The United Free People Not Specified (AKA Kern or UFPNS) is a political entity which emerged from the former Californian county of Kern after the dissolution of the United States of America. It has grown to include portions of neighboring counties of the former California. Its nominal administrative capital is the town of Edisonia, formerly Edison,_California, although actual government activities are distributed between the current Premier or "head of government" (Alejandro Vaslov) and the Council of Twelve, whose members reside in various locations (see History and Politics).
Premier Vaslov serves as the primary diplomatic representative for UFPNS/Kern in relation to other nations. Ongoing contacts with the 'Mostly Harmless Alliance' (MHA) have enhanced Kern's growth and independence. Various trade agreements, technological and financial exchanges, and military assistance with the MHA have continued to this day.
Kern's government is an elected meritocracy, currently comprised of Premier Vaslov and the Council of Twelve. Internal affairs are managed by the elected Citizens' Courts. A few years ago, a series of unprovoked attacks from hostile nations confirmed the utility of our membership in the Mostly Harmless Alliance, a worldwide alliance of peaceful freedom-loving nations. In those wars the UFPNS suffered significant losses, and rebuilding of our infrastructure and military is now a top priority. Some citizens believe that Premier Vaslov made poor economic and strategic decisions during those so-called "Alliance Wars" (specifically, a lack of preparation for future conflicts). Reorganization of our basic infrastructure, military, and trade relations continue to this date.
To the west, the lands of UFPNS extend across the floor of the southern San Joaquin Valley to the Temblor Range and beyond, into the former San Luis Obispo county and certain coastal areas, including Diablo Canyon. This has given UFPNS/Kern access to the Pacific Ocean.
To the south, Kern's territory reaches over the Tehachapi and San Gabriel mountains into the Antelope Valley and the northern regions of the former Ventura, Los Angeles, and San Bernardino counties.
To the east, Kern's borders extend across the southern Sierra Nevada range, and far east into the Mojave Desert, although not (yet) as far east as the Colorado River.
To the north, Kern's territory extends far into the rivershed areas of the central San Joaquin Valley, encompassing portions of the former Tulare, Kings, Fresno, and Inyo counties.
After its construction in 1953, the Isabella Dam harnessed the watershed of the Kern River. Since then, water from the Kern River has fostered settlement and farming irrigation in the valley below. Reinforcement of this dam is currently underway, as it lies near the White Wolf earthquake fault.
In recent years, drought conditions have plagued our region. Water supplies from the inland valley canal system, which was sent from northern California in the pre-USA years, have been reduced. Watershed from the rivers of the southern Sierras is also dwindling. Many citizens have invested heavily in desalination projects along the Pacific coastal territory of UFPNS. Other citizens have considered expanding our borders along the coast -- an action which might include military operations.
Anyone wishing to visit or immigrate to UFPNS/Kern must learn the fundamental Laws of our nation, and pass the Citizenship Test. These Laws are clear restrictive prohibitions, not prescriptive in nature:
No killing or violent attack upon any other person except for immediate defense of self, family, friends, or innocents (killing is permitted to stop assault by an attacker).
No use of coercion of others by force (including assault, rape, kidnapping, enslavement, and/or verbal threats to do same).
No theft of property by stealth (burglary), deceit (fraud), or coercion (robbery).
No sexual activity involving any minors (defined as under 18 years of age), regardless of family status.
No possession or use of synthetic or refined psychoactive drugs (although distillates and natural entheogens are permitted).
No negligence in the care of infants and rearing of offspring, whether natural or adopted.
No abortion of viable human embryos or fetuses except to save the mother's life.
No willful cruelty to vertebrate animals, or invertebrates with evident intelligence (e.g. octopi).
No experimentation involving the mingling of human and non-human DNA.
These laws are well-publicized within Kern, and any violations must be observed and reported to local law enforcement and the Citizens' Courts. Anyone who ignores or abets such crimes is subject to an accusation of complicity.
Material aid to an enemy in times of war is also forbidden and considered to be treason. Acts of violence against the citizens or militia are also considered to be treason. The penalty is confinement in a labor camp, exile, or death -- depending on the particular act.
Perjury in any Court of Law is forbidden, and is subject to harsh penalties. Truth is highly esteemed in our nation.
Most principles of Kern's criminal laws derive from the Constitution of the former United States of America, including the axiom of "innocent until proven guilty". Trials are held in the Citizens Courts, and verdicts are rendered by the judges of the Citizens Courts. There is no jury system as such. The regional Citizens Courts are composed of regularly elected representatives of the community (i.e. "judges"). Parties or witnesses to a crime may be subpoenaed to appear and give testimony in Court. Relatives or other interested parties may also appear and speak at a trial to support either the accused defendant(s) or the victim(s). Anyone who testifies in a Citizens Court is paid for their travel expenses, meals, hours of service, as well as lodging if necessary. Those who appear under subpoena are compensated at 10 times the voluntary rate to compensate for being coerced.
Penalties for breaking Kern's laws are imposed by the Citizens Courts based on the nature and severity of the crime, age of the offender, and past criminal history. Depending on the particular crime, penalties may include confiscation of money or property, removal of children or other dependents to charity care, public corporal punishment, bond-servitude until restitution is paid, or permanent exile from Kern, along with combinations of the above. Public execution by guillotine (pre-sedated) is reserved for the most egregious crimes, such as treason. Many of Kern's legal principles derive from the Hebrew Torah; therefore torture, amputation, or years of "corrective" imprisonment are NOT permitted. Kern has no prisons. Short-term jails are maintained for temporary incarceration of suspected criminals or deranged persons. Labor camps are maintained for bond-servitude of criminals -- their earnings go to pay reparations to victims of crime, as determined by the Citizens Courts.
