This got me to thinking about it, because the implication was that there was eventually a point where certain desirable things (in this case, the decades-old friendship) may be worth less than the stress relief of knowing you don't have a $200k debt hanging over your head.
I've come to realize that this is true in all things, be they retail economics in a free-market environment, intimate relationships, or even armed rebellion against one's government. There becomes a point, in all things, where it's just not worth it to "stay the course". Naturally, this "Center Point" is different for all people, and is dependent upon their personal opinions of the situation.
Take, for instance, the first situation I described...retail economics. In a competitive free-market environment, prices are set by the seller. The seller's job is to provide the combination of price, purchasing environment, ease of purchase, and customer service that will prompt the buyer to purchase from that particular seller.
The buyer is left with two different choices he must make (only one, if there is only one seller available...read further). First and foremost, is the product or service being purchased worth (in terms of necessity and/or desirement) the price he must pay for that product or service? Second, does the seller's price and customer service provide a buying experience that will prompt the customer to purchase from that particular seller versus some guy down the street or even in the next town, even if the other seller is selling for a higher price?
As an example, I'm using the situation I was in on Thursday afternoon. Seeing as how I work during what most people consider "standard business hours", I called ahead of time to make sure a particular product was in stock at a particular store that was down the street from me, as I would be purchasing on my lunch break. They had the product in stock, were less than a mile from my place of employment, and were selling the product for $25 less than their nearest competitor, who was located an hour's round-trip from me.
The customer service at this particular store, as I went to purchase this product on my lunch break, was so absolutely horrible that I will never set foot in that store again. What should have taken me less than 15 minutes took more than 45 minutes...and most of that time was spent with me standing at the counter, just standing and waiting, because the kids working the counter were too busy chatting amongst themselves and playing on the computer. As a result, they lost a customer forever, and will now suffer the financial consequences of a potential customer steering other customers away when asked about the quality of customer service. I would rather travel an hour on a rare day off, and pay 10% more for the product I want to a person who acts like he actually wants to sell it to me, than to deal with shitty service.
Similar forces are at work in relationships, such as marriage. When a pair of people get married, it is most typically because they love each other dearly and want to spend the rest of their lives together. Eventually, these two people WILL have a severe disagreement about something. It may be something relatively inconsequential, such as the decision to purchase a new car, or something more serious, such as one partner engaging in an extramarital affair.
Regardless, at some point, both partners will be faced with an important choice. Is the love felt for the partner, adherence to religious doctrine, standing within the community, et cetera more important than the relief felt by walking away from the relationship? It's a choice that people are forced to make every day, and people across America are making this decision right now, at this very moment.
And so now we move on to something a tad bit more serious than money and marriages (to me, anyway). It's the subject of principles, and how important they are to a particular individual.
To some people, myself included, a person's principles are worth quite a bit more than damned near anything else in life. Also very important to me is the ability to live free, as the inherent right to do so is a principle I believe very firmly in.
I am also under the impression that our government has lost its way, with regard to its purpose as being solely for the purposes of promoting and preserving liberties of myself and my fellow countrymen. On a daily basis, our freedoms are eroding at all levels.
Our federal government is taxing, spending, and borrowing this nation into oblivion, without providing any true benefit to its citizens...while simultaneously removing as many of our basic civil liberties as they can get away with. The biggest detriment to our personal freedoms (and our wallets) have been unwinnable and unending wars against indefinable enemies, such as "drugs", "terror", and "poverty".
Our state governments have regulated away our rights at every opportunity, ranging from how dark our windows can be tinted to what immunizations we're forced to give our children before entering school...while continuously upping the fines and other penalties for non-compliance.
Our counties (Brazoria, in particular) have passed all manner of ridiculous ordinances (the most striking, in my humble opinion, is when they tried to make it a crime to discharge a firearm on any parcel of land less than 10 acres). They don't continuously raise property tax rates; instead, they merely keep raising the appraisal values of homes far above actual market value in a back-door effort to raise our property tax rates.
