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Authors: Glen Tate

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BOOK: 299 Days IX: The Restoration
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There was one basic requirement to be an interim official: no prior ties to the old government. Every single one of the officials for the old state, especially the judges, was compromised, having done the Limas' dirty work. Some were outright corrupt; others just went along with things that they knew were unconstitutional. Either way, they were done. New Washington didn’t need them. New Washington didn’t need their “experience,” which was basically experience at screwing people.

The Interim Government, as it was called, eventually convened a constitutional convention, or “con con,” where constitutional delegates met, drafted a new constitution and then submitted it to the people for a vote. Grant was honored—truly honored, once-in-a-lifetime honored—to be one of the constitutional delegates. It was a lot of work being both a constitutional delegate and running the Reconciliation Commission but, as Grant used to say when the Team was getting into Mark’s truck, “Is there any place you’d rather be?” When Grant was tired and stressed out over the latest problems he was confronting, he would smile. He was doing was exactly what he wanted to be doing: fixing things. He knew all the “coincidences” that had fallen in place to make it possible for him to be doing this work.

“Anything is possible when miracles are popping off all around you,” he would say.

The old Washington Constitution, which was a magnificent document of liberty if it ever had been enforced, served as the first draft of the new state Constitution. In fact, most of the Bill of Rights from the old constitution was adopted word for word in the draft of the new one. The main debates were whether to have a “pure” libertarian constitution with almost no government or a “practical” libertarian constitution with a very small amount of government.

The Interim Legislature met in the stately old House and Senate chambers, which now had bullet holes in places from the fighting, and quickly passed a handful of laws necessary to carry out the Restoration. Grant had been offered a spot in the Interim Legislature, but he thought that it would look bad if he were a “politician” and also heading up the Reconciliation Commission, which was deciding who should live or die or go to prison. Life or death decisions should not be made by politicians up for re-election. Instead, Grant took a less political spot as a Constitutional Convention delegate, which was a one-term position with no re-election.

The Interim Legislature passed laws setting a date for the first election in one year. They also passed some laws necessary to establish the framework for the rest of the Restoration, such as laws about the State Guard, newly re-formed State Police, and the Reconciliation Commission. The Interim Senate confirmed Grant as the Chair of the new Reconciliation Commission, which was not a surprise. The Interim Legislature also repealed every other law in the state to give the new Legislature a clean slate. Besides, no one was enforcing the old laws, so what was the point in having them? It was time for a clean slate. It was what people wanted, and what they had fought and died for.

Once the new Interim Government was formed, they immediately started on all the problems facing New Washington following decades of creeping socialism and then a war. It was a war that was still going on because there were constant skirmishes on the Seattle/New Washington boundaries, although those were diminishing. New Washington had security problems and economic ones, especially when it came to getting food to the population. Medical problems persisted because the hospitals had largely ceased to function and it was nearly impossible to get medicines and medical supplies.

New Washington also had political problems, largely centered on the reconciliation issues. Some wanted to forgive and forget, but most wanted to hunt down the Limas and kill them and collaborators, too. That was the hard part: the collaborators. How far would that go? To anyone who had a stupid “We Support Recovery Now!” yard sign? Many old personal disputes, like divorces, rivalries, business competitors, and family squabbles, were now dressed up as rooting out Limas. Someone who had always hated someone else would claim he or she was a Lima collaborator. Grant was determined that his Reconciliation Commission would not be turned into the hangmen for personal disputes that had nothing to do with actual Lima crimes.

Last, but not least, the new state also had infrastructure problems from all the war damage. There was actually very little damage from the fighting because there had been very little physical battling. A few small patches of Olympia, especially around the capitol, had been shot up. But the war was fought almost exclusively with rifles instead of aerial bombs, artillery, helicopters, and other weapons that busted up cities and caused massive infrastructure damage. Thank God, Grant thought, that all the super high-tech weapons the FUSA military had were useless when the semi-trucks stopped rolling with spare parts and the computers went down. And thank God, the FUSA military was so dependent on technical people, most of whom went AWOL or defected to the Patriots. The mightiest military in the history of the earth was shut down by just-in-time inventory and Oath Keepers.

However, there was still massive infrastructure damage, but it was from socialism, not war. Over the past five years in particular, when the politicians were fully out of control with taxing and regulating, the economy ground to a halt. No one was spending money to maintain things. Businesses were closing shop left and right. This hurt infrastructure. Roads were an example of how socialism destroyed the infrastructure. Roads were in disrepair because all the money that had historically gone to their repair had instead been siphoned off to pay interest on government debt. The small companies that supplied the things needed to rebuild infrastructure had gone out of business. Now there were shortages of all the parts and equipment needed to fix things, and a shortage of money to buy them and make the repairs.

A great example of this that came to Grant’s mind was Hoffman Rentals, Wes' employer before he came out to the cabin. In the past, if small bulldozers were needed to fix an Olympia street and a repair crew needed an extra bulldozer, they could just go rent one from Hoffman’s, but not now. Hoffman’s had been closed for over a year. Its bulldozers had been stolen and were rusting in some parking lot somewhere with no keys.

New Washington was careful not to repeat the infrastructure mistakes of the past. Old Washington had used infrastructure as an excuse to spend gobs of money and give jobs to union workers. New Washington treated infrastructure improvements as something that needed to be done to get commerce moving. New Washington was repairing roads, damaged utilities, and railroads.

What was New Washington’s solution to all this? Governor Trenton never got tired of talking about the answer.

“The solutions are less government and following the Constitution. Period.” That summarized the Interim Government’s approach to problem solving. Use the minimal amount of government necessary and follow the old Constitution until the new one, which would be pro-liberty, could be ratified.