Regulation of marriage and family relationships is largely delegated to the various religious and social organizations within Kern. Religious or affinity groups may impose any penalties or punishments upon their own members which do not conflict with the basic Laws cited above. Conflicts between groups (and their members) are arbitrated by the regional Citizens' Courts, whose members are openly elected annually by representatives from organized commercial groups (i.e. companies), religious/affinity groups, scientists/engineers, disabled and/or elderly people, artisans, educators, common laborers, and randomly-selected citizens on the street.
Marriage falls under the umbrella of any other civil contracts between individuals, although with particular attention to the care of offspring and commingling of property rights and income. The exact terms are spelled out in civil contracts negotiated by the involved parties. In Kern/UFPNS, "marriage" is considered to be a strictly religious/historical term, outside the purview of civil law. Individuals may be considered married within their church or group, and ceremonies are performed, but these have no effect on their larger legal obligations and contracts. In effect, marriage is not regulated by Kern/UFPNS.
Historically Kern has had a rich agricultural base, enhanced by mechanized irrigation during the 20th century. Notable crops now include pistachios, almonds, grapes, carrots, lettuce, hemp, alfalfa, tomatoes, and even cotton in past years. Some of the low-lying swamplands are controlled in order to grow rice and raise fish. Much of the agricultural produce is exported to other regions in exchange for water, since a significant portion of Kern's water is supplied by a system of inland canals extending south from the Sacramento delta into the southern San Joaquin Valley. The historical water supply comes from the watershed of the Kern River -- but the water from nearby mountains via the Kern River (and Isabella Dam) now provides only a portion of the area's agricultural water. NOTE: Please see an update in the "Geography" section.
Occasionally Brawndo is added to irrigation water, because it has the electrolytes that plants crave.
Cattle, chicken, goat, ostrich, emu, and sheep ranches are widespread in Kern's territory for production of meat, eggs, milk, wool, and other by-products. Free-range poultry production includes chickens, turkeys, and ostriches, all of which are ranch-bred, humanely harvested, processed, and consumed locally, or traded. There are no industrial "food factories" because eggs or meat from confined cattle and poultry are judged to be inhumane and unhealthy. Also, many citizens of Kern are vegetarians.
Kevin McCarthy, a former Congressman in the USA, once described the richness of Kern: "Our region... is known for its agricultural production, renewable resource development, and energy production. Wine production, cattle ranching, farming, solar and wind development, and commercial space flight are among the hallmarks of our district."
Kern has been a major producer of crude oil for over 100 years, beginning with petroleum deposits found in the area of Taft, California and other oilfields which were drilled and developed in later decades. Recently Kern has developed wind power-plants in the Tehachapi range, as well as geothermal power. For many years, Fracking technology has also been used to access the local shale oil deposits of oil and natural gas. In the late 19th to early 20th centuries Kern was also noted for its mineral wealth, including gold and borax deposits. The largest open pit (borax) mine in North America is near the town of Boron in eastern Kern.
Natural gas power plants provide some of Kern's energy, and many of them employ CO2 recapture technology. Some hydroelectric power is also purchased from neighboring regions. Much of Kern's energy production comes from the Diablo Canyon nuclear fission power plant, which was recently annexed and upgraded, although some politicians had enacted laws to close it permanently. A neonuclear plant using thorium-232 as fuel (instead of uranium) has been built near the town of Lamont. In addition, small tiberium ore deposits have been reported near Sharktooth Hill northeast of the capital, Bakersfield; but such reports are considered spurious, as tiberium is a questionable mineral. That particular area is also a rich source of Pliocene fossils.
After the turmoil and destruction associated with the dissolution of the USA during the early 2000's, Kern's railways and roadways were rebuilt and maintained. They continue to function as the primary inland trade routes between the northern and southern parts of the former Californian Union (although, as noted, Kern's agricultural water is chiefly supplied from the north). A so-called "High Speed Rail" system has been proposed as an investment for Kern's future, but many citizens now question its long-term cost and viability as a transportation link between the fragmented and economically precarious nation-states to the north and south of Kern.
Regarding public transportation: Kern's largest city (Bakersfield) has an electric light rail or "trolley" system which extends to outlying valley communities such as Lamont, Arvin, Wasco, Shafter, and Delano. There is also a network of buses (powered by natural gas) throughout the area, primarily operated by a company called "Transport Solutions, Incorporated". Smaller businesses also provide public transportation to mountain communities such as Frazier Park, Lake Isabella, and Tehachapi.
For private transportation, many of Kern's citizens enjoy walking or riding bicycles. Many others own cars, mopeds, or motorcycles, chiefly electric or hybrid gas/electric. Also, some companies provide "public" cars (aka UBIes), motorcycles, or bicycles which can be rented at central locations, used for a few hours or days, and then returned to any rental location.
Kern's infrastructure is almost entirely owned and operated by private freeholders. These are individual persons, or companies which are in turn majority-owned by citizens of Kern. All basic enterprises are operated by local private enterprises, including energy production and supply, water and sewage services, food production and processing, and transportation of goods and people. Foreign investment in any company in Kern/UFPNS is permitted only by a 77% vote of citizen/shareholders of such companies. Kern's companies and individuals compete in a laissez-faire free market according to the tenets of anarcho-capitalism. However, certain essential services do receive a subsidy from the 5% sales tax.
It should be noted that most of Kern's infrastructure companies (roads, rails, water, power, public safety, etc.) are descended from entities that existed prior to the founding of the UFPNS. At this point, nearly all infrastructure construction and maintenance (including electricity, natural gas, roadways, railways, water supply, sewage services, firefighting, disaster abatement, and environmental conservation) is now provided by citizen/employee-owned companies. Education, communication media, internet access, law enforcement, and judicial courts (see Criminal Law section) are also provided by enterprises which are owned and operated by Kern's citizens. The role of Kern's "government" is nominal, and chiefly involves monitoring of critical resources (e.g. water and power), border defense, and relations with other nations.
