In the good old days, Santa brought all kinds of goodies to good little boys and girls. Bad boys and girls got a lump of coal and a big stick.
How things have changed! Nowadays, good boys and girls -- that is, those who respect American traditions of individual liberty -- get tons of "coal" in the form of high taxes, property-rights restrictions, "gun-nut" labels, and general interference. The hostile Santas in Washington, D.C. "stick" them with laws and regulations so nasty that the best boys and girls have to become scofflaws just to survive.
On the other hand, bad boys and girls -- those who are ruthless and don't care whom or what laws they trample on -- get everything from multi-million dollar retirement packages to multi-billion dollar appropriations for their favorite boondogles, pork barrels, and patronage schemes. The Potomac Santas are so generous to these rotten brats they've practically put the North Pole guy out of business -- and they've done it by robbing the Christmas stockings of the good kids.
It just ain't fair.
But this season, Santa (in the form of you and your wallet) can bring encouragement to the hearts of weary, mistreated liberty-lovers. For anywhere from $5.00 to $200-something, you can give a gift that tells the good little Outlaws in your life that they're doing great, despite all those truckloads of coal the government keeps dumping on them. (And if you're a good little Outlaw, feel free to treat yourself, as well. Your deserve it. After all, it's your money -- what little you've got left after FICA, the IRS, and everybody else have taken their share.)
So without further ado, let's dig into Santa's gift bag and see what's there for well-behaved Outlaws this season. Hmm ... Looks like we've got quite a selection.
First thing out of the bag is -- oh, my, this is really heavy-duty! --a kit for making your very own ID cards. It's brought to you by the nice folks at Black Market Press. For just $39.95 plus shipping and handling, you get ID-card templates, peel-and-stick security holograms, lamination supplies, instructions and other ID-making necessities. They were out of stock on this kit when I began this article, but they assure me the kit will be ready in plenty of time for Santa.
(I'm supposed to add here that these IDs are for novelty purposes only. But while I'm at it, I might as well mention that if you follow links from Black Market Press, you'll find government sites showing all the latest standards for ID card appearance and security features. You'll also find one marvelous Outlaw site where dealers in free-market ID and ID-making equipment ply their trade. Should you be in need of non-government documents -- or the machinery to make the most sophisticated types of them -- it's the site to check. Lurk in the forums long enough and these hard-edged guys will show you which ID dealers are legit Outlaws, and which will merely take your money and deliver junk. I won't mention the name of the site; go to Black Market Press follow links to find it for yourself.)
Hm. After that radical little present, Santa had better fish around in the bag for something a bit more mainstream, something for those who aren't ready to go so far out on the edge.
Oh, here's are a couple of things -- delightful, but safe -- both from one of my favorite outfits, Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO).
Guys: For the women in your life (and for yourself!), how about these three tee-shirts designed by New York artist, Sara Gilbert? One shows a tres elegant lady wearing a low-cut gown and a gorgeously holstered revolver. A gentleman bows to kiss her hand. The slogan is (what else?) Robert Heinlein's quote, "An armed society is a polite society." Another shirt shows a little old lady you wouldn't want to tangle with and the motto "Property protected by owner." Finally, there's a shirt you should really buy in pairs, "Proud to be a high caliber couple." (You need to see the illustration on this one for yourself; view them all by following the link above.) The Gilbert designs are a tad pricey as tee-shirts go ($24.95, postage paid, with discounts for multiple purchases), but read the features; they're worth the extra bit.
For anyone who wants to live free and sing about it, there's "I Will Live Free," a CD of songs in celebration of the Bill of Rights. The songs were written by Dan Starr and are performed by various talented singers who gave their time to this project. You can get the CD for just $17.91, postpaid. (Do you recognize the significance of that price? 1791 is the year the Bill of Rights was ratified.)