First and foremost, the Interim Government restored order. Seattle was actually helping the Patriots. Even though I-5 remained almost entirely sealed off, thousands of Limas and gangbangers streamed into Seattle and its suburbs. That place was a basket case of violence and oppression, but whatever. At least the Limas were all concentrated in one place where they couldn’t continue to hurt people except themselves. But hey, they were living the dream of a socialist paradise! Even with most of the Limas gone, New Washington wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops. It took weeks to root out all the holed up Limas. Throughout New Washington, especially in Olympia, small bands of diehard Limas and some gangbangers who didn’t escape to Seattle went underground and attacked Patriot soldiers, police, and civilians at night. It was bloody.

Most people were so tired of all the violence. They turned in Limas and gangbangers in droves. There was no popular support for Limas. Everyone in the new state was either a Patriot or an Undecided who just wanted to get back to work and have a safe neighborhood for their families. The only Lima sympathizers were the actual Lima insurgents.

There were pockets of Limas in some rural parts of the new state. Patriots weren’t the only ones who went out to the country, grouped up, and fought. A handful of Lima bands did, too. One of them was on Hartstine Island, the location of the first cabin Grant looked at and almost bought. Grant always had a bad vibe about that place, especially with all the libs who lived out there. He knew his instinctual reaction was right when he learned that those libs invited their Lima friends over to stay.

The Limas out on Hartstine Island became pirates, real life twenty-first century pirates. No eye patches or parrots, but they attacked ships and stole and killed. They used Hartstine Island, which became known as “Pirate Island,” to stage their raids. It took Joe Tantori’s men, “Tantori’s Raiders” as they became known, landing on the north and south ends of the island and driving an armored car down the only road on the island to clean out that place. Joe lost a dozen men, most of them Marines. Gunnery Sergeant Martin Booth was one of them.

Police departments were cleaned up in New Washington. The majority of the former cops were decent. They had left their departments as the Collapse approached, like Rich Gentry. The ones still on active duty during the war were the problem. After the Patriots took over, most police forces fired or arrested all the active duty cops and replaced them with former cops and new recruits. They used lots of citizen posses, too. In Frederickson, Sheriff Bennington was an example of what was happening all across New Washington.

Crime was a big problem when the Patriots took over. People were hungry and saw that police forces were stretched thin. You didn’t rob someone in a gang’s territory; that was the exclusive privilege of each gang. The newly re-constituted local police forces concentrated on street crimes and didn’t focus too much on rounding up Limas.

The State Guard was doing that. Well, not technically the State Guard. Having the military enforcing civilian laws is a bad idea everywhere in the world it has been tried. Early leaders of America knew this and therefore passed the Posse Comitatus Act, which outlawed the military from enforcing civilian laws. The FUSA government repealed the Posse Comitatus Act before the Collapse, but the Interim Legislature in New Washington, and other newly free states, reinstated it. So, technically, the State Guard military units that once hunted Limas were deactivated and turned into state police units. Same guns, same ranks, same everything, just not a military unit. Because the Patriots were nervous about a militarized police force, they limited the commissions given to the new state police officers to six months. They could be renewed, but on a case-by-case basis. Besides, most State Guard enlistments were only a year, so six months or so of training and military fighting around the New Year’s offensive, and then six months of policing, usually finished out an enlistment. Most State Guardsmen were glad to be done with their stint after a year. They had families to get back to and the economy was rebounding.

That was because, at least for that first year, there were no taxes or regulations on commerce. None. Every law had been repealed. Business exploded. No more permits, licenses, environmental studies, or even taxes. That’s right: no more taxes. The Interim Government repealed all of them. They couldn’t collect them even if they wanted to; people were feeding themselves and that was about it. What would the new government, the freedom-loving Patriots, do? Seize a family’s food as “taxes.” That wasn’t the Patriot way.

The Interim Government basically ran on donations and captured goods. There was so little government that it wasn’t hard to do so. The only significant expense was the State Police. Donations were informal. Much like the Grange had just fed guards in Pierce Point, citizens who had extra food fed the security forces. Donations weren’t enough to live on, but they did help a lot.

The Interim Government primarily ran captured supplies. Limas’ property was seized with a judge overseeing things, but most of the Limas just took off to Seattle or elsewhere and there was no one there to claim the property. Seized Lima property supplied the State Police with food, ammunition, and fuel, which was about all they needed. Things were so broken down that the necessities were all people had or used.

Seized Lima houses, called “guesthouses,” were used temporarily by Interim Government officials. Grant used a seized Lima house in Olympia as his “guesthouse,” while his real house in Olympia was on a long list waiting to be repaired after Nancy Ringman trashed it.

The plan for after the elections was for the Legislature to pass very, very low taxes and cap them in the new Constitution. By capping taxes to a small percentage of the state’s gross domestic product, government could never grow like it did in the past. Yet, at the same time, government would have enough money to only do the one thing it was supposed to do: protect individual liberties. That was it. This was a shock to most people: the new government would only protect individual liberties. This wasn’t just the right thing to do; it was all that could be done. The New Washington government didn’t have enough resources to do anything else. Good.

“Critical industries” were another economic solution used by the Legislature after the interim period of no taxes and regulations expired. Industries essential to an economically independent and prosperous state, like agriculture, manufacturing, energy, and natural resources, were designated “critical industries,” which meant the government got the hell out of their way. The taxes and regulation did not return for these industries. Software, filling out government forms, and making lattes were not “critical industries” in New Washington.

BOOK: 299 Days IX: The Restoration
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