Railways and roads are the primary means of transportation on land. Cars and buses are common on highways and other roads. Bicycles and pedicabs are restricted to low-speed surface roads. The rail network includes intra-city trolleys and inter-city light rail. The national rail system supports transport of mineral and hydrocarbon resources, agricultural products, commercial and trade goods, and passengers. It was built on the foundation of pre-existing commercial and passenger rail lines, including this former Amtrak station: http://www.greatamericanstations.com/Stations/BFD
Aircraft are primarily used for environmental surveillance, border control, and crop-dusting -- although Kern maintains an active civilian airport at Meadows Field for visitors from other nations. The Mojave Air and Space Port in eastern Kern also supports flight operations, although portions of it are devoted to high-tech R&D activity.
There are also several private flight enterprises which maintain their own airstrips and aircraft.
Money & TaxationEdit
Kern's financial system is fundamentally based on the labor of its people and the resources of its land, as in any viable nation. Some people work the land, and others work to produce goods for trade with fellow citizens, and thereby the wealth of the nation is created. From basic agriculture and ranching to shale oil production and mineral mining, Kern's citizens make products for self-support and for trade with the world. We exchange our crops, our meats, our oil, our natural gas, and other products. We trade freely with other nations.
Kern's internal coinage is comprised of various alloys of gold, atium, silver, and copper. Many citizens have legacy metal pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters from years past. The primary unit is the "cred" (roughly equal to the old US dollar). One hundred "mins" (i.e. cents) make up one cred. Cred coins vary in size and shape depending on the respective metal content. New cred coins are minted by companies in Kern. Citizens of Kern choose which coins to use in trade, although the coins of one or two companies usually predominate. (It is rumored that coins containing silver, gold, or atium have mystical alchemical properties.)
A paper currency also exists for representation of larger amounts of value. These are used as "cash" (formally, "Certificates of Exchange") between citizens for goods or services. This currency is strictly based on precious metals, and is printed by mint companies based on their actual metal reserves. This currency is also used for trade with other nations and regions which trust Kern's economic system, because ours is based on tangible wealth, not speculation (i.e. not a fiat currency subject to inflation or deflation).
The ONLY tax in Kern is a 5% sales assessment (i.e. value-added POS tax) levied on the seller of any monetary purchase of material goods and services within Kern itself. These funds support the Citizens' Courts, the Council of Twelve, the Border Militia, and certain other public services, including the maintenance of diplomatic relations with other nations, as well as "Citizen Shield". This is an organization which tests people for prospective citizenship (both native-born and immigrants). The sales tax is publicized at all point-of-sale locations, and is assessed by the Seller and forwarded to the Council of Twelve. Electronic transactions outside of Kern's territory are carefully monitored according to these rules, and any Seller who declines to collect and pay this minimal 5% sales tax is sanctioned and targeted, and required to emigrate from the nation of Kern within one year if they do not pay.
However, there are many self-sufficent "freehold" farming, ranching, and manufacturing operations which make few cash purchases, and hence pay only a minimal VA/POS tax. The direct trading of goods and services by barter, between individuals and companies, is a time-honored tradition in Kern. Such trade is not taxed.
Various payments and fees are assessed by the companies which provide and maintain essential utilities, transportation infrastructure (e.g. roads and rails), communication services, and media of exchange (money). Payments and fees are also assessed by law enforcement, firefighting, educational, and judicial/arbitration services. Such assessments by companies or enterprises apply only to their own voluntary members. For example, a citizen will contract with the most efficient local companies for electric power, water, sewage service, road maintenance, internet service, banking, police protection, schooling of children, and legal services. None of these contracts are mandatory, and a citizen household or freehold estate may opt out of any of them at any time.
Certain fees or "tithes" may also be required by affinity groups, religious organizations, or neighborhood organizations. Any citizen who objects to such assessments, fees, or tithes is free to depart from the group, or move to another neighborhood. New immigrants are advised to research the area of Kern where they plan to live.
Because Kern maintains a firmly neutral political stance, it has been the site of significant diplomatic and trade missions with neighboring regions and other nations worldwide. Kern has maintained lucrative trade contracts for its agricultural produce, meat and milk products, mineral ores, oil and natural gas, and energy exports (including geothermal, neo-nuclear, fracking, solar power, and wind power). Meetings are often held at Buck Owens Crystal Palace.
Long-standing trade agreements for water supplies from northern California are currently in force, as this has been a historical source of Kern's supplemental water through a system of canals in the central San Joaquin valley. A major desalination plant is under construction along the Pacific coast for supplementation of Kern's water supply.
Upon reaching age 16, all young citizens of UFPNS/Kern are considered to be in training for the Citizens' Militia, which is the self-defense force of the nation. Other able-bodied people are required to spend three years of 'Activation Service' when they attain adulthood at age 18. New immigrants from age 16 to 27 are activated for militia training if they pass the Citizenship exam and become citizens. Activation Service consists of one year of physical training combined with education (or re-education) in basic literacy and numeracy, as well as basic schooling in science, philosophy, religion, and history. This is followed by one year of military training, and two years of duty with either the Border Militia or an internal law enforcement company. Females are exempt from military training if they are pregnant, or if they have children. Both males and females are exempt if they are caretakers for dependent children. Any citizens who hold strict pacifist beliefs may serve an equivalent time in a health-care or environmental enterprise.
