We’ve chosen to call our first offering on this blogsite “Voluntaria,” inspired by Princess Nirvana Goes to Voluntaria, the most recent in the “Princess Nirvana” book series by James L. Payne. An excerpt from the book will appear in Carl Watner’s [www.voluntaryist.com] forthcoming anthology, Taxation: Essays in Opposition (Apple Valley, CA: Cobden Press [www.fr33.com]). With permission from Carl and Jim, the excerpt appears here as our first-ever blog. Though written for adults, children stand to benefit from this exercise as well. Princess Nirvana goes to Voluntaria would seem ideally suited to explain to children, before they are completely indoctrinated in public schools, what a voluntary city would be like.
Future blogs will touch briefly on a variety of topics, some of them taken from the following list. If you’ve a preference, let us know.
- The quickening of social evolution.
- A proposed means of contractually structuring a free city.
- Foreign relations for a free city.
- A skeptic’s view of the presumed ‘right’ to use defensive force.
- A scenario for establishing a free country on a fictitious, populated Caribbean isle.
- A close approximation to natural law in traditional Somalia.
- The changing perception of land with the rise of a market economy.
- The business opportunity for successfully creating and marketing environment.
- Spencer Heath’s novel extrapolation of the Golden Rule.
- E.C. Riegel’s pioneering ideas on the separation of money and state.
A World WithoutTaxation
COUNT ZINN ASKED A QUESTION: “How do you raise money for these neighborhood associations?”
“Why through voluntary donations, of course,” replied Reade. “Just this morning I sent our association a cheque for 100 mintos to put up some hanging flower baskets. It’s all voluntary donations – is there any other way?”
There was a pause, as the count hesitated to answer what seemed so obvious a question. Finally he spoke. “In Pancratica we use taxation.”
“I don’t believe I’ve ever heard that word, sir.”
“Well,” said the count, “it’s a system where the government asks people for money.”
“Then it’s the same as here,” said Mr. Reade, “because our neighborhood associations, indeed all our associations, ask people for money.”
The baron entered the conversation. “Ah, but what happens if people choose not to give it?”
Mr. Reade looked perplexed. “Nothing, nothing at all,” he replied.
“Well, there’s the difference. You see, with taxation as we have it in Pancratica, you’re forced to give up the money. If you don’t, we put you in jail!”
Mr. and Mrs. Reade looked at each other in alarm. The lad Phillipe looked to his parents as if some dangerous beast had entered the room.
“Perhaps we are not understanding you,” said Mrs. Reade. “You ask a person for money, he declines to give, so you lay hands on him and drag him away?”
“And what if he resists?”
“Then we would subdue him.”
“Strike him with a club, for example?”
“Or run him through with a sword, and slay him?”
“Well, we wouldn’t like to see that, but, yes, it might come to that. No one must be permitted to contradict the authority of the government tax collectors.”
Mr. and Mrs. Reade again exchanged significant glances. To end the awkward pause, Mrs. Reade said, “We have heard about that in, what was the country? Nueva Mandaat, or somewhere? They have a custom called mobbery.”
“Oh, it’s nothing like that,” said the baron. “Mobbery is an arbitrary seizure of funds. Taxation, as we practice it in Pancratica, is governed by regulations. The rules say how much money each person in each situation is forced to pay to the government.”
“But it seems to me,” said Mr. Reade, “that to cover all the different situations that must arise, these rules would have to be very extensive, would they not?”
“Oh, indeed they are. There are fifteen thousand pages of regulations.”
“And to apply and enforce all these regulations, you would need hundreds of clerks and agents, would you not?”
“Actually, it takes scores of thousands,” said the baron with some pride. “In fact, our Pancreatic Intensive Revenue Service has 107,000 employees this year.”
“Why that’s practically an army!” exclaimed Mr. Reade. “Wouldn’t the people of the country fear this agency, and resent it. And wouldn’t they always be trying to cheat it?”
“Well, there’s quite a bit of that,” answered the baron. “That’s why we put people in jail, to try to stop the cheating. Last year, we sent over 2,500 people to prison for disobeying the tax laws.”
