Another hallmark of the Soviet Union: separate rules for the peasants

[Editor’s note: This letter was written by Viktorija, our Sovereign Woman.]

My experience with ridiculous government overreach began literally on the day I was born.

It was more than three decades ago, in the tiny Soviet Socialist Republic of Lithuania, back when the Soviet Union still existed.

As my mother tells the story, she and my father hurried to the closest hospital when her contractions started. But the hospital administration staff informed them that they were not allowed to give birth there.

Apparently we weren’t registered with that municipality. So the bureaucrats turned my parents away and ordered them to drive to the correct hospital that matched their records.

Unfortunately, my parents were nearly out of gas.

Gasoline was in very short supply at the time and considered a major luxury; the Soviet Union was near collapse, and people routinely had to wait in line for more than a day just to fill up a few liters of gas.

So, my parents were without any means to drive to the ‘correct’ hospital. And that’s when they resorted to what most people ended up doing back in Soviet times: bribery.

They went back to the hospital that turned them away, and paid off the nurses and administrators to let them give birth there.

And poof, shortly thereafter, I came into the world.

My mother is full of these stories about Soviet times; in her youth, she worked at a clothing store… and almost all of the inventory was Soviet-made garbage.

On rare occasion, though, a new dress would come in that was made in Western Europe. My mom would immediately hide it, and sell it to special customers who were willing to pay much more. That was the only way she could afford to buy enough food that month.

Anything foreign, in fact, was considered a major luxury.

Vehicles were fairly common in the Soviet Union, but they were all pitiful Soviet brands like Zaporozhet, Moskvitch, or Volga. Even just seeing a Mercedes was a dream come true.

Travel was the same. If you were lucky enough to have any money, you were allowed to travel. But only inside the Soviet Union… so you could look forward to a fancy vacation to Azerbaijan.

Only big bosses with special connections were allowed to travel outside of the Soviet Union. But for most of us in the proletariat, visiting Paris or London was an unimaginable luxury.

It’s funny how the things that we consider luxuries tend to change over time.

As children we used to get really excited about a new toy, which, in adulthood, probably seems rather trivial to us now.

And I remember the first time I saw someone with a cell phone. It was the size of a suitcase, but I thought he was the wealthiest man in the world.

Now everyone has a smartphone; it’s not even close to being a luxury anymore.

I’ve been to some of the poorest countries in the world—places like Myanmar and Eswatini (formerly known as Swaziland, in southern Africa). And even there, people have smartphones connected to the Internet.

This was inconceivable 15 years ago.

Most people still consider ‘luxuries’ to be things that require a lot of money– private jets, fancy cars, and expensive champagne.

But as corny as it may sound, I believe one of the biggest luxuries right now is freedom.

Covid-19 lockdowns around the world have taught us how precious freedom is, and how easily simple things like going outside, breathing fresh air, and the ability to travel, can be taken away from us by people who refuse to follow their own rules.

Frankly this was another theme of the Soviet Union—the big bosses had one set of rules for themselves, and the rest of us peasants had another set of rules that we had to follow.

You see this all over the Western world now, with politicians who can’t be bothered to adhere to their own lockdowns, but require everyone else to isolate from friends and family.

It’s easy to be angry about this. But it’s more effective to do something about it.

Unlike expensive luxuries like fancy handbags and supercars, freedom doesn’t require suitcases full of cash. It requires rational thinking, the right information, and the will to take action.

You might be eligible for a second passport, practically for free, simply because you have ancestors from a certain country (including my native Lithuania!)

And having a second passport or second residency is a huge step towards being able to take back your freedom. It means that, no matter what rules are imposed, you’ll at least have another place you can go.

That optionality is now more important than ever.

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