Citizens who wish to focus on public service as a career, and who remain in service (even if part-time) with the border militia or law enforcement may be accepted as candidates for the Council of Twelve, after 15 years of total service. Thereupon they may be nominated to the Council by written acclamation (i.e. petition) of 25% of all citizens at any time, at which point they are placed in a biannual general election for the Council. The prospective or incumbent who gains the most votes is elected (or re-elected) and the first runner-ups are placed in the pool of provisional Council members.
Kern's military assets include a well-armed Border Militia of well-armed infantry, along with many armored vehicles, artillery units, aircraft, rocket sites, chemical weaponry, and certain classified high-tech assets. Plans are underway to build a Navy/Marine force to defend our new California coastline.
Some historic military facilities are located in the high desert of eastern Kern, including Edwards Air Force Base, China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station, and the Mojave Spaceport. These R&D and military assets are currently shared with the United States of JBR, whose nascent Space Infantry is based at Mojave Spaceport. (*Note: Recent reports of the demise of the JBR suggest that UFPNS has taken authority over those assets.)
Because of its isolationist/neutral foreign policy, Kern had previously allowed JBR's military presence, but did not participate directly in military enterprises (similar to the Russian Federation's control of space travel at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan). Currently, Kern continues to pursue various independent military research and development programs.
"American English" is the common language of Kern/UFPNS. It is the medium of spoken and written communication in public service, the military, and most general media. Spanish, or an assimilation dialect, is also widely spoken. Spanglish. Any other languages are permitted and even encouraged. There are several companies which provide information and translations in Chinese dialects, Arabic, Japanese, Vietnamese, Russian, French, Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, Portuguese, Swahili, German, Tagalog, Farsi, Hebrew, etc. Conlangs such as Esperanto, Lojban, Klingon, and Elvish are popular hobbies. Some schools provide linguistic studies in obscure languages such as the Seri language, Icelandic, Basque, or Xhosa language. Other schools teach Latin or Koine Greek.
In Kern, educated citizens are expected to be bilingual, or to have a basic familiarity with at least two languages beyond their mother tongue. Most educational enterprises provide oral training in languages and linguistics to children and teens from the ages of 6 to 16. Instruction is also provided in the reading and writing of non-Roman orthographies (Cyrillic or Greek alphabets, Arabic or Hebrew alphabets, Asian ideography, South Asian alphabets, as well as sign language for the deaf). Knowledge of history, sociolinguistics, semiotic theory, philosophy, and rhetoric is a primary focus of most higher education in Kern, along with basic scientific skills.
Science & TechnologyEdit
Currently Kern has three operating nuclear fission plants -- two thorium plants (one near Randsburg in the eastern desert and a newer one near Lamont) as well as an old uranium plant at the Diablo Canyon site. Associated companies are also researching nuclear fusion technology and tokamak projects, with the goal of supplying all of Kern's energy needs using clean tritium/helium-3 fusion reactors, as well as selling surplus electricity to neighboring nations via existing power lines or Tesla power transmitters.
A new power plant using aneutronic fusion is being studied, and it shows great promise, according to Senior Engineer Deryl Planck.
Following in the footsteps of the firm SpaceX, companies in Kern are now developing orbital vehicles based at the Mojave Spaceport. These might involve tourism to the Moon as well as exploratory missions to Mars and beyond. Long-range plans include the establishment of orbital habitats, Lunar colonies, and exploitation of resources as far away as the Asteroid Belt, the Jovian moons, and possibly Titan. A viable small-scale fusion propulsion engine will obviously accelerate these goals. Speculative projects are currently "under wraps" (such as enhanced photonic propulsion, wormhole/space-twisting, and Bussard ion-drives).
According to reports, certain laboratories in Kern have researched ontological multiverse-shifting, cosmic remote viewing, teleportation, and other concepts for achieving not only superluminal travel, but also time travel. Critics have derided these ideas as sheer nonsense.
However some results have been divulged: One experiment retrieved a worn copper-nickel alloy coin inscribed "Napoleon III/Amerique" showing an obscure profile on the face. On the obverse side it showed a mint date of 1840 in a city called "Ste. Louise" (radiodating of the coin's elemental isotopes confirmed its origin as ca. 1838-1861).
A separate experiment brought into remote-view a page from a San Francisco newspaper dated October 30, 1976. This is a description from one of the viewers:
"I saw a history of the USA after 1963, in which John F. Kennedy was not assassinated. The USA abandoned South Vietnam and it was absorbed into a southeast Asian bloc of nations allied with Red China. Later a war developed in the Philippines between a free US-allied government in the north (Luzon/Manila) and Chinese-allied communist insurgents in the south (Mindanao). The USA vigorously defended the democratic government of North Philippines, and defeated the communists within two years using its overwhelming military assets. Thereafter the Philippines remained a free ally of the USA. In 1967 a proxy war erupted between the USSR and China in Korea, culminating in direct conflict along the former DMZ, and the use of tactical nuclear weapons in Mongolia in 1974. The outcome is unclear, but apparently both sides the PRC and the USSR suffered tremendous losses to their military and infrastructure in central Asia. The USA stayed out of that war. That was all I could see from the newspaper article."
The same remote-viewer reported a subsequent viewing of another newspaper page from 1976: "After Kennedy's second term, Richard Nixon was elected in 1968 as a reaction to the Philippine War, which had caused many thousands of American deaths. Nixon pursued a conservative economic policy, along with efforts toward diplomatic relations, promotion of free trade, and the mutual reduction of strategic arms by the USSR, China, and the USA. He gradually rebuilt America's military, lowered taxes, and enacted civil rights programs. The nation's economy grew during this time. Nixon was re-elected in 1972, and was President at the time of my viewing."
According to this "remote-viewer", other articles from this newspaper were unclear -- however the upcoming Presidential election of 1976 was a primary topic. Democratic party nominees included James Carter and John Anderson. A significant "third party" movement was also mentioned.
