We like it here

27/02/2013 § 2 Comments

It’s a nice place, New Zealand. Got a lot going for it. Sure, we have our troubles like everybody else, but on balance it’s sweet.

Eric Crampton added another to his many posts on why libertarians should move here from North America. He pointed to a letter by Alex Tabarrok in which he decries the ‘security theater’ in production at his kid’s high school. As it happens, I grew up in the area in question, Northern Virginia. It has changed a lot in the 25 years since I moved away, but the authoritarian drive was there back then. I remember visiting a friend’s high school in Seattle and being amazed at the relaxed atmosphere and the respect with which pupils were treated.

Eric’s paean to New Zealand reminded me of another, one that was circulating on social media last month. At Crooks and Liars, a blogger called nonny mouse — an American ex-pat formerly in New Zealand and now in Australia? — set about schooling her compatriots:

We Americans like to think, and in fact have been indoctrinated for decades to believe, that we are the greatest country in the world, the best at just about everything. Sadly, that hasn’t been true for quite some time. Words patriots once gave their lives for, like ‘freedom’… and ‘patriots’… have become almost meaningless.

So if you’re curious about who’s taken our crown, you might be surprised. The latest international index of 123 countries released by the Fraser Institute, Canada’s leading public policy think-tank, and Germany’s Liberales Institut, ranked New Zealand number one for offering the highest level of freedom worldwide….

I was reminded of all of this last night. I did something I have taken to doing from time to time, mostly because I can. Something I would never do in the US.

I went into the grocery store barefoot.

Stores here don’t have the ‘shoes and shirts must be worn’ signs that you see everywhere in the States. Sure, grocery store are slightly hazardous — heavy tins could fall on your toes or there could be glass on the floor. But in the grand scheme of daily risks, those things rank fairly low. And so, reasonable New Zealand doesn’t make a big deal of them.

Personal freedom is a lot of things. Some days, it’s just bare feet.

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§ 2 Responses to We like it here

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  • When we first moved here, we thought about setting up a scam/joke charity. It would be called “Shoes for Kiwis”. We’d take pictures of all the shoeless Kiwis walking around, solicit funds that we’d promise would be used to buy shoes. And then Susan would be able to afford to continue her shoe-addiction despite the 2-3X US price multiplier on shoes here. It wouldn’t exactly have been lying. But all the shoes would have been for Susan. We obviously didn’t do it, but it was fun to think about.

    Too much broken glass in my neighbourhood for me to go shoeless, alas.

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