As some readers know, I often write articles with Aaron Zelman, executive director of JPFO. And my name appears a couple of times on the liner notes for "I Will Live Free." So it's important to state that I receive no royalties, kickbacks, bribes, gratuities, handouts, under-the-table payments, subsidies, or any other form of filthy lucre or Mammon on the sales of these JPFO items. I just think they're good stuff. Good enough that I own four of the shirts and two copies of the CD. There's also a ton of other gift ideas in the JPFO online store, including books, booklets, posters, targets, and a number of cool knives.
Oh, if the Santa in your household would like to give a slightly less expensive, but still very nice, tee-shirt, check out the "Liberty in Our Lifetime" shirt from the Free State Project. It features the FSP's charmingly attitudinal blue-and-gold porcupine logo. Even if you don't care to join to the project, you'll be supporting a very worthy group. (The shirts are way better looking than they appear in the online store, and you can get hats and mugs, besides.)
For Outlaws on the go, consider the TracFone . The TracFone is a plain-vanilla Nokia cellphone that sells for around $80. By itself, that's no bargain these days. What makes the TracFone worthwhile is what goes with it -- a nationwide pre-paid calling plan with no long-distance charges, no roaming charges, no credit-checks, and no paper-trail tied to your Big Brother Social Security number. The phones and the cards to activate the service are sold at zillions of places -- two being Wal-Mart and Amazon.com. In addition to the phone purchase, it costs about $94 to get a card that gives you one full year of connectivity plus 150 minutes of calling time. Recharge the card or buy cards for other amounts of calling time when the 150 minutes are up. TracFone is best suited for occasional or emergency use. Get one for your college student to take on the road or on weekend hiking trips, for instance. Be aware that TracFone's Web site is shamefully unready for primetime, and that (despite all the glowing claims to the contrary) when you want to activate service you'll probably have to do it by dialing their customer service number. Activate from some number other than your own, since 1-800 numbers inherently compromise privacy. Other than that, this is a nice anonymous service for those who are weary of leaving a record of everything they do.
Speaking of phones, Freedom Santa has found something he can't recommend because he's never tried. And he hasn't found any reliable product reviews, either. So this item isn't officially in Santa's gift bag yet. But if it works as advertised, it could be quite a boon for any freedom- or privacy-lover. It's the Voice Encryption System VES TS 400. For just $229.95 a pair (you have to have pairs) these units promise to scramble your phone conversations to make your discussions more secure against snoops. Voice encryption technology has existed for years, but it's been slow-slow-slow to come down to affordable range, and many promising technologies have turned out to be duds. Can the VES TS 400 finally bring phone security to the masses? If one of you tech-experts can evaluate this product, will you report back to Santa (via the BHM webmaster) so Santa can recommend these little gadgets next year, or so he can ho-ho-ho them into oblivion if they're no good?
Up above, I recommended a gift for guys to give their liberty-loving women. Now here's one you female Santas can give liberty-loving guys: the 2003 Ladies of Liberty Calendar. It contains delicious photos inspired by classic Vargas cheesecake art and "Rosie-the-Riveter"-type WWII posters. What makes that sort of thing a gift for liberty lovers? Well, every one of the women in these professional-quality photos was, at the time the pics were taken, a Libertarian candidate for office in the state of North Carolina. Actually, you can't buy this calendar. It's the brainchild of Rachel Mills, and the only way you can get it is by donating $20 or more to her campaign for the North Carolina state house. (And yes, you can still donate, even though the election is over.) When I asked Rachel whether us non-political sorts could buy the calendar without donating, she told me, "*(&@!&%!!$!#@$)##!" (Translation: If you don't want to donate, you don't deserve one of my fine calendars.) But she said it so charmingly, and we ended up in such a nice discussion, that I'm happy to throw out my non-political principles -- just this once. (How can you resist a gift whose promo entices you with, "Their turn-ons are long walks on the beach, candlelit dinners and free-market economies"? Besides, Rachel has one of the most interesting bios you could ever imagine a young woman having, and I'd say any donation that goes to her is going to pay off tenfold in energy and inspiration.)