Scientists at the laboratory questioned why one team was able to retrieve an actual physical object from nearly 200 years ago, while another viewer was only able to glimpse images of newspapers from less than 40 years ago. The empirical data (so far) seems to confirm both a "multiverse" and Tau-focus cosmology of spacetime, as both include Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity. Such contradictions might be explained by Information Theory.
Finally, another "remote-viewer" reported a lengthy visit to a large island/nation called Madagascar existing off the southeast coast of Africa. The description of the plants and animals of Madagascar is so wildly improbable that it must have been a fabrication or hallucination, or an actual visit to a parallel universe. No such place could ever exist.
However, some have claimed that there is ample evidence of a complete "hyper-real" alternate or superior theoric universe, in which ours is merely an imaginary simulation. Apparently these people had viewed an entertainment video called "The Matrix". The sheer flippancy of describing our reality as "Planet Bob" belies such an idiotic concept. Obviously Kern/UFPNS exists in the real world.
Recently there has been some information about contact with a civilization in the Alpha Centauri star system, only four light-years away. We call them the "Trisolarans" and they appear to have a highly advanced technology. Also they claim that they will invade our solar system and destroy humanity in about 440 years. Needless to say, we are researching this. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Three-Body_Problem
The people of Kern fought a series of bloody skirmishes around the time of the Dissolution to defend their borders, homes, towns, farm and ranch lands, and other vital resources. There were also riots and battles within the region as various factions struggled for control. Many hundreds of people were killed, both military and civilian. Thousands fled from the territory of the former "Kern County" as it dissolved into anarchy -- not unlike events in the USA itself during that time. Simultaneously, thousands fled INTO the region because of conflicts and food shortages elsewhere -- primarily from over the mountains to the south and east, from Los Angeles and the Antelope Valley.
During this period of anarchy there arose a charismatic writer and orator named Alejandro Vaslov, who had grown up in the small town of Edison. He appears to have been largely self-educated. In some early writings he fancied himself as a reincarnation of the legendary Indian/Buddhist emperor Ashoka or the Filipino polymath Jose Rizal. His early (some said megalomanic) pronouncements were ascribed to youthful enthusiasm. He matured over the next few years. His political ideas gradually gained followers as he wrote, spoke, and traveled throughout the farms, towns, and cities of Kern. He espoused a rational philosophy of limited government, free-market capitalism, isolationism, religious freedom, moral rectitude, and militant self-defense. His supporters increased in number in all levels of society and among all "races" and ethnicities, including both the natives of Kern County and new refugees from the anarchy elsewhere. Eventually he was widely acclaimed and accepted as the leader of the nascent UFPNS, and the Premier of Kern. He appointed the original Council of Twelve, wrote the Criminal Law, and created an entire new system of minimal government.
In later years, following his early public activism and the establishment of the UFPNS, Vaslov became increasingly reclusive, despite wide public support. Currently nothing is known about his friendships or family relationships (marriage, offspring, etc.) and he apparently lives in a guarded home in an unknown location. In recent years he has avoided all public appearances and media attention -- as he has stated, "to prevent a cult of personality around myself". His executive actions are publicized and enacted through the Council of Twelve. Some Citizens have actually speculated that Vaslov died long ago, and that all decisions are actually being made by the Council in his name.
His early followers and associates observed that Vaslov apparently adopted a unique synthesis of various political ideologies and religions -- notably Soka-Gakkai Buddhism, the objectivist philosophy of Ayn Rand, the laws of the Hebrew Torah, the Constitution of the former United States of America, and the teachings of Jesus Christ -- despite the fact of obvious profound contradictions between some of these ideas and beliefs.
Despite his personal reclusiveness (or non-existence?) Alejandro Vaslov has continued to represent the nation-state of Kern/UFPNS during recent trade negotiations and military conflicts. He remains as the chief authority and acclaimed Founder and First Leader of the UFPNS.
A few years ago, a small colony of Votans was established in a mountainous region near the town of Frazier Park. These are interstellar refugees from another star system, and UFPNS has permitted this colony to remain in order to learn from their advanced alien technology. Votans are permitted to travel throughout Kern, although with armed militia escorts to protect them from xenophobic humans.
There is complete freedom of belief in Kern, with the exception of any which teach, condone, or practice unlawful (see 'Criminal Law' above) violent punishment, enslavement, child abuse, or ritual sacrifice of humans or animals. Currently, Christianity and its many offshoots predominate in Kern, although many atheist and agnostic philosophies are also popular.
Adherents of certain historical faiths with questionably "violent" scriptures (e.g. Islam, early Christianity, early Judaism) have been "grandfathered in" as long as their followers in Kern remain non-coercive and non-violent within Kern itself. There is no prohibition against proselytizing for any belief, door-to-door or in public meetings. However, adherents of any religion who violate Kern's basic laws (see 'Criminal Law') are subject to the usual penalties.
Marriage and divorce are not regulated in the UFPNS, except within religious and social affinity groups. People are free to determine their own rules of marriage -- although casual multiple sexual contacts are generally frowned upon, as they promote disease and unexpected pregnancies. Cohabitation contracts are accepted within wide guidelines of gender, plurality, and duration.
Age is a strict exception, however -- sexual activity involving persons under the age of 17 (or mentally impaired persons) is prohibited and punishable by Kern's laws. Incest is also prohibited. Within these guidelines, some citizens choose to practice polygamy, polyamory, or polygyny. Some have adopted "plural marriage" within the Water-Brothers (Heinleinist) affinity group.
