A recent post of mine sparked a discussion about what the word “independent” really means. What exactly does it look like if you’re independent? Are there “degrees” of independence or is it a black-and-white, yes-or-no thing?

I’ve discussed this topic in-depth before and even wrote a book about it. First I’ll start with some of the objections I know I’ll get when I describe the concept of independence.

In our modern age, it is true that no one can be truly, absolutely, 100% independent. Yes, yes, yes, no matter how self-sufficient you are, you still require things like your local power plant to function property to provide electricity and your local roads to be drivable. The only exception to this rule is if you went out into the woods by yourself and literally became an off-the-grid, live-off-the-land, hermit-loner for the rest of your life, but I don’t think anyone reading this is ever going to do that.

Therefore, if any one says “Well it’s not possible to be 100% independent, BD!” I’m going to ignore your comment, because I already agree with you. What I’m talking about today is to being as independent as possible.

This is exactly what the Alpha Male 2.0 lifestyle is all about: being as independent as possible within reasonable parameters. I live a life like this. It’s very good. For a man, it involves three types of independence:

1. Independence from government interference.

2. Financial independence.

3. Sexual independence.

If you get those three areas nailed, then congratulations, you’re “independent.” I will describe all three, using myself as an example.

Independence from Government

Over the last 15 years or so, I have slowly detached myself from the governmental system that most people in the Western world are helplessly intertwined with. If you want to be truly independent, you’ll need to do the same. Otherwise, the big government that most countries in the Western world have sadly embraced can and will stick its big fat nose into your business and force you, yes force you (since government is force) to do or don’t do certain things in your personal life and financial life.

Here’s the ten reasons I am independent from governmental interference (again, as much as possible):

1. I am not legally married. Thus I’m not subject to government’s many laws regarding marriage and divorce. (I used to pay alimony but that ended a while ago.)

2. I do not live with anyone full-time. Thus I’m not subject to government’s many co-habitation laws.

3. I am self-employed AND I have zero employees, by choice. Thus I’m not subject to most of government’s many laws regarding employment, employee taxes, hiring, and firing.

4. I do not vote. Thus I’m not subject to most of government’s many laws regarding voting, registration, and jury duty. More importantly, since I’ve detached from the system I literally do not care who wins or loses elections. Under Bush/Obamaism the person who happens to win a corporatist election doesn’t really matter anyway.

5. I have kids, but one of them is already a legal adult and in a year the other one will be also, freeing me from government’s many laws regarding children, child protective services, parenting, and child custody.

6. I only work in unregulated industries. In my case, that’s business consulting, technology marketing, and dating/relationship advice. Thus I’m not subject to government’s many laws regarding how people in regulated industries work and do business.

7. I have no money invested in any government instruments, such as IRAs and 401Ks. Thus I’m not subject to government’s many laws regarding how and when these moneys are invested, managed, allocated, taxed, liquidated, or moved. Moreover, I’m protected from any future possible government confiscation of assets, like what happened recently in Cyprus.

8. I live in one of the lowest-taxed areas, perhaps the lowest-taxed area, in the United States, by choice. I live in Washington State, way out in near-rural suburbia, where there is no income tax, yet I’m within easy driving distance of the Oregon border where there is no sales tax. This means I pay NO sales tax, NO state income tax, NO county taxes, NO municipal taxes, NO VAT taxes, extremely low property taxes and extremely low gas taxes. Unlike most Americans, I only need to file one tax return for my personal taxes (federal only). Most other Americans need to file a federal return and a state return. Business taxes in Washington State are also very favorable. Granted, the United States is still one of the highest-taxed countries on the planet no matter what state you live in, but I’ll be fixing that problem a little later.

9. Without getting into specifics, I have a high income, decent investments, and a very solid and conservative financial structure. I have my basic living expenses covered for the rest of my life even if there’s a massive economic downturn and even if I never get any social security, which frankly I’m not planning on getting anyway. (And even if I do get it for some bizarre reason, I’m donating it all to charity.) Thus I don’t need to ever rely on any government largess to pay my bills, now or in my old age.

10. I am very careful to never break the law, even if I completely and utterly disagree with most laws, which I do. I never do illegal drugs, I don’t cheat on my taxes, I don’t have sex with underage women, I don’t rip off my customers, etc, and a know a hell of a lot of Alpha Males who do some or all of these things on a regular basis. No one is perfect of course; I drive past the speed limit sometimes just like everyone else, but you know what I mean.

Therefore, as you can see, government has near-zero influence over my life because of the conscious lifestyle choices I’ve made. Compare me to the typical guy who is married, has an 8-5 corporate job in a likely regulated industry, pays all kinds of taxes, has a 401K (assuming he has any investments at all), regularly smokes weed where it’s not legal, is relying on future social security to retire, and is politically active and votes in most elections.

