Monday 13 December 1999

Civ2 screenshot

Pic of the day: Screenshot from Civ2, the Mars Now scenario.
Economics are at the heart of any civilization, be it on Earth or Mars. These roads will lead to increased trade for the city of Dorkville (population 3).

If it wasn't illegal

Yesterday I mentioned the Writing in the Sand monthly collab. I do like the idea of an open display where people can take part when they feel like it. And this time I can actually pitch in, since it isn't anything about sex...

So without even further ado, this month's question: "If it wasn't illegal, what would you do?"

The same as everyone else would do if they could. The same as others try - and sometimes manage to do - even though it is illegal: Stop paying taxes!
He he. What else?


I live in beautiful, peaceful Norway. Like the rest of northern Europe, it is quite thoroughly regulated. There are useful laws, useless laws, and laws that barely anybody even knows about. And we are all good and kind and trust the State. The State rakes in a lot of taxes. (Actually not bad by European standard ... about the middle of the league. But that says more about Europe than about Norway, really.)

The problem is that politicians love to play Santa Claus. They want to give gifts. But they do not have any money. They have to use ours. And so we run around in circles, paying money to ourselves.

Of course, I would not go shopping for all that tax money. (Much as I like shopping.) Oh no. I would give it to worthy causes. Well, at least some of it. At least the first year. At least if others did too. At least if people noticed and gave me the honor I was due.

That's the problem with not paying taxes: You still have to have schools, hospitals, roads, police, probably an army. You really ought to make sure that the old and the sick don't just starve to death on the street. Stuff like that. I notice that in America, much of health care is private. And people pay lots in insurance. They don't have that money any more than we Europeans have our tax money. But it isn't tax, so they feel better about it.


Perhaps we could set a "frame of contribution" instead of taxes. Most of that frame would be chosen by the giver (formerly known as taxpayer). Personal outlook would probably make people donate very differently: The chronically sick would be likely to give mostly to health services. Parents would be likely to donate to kindergarten, schools, universities. Those interested in sports would probably pay for stadiums and sports halls and such. The commuters might want to invest in a new highway or rail line. I guess we could throw in churches and museums and libraries too.

And of course, all donations would be public. Your name and the size of your contribution would be put up on Internet and in protocols. Glory is a pretty good motivating factor, as I have noticed during my stay among humanity. Nobody likes to be forced to do anything, but the same people like to be admired for doing the same thing.

How about those who don't fill their quota? Who don't donate, even though they have the means to do so? Should we go take their fridge or put them in jail? I don't think so.
Cut them from the loop. Nobody comes to pick up their garbage. If someone breaks into their home, let them catch the thieves themselves. If they fall ill, that's just too bad.
And when their kids reach school age, put up notices asking for kind souls to contribute so the kids of [named parent] can get a decent education. Not only does it humiliate the freeriders, it also makes the rest feel even better. (It probably doesn't make the kids feel too good, but then again, this happens all the time. Somewhat depending on the kids, they may then consider another path for their own life.)


But that is not the way it is. So I still have to pay my taxes, forcibly and anonymously. I just wish that for one single year I could try my hand at using that money better than the Santa Clauses. I notice that for many years, Santa Claus has been portrayed as rather overweight. A little slimming down might be in order. If it wasn't illegal.

(OK, so this isn't a deep dark secret. In fact it is white and fluffy like a small summer cloud. For the disappointed reader, there is a fairly dark secret in yesterday's diary. Well, not quite secret. I mean, it is in English and on the Net for all the world to read. If it was a real secret, I would have written it in a mix of Norse, Finnish, German, French and strange broken dialect, often switching in the middle of a word. And I would have written it backwards, and designed my own dingbat font to write it in, and converted it all to graphics and run it through a filter before not uploading it because it was a secret and uploading secrets is right up there along with kissing strange girls at the bus stop on the list of things not to do. In fact it is probably between kissing strange girls at the bus stop and kissing strange boys at the bus stop on the list.)
(And no, I have not suddenly taken pleasure drugs before writing this PS, unless you count Harry Potter books as drugs. Ahem.)

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