Because of Kern's total freedom of belief (or non-belief) many people have immigrated from more restrictive nation-states. Temples, mosques, churches, ashrams, and other religious structures and retreats have been built by their respective groups. Small religious meetings are often held in the homes of citizens, or in rented rooms. Many secular and faith-based charities have flourished, providing assistance to their own members and/or to all people.
By percentage, the predominant organized religious or affinity groups in Kern are Christian -- chiefly Roman Catholics and members of Protestant traditions (e.g. Baptists, evangelicals, Pentecostals, etc.). Other significant groups include Sunni and Shia Muslims, Sikhs, SG Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, and Wiccans. There are many smaller "fringe" groups such as Secular Humanoids, Green-Lady VegeTaoists, New Asatruans, FLDS Mutants, NZ Jedis, Butterites, Spaghetti-Monsterists, ZenSunnis, and the Church of Bob the SubGenius.
Foods, Culture, SportsEdit
Kern's food culture reflects its origin in the south-central inland valley of California. Traditional American and Mexican foods predominate in the cuisine, along with strong American, Asian, and Mideastern influences. One might find Korean meat loaf, Mexican pancit, Israeli shishkabob, Indian taquitos, a Chinese piroshki, or Bayou pizza -- often sold by street vendors, but also at affordable restaurants. One of the most popular snacks is Indomie Mi_goreng fried noodles.
Entertainment has largely followed the dominant pre-Dissolution trends, although Kern maintains a strong tradition of "country western" music. The largest city (Bakersfield) was once known as "Nashville West". Tejano music is also very popular. Netwide audiovisual entertainment includes streamed films, telenovelas, talk radio, podcasts, MMORPG's, plus a wide range of wi-fi interweb content. Much of the popular entertainment is locally produced by Kern's local media companies, although citizens also have free access to the few surviving satellite-based information services of the pre-Dissolution cloud".
Fermented fruit and grain products are permitted in Kern. Marijuana and hemp products are grown and harvested in Kern and exported to other nations. Psychoactive herbs and entheogens are legal for growth, sale, or consumption in their natural (i.e. plant-based) forms, including melange. Most chemically refined drugs and synthetic hormones are forbidden (e.g. PED's, cocaine, heroin, androgenic steroids, LSD) except for approved medical uses. The production, possession, or sale of synthetic addictive drugs (e.g. methamphetamine and mephrodone) is strictly regulated, along with intracranial stimulation droud technology.
Kern has a strong commitment to literacy and reading. Public libraries are one of the few "non-essential" enterprises that are supported by the sales tax. Citizens may freely borrow books, CDs, DVDs, and other media at libraries. Citizens may also rent time on wifi-enabled computers at the libraries. Overdue items may be purchased after two weeks. In addition, a wide variety of free or paid classes and seminars are offered at libraries (and elsewhere) by individuals, educational and religious groups, and businesses. Citizens may purchase books or other media at the public libraries instead of from private sellers (this serves as a subsidiary funding source for the Council of Twelve government).
In recent years, some unusual customs have developed in Kern. These include inviting vacationing tourists from the Los Angeles area to swim and drown in the Kern River during the summer, although that has been decried as evil-minded. Other people enjoy snail racing, skeet-shooting at UFO's, frog-jumping contests, zombie hunts, and burning swirling incendiary swastikas at border checkpoints. Other fun activities include watching holographic cloud-level projection movies while floating in swimming pools, playing "demolition derbies" using remote-controlled weaponized monster trucks, and of course the annual "Herding of the Cats" tournament in Pumpkin Center (which is always a lot of fun).
Additional popular events include Renaissance faires, karaoke speed-dating, chess tournaments using actual humans as pieces, flash-mobbing for dancing or song, laser-tag tournaments, copple-shoppening, snape-hunting, and observances of the seasonal solar solstices.
Popular musical styles in Kern include new country, Tejano, rockabilly, jazz, kalimbo, electropop, emo, traditional blues, neo-Bach, mariachi rap, and/or anything that sounds new and different and doesn't have a label.
Kern collapsed into anarchy after the Dissolution of the old USA (see History above). During the times of confusion a young writer appeared. From mixed Russian/Filipino and Hispanic/Scottish ancestry, he adopted the name "Alejandro Vaslov" (actual birth name unknown). He worked at a print shop and used basic paper media (pamphlets and newsletters) to distribute his ideas -- often on foot or bicycling to suburban neighborhoods and nearby small towns, travelling throughout the area of Kern county. He wrote in Spanish and English, but his writings often included basic translations in Hindi, Arabic, and Chinese/Japanese ideography (no one knows how he got the translations). Vaslov soon gained wide readership and financial support. He began to speak at public gatherings even in the face of jeering crowds, and despite occasional attacks from violent groups. He continued to write and speak, and his ideas were widely propagated. He attracted many followers who became activists in their own neighborhoods and communities. These activists organized more supporters throughout the region... a grass-roots movement of the people. From that point on, the dream of the UFPNS no longer belonged to Vaslov alone -- his practical ideas made perfect sense to the people of Kern.
In subsequent years Vaslov's public appearances decreased. Writing from exile or secrecy, he still acquired many influential supporters. Vaslov formulated a "constitutional plan" for UFPNS/Kern as a viable political entity. His followers increased in number as refugees from neighboring chaotic regions embraced the ideology, economy, and liberty of Vaslov's UFPNS. Within a few years, his political and socio-economic "constitution" was enacted throughout the land at all levels of society, as the best alternative to the previous years of anarchy and warfare. In the ensuing months, as the citizens of the nascent UFPNS worked together, there was more and more social stability and sustained economic growth. Vaslov's system was soon accepted by the vast majority of the people. Vaslov himself was acclaimed as Premier of the nation/state of UFPNS/Kern.