Any time the stock market goes down, any time a politician gets elected he doesn’t like, any time a new law passes he doesn’t like, any time he has big trouble in his marriage, this guy’s head explodes. Yet I barely notice. I’m detached from the system. He’s plugged into the governmental system so much that he’s like that baby in The Matrix with all those tubes in his spine.

Therefore, the first aspect of being truly independent is detaching from your government as much as humanly possible. You’ll live a much happier, freer, and less stressful life all around.

In the next part of this post I’ll discuss financial independence and sexual independence.

24 Comments on “What Being Independent Really Means – Part 1

  1. By vehemently defending your independence from government, you have backed yourself into a corner where you can’t do a lot of things that most people take for granted. Independence and freedom are obviously different, but taking specific restricted actions in order to not have to ask anyone for permission doesn’t really mean you have more options.

  2. I am glad that you wrote this. You are right. There is also a difference between being strong and being independent. The two are not necessarily the same.

  3. Hey BD-I’m new to your blog but am digging what you’re putting down. Definitely a kindred spirit. I’m glad you defined what true independence is and I especially enjoyed the recent post about dominant/sub/independent women. You are spot on that most women that claim to be “strong and independent” are just dominants. Looking forward to the next 2 parts of this series. I sadly live in one of the highest taxed places, Chicago, IL BUT I did stop voting so I have that point down.

  4. Your position on government is cogent and your own positioning is well-crafted. But it’s subject to some of the same critiques you level against ‘strong independent women’ in your excellent earlier post. In that post you show ways SIEs are moochers. But by dodging as many taxes as you do and by avoiding jury duty, you are getting something for nothing–at least here and there. No?

  5. I’ve read a hell of a lot of this blog, and the only thing I disagree with BD about is the no-employees line of thinking… and this article tells me why. Because he’s in the USA.

    In the absence of laws that tie your hands, having employees run your business is a step towards independence – not the other way around. Right now, if I get hit by a bus and paralyzed, or take a 12 month vacation, I will likely make more money next year than I did last year. Why? Because there’s a team of people (and a system) in place to make that happen regardless of my labor. My income is independent in the way that a contractor’s income could never be.

    That’s the difference between independence and self-reliance: and it’s an important one to recognize for the young man just getting started. You can try to choose between depending upon yourself and being dependent upon other people: but if you can do both, you’re less likely to be rocked by the surprises that life inevitably throws at you.

    While an older man may have enough savings/investments to ride out losing his income permanently, a younger man doesn’t typically have that option (more time ahead, and less behind). He needs to seriously consider risk to his income, and if your own labor is the only way you make money, you’ll carry a shit load of risk, not to mention personal obligation to clients, until your bank balance makes working less-than-necessary.

    Again, dependence on your own work ability/opportunities is quite a few steps from the independence that a solid financial situation allows.

    It might suck to be an employer in the US, but In some countries, having the right employees (and being able to hire/fire them when needed) gives you the independence to drop everything, pursue other interests, travel long term, sustain personal injury, not worry about day-to-day details, and if you play your cards right, drastically minimize drama (well, at least for you).

    Rest of the post is spot on. Voting in 2015 is for chumps.

    Looking forward to Parts 2 and 3.

  6. Points 6 and 8 hit home for me, getting out of agriculture in NY will be one of my smarter life decisions I’m sure.

    I for one am interested in your take on car ownership. Lots of trade offs, they’re expensive and they get you involved with government, but without one getting around very far quickly becomes a pain.

  7. Awesome article dude, as always! I’m curious about the types of things you invest in if not traditional stocks, etc, and if you are going to do an article on that. Without being too specific, or to the level you are comfortable with.

  8. you have backed yourself into a corner where you can’t do a lot of things that most people take for granted

    Like?

    taking specific restricted actions in order to not have to ask anyone for permission doesn’t really mean you have more options

    Huh? Not only do I have more options, but I also have less worries. What you just said makes no sense.

    Read below what I said to Chuck.

    I sadly live in one of the highest taxed places, Chicago, IL BUT I did stop voting so I have that point down.

    Chicago is also one of the highest PRICED areas in the country too. Sky-high taxes and sky-high prices. It’s a double-whammy of death like living in NYC. I feel for you.

    What I do is live way out in the cheapy, lower-middle-class suburbs but travel to big cities when I want to via car or plane (usually for work, so my travel is free) to get my “city fix.” Best of both worlds.

    But by dodging as many taxes as you do and by avoiding jury duty, you are getting something for nothing–at least here and there. No?

    If I was paying ZERO taxes, then you’d have a point, but I play plenty of taxes, believe me, just less than the typical guy at my income level.

