The Autonomy Store


“Good morning! I’m here to buy some freedom.”

The shopkeeper smiled pleasantly and nodded. “Very good, sir. We have an unrivaled selection of freedoms to choose from. What do you have in mind?”

“Well, my Freedom of Speech subscription expires next week, so it’s due for renewal.”

“No problem. Our comprehensive Spirit of ’76 package covers phone, blog, clothing, workplace, public discussion, bumper stickers and newsprint. What term would you like to cover? We accept monthly, quarterly and annual payment – subject to acceptable legal status, of course.”

The customer appeared uncomfortable. “I’m afraid I can’t afford a comprehensive package right now. I’m interested in something a little more…”


“Ah, yes, that’s it.” A nervous smile.

“Quite alright. We’re here to serve all. Do you have a specific freedom in mind, or would a basic package fit your needs and budget?”

“Just a clothing sub, please.”

A quizzical glance. “Clothing only, eh? Very well, I’ll simply need an ID and credit access. How long will this be for?”

The customer dug into his coat pocket and pulled out a few crumpled bills. “Would this be enough for a month?”

The shopkeeper’s eyes narrowed. “Cash? I’m sorry – you know we don’t accept cash here. All forms of freedom require an ID and credit access.”

The customer tensed. “You must understand – I’m doing my best to live within the law. But it’s very difficult.” He bit his lip, spoke softly. “I’m simply looking for work. Is that too much to ask for?”

“The message you seek to license, what is it?”

The shopkeeper took in his customer’s steady gaze as as he slowly opened his coat to expose the shirt. In plain black text on white, it read:


Sadness passed over the shopkeeper’s features. “Ah, a Scruffian. You poor soul. There’s nothing I can do for the likes of you.”