Soon thereafter Vaslov appointed the "Council of Twelve" (see discussion and membership below). This was a group of citizens who were tasked with day-to-day oversight and conflict resolution within the UFPNS as a whole, as well as making trade agreements and security relations with neighboring nation-states, and others overseas.
Under Vaslov's leadership, Kern continued to pursue a policy of libertarianism and capitalism. Kern now boasts of its minimal government, freedom of religion, free media expression, and free public association, along with a firm stance of political isolationism from neighboring nations and the world. However, Kern still maintains a well-armed border militia for defense of the people, their lands, their property, and their way of life, against any and all exterior threats. The militia also intervenes in the event of widespread disasters (forest fires, earthquakes, floods, meteor strikes, and alien invasions).
Various political parties exist within Kern/UFPNS as a natural result of the nation's commitment to freedom of thought, expression, and assembly. By far the largest is the "Unity Party" -- historically (and currently) the citizens who support Premier Vaslov, the Council of Twelve, and Kern's anarcho-libertarian system of free trade and minimal government (although it should be noted that membership in the Unity Party is NOT a prerequisite for membership in the Council of Twelve).
Actual paid "party membership" in the Unity Party is quite low, since it requires payment of monthly dues and participation in regular meetings, neighborhood organizing events, media appearances, etc. Most Unity Party members are too busy working to have any time for politics. However, the general level of support for the Unity Party is estimated at 65% to 75%.
Other political groups in Kern/UFPNS include the following:
PPP (Progressive Peoples Party) -- They desire to increase the scope of government, raise taxes, re-distribute the wealth of citizen-owned companies, and regulate Kern's essential industries and services -- including energy production, roads and railways, water supplies, public education, courts, law enforcement, public safety, and electronic media. Basically they seek to re-establish the old USA government of 2020. Opponents describe the Progressive Peoples Party as statists and socialists who wish to return to the failed ideologies of pre-Dissolution times. Membership is estimated at 12% of the population.
Hermanos de Aztlan -- Largely "Hispanic", they hope to transform Kern into a cultural enclave associated with certain nation-states to the south and east, including the former Mexico. Politically, their platform is similar to that of the PPP. Membership is estimated at 7%.
Iso-Anarchists -- They wish to abolish all government, all laws, all forms of money, and all national boundaries, and "let the chips fall where they may". They advocate revolution against the libertarian system of Kern/UFPNS. They are allowed to exist, although any individual members who commit coercive or violent acts are subject to Kern's criminal law. Membership is estimated at less than 2%.
Ludderites -- They want to revert to a late 1700's or medieval pre-industrial level of technology. They believe the androgenic "global warming" theory and reject the use of all petroleum-based products (gasoline, plastics, fertilizers, etc.) as well as electricity. This tiny group is suspected of sabotaging oil wells, refineries, fracking facilities, nuclear plants, electrical substations, and power transmission lines. As long as no violent actions are proven, they are allowed to exist. Membership is estimated at less than 2%.
Sisters of Gaea -- They reject the harvesting or use of any animals or animal by-products as food, and promote equal "rights" for all vertebrates on planet Earth (which they consider to be "Gaea", a sentient planetary being). In media statements they have suggested that Homo sapiens is an inherently self-destructive species which is destined to be superseded after the demise of human civilization by war and catastrophic earth changes. Membership is estimated at less than 2%. They appear to be sympathetic to the Adventist faction of the Trisolaran movement.
The Matrix Party -- Members of this group (many of whom are physicists, artists, data engineers, and social revolutionaries) believe that the personal perceived realities of all human beings are mere simulations, existing only as programs and data in a "master computer cloud" within a higher-order quantum multiverse which might (or might not) be overseen by superior godlike intelligent entities. Politically they are inconsequential. They are mentioned here only because Premier Vaslov claims to have interviewed the writer of this Wikia article.
Primary education of children up to the age of 7 or 8 is usually provided at home by parents, extended family, or guardians. However, many privately-operated schools also provide child care and/or education, paid by family or guardians. Therefore the duration of out-of-home schooling varies widely from nursery-age to the age of majority (17) depending on the family's choices.
Full citizenship in Kern/UFPNS is granted to native-born children and prospective immigrants (minimum age of 17) upon passing a test of literacy (usually English or Spanish), intelligence, survival skills, and general knowledge -- including world history, geography, logic, rhetoric, and numeracy (arithmetic/algebra). This "Citizenship Exam" is provided once per year by Citizen Shield, a tax-funded testing agency. Any who fail this exam may repeat it after two years.
As part of their education, minors (under age 17) are typically trained in basic self-defense and unarmed combat skills. This training is provided by most educational companies and affinity groups in Kern, but it is not mandatory. In the final months of training, prospective citizens are given experience with firearms, emergency life-support, disaster relief, and basic anti-NCBW awareness.
After their two-year training period, any able-bodied, able-minded prospective citizen (age at least 19) with no violations of Criminal Law may openly carry a personal firearm or long sword as well as a hidden knife. At that time they are considered to be part of the Border Militia, and may be called upon to help defend Kern against any foreign attack. They may always act in self-defense and/or to protect others from harm. Citizens with pacifist or non-violent beliefs are exempt from the militia, although they may be called upon for medical support services in the event of war.
Any and all prospective adult immigrants to Kern/UFPNS are required to undergo a two-year probationary period (including background checks and drug testing) followed by the aforementioned Citizenship Exam.
Higher education in the UFPNS consists primarily of various vocational and technical colleges, along with schools of art, music, and other media. In addition, there are some institutes which offer advanced degrees in science and technology: the Free University of Kern (located in Bakersfield); the Future Science Institute (in Tehachapi); Kern Polytechnic College (in Rosamond near Edwards Air Force Base), and Delano City College.