    One the flip side, I also will never utilize government services like food stamps, welfare, government healthcare, unemployment, social security, college grants, etc. I never use things like libraries or other local government offices/services (unless governmental laws force me to, like the DMV). Because I work out of my home and have no employees, I use very, very little city infrastructure as compared to most normal people with jobs and commutes or employees.

    I pay less taxes, but I use far, FAR less government services. If you add everything up, it’s very fair.

    Right now, if I get hit by a bus and paralyzed, or take a 12 month vacation, I will likely make more money next year than I did last year.

    Similar with me. I have savings and disability insurance that will cover me if I become wounded or disabled and can’t work.

    The difference between you and me is that you are reliant on a governmental system to A) still be there if/when you need it, B) still be funded the way you want it if/when you need it, and C) still be run the way you want it to if/when you need it.

    None of those things matter to me. You have to worry about it, I don’t. The welfare state could be canceled (or go bankrupt) tomorrow and I’ll still be just as protected and fine…but you won’t.

    Moreover, if government pays for you in a certain area, it has the right to tell you what to do in that area. The current thought regarding heathcare is “Well, okay, if government is going to cover your healthcare, then government is going to tell you what you can and can’t eat and how often you need to exercise!!!” Say goodbye to even more freedom.

    It might suck to be an employer in the US, but In some countries, having the right employees (and being able to hire/fire them when needed) gives you the independence to drop everything, pursue other interests, travel long term, sustain personal injury, not worry about day-to-day details, and if you play your cards right, drastically minimize drama (well, at least for you).

    That can be true sometimes, depending on the structure and the luck of the employer (and to be honest, much of this is pure luck, and the few men in this position often will admit that). I discuss that in more detail in my book. But what you’re describing is still a very extreme exception to the rule. 95%+ of men who own small businesses with employees are not free; quite the opposite in most cases.

    I for one am interested in your take on car ownership. Lots of trade offs, they’re expensive and they get you involved with government, but without one getting around very far quickly becomes a pain.

    It’s purely a logistical issue. If you live downtown in a city core, you should not buy a car. Getting one is stupid unless you’re worth millions and have money to burn.

    The same may be true if you live in close-city suburbs. Mass transit will get you where you need to go. Owning a car is expensive, troublesome, and it’s a deprecating asset. All bad.

    But if you live way out in the country, or near-country suburbs like I do, then sadly, you need a car (unless you live a very bizarre lifestyle). There’s just no getting around it. Bite the bullet and get the cheapest car you can get of decent quality, and only purchase a new one once every 7-10 years. That way you can squeeze as much money out of it as you can.

    My car is 9 years old. It’s a good car and it’s clean, because I take care of it, but it’s still 9 years old. (2006 Nissan Maxima)

  9. I don’t actually know how to quote in these comments, so I’ll use shorthand quotes for readability.

    – “None of those things matter to me. You have to worry about it.. Moreover, if government pays for you…”

    Not sure where you’re getting that. I am in no way a recipient of government cash. My company produces my wealth: not any government. No plans on that changing that.

    Also, while your disability insurance will cover one situation (disability), it won’t help someone if they just decide to take off and stop working (that’s being independent right?) And I know that YOU personally have savings to help in that situation, but I addressed that in my previous post… for younger men, that’s not a reality in the decision making process – and in your case, it totally makes your profession irrelevant because you’re equally independent with or without it. If we assume your personal situation when talking about career option advice, then McDonalds fry cook is also a perfectly acceptable way to become financially independent. Because it doesn’t matter. You’ve got the cash to cover your remaining years.

    – “But what you’re describing is still a very extreme exception to the rule.”

    Then I am a very extreme exception to the rule. My employees (not USA, mind you) make my life much, much easier, not harder. I’d recommend trying it.

  10. I don’t actually know how to quote in these comments, so I’ll use shorthand quotes for readability.

    You can enclose quoted comments with blockquote and /blockquote within <> brackets.

    Not sure where you’re getting that. I am in no way a recipient of government cash. My company produces my wealth: not any government. No plans on that changing that.

    Got it; I misunderstood. Then as you said, you’re an exception to the rule even though you have employees. Well done; we agree.

    The point is you’re not reliant on government.

    for younger men, that’s not a reality in the decision making process

    Correct. It’s much harder for younger men to be independent than older men. Thus, younger men should set independence as a goal to strive for, so that by the time they’re 35, 45, 50 or whatever, the are indeed independent.

    I want young men doing that instead of thinking, “Aw, it doesn’t matter. Government will take care of me if anything goes wrong.” That’s not independence. That’s dependence.

