:10

    Good post. I do the same. Side note: I read a transcription of an interview with an Ex-IRS agent. He admitted when they send out “Audits” to people it’s just a fishing ploy to see who is gullible enough to volunteer for a good old fashioned fiscal fisting.

    Anyone interested in fighting all the extortion these assholes have thrown at us might get some value out of this ->

    • Richard Nikoley on January 11, 2013 at 10:03

      In around 2003 or thereabouts, I attended some “tax planning” conference in Vegas. It involved, ultimately, setting up offshore entities, bank accounts, debit cards etc. On the surface, they were all very careful not to explicitly call for US tax avoidance or so-called “evasion.” Of course, the underlying thing was clear. They offered services to set up various structures costing thousands of dollars (I think $12K was entry level).

      I didn’t do anything about it. At the time, my company was just taking off in a nice way and the choice to me was simple (I’d educated myself for a long time on various offshore structures). Do I spend a lot of time, effort and money protecting money I don’t have yet from thieves or, do I instead use that focus, effort and money to build my business, make a lot more money and make the thieves irrelevant in the big scheme?

      The choice was clear. I went back and built my company to where it was doing 3-4 mil gross per year, and I was making enough to assuage the butt fucking from the IRS and state of CA.

      Ultimately, the organizers of that event were hit up for tax evasion. Guess what? They immediately went for all the customer records and guess who got an audit notice, personally served? Three years personal tax. Could not be ignored. And as soon as they found out about my company, bam, a 3-yr audit notice to it. So, a six year IRS tax audit in total. I hired a tax attorney for the personal. $6,000. They were remarkably quick and effective (Steve Moskowitz, here in the Bay Area, kind of a used car salesman type on the radio but very effective). They advised me in ways I would not have chosen (such as absolutely don’t speak to IRS, decline their many requests I sit in on the meetings, etc.).

      For the company, I used my tax CPA and he was very good. Took far longer, though. See, the personal was over quick, not a penny owed, they found nothing…their logical assumption was I was using the company to shelter income from taxes.

      But by this time, all criminal risk was out the door and so one day, I walked in the conference room where my CPA, my company controller and the tax guy were hashing it out. Gave him an hour long interview, he took copious notes. I basically gave him the long version of the story from para 2 up there. Yea, I think they’re thieves but in the end, in spite of my interest, it’s dumb to spend money to set up offshore structures to protect what you don’t have yet. But once you have something, then unless we’re talking many millions, you’re probably still better off just focusing on building business.

      That meeting helped, and the audit was wrapped up a few weeks later.

      In the end, I had to write a check for $12K. I was driving an H2 Hummer at the time and per the tax code, had written off the entire $65K purchase price in the year of purchase (company car). His claim was that a financial services company didn’t need a Hummer. But essentially, it was only to secure a “victory.”

      So in the end, given the 6k to the attorneys, at least or more than that to the CPA and wasted cost for my controller, and 12K to the IRS, we’re easily at $25-30K for doing absolutely nothing to hurt anyone while running a business that with 30 employees who out of salary, were paying 200K per year in taxes.

      Just another day in the land of the free.

      Check this out. Swiss bank in business since before the US Decl of Independence, doing no business on US soil, closing its doors because of IRS actions.

      The mind boggles. While I think Teddy Roosevelt was a silver-spoon elitist shitbag who remade himself for political purposes, America has completely lost sight of that “Speak Softly” deal and things like this will ultimately prove very bad for us in terms of the righteous indignation, hate and derision internationally this government deserves.

    • me on January 11, 2013 at 13:29

      you think the government are crooks?

      you built a company on helping people renig on their debts.

      grow a pair ,pay what you agreed to.

      waste of skin.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 11, 2013 at 14:10

      And what do you actually know about my clients? What do you know about the debt collection industry? Nothing.

      So let me educate the you and other ignorant, a bit, mkay?

      Every single one of our clients qualify for bankruptcy. That is, they have every legal right to punt, be done with it, sleep like babies the second the BK is filed and all creditors, even those in litigation already or even judgments are bared by force from pursuing any form of collection. They can walk away scott free. Their credit rating will actually improve (bet you din’t know that either).

      Deadbeats who just want to renege (there’s the proper spelling for ya—welcome) are no more interested in paying our fees than in paying their creditors.

      Consequently, what’s the makeup of our clients? Generally, salt of the Earth in deep shit. Most commonly? Health and medical problems. Long unemployment. Family members requiring huge bailouts (risk of prison time, often enough). Entrepreneurs who used CCs to try and keep their employees paid and save a business. On and on.