Young people are encouraged to travel to other nations in order to broaden their education. Kern's students also participate in educational exchange programs, and Kern's scientists and students frequently attend international scientific and social or religious conferences.
There has been discussion in the Premier's Council of Twelve as to the long-term viability of Kern's government as a meritocracy "under the thumb" of Premier Vaslov. The whole idea of politics is distasteful to the Council and the people, as most of them are extremely independent and libertarian.
Many citizens and Council members have questioned Vaslov's ongoing dominance as the "first and only" Premier of Kern. An open plebiscite is being discussed as a step toward removing him from power, and electing a new Premier from among the Council of Twelve. Some have also proposed that Council members should exercise veto power over the Premier's actions by a 2/3 majority vote. These questions remain unresolved.
At the founding of the UFPNS, the Council of Twelve was personally chosen by Premier Vaslov from his most active, intelligent, creative, and economically productive supporters. Subsequent annual elections were held, and twelve alternate Council members were elected by vote of the twelve members (with Vaslov himself as "tie-breaker" if needed). At present, the original twelve Council members remain in office, although several new alternates have been chosen by annual general elections and suggestions by existing members (each Council member may suggest an alternate to succeed him or herself in the event of death or disability). Although the choice of one's successors is generally accepted, it may be overruled by a majority vote of the remaining eleven members (plus Vaslov). It should be noted that all of the current Council of Twelve members were chosen by Vaslov, and none have died, become disabled, or been removed in the ensuing years.
Members of the Council of Twelve receive no remuneration for their service, which is quite minimal in Kern's libertarian system of anarcho-capitalism. Most "government" business is conducted via secure internet connections, thus obviating the need for government buildings, and saving money. This system has continued since the establishment of the UFPNS. Certain minority parties have questioned this mode of governance. Some citizens have questioned the number of members in the Council of Twelve -- asserting that the Council should be increased to 15 to 20 members, or that it should be apportioned by geographical district, race/ethnicity, religion, land ownership, company ownership, work history, age, intelligence, or other factors.
Others say that Kern/UFPNS should be governed by a regularly-elected legislature along the lines of the old "supervisor" system of the previous County of Kern, or the former USA. This again raises the question of alternative forms of government in a modern technocratic nation-state.
The current members of the Council of Twelve are:
- Amber Kai Singh-- owner/operator, Paragon Family Farms LLC
- Deryl Planck -- theoretical physicist, welder, Kern Polytechnic Institute (KPI)
- Amy Gillquist -- senior educator, Central Homeschooling Network LLC
- John Wayne Galt -- COO, East Kern Refinery, Taft
- Sihaya Vizcarra -- singer/songwriter/dancer, NMRK Productions
- Aaron McKeehan -- metallurgist/CEO, Mojave Mines & Mint (MMM)
- Craig K. Minner -- (ret.) founder, Infra Unlimited LLC
- Jesus Hieronymus Chan -- producer/director, Fantasy FilmWorks (FFW)
- Douglas J. Alipio -- IT technician, Silent Security Systems, Inc. (SSSI)
- Sonja Handel Seven -- plastic surgeon; gymnast; commentator on "The Bako Blog"
- Martin Luther Vuong -- writer/preacher, 7th-Day Plenary Church
- Chelsea Pokraka -- epidemiologist/biologist, Kern Valley Hospital
Alternates: Most of the following members were initially chosen by Vaslov and the original Council of Twelve. Others were suggested later for membership in an expanded "Council of 15" by way of general elections. They are ready to serve if any current Council member dies, resigns, becomes disabled, or is removed for violation of the Laws of Kern/UFPNS. If the Council is expanded to 15 members, three of these will become members.
- Alex Kai Lee -- senior martial arts trainer, Kern Militia Schools, Inc. (KMS)
- Telluria Vinge -- sociopsychologist/metatheoritican, Delano City College
- Herman Einstein -- supervising engineer, United Rails & Roads (URR)
- Muhammad al-Salami -- physical trainer/therapist, Kids Rec LLC
- Cynthia Cirocco -- founder/manager, Consolidated Charities of Kern (CCK)
- Hanseli Jauregui -- actor/magician/street performer
- Vanessa One Justice -- graphic artist/marketer, Metro Family Markets Inc. (MFM)
- Noor vanKlavan -- account manager, teacher, Cooperative Kern Water Districts (CKWD)
- EmberFire TallChief -- linguist/anthropologist/songwriter
- Zilphia Terrell -- owner/operator, Transport Solutions for Kern (TSK)
- Jonathan Bonhoeffer -- astrophysicist/entrepreneur, ATMAB project (Advance to Mars and Beyond)
- Octavia Valenzuela -- neutronic fusion specialist, Future Science Research Institute, Tehachapi (FSRI)
- Vox Populi Kimmet -- writer/blogger/activist
- Lady Jessica Tetzlaff -- pet care activist and pastor, Greater Galactic Church of Kern (GGCK)
- Lazarus Q. Esctioner -- landscaper, cinematographer, printer
In the 20th century, other notable people had origins in the former County of Kern, including Earl Warren, Cesar Chavez, Buck Owens, and Frank Gifford. In the early 21st century, Kevin McCarthy was prominent in USA politics.
The founder of Bakersfield was Thomas Baker. He was initially attracted to the region during the California Gold Rush after working as a lawyer in Ohio. He served as a colonel for the USA in the territorial militia during the United States Civil War. In 1863 Baker moved to a place near the upper wetlands of the Kern River, and built a home there with his family and a few other settlers. In subsequent years he lived off the land and developed his homestead into a waypoint for travelers across the Kern River. A ferry service was provided for people to cross the river in transit to points north and south in the south San Joaquin Valley. Eventually it was called "Baker's Field". By 1870 this settlement of some 600 people was one of the principal towns in Kern County in the old State of California.