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Road Pirates

I am an anarchist.

No, not the all black wearing, masked, Molotov cocktail throwing image so often associated with the word.

More the Ayn Rand, Stefan Moluneux, Lysander Spooner type. My beliefs are rooted in natural law, the Non-Aggression Principal, and voluntary exchange.

I just happen to believe that we are born free and are meant to live that way. I do not think it is ok for me to enforce my ideas on you at the point of a gun.

Given my beliefs, you can imagine how I feel about governments and their many enforcers.

Travel illustrates the point. I believe we are born with the right to travel. I should be able travel unmolested. However, unfortunately, this is not the case. When I see flashing lights in my rearview, an immediate uncertainty or even fear grips me. And with good reason! After all, an armed person trained to kill is driving at high speeds, potentially with me in there sites. This person potentially interested in interacting with me believes he/she has a mandate to enforce a litany of statutes regulating my manner of travel, the alleged violation of which can end in financial/time loss, travel restrictions, loss of property, violence, imprisonment, or even death.

Not fun.

In the states, and in much of the world, you have very few options when confronted with an armed man insisting on ruining your day.

Here in Ecuador there is a little more room. Under the current (and unpopular) administration, these codified ‘violations’ are a relatively new phenomenon. Taxes, tickets, permits, registration, and the like have only been implemented under Rafael Correa over the last several years.

As a result cops are not yet revenue generators with an ‘out for blood’ mentality. They are still expected to be public servants. They have responsibilities to this very familial society. They are not trigger-happy. So there is much more room when dealing with them. They are much less likely to want to ruin your day. And when all else fails, they will take a bribe.

I was recently traveling in my car from Loja to Guayaquil and was stopped at one of the checkpoints that have also popped up throughout Ecuador under Correa.

The cops discovered what is essentially the equivalent of expired registration and informed me that they had to impound the car as a result until I brought the proper paperwork. I had been traveling with this particular piece of ‘expired’ paper (don’t ask me how paper expires) for 2 years, had shown it to many cops, and never had any problem.

I quickly realized they were just angling for money, and after a 30+ minute conversation where we chatted about the paperwork, and they tried to make me think they were going to do this thing they had no intention of doing, I paid them $40 and was on my way.

I left feeling violated, same as I felt when armed, uniformed men pulled me over back home.


The nice thing, for me, here, is that there is some room in the process. My car wasn’t impounded. In several years in Ecuador, it was the first time I felt it necessary to offer a cop money, and I have never received a ticket.

And until we wake up to the fact that having people enforce their ideas on other people through the use of force is immoral and a lousy way to live, I’ll have to live with the marginal improvement.

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