By the time he was 35 years old, Billy Rankin had lived in east Texas most of his life. He barely made it through high school, not for lack of intelligence, but rather a lack of interest. The only classes he enjoyed involved marksmanship, shop and nature studies, since those aligned with his interest in outdoor activities – namely hunting and fishing.
Billy always thought of himself as a “conservative.” He always supported Republican candidates, even though he never voted and didn’t pay much attention in his civics classes. Like so many other Americans, he hated paying taxes, and always maintained a healthy suspicion and skepticism when it came to “Big Government.” His main source of information was Fox News.
Too Busy “Working for a Living” to Live
Billy started working at Top-Flite Tire Company when he was 16. While he was fiercely proud of being a working man, and family provider, his paycheck never went far enough. His wife, Wilma Jean, had to supplement the family’s income by working as a waitress at a nearby truck stop.
And, like so many others, Billy hated his job. When he got back to the family’s trailer home at night, he was always drained. After dinner he plopped down in his recliner, drank beer and watched television until he passed out. Then, he would do it all over again the next day…and the next…and the next…
The only thing that ever gave Billy any joy in life was hunting and fishing. He always lived for those excursions. As a result, Wilma Jean and the kids got to enjoy venison, wild duck and fresh trout and catfish more often than most people – but only when Billy’s work schedule allowed him to get away.
Billy was also a survivalist; he didn’t know much about math, history or literature, but Billy had skills Bear Grylls would envy.
Then it All Changes…
When the Transition to Copiosis began, Billy was understandably suspicious and outraged that “Big Government” planned on supporting people he considered “a bunch of lazy deadbeats”. Nonetheless, when he realized that he no longer needed to pay rent, utilities or spend money on groceries (which his and Wilma’s paychecks barely covered in any event), he began questioning why he continued in his crappy job. Eventually, automation at Top-Flite Tire made his job, and his question, obsolete.
Billy was understandably angry when a machine put him out of work. Even though the Rankins, like everyone else, could access their basic necessities at no cost to themselves or anyone else, much of Billy’s identity was wrapped up in being a working man providing for his family.
His family of course, was in no danger of going homeless or hungry (in fact, they were eating a lot better, because farmers – Necessity Food Producers — maximize their own NBR stream when they provide quality food). Furthermore Billy was still getting NBR streams for continuing to work at Top-Flite, even though machines had taken over his job. And as long as any tires he handled, sold or repaired continued to provide value to consumers, those NBR streams would continue — so Billy could still afford to do the “fun stuff” with Wilma and the kids that he hadn’t been able to before.
“I am Serious, Billy Rankin…!”
Nonetheless, old habits die hard, and Billy was at a loss. He didn’t now what he would do next. For weeks he sat around bemoaning his situation. For Wilma, that got old very fast. One day, she finally told Billy to find something to do — or else.
With nothing else to do, Billy went hunting and fishing more often. Without government regulations in the way, he could hunt and fish anytime he liked. He brought home game or fresh fish, some of which he stored in the freezer. He started sharing it with neighbors, and took pride and satisfaction in being a skilled hunter and fisherman — far more than he ever had as a working stiff at Top-Flite Tires.
Although he was technically unemployed, Billy was in a much better mood, especially about the Transition and its effects on his life.
For example, the trailer park landlord no longer collected rent, yet the park underwent many improvements. It became a safer, more attractive and pleasant place to live. Billy never quite understood all of it, how all this stuff gets done without paying anyone anything.
Of course, landlords can do all these things because it doesn’t cost them anything to do them, as explained here.
The Rankins Today
Billy’s relationship with Wilma also improved tremendously. While they were reliant on the meager incomes they received from their jobs, their relationship had fallen into a rut and they had been growing apart.
Today, now that they no longer have to rely on “employment” simply to take decent care of themselves and the kids, Billy says, “It’s almost like it was when Wilma and me met in high school – but better.” (He always says that last part with a wink.)
Billy says he’s also a much better “Dad” (as opposed to simply being the father/breadwinner). His current relationship with Bill Junior and Willemina in Copiosis promises that, as the children enter the traditionally rebellious and tumultuous teenage years, that transition will go much more smoothly.
Wilma still goes to the truck stop now and then — mostly to say hello to favorite customers and the new owner, who was a cook when she was waitressing. She’ll even serve them on occasion, or help behind the grill and get an NBR or two – but she does it on her own time, when she wants to — and because she enjoys it. She’s lighter and happier now that she sets her own schedule. She’s also taking some studies online, since all education is at no cost to everyone.
