I really want to write up a summary of my time in Belgium. OK, I’m sitting here, I’ve got the time, LET’S GO. (Although I have to finish writing up law school application work and write a huge essay . . . ANYWAY, PROCRASTINATION).
So, I’ll start by saying, for a tourist, Belgium is awesome. Free buses, beautiful streets, freedom of your own body (alcohol, drugs, etc.), awesome chocolate, and so on — but is it all . . . fake? As in, you have to ask if the high taxes that people pay on their income and that business owners dredge through — is that why Belgium is so perfect? Well, most likely. I didn’t really have a problem with that as a tourist, but I could possibly see as a citizen, especially if you are a business owner, getting mad at the situation. Or, if you are a genuine liberty lover, forced packaging of certain goods, “free” buses that run with no passengers, etc. might push your buttons.
I did really enjoy the social freedoms. The only possible “problem” here might be the free speech thing:
“The law prohibits public statements that incite national, racial, or religious hatred, including denial of the Holocaust. The maximum sentence for Holocaust denial is one year’s imprisonment. In April the Brussels Chamber of Indictment ruled that Roeland Raes, a former vice chairman of the Vlaams Belang party and former senator, would have to stand trial for denying the Holocaust during a television show broadcast in 2001. The trial had not taken place by year’s end.
On June 21, two staff members of the Belgian Islamic Center were convicted for denial of the Holocaust. They received a 10-month sentence, which the court reduced by half, and were fined.”
Don’t deny the Holocaust! But yeah, I feel like this will probably change in time . . . or really, no one cares.
And that is what is amazing about Belgium. “No one cares.” There are little to no cops. I arrive in Philadelphia and there are at least a dozen cops surrounding the Eagles game stadium “directing” (slowing down) traffic. Everyone is just . . . good. It might be a cultural thing dating back from the year 800 or something (Belgium has quite the history) — but is it impossible to reach this sort of lifestyle in the USA? That is something to think about! I feel as if most of our problems and crime stem from the government — the drug war, the institutionalized racism/affirmative action/that whole slavery thing, false sense of security, growing police state, and so on. Belgium doesn’t have that. Their government cares more about energy and bike lanes on highways (YES!) over beating up its citizens.
And the beer . . . I didn’t see any direct regulations on it, as the prices were lower than that of the US. And it is not because Belgium brews more beer than people in the USA — there are tons of craft brewers, big breweries, home brewers here that could do without regulation. And the chocolate . . . yeah, really good. And surprisingly — the COFFEE.
Anyway, I digress. So, yes, Belgium is awesome. For a less government-inspired rant on my trip, on my first day, I attended and spoke at the Jong Libertairen conference. I found out that they are funded by the government, too (what?), which is rather interesting — “real democracy,” right? So, before the conference, I had experienced long term sleep deprivation and stress, but during this time, I thought about certain topics in my libertarianism that I wanted to discuss — mainly what we live for as libertarians (ourselves or for others?), how to convert people/educate them, activism ideas, “now is the time more than ever because things are really bad”, etc. It was a lot of fun, and I am thankful that I had this opportunity.
The rest of the week was spent touring all the cities around Lochristi, where I was staying with Xavier Everaert, whose parents and himself were excellent hosts (and all libertarian). I went to Ghent, Oostende, Brussels, Brugge, and over to the Netherlands. I did all the touristy things and more! I had a very relaxing break, I didn’t exert myself too much, work constantly or exercise insanely. I totally needed this and at the same time I am now educated about another country.
Also, Xavier inspired me to start up Students for a Stateless Society again — thank you for that! Sometimes I forget who I am, where I have come from and all that I have done. Traveling helps me rediscover myself. “Getting away from it all,” taking a step back and rethinking life. I totally needed that. Now, onto a term with very minimal classes, graduation, growing my businesses and getting into law school!