      And as strange as it may seem, there is a segment of such people who have an extreme moral resistance to using the State to compel creditors to drop it.

      So, I have a business, 20 years now, that successfully caters to that and do you know what? I have dozens of friends in the debt collection industry going back as long.

      And do you know why? Because, on average, bad accounts recover about 5 cents on the dollar. I get them an average of 35-40 cents on the dollar at less cost of beating the collection drum, my clients recover a measure of self respect, knowing they didn’t punt but negotated a deal everyone is happy with.

      I make some money, and I pay a cabal of employees.

      But, isn’t ignorance and ignorance-based puffed up righteous indignation just grand?

      You’re welcome.

    • me on January 11, 2013 at 14:14

      bankruptcy is for dead beats who don,t honor their help are a dead beat.

    • me on January 11, 2013 at 14:19

      your the one against goverment but you use government money(via taxpayers) to earn your living.

      ultimate hypocrite

    • Richard Nikoley on January 11, 2013 at 14:33

      Me (you, actually):

      It’s actually written “you’re.”

      You’re welcome. See how that works?

      OK, yea, I’ve gotten that from time to time over the years. Fine. And you know what? The chances are that you will have the same good fortune most people have. Most people don’t actually find themselves in dire straights from doing what they thought would be good for friends & family, like bailing them out of trouble, co-signing a debt, etc. Myriads of other situations but I surely don’t need to tell you. Obviously.

      “…you use government money(via taxpayers) to earn your living.”

      Oh, my. I guess “your” need a reading comprehension lesson as badly as you need a spelling lesson.

      The _exact_ opposite is the case, but I’m entering Pearls Before Swine territory, here, so I’ll just let you ramble on.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 11, 2013 at 14:35

      Question for you, Me (well, you). How do you suppose it is that I have so many friends in the debt collector realm, those I’m cheating?

      Can you at least give me a try at a rational answer?

    • Richard Nikoley on January 11, 2013 at 14:43

      …Oh, and Me (you), since you’re so perceptive, I wonder if you have any idea what is the chief cause of family breakup. Hint: it’s not infidelity.

      Of course, I’m sure it’s far better for kids to have parents at each other’s throats over financial matters. I’m sure you know that.

      Of all the heartfelt letters and emails I’ve received over 20 years from the deadbeats who refused to file bankruptcy even though they could but, nonetheless couldn’t realistically extricate themselves from financial woes, are those from husband & wife thanking me for saving their marriage.

      Deadbeats, huh?

      You’re so smart, you (me).

    • Joshua on January 11, 2013 at 15:10

      To me: eh… show me where in the process Richard gets government money. If you can do that, I will repudiate Richard and never come back here. You can’t because he doesn’t. Unless you are one of those people who argues that all money belongs to the government and they’re just letting us keep some of it… Wouldn’t surprise me.

      Richard: I love ya man, but seriously – you should not be busting peoples’ chops for spelling.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 11, 2013 at 15:24

      “Richard: I love ya man, but seriously – you should not be busting peoples’ chops for spelling.”

      True enough, but when I do, I make sure it’s right.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 11, 2013 at 15:46


      He wrote bullshit that has nothing to do with anything, because he’s a liar.

      You probably got it in email. I deleted it and banned him for life. He’s too stupid to engage with, which isn’t the biggest problem. The biggest is he’s dishonest, which I never tolerate for long. It has zero to do with people who choose to do the best they can (and my program takes three solid years of grueling payments, instead of an easy punt).

      Enough said. Too stupid. Too moron. Too self righteous. Too lucky in his own life.

      I wish him the very worst for the rest of it.

      I’d love to see, for instance, him get into a situation where he makes 30-50K per year and because of some financial misstep, ends up with a 50- 150K judgment, garnished wages, etc. for 25% of his pay and his bank account gets emptied out regularly, he has a family and obligations.

      Guess what? He’ll run and file a BK to stop it all before you can bat an eye.

      My clients don’t. On the large, a very special kind of societal member. Those who recognize they can never get out, but won’t just use the government. Note that he ignored the fact that creditors like us, because I help them rationally stop throwing good money after bad.

      He’s an idiot. Probably a Randriod Objectivist, because that’s where I’ve gotten the same stupid shit in the past.

    • Joshua on January 11, 2013 at 16:16

      He was also mostly incoherent, so I shan’t overmiss our interlocutations. (yep, prolly made that one up)

    • Gordon Shannon on January 11, 2013 at 19:08

      Just to butt in with an observation, mostly for the sake of anyone else reading this. While it’s very likely that many ‘Objectivists’ would complain about something like this, Rand wouldn’t. There are two important arguments in favor of your business, within an Objectivist framework.

