Atlas Mugged: How a Libertarian Paradise in Chile Fell Apart
It was a good idea, in theory anyway. The plan was to form a sustainable community made up of people who believed in capitalism, limited government, and self-reliance. The site was already picked out: 11,000 acres of fertile land nestled in the valleys of the Chilean Andes, just an hour’s drive away from the capital of Santiago, to the east, and the Pacific Ocean, to the west. Residents could make money growing and exporting organic produce while enjoying Chile’s low taxes and temperate climate. This was no crackpot scheme to establish a micronation on a platform floating in the middle of the ocean (a common libertarian dream)—this was a serious attempt to build a refuge where free marketers and anarcho-capitalists could hole up and wait for the world’s fiat currencies to collapse. They called it “Galt’s Gulch Chile” (GGC), naming it for the fictional place where the world’s competent capitalists flee to in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.
The project was conceived in 2012 by four men: John Cobin, an American expat living in Chile who once ran unsuccessfully for Congress in South Carolina; Jeff Berwick, the globe-trotting founder of the Dollar Vigilante, a financial newsletter that preaches the coming end of the current monetary system; Cobin’s Chilean partner; and Ken Johnson, a roving entrepreneur whose previous investment projects included real estate, wind turbines, and “water ionizers,” pseudoscientific gizmos that are advertised as being able to slow aging.
That initial group quickly fell apart, though today the principals disagree on why. Now, two years after its founding, the would-be paradise is ensnared in a set of personal conflicts, mainly centered on Johnson. Instead of living in a picturesque valley selling Galt’s Gulch–branded juice, the libertarian founders are accusing one another of being drunks, liars, and sociopaths. GGC’s would-be inhabitants have called Johnson a “weirdo,” a “pathological liar,” “insane,” a “scammer,” and other, similar things. Some shareholders are pursuing legal action in an effort to remove him from the project, a drastic measure for antigovernment types to take. Johnson, who remains the manager of the trust that controls the land, claims all the allegations against him are false. So what happened?
Will the Climate Change March Make a Difference to the Elites Who Run the World?
On Sunday, more than 300,000 people came out for the People’s Climate March in Manhattan. Easily the largest environmental rally in history, the spectacle was a diverse and frenetic show of force, and in that sense was a spectacular success. The lingering question that was hanging over the proceedings still remains, however: Is all of that sound and fury going to make a difference to the global elites meeting across town at the United Nations for the latest Very Important Climate Change Summit on Tuesday?
Led by a procession of indigenous peoples, activists got things started just before 11:30 AM. In addition to your typical flower-adorned hippie types, there were black and Hispanic kids from around the country. The summer of police brutality punctuated by the death of Eric Garner in New York and Michael Brown in Missouri was never far from the surface, their names intermittently chanted by the legions of protesters.
The event was essentially a giant party. Elaborate floats coasted slowly down the street surrounded by activists with signs demanding action and marching bands. Inside the crowd was a smattering of radicals convinced that the environmental movement’s leaders are kidding themselves if they think carbon emissions can be reduced—and global warming’s worst effects averted—without dramatically reshaping the global economy.
The Atheist Movement Needs to Disown Richard Dawkins
Atheist author, biologist, pioneer of the term “meme,” and noted sexist curmudgeon Richard Dawkins let fly a firestorm of tweets about rape this past Friday. Those, along with his statements from the past couple of years about this and other issues, make for pretty strong evidence that Dawkins is no longer the figuredhead the atheist movement needs or deserves.
A woman was alleging that a man raped her when she was too drunk to give consent, and Dawkins’ immediate response was the mainstay of all conservatives: what if she’s lying? Plenty of Dawkins’ Twitter followers agreed with him. It’s her word against his, they cried. Rape accusations are serious business, they cried.
Yes, rape accusations are serious business. Actually, accusing anyone of a crime, especially a violent crime, is serious business. That’s why we have court systems in place that determine, to the best of their abilities, whether a given accusation is most likely true or false. We have this for virtually every crime. So why are Dawkins and his ilk so preoccupied about false accusations of rape in a world full of false accusations?
‘Hunks, Chunks and Drunks’ – The Booze-Drenched Legacy of ‘Britain’s Own Guantanamo’
Diego Garcia, the British Indian Ocean Territory leased for a US military base, hides the truth over UK involvement in the CIA rendition program.
But on the surface at least, the closest thing to waterboarding going on is drenching in the drunk tank.
How One of NYC’s Most Storied Cops Became Public Enemy No. 1
In early August, just four days after Michael Brown was gunned down by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, and just under a month after 43-year-old, father of six, Eric Garner, was killed on camera while the NYPD attempted to arrest him, retired Deputy Inspector Corey Pegues appeared on an episode of the popular hip-hop podcast, the Combat Jack Show.
What followed was a fascinating conversation in which Pegues detailed his childhood growing up as one of five kids with an alcoholic father and struggling mother in rough and tumble North Queens. The family’s dire financial straits led Corey to get involved in the street life at age 13. “The ironic thing is I think about Eric Garner getting murdered in Staten Island—for the record, you heard what I said, murdered—is at 13, I [was] selling loosies.”
After a few years as a “hobbyist” drug dealer, Pegues says he graduated from loosies to becoming a full-fledged member of Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff’s notorious Supreme Team.
Pegues operated as a loyal solider in the Supreme Team for years, engaging in various street brawls, gun fights, and robberies. But that all changed in 1988 when Corey’s first son was born. “When my son was born, I was like: ‘What kind of hero am I going to be? I’m either going to be a street legend or somebody positive,” Pegues told Combat Jack. “That was the change in my life. If you’re 25 and you’re selling drugs, you’re either going to be dead or in jail.”
