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We often hear the word “filibuster” in connection with legislative action, but the word also has other meanings. It started as a term for pirates. In the 1850’s it was additionally applied to military adventurers who were taking over small Central American countries, like William Walker. Now, Walker rather spoiled it for the rest of us citizens of the United States of America. Because of his actions, Congress and the President made it illegal for Americans to go about taking over small countries. Apparently, having one’s citizens do that sort of thing can interfere with foreign relations and commerce. Way to go, Walker. Way to go.
I do not do very well in temperature extremes. Many say that with hotter weather one can always take off more clothing. When one has a body like mine, that’s not a practical idea. This physique needs to be covered. The more, the better. During the summer, I wear a short sleeve shirt with my long pants. But that’s as far as I’m accommodating the heat for fear of scaring the horses or blinding passersby. If it’s above 80°F, I’m probably staying inside. In winter, I can always throw on more clothing. The problem is that I seem to have a few lung issues. If it gets below freezing, I have to ensure air is pre-warmed through a scarf or other device before I breathe it. That means that if it’s much below 40°F, I probably have to bundle up more than I’d prefer.
As many people do, I sometimes fantasize retiring to an island somewhere, a place that fits my requirements, not too hot, not too cold, but definitely chillier than a Michigan summer. A place like Hawai’i has some benefits. The temperatures are steady all year, moderated by the ocean around them, but they are about twenty degrees too warm for my taste. No, the perfect island for me is in the South Atlantic. Tristan da Cunha. The record high since they’ve been measuring is 76°F. The record low is about 40°F. The average high in their hot summer month, February, is about 70°F with the average high across the whole year at 63°F. The average low in the deep winter of August is 49°F with an average low across the year of 54°F. Now, it is a wet and humid place with about 250 days of rain per year. Percent of sunshine? 34% for the year with some months gloomier than others. Sure, that’s less than the 55% I get where I am now, but the temperature range here is -21°F to 105°F. We have daily lows that are hotter than Tristan da Cunha’s all-time high. I’ll suffer the clouds. With this weather, I’m usually inside anyway.
But I have not yet packed my bags for Tristan da Cunha. It has somewhere around 250 problems. The people. Now, I’m not the most sociable person, but I could probably put up with 250 people on an island that has an area of around 38 square miles. The problem is, to quote from Wikipedia:
The island has a unique social and economic structure in which all resident families farm and all land is communally owned. Outsiders are prohibited from buying land or settling on Tristan.
That’s right. The place with what I imagine is the best imaginable climate in the world is a “socialist paradise.” If one looks a bit further into the demographics, one realizes it is more of a family combine. Those 250 people are all descended from eight males and seven females who came to the island from outside. They only have nine surnames: Collins, Glass, Green, Hagan, Lavarello, Repetto, Rogers, Squibb and Swain. Well, what would one expect in an isolated community in the middle of the south Atlantic with the next closest human settlement being more than 1,300 miles away?
On the other hand, one need not have resources to become a fabulously wealthy island paradise. Places like Singapore and Hong Kong are not that much larger. Many Caribbean islands are banking centers. All that one needs is the right set of laws and attitudes towards freedom. Of course, a “No outsiders” policy and communal ownership does not seem to attract capital for development. The jobs they post for outsiders are few and far between, and I don’t really qualify for either of the current two.
And this is where we come back to the filibuster. About the only way I could settle down in Tristan da Cunha and help turn it into a capitalist Mecca would be to take over the island by force. How hard would it be? There are only 250 residents. I don’t know the average age, but they list ten kids born since 2013. The advertisement for an English teacher states they have twenty-eight children between three and sixteen. They also list at least one centenarian. They seem to have plenty of people in their seventies and eighties. They also do not seem to have a big militia tradition. Even if you wanted a one-to-one ratio of those taking over to the populace, you could train some bankers to handle guns and be ready for the important part that comes after the takeover.
Taking over would be easy. Probably even a small company of mercenaries could do the job. The problem is in keeping the islands. This is especially true since Tristan da Cunha is a British Overseas Territory. The British may not be what they once were, but surely they could quickly dispatch a company or even battalion of mercenaries. Thus, the trick becomes how to convince the British government that they really don’t want to dislodge the new owners. This is why a longer-term plan is needed.
It would be necessary to have a plan in place and in action already in London and St. Helena (where the governor for the overseas territory lives). One would need capitalization. One would need enough settlers to outvote the current population of the island. One would need a preliminary constitution to provide a new basis for law that would include a much more open policy towards free markets. One would probably need a few favorable MPs who were reasonably placed, preferably including the PM.
As stated earlier, the island is about 38 square miles in area, and the 250 people are all in one small settlement. It would certainly be possible to start a new settlement for the invading forces and leave Edinburgh of the Seven Seas and its population to live pretty much as they have in the past. It’s just that there would be a new government and set of laws applying to the whole island while the old laws only applied in Edinburgh of the Seven Seas.
It could certainly be done. Of course, every time I start thinking about this and what it would take to organize a takeover of Tristan da Cunha, I think it would be far easier to just stay inside where the air conditioning and heat can keep me comfortable here in Michigan. Thinking about all the work does not cool me down.
How about you? Where is your dream location for keeping as cool or warm as you please?