“It seems incredible,” said Mr. Reade, “that such a barbaric system could exist. But if you say it does, then I must accept your testimony. It just goes to show how adaptable human beings are. If they are determined enough, they can make any social arrangement work, even a highly offensive and burdensome one.”
We disagree about the need for taxation
“But sir,” said the baron, somewhat nettled, “how else can you possibly raise funds for public services? Why, one has to force people to give. They won’t contribute just out of wanting to help the community. It’s against human nature.”
“Well then, Baron,” said Mr. Reade, “you and your colleagues must not belong to the human race, for just a few moments ago, I observed you giving donations to the Voluntaria Cosmopolitan Society!”
The baron looked confused. “Well, that’s different. Very different.” He paused. “The. . . the welcome society is an activity we approve of–we can see its value. Naturally we want to support it. Taxation is necessary to support activities when people don’t want to support them.”
Phillipe spoke up. “But–begging your pardon, sir–why carry out an activity people don’t believe in?”
“Because, because. . . .” The baron looked around. “Count Zinn, perhaps you can explain it to the boy.”
“Yes, well,” the count began boldly. He pressed his fingertips together. He spoke slowly and carefully. “There are certain things, certain services, which a decent society must have, but the people, being selfish, are unwilling to support.”
“Begging your pardon, sir, but, like what?” asked Phillipe.
“Well, er, like parks, for example.”
The boy looked at his father in puzzlement. “We have those in abundance,” said Mr. Reade. “Some are donated by wealthy citizens, others have been created by voluntary associations for special purposes. In fact, you can see one of them from this window here, at the end of the street. That’s a sculpture garden operated by the Clevelle Society.”
“But just a moment,” said Count Zinn. “Some people may contribute to the common good under your voluntary system, but surely not everybody does so?”
“That is correct,” replied Mr. Reade. “There are always some who don’t donate for one reason or another. For example, I’m pretty sure our next-door neighbor, Mr. Flint, did not contribute to the hanging baskets. He would probably say the baskets weren’t quite right in some respect or another, but we all know he just likes to watch his pennies. If I were collecting money for some good cause, he would not be the first I would approach.” Mrs. Reade and Phillipe joined him in laughing at what was obviously an understatement.
“Doesn’t this make you angry?” replied Count Zinn. “Here you are helping make the town look beautiful and your stingy neighbor does nothing. Don’t you want to force him to contribute to the public good?”
“But if I did that, Count, I would be acting out of resentment,” replied Mr. Reade. “Surely you’re not saying that resentment is a sound basis for public policy?”
An awkward pause ensued, and Mrs. Reade wisely turned the conversation into other channels. “Customs differ, of course, and everyone’s right in his own way, isn’t that so, Baron? So, tell us, what are your plans for tomorrow?”
“Well,” the baron replied, “we still face the problem of finding the equivalent of government here in Voluntaria.”
“If there is one,” Harry quickly put in.
The baron ignored the remark and continued. “Everywhere, education is a task of government, so perhaps we should look to this field. I think it very likely that we shall find that the agency behind education here, called by whatever name, is the government.”
“If it’s education you are interested in,” said Mr. Reade, “then our daughter Genna is the one to show you about all that. She’s preparing herself as a teacher, you see, and I’m sure she would be happy to take you to her school tomorrow.”
“I’d love to see it,” said the princess.
“Another thing government does,” said the baron, “is care for the poor and needy. Mr. Reade, is there any agency that does this here in Voluntaria?”
“Oh, indeed, there are dozens. Perhaps the most important is a group known as Craftmasters. I’m sure they’d be happy to have you visit them.”
“Very well,” said the baron. “Count Zinn, why don’t you and Count Harry pursue that subject tomorrow.” The men exchanged wary glances, then nodded in acceptance of the assignment. “The Princess will look into education, and, for my part, I will see who really is behind the streets and public works. One way or another, we are going to find a government in Voluntaria!”
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Spencer MacCallum will be speaking at Libertopia Festival 2011 in San Diego
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