      First, Rand’s own characters work within a system of law, which necessarily involves government use of force. Anyone benefiting (you or your clients) from BK laws is benefiting from government use of force. *But Rand doesn’t regard this as a moral issue*. You are providing a service, and the government is shackling you. If you can’t work in this business, Rearden can’t work in steel, Taggart can’t work in railroads, Roark can’t work in architecture, etc.

      Second, let’s say you did receive government cash of some sort. Rand thinks this is fine, so long as it doesn’t exceed your lifetime tax payments. It’s like a return on your tax. She used the example of medicaid and student grants.

      Just to clarify the distinction between Rand and Randroids.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 11, 2013 at 19:44

      Yea I get it, Gordon.

      It was a bit tongue in cheekish anyway. At any rate, not just randroids but lots of different moralyzing types can’t seem to make distinctions between contracts and solemn moral promises (on my life, or some such thing). Contracts are voluntarily entered into (one should hope) and speciefies the rights each party has, both under performance OR default of the other party.

      Morality has nothing to do with it. It’s business and in the real world, situations arise from time to time that make it practically impossible for one party or other to perform contractual obligations. People with real world business experience understand such eventualities, such losses are built into the business model and in fact, no business, unless a collection business, wants to be a long term holder of bad paper. This is why parties negotiate settlements.

      My company did hundreds of thousands of them for hundreds of millions of dollars. Every settlement we ever did was 100% voluntarily entered into, memorialized in writing.

    • Super Hans on January 14, 2013 at 12:08

      Holy fuck, you’re an ignorant name-calling prick.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 14, 2013 at 15:42

      Untrue. I’m certainly not ignorant. Arrogant, perhaps.

    • Joseph on January 18, 2013 at 11:20

      Only governments and some priests are fanatical enough to demand bumper crops from a man whose farm has been eaten by the desert. Reasonable people collect what they can collect and move on, re-arranging their bets with nature to account for the new desert. They don’t kill your company because they hate it (though they might hate it incidentally); they kill it because they notice that it has become dead weight (i.e. it is already dying, kind of like you will one day).

  9. BigRob on January 11, 2013 at 11:29

    I gotta say this was your best post for a while.

    Fuck em

  10. C on January 12, 2013 at 18:07

    Here’s my question, Richard. How many “deadbeats” are in over their heads because of the compound interest tacked on doubling, tripling (or more) on the original amount they had borrowed? Like the interest in U.S. debt logarithmically growing over the years – well and beyond the initial debt? Usury is what enslaves. That is what should be outlawed and punished as all the ancient holy books have warned. We need to wake up and identify the parasites of society. Stop feeding them.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 16, 2013 at 12:17

      “Here’s my question, Richard. How many “deadbeats” are in over their heads because of the compound interest tacked on doubling, tripling (or more) on the original amount they had borrowed?”

      Actually not many. There are a few companies, particularly Capital One, that specialize in smaller limit cards (like around $2,000 limit) and those, with the interest, late penalties, over limit and such, can become 1.5 – 2 x the amount of the original debt.

      But in our business, it’s not something we concern ourselves with. Even if a balance has grown from say, 10k to 13k over the space of a year or two before eough funds have been accumulated to settle it, we average settlement at 35-40 cents on the dollar of the original debt. So, it doesn’t matter to us what the claimed balance is at the time of settlement if we’ve settled it for 3-5 k anyway.

      Usury? Seriously? Yea, that’s working out real well in the Islamic world, I’d say.

  11. Unrelated links | Leon Atkinson on January 13, 2013 at 18:44

    […] How I Found an Ounce of Freedom in an Unfree World […]

  12. Joseph on January 18, 2013 at 11:14

    To me it seems that there is an important right of passage that we are talking about here–that moment when you stop ducking your head and doffing your hat assiduously and realize that you aren’t doing anything wrong and that pointless genuflecting is a waste of everyone’s time (including the time of the officials who cannot be bothered to wait while you doff your hat for them at the right moment).

    Conscientiousness is a virtue too precious to be wasted on minutiae that don’t deserve it. I don’t think I really grew up (“became a man” as someone said upthread somewhere) until I realized that I didn’t have to dot every “i” or cross every “t” in every instance, jumping to attention every time a bureaucrat barked at me. This was not because I was at cross-purposes with all the bureaucrats–quite the opposite in many cases, but I realized that complying too closely with their demands didn’t help them or me: it just created pretexts for more and more pointless demands (interposing more and more arbitrary checkpoints along my route to speedy completion of the task we both wanted done), so I shut up and stopped bothering them when they didn’t need to be bothered, even when they asked for it.

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