  11. Not to mention, the level of care and services provided by the government is often very poor. I know several people who are now seniors or approaching that age, who saved nothing with the expectation that the government would provide for them in their old age. The reality is that while they do get some support, it’s not nearly enough for the area in which we live (Santa Cruz, CA), and they are totally dependent and have little choice in their own lives, especially with housing and health care. At the same time we have a lot of working-age adults who could work, but choose not to because if it’s between government support and a minimum-wage job, why not get about the same amount of money by doing nothing? It’s very frustrating to watch, especially when these people have kids and raise them with the same (lack of) work ethic.

    Regarding investments, what do you use? I was looking into my company’s 401(k) but it’s a joke; they contribute a maximum of just $200 per year. Some of the company executives use Vanguard, but I haven’t looked much into it yet. I’ve been saving, but just in a regular money market account, which doesn’t have much interest at all. I’m pretty risk averse when it comes to money.

  12. Anything goverments do to the average joe sucks! Just a bunch of burocrats stealing hard workers money and throwing them bones in return. And it goes for both left and right-wingers alike (altough left-wingers tend to be hungrier for taxes).

    I want young men doing that instead of thinking, “Aw, it doesn’t matter. Government will take care of me if anything goes wrong.” That’s not independence. That’s dependence.

    To me that’s suicide. Depending on the goverment you have zero guarantees they will not steal your savings to cover for their budget corruption or fuck ups. When you pay them it’s THEIR money to give you back if or when they want.

  13. What I’m trying to do is achieve Independence. Its very hard, as in my life right now I have very little of any kind, but I am making the effort. Something I’m trying to do is achieve financial Independence, as that will help me be free in the other aspects of my life.

  14. I don’t see how abstaining from using your right to vote makes you more independent. I understand the ideology behind it and I understand the cynical arguments that say your vote doesn’t matter, etc., but how does it really make you more independent?
    Seems to me you’re not gaining anything by choosing not to use a right to participate in government, illusory though it may be.

  15. I don’t see how abstaining from using your right to vote makes you more independent.

    Logistically: Less likely to be called to jury duty. (You can still be called to jury duty; it just makes it less likely in most states.) Less junk mail in your snail mailbox. Less information other government agencies can and will use against you if there’s ever a problem. (Voter registration records are confidential to the public (at least somewhat), but the FBI/NSA/cops/whomever can walk right in and pull those records whenever they like, for pretty much any reason they come up with.)

    Politically: The more people registered to vote, the more legitimacy you give our already overgrown government to enforce more restrictions upon your personal behavior. (What if only 20% of the population bothered to vote? What kind of mandate would those bank-owned politicians then have?)

    Emotionally, which is by far the most important: It frees you from the stress of worrying about which politician will win elections so he/she can give you more free stuff and/or fix your problems, i.e., to make you more dependent on the system.

  16. Once you get past the level of freedom a typical person has, you start to run into some interesting problems. I’m pretty young, so I haven’t reached true financial freedom yet, but I should get there by my early 30’s. Unlike you, I don’t really want my own business, but instead I plan on retiring early. One way to do it is to invest your money after tax which means the government has no control over what you do with it (besides taxing your returns). The other way to do it is to use tax advantaged accounts, which will save you money but let the government have a lot more control.

    This is a problem I’ve been thinking about, and will have to do more research on before deciding. If I use the tax advantaged accounts I could likely retire a year or two earlier, increasing my freedom from bosses and the like. However, I would increase my dependence on government, since they could close the loopholes that make this possible any time they want.

  17. I’m watching “60 Minutes” on TV right now and thought of this article. BD, have you considered errors to the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File on your financial plan? The impact to a retired woman wrongly identified as deceased was alarming: access to her cash, loss of her house, etc. Scary and eye-opening!

  18. I’m watching “60 Minutes” on TV right now and thought of this article. BD, have you considered errors to the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File on your financial plan?

    I have heard of horror stories like this. I think they’re rare. The bigger issue is spending the rest of your life, particularly in your old age, freaking out over whether or not you’ll get your government-mommy check and how big it will be.

  19. Getting out of jury duty is very easy.

    Plan one, you get to reschedule once, reschedule for the week before Christmas, you won’t get called because lawyers and judges do not work that week.

    Plan two. When they call you in for jury selection say very loudly that if you arrested them they must be guilty!

    Boom you are out so fast your head will spin

    and they can’t really do anything to you because you said they were right…

    Be very afraid if you ever have to be subject to a jury trial with your guilt or innocence decided by 12 people that are not smart enough to get out of jury duty……

  20. Unregister to vote >maybe notify you living out of usa like to irs in your tax your out of usa address,

    also if you living out of usa and get mail to your last usa address for jury how to notify them ?

    regarding jury duty

    what does this mean you arrest them ?

    “Plan two. When they call you in for jury selection say very loudly that if you arrested them they must be guilty!”

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