Our city governments dictate how high our grass can grow, what types and sizes of signs we're allowed to place on our own property, et cetera...and will tell you that if you don't comply with their rules about what you can or cannot do on YOUR OWN PROPERTY, you will pay a penalty. If you do not pay up, you are liable to lose your freedom and/or property. The city of Angleton, TX has even gone so far as to threaten to CONFISCATE one of my privately-owned vehicles, because it was parked on a privately-owned driveway, while charging me for towing it away...in addition to making me pay a fine for putting them through the trouble...because it didn't have an up-to-date registration sticker.
On my average commute to work, I drive approximately 10 miles and travel across four cities (a portion of the main road I drive constitutes the borderline between three cities...Clute, Lake Jackson, and Richwood). On a given day, I am liable to see a dozen different Law Enforcement Agencies. There's the Texas Department of Public Safety, Brazoria County Sheriff's Department, Angleton Police Department, Clute Police Department, Richwood Police Department, Lake Jackson Police Department, Angleton Fire Marshall, Clute Public Safety Code Compliance department, Brazoria County Constables, and a few others. Only half a dozen times in the past three months have I personally seen all of these officials on the road on a single morning, but damn...most of the time, I'm still seeing at least six of them.
On most occasions, when I'm seeing these officers (state, county, and local), they are PATROLLING. Not investigating crimes, not preventing crimes, but merely trolling around in hopes that they may see someone commit a crime. Essentially, they are part of a revenue generation scheme that knowingly extorts freedom and finances from a supposedly "free" society.
It's been said that, when injustice becomes law, rebellion becomes a moral duty...and that leads me to a few questions I am forced to ask. These questions are directed mainly toward my cousin, but are open to any member-citizen of this nation:
1) At what point does a person's desire to live freely outweigh the importance of a government agent's (be he federal, state, county, or local) life?
2) At what point does a person's inability to enjoy a free lifestyle outweigh the potential consequences of armed revolt?
To me, it's quite simple. At the precise moment that I feel unable to get up, go to work, and come home in the evening without harming another living soul, without the knowledge that seeing red and blue lights in the rear-view mirror of my car will inevitably mean that I am losing the freedom to get up and go to work in the morning, I have crossed my centerpoint.
It is at this precise moment, that my ability to live my life in a free manner has been superseded by the will of the majority, and I have been rendered an "unfree person". It is also at this precise moment that the consequences of a life-term in prison (or even lethal injection) are not much different than the inability to live freely outside of a prison cell, due to the constant threat of seeing sent to a cell for living as a free man.
When this centerpoint is crossed, it means that I have already lost the ability to live my life with the freedom to enjoy my life, liberty, and property in the manner that I see fit without fear of reprisal in the form of imprisonment for my actions or as a result of failure to pay a financial penalty for my actions. When this occurs, there is no worse punishment available for provision from the state, and I will cease to fear any potential consequence, because these consequences have been rendered inconsequential when compared to a life without the freedom to live as I choose to.
This will be the point where I find it necessary to eradicate those who wish to remove my freedoms. My final question to you ("you" being current and prospective members of Law Enforcement) is simply this...what is your Center Point? When does your authority, willingness, and requirement (as a condition of your employment) to remove my freedom become more important than your desire to continue living peacefully?
I am not alone when I say this, but I will make it perfectly clear. Freedom is not only something worth killing for. It's also worth dying for. I'm not looking for a fight. I live by the non-aggression principle. I won't start a fight, but anyone who knows me knows that I won't hesitate to finish one, regardless of my position when the dust settles.
I come from a long line of folks who were proud of not bowing down to authorities other than God and their own personal convictions. I serve no masters involuntarily, as everything I do in this life is a personal choice. What choices will you make? If you are a member of the Law Enforcement community, at what point will you realize that the laws of this nation have become too unreasonable for citizens to live freely? If you are an ordinary citizen of this nation, at what point will you realize that it is no longer "worth it" to keep living in servitude and subordination to those that the majority has authorized to remove your freedoms?
I'll end this with another personal statement, and you are free to quote me on this:
"A man with hardened principles is not much different than a hardened piece of steel. It is difficult to break him, but far easier to break him than it is to make him bend...and, in doing so, the tools used to do so are often damaged in some form or fashion during the process." -Barry Hayes Rhodes, 4/26/2009