And how 'bout one more hardcore Outlaw item? This one's the SBD-5H Transmitter Detector. This smaller-than-palm-sized doodad vibrates and blinks when anything is transmitting at frequencies between 1 Mhz and 5 Ghz within 25 feet of you. It can detect hidden video cameras, phone or room bugs, and GPS units or "bumper beepers" covertly attached to your vehicle. It's not a panacea. Remember that modern technology and stupid law (CALEA, the Communication Assistance to Law Enforcement Act) enable cops to tap your phone remotely at the flip of a switch. And this gadget may also annoyingly pick up the activity of perfectly harmless things like certain cordless phones and personal radios. Still, for $125, it might offer a little peace of mind.
To wrap up, Santa has some goodies for the devoted readers on your list -- three books, two publishers, and one magazine:
- Fans of fiery libertarian columnist, Vin Suprynowicz, or those who are soon to be his fans, will appreciate Vin's latest book, The Ballad of Carl Drega. Like his earlier volume, Send in the Waco Killers, this is at core a collection of his syndicated columns. But like Waco Killers, it's also much more. Vin has updated the material, woven columns together into longer essays, and added more of his famously fierce, principled and accurate observations. Even if Santa knows that the good kids on his list have already read Vin's columns online, the book is an entertaining, heart-rending, and intellectually useful gift ($27.95 postpaid). (Read Oliver Del Signore's review of Drega here.)
- Fans of me (and despite my earlier pious disclaimers, you knew I had to stick in some sort of self-serving item, now didn't you?) can order the book I co-authored with Aaron Zelman, The State vs. the People. SvP asks and answers the question, "Is America becoming a police state?" And if you already think you know the answer to that one, you might be surprised. The answer is yes and no and a police state isn't necessarily what we sometimes think it is. SvP is just ($19.95) postpaid and, until Christmas, comes with a free pocket-sized copy of the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence. I can recommend it in good conscience, not merely because I co-wrote it, but because it's genuinely full of intellectual ammo. Despite its daunting length (558 pages), it's a rapid read that even a freedom newbie can handle.
- Looking for a stocking-stuffer that packs a big wallop for a small price? Give an e-book. Net Assets is a rousing novel by Carl Bussjaeger about a free-market effort to get into outer space. It starts out a bit talky (as libertarian novels invariably do), but before long, you're sucked into some heavy action. (Hint: It turns out that the federal government really, really, really doesn't like the competition and decides to do something dramatic about it.) For just $5.00 you can download a copy of Net Assets or buy a download for a friend. Slip a note into your friend's stocking to tell him where he can pick up the copy Santa bought him. Want to read before you buy? There are excerpts at the download site, but the best excerpt is found here.
- If you're not sure what books your liberty-loving loved ones might already have, give a gift certificate from Loompanics or Paladin Press. Between the two, you'll find enough provocative books on guns, ammo, fighting, alternative lifestyles, drugs, oddities, self-sufficiency, and who-knows-what-else to keep your friends happily occupied for hours. (Paladin's books on homemade weapons are particularly apropos for the Outlaw crowd.)
Last but assuredly not least -- how about a gift subscription to Backwoods Home Magazine? It's only $21.95 for one year or $39.95 for two -- and you already know how much value you get for your money. Your self-reliant friends (or self-reliant wannabes) will thank you for many months.
And if you're reading this online and you don't have your own subscription, there's another gift you can give yourself.
There you have it. Lucky thirteen freedom-oriented gift ideas. Santa says Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Gud Yule, have a terrific Kwanzaa, or whatever else you celebrate. May you and yours enjoy freedom Outlawry as long as Outlawry must be the lot of those who wish to live free. And someday, may an entire coal mine be dumped by Freedom Santas onto those pseudo Santas on the Potomac.