Weediquette: Stoned Moms
If you get the moms smoking then you can get almost anybody. That’s the plan of the legal cannabis industry, and they’re searching for ways to get moms around the country to set down their wine and light up.
We travel to Denver with Jessica Roake, a mother of two from the suburbs of Washington, DC, for a mom-friendly cannabis tour. She gets blazed beyond belief in the name of market research.
Why People of Color in NYC Still Don’t Trust the Cops
On July 17, New York City police officers surrounded Eric Garner, an overweight, asthmatic black man, near his home on Staten Island. According to Garner’s neighborhood pal Ramsey Orta, the cops were hassling Garner, a 43-year-old father of six, because they thought he was involved in a street scuffle. The police’s version of the incident is that they approached Garner for selling individual cigarettes—“loosies”—which is illegal because the government doesn’t collect taxes on those sales.
As captured on video by Orta, Garner complained about routine NYPD harassment and was subsequently placed in a choke hold by a plainclothes officer named Daniel Pantaleo. With his head being smashed against the ground and the cops holding him down, Garner cried out, “I can’t breathe!” nine times—you can watch the video on YouTube yourself and count—to no avail. He was pronounced dead at a hospital an hour later, and the video quickly went viral. It bears a horrifying resemblance to the climactic scene of Radio Raheem getting murdered by the NYPD in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing—Lee even created his own mash-up of the two scenes after Garner’s death.
Almost immediately, cries rang out that Garner was a casualty of “broken windows” policing. That’s the theory that says going after minor quality-of-life offenses like graffiti, subway panhandling, and illegal cigarette sales helps discourage serious crimes like rape and murder. It’s the brainchild of criminologist George Kelling, who co-authored a 1982 Atlantic article that remains a sort of manual for modern policing in America. Broken windows was popularized by William Bratton, the NYPD commissioner in the 90s under Mayor Rudy Giuliani who has taken up his old post under the new mayor, Bill de Blasio. The mythology holds that it was the chief factor in the city’s incredible turnaround since the high-crime 70s and 80s—though many criminologists disagree.
Meet the Girl Who’s Crowdfunding Her Abortion
Crowdfunding is all the rage for folks who are hungry for potato salad, or in need of some dough for their stupid orchestra, but sometimes people reach out to the masses out of desperation. Meet Bailey. Bailey needs an abortion. So she went to GoFundMe.com (tagline: “Crowdfunding for Everyone!”) to ask for $2,500 for the operation. Like anything remotely related to fetuses, it’s drawn some considerable attention in less than a week and was even removed from the site for a while.
Her GoFundMe page, originally titled the ”Stop Bailey From Breeding Fund,” informs visitors that “Bailey is currently unemployed, completely broke, in debt, and in no position to hold down a job due to severe symptoms of a rough, unplanned and unexpected pregnancy.” Having just moved to Chicago from Phoenix, Arizona, Bailey says she’s 23, likes to read and go to shows, and really, really doesn’t want to be a mom.
In the past, GoFundMe has been used for some pretty noble projects, such as collecting donations for one of the victims of the Boston Marathon Bombing, and helping raise money to operate on the brain tumor of a morbidly obese 12-year-old. Somewhat more controversially, GoFundMe was used recently to support Officer Darren Wilson, who famously shot and killed unarmed 18-year-old Mike Brown, resulting in the Ferguson, Missouri demonstrations. I guess you could say the operators of GoFundMe aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty.
I called Bailey to ask about her plans to kickstart the termination her fetus.
VICE: Hi Bailey, how are you doing?
I’m doing pretty well. How are you?
Can I ask who is the father?
Can I say no to that?
Sorry for stalking you, but Facebook tells me you’re dating someone named Lücifer Ryzing, right?
Oh, no, that’s totally fine. I understand. There’s some other people who have figured out stuff, that don’t have any sort of good intentions, and they’re doing more intense things. [laughs] But yeah, Lücifer Ryzing is someone I’ve known for a long time, that I’m sweet with. He started the GoFundMe page. He’s the one that’s really managing that.
How far along are you with the pregnancy?
I just got the ultrasound on Tuesday, the second of September and the ultrasound said 19 weeks and five days, but ultrasounds can be anywhere from seven to ten days off. It could be about 19 weeks, or I could be 20 weeks along exactly.
The People Who Wouldn’t Mind if the Pacific Northwest Were Its Own Country
The first thing we heard when we pulled into the Finney Farm was the clattering of drums, followed by a high-pitched howling noise.
Suddenly a wild pack of young girls came running out of the woods waving sticks in the air. The youngest, maybe two years old, had sticky berries smeared across her face. She was inexplicably waving a $5 bill in the air. The leader of the pack, maybe 13, suddenly noticed us and halted her group—who all promptly dropped their sticks.
“Oh, hi, I haven’t seen you yet, so I guess you’re new here,” she said. “Well, um, welcome to the farm. If you go way down the forest trail, past the big fallen tree, you’ll find a clearing that I think would be nice to set a tent up in. I dunno. You’ll figure it out.”
Then the pack took off howling back into the woods.
We were here for the Cascadia Rainingman Festival, held on Labor Day weekend at a gorgeous 100-plus acre organic farm in the foothills of the North Cascade mountain range in Washington State. Unless you follow the fringe politics of the Pacific Northwest, you’re probably wondering what Cascadia is, and that’s a tricky question, because self-described “Cascadians” hold all kinds of different beliefs. (The first of many workshops at the festival was titled “What is Cascadia?”)