All Billy really knows is that he has a new kind of freedom that he has never experienced before. He’s happier, doing what he likes. So is his wife.
From “Working Stiff” to Producer
Over the past few years, Billy has been joining up with other sportsmen and women, who go on hunting and gathering expeditions.
“We’re Producers,” Billy says with a hint of pride. He explains: “Our Association – we call ourselves the ‘New Mountainfolk,’ which we had to do because, well, we got ladies in the group.”
He says there was some initial resistance among the guys who styled themselves after the “Mountain Men” of the 1830s, but after awhile, they got used to it. “Those gals are bad-ass,” Billy admits.
He goes on to explain how the New Mountainfolk are Food Producers like Farmers. However, what they offer to the marketplace is called “Wild Food,” or “Paleo Cuisine.” These are considered Luxury Foods – and, depending on the time of year and what is being hunted and/or gathered, translates into a very nice NBR stream for all involved. They’ve even expanded their offerings to fresh roadkill, whenever they can incorporate it.
Because these NBR streams rely on a steady supply, Billy says he’s learned a great deal about ecology and the role predators play in a biome. “There are some folks who still like to go trophy hunting,” Billy admits (and he has an extenive collection of antlers, horns and stuffed and mounted heads of his past kills), “but most folks don’t – because it doesn’t get ’em anywhere. Doesn’t win ’em many friends these days, either,” he adds with a grin.
Billy also knows a lot more about sustainability, and what fish and game can be harvested at specific times of the year. “There is a lot to it, if you want to keep doing it. A lot of Native Indians around here seemed to know about keeping the fish and game around from one season to the next, so we try to learn more about that – sort of like we got to do in Boy Scouts.”
Their awards increase as the Association learns good land and game management practices, Billy says.
There was a recent bone of contention when the New Mountainfolk were asked to consider abandoning their big, gas-guzzling, four-wheel drive pickups for more environmentally-friendly forms of transportation. For doing so, members could get even more awards.
Initially, Billy was dead set against giving up his 4WD ten-cylinder Chevy Silverado. However, when a Provider of Capital Goods offered to furnish him with an electric-powered version at no cost in order for him to continue hunting and gathering expeditions, he was far more open to idea. “And you know,” he says, “it beats the heck out of having to shell out five to seven thousand a year for road taxes, fuel, upkeep…” He chuckles. “Yeah…can’t say as I miss that part of it.”
Billy and others have also found that supplies such as ammunition would be furnished by the local gun shop at no cost to them – but only after they agreed to enroll in a training and arms safety certification program.
“I think that’s a good thing,” Billy says. “See, back in the old days, you had to have laws, and licenses…and looking back, you can understand why…but this new system works better, because now, everyone has to take personal responsibility…you notice how you never hear about law suits, anymore?”
Private arms manufacturers typically require anyone desiring or requiring a firearm to undergo training, because if anyone is harmed by one of their products, they are held accountable by having negative information recorded in their Reputation Accounts and foregoing future NBR. If someone is seriously injured, that can be a long way back.
In Copiosis Good Stewardship = Wealth and Prosperity
These days, Billy spends hunting seasons in a modest, but very nice home near a lake in the Ozarks. Billy still enjoys an occasional beer, but no longer drinks as much as he once did. Wilma no longer works as a waitress; instead, she spends her days gardening, and receives NBR for beautifying public spaces.
Sometimes, she accompanies Billy on hunting/fishing excursions, looking for wild, edible plants. The kids attend excellent on-line schools; Billy’s son, Billy Junior, is thinking of studying wildlife conservation; the daughter, Willemina, doesn’t yet know what she wants to do. But both of the children, who formerly hated going to school, are now inspired to learn, because learning isn’t forced on them.
Billy is currently in the process of acquiring stewardship of the lake and the surrounding land. He plans to turn into a wildlife preserve and outdoors education center.
“I think it’s important that folks be given an opportunity to learn how to live and coexist in a wild environment,” Billy says. “I think there’s a lot of us who still want to live that way, somehow.”
Under Billy’s stewardship, people will be able visit the area, learn and practice wilderness survival and hunting and tracking skills using non-lethal weapons, as well as good ecological management. As a bonus, instead of paying for the priviledge, folks who visit and participate in these activities get NBR in the process.
At one time, Billy Rankin would have dismissed conservation measures and environmentalism as a “liberal plot” and “Big Government” intervention. He would have railed against Copiosis, thinking it was socialism, or worse. Now that he’s experienced Copiosis, he has learned that Copiosis is better than the past, and conservation not only serves the public good and the planet – it’s good for him and his family as well.