To each according to his governments whim

Via Alan we have this chilling scenario proposal:

The UK’s tax collection agency is putting forth a proposal that all employers send employee paychecks to the government, after which the government would deduct what it deems as the appropriate tax and pay the employees by bank transfer.

What’s next?

I think I can guess.

First, total control of the money. You will no longer need cash because all the financial transaction will go through the government via your ID card.

After that you will no longer need money because the government will just take care of everything in their database. The government can assign you your living space and will have food other things delivered (or not) as the government thinks you need it.

They should have shot a bunch of politicians while they still had the tools to do it.


7 thoughts on “To each according to his governments whim

  1. It will never happen. Its one of many proposals by desperate people. Going self employed would be a simple way around it. Of course they could adjust to compensate but as we allnow the ship of state cannot adjust fast enough.

    The timing could have been better for them. HMRC, US equiv IRS, has just gone through a massive screw up where they botched up £46ish billion. Like all government departments they couldn’t run a street side lemonade stand.

  2. Silly you. Surely you realize we only have money because of government fiat. The government could determine that greenbacks are worthless and turnips are the new form of currency tomorrow if they wanted to. Our government paper dollars are backed by nothing other than faith.

    This is what I don’t get about all you Libertarian-type people. You want to rail against the machine yet the machine OWNS you. All these ideas like “we need guns” seem so small when compared to almost anything else. I just don’t get it.

  3. But there’s something you don’t understand, ubu52: while our current money system is government fiat, it doesn’t have to be so! It doesn’t even have to be provided by government. Indeed, during the Great Depression, when money literally disappeared, certain cities (Salt Lake City, Utah being among them) issued their own fiat currency. They had to, just to keep things going.

    But we don’t even have to do that: We could abolish money altogether, and just trade things. We’d most likely settle on two items as “currency” (gold and silver, bullets and seeds, are just two potential examples), and so we’d develop a de facto money system…but it doesn’t have to be government-provided at all.

    In fact, I can’t help but think we’d be better off if government just got out of the money-manipulation business altogether!

  4. ubu52,

    Banks used to issue their own currency. If the dollar suddenly went worthless there would be something to replace it within a very short time. I have very little of my net wealth tied up in actual dollars. Even without a stable currency I will get along fairly well compared to most.

    In fact I think I might be positioned such that I could profit fairly well from the collapse of the dollar. I own farm land. What will you give me so that you can eat? I’m betting that if you got hungry enough you would give your entire net worth for a months supply of food. Bring me 50 gallons of high quality diesel and I’ll give you enough food to last you a month (that deals stands right now if you want to deliver and pick up from the farm). From someone else I will want my prescription medications, toilet paper, and 10 pounds of sugar (which we don’t grow on our farm).

    It may be that for the guy supplying my soap, shampoo, and toothpaste that he will want some ammo and a half day of pistol training. If I get a years supply of those items I would give him a years supply of training ammo and a couple boxes of self-defense ammo.

    The dollar is a cheaper method of commerce but it doesn’t control me. Men with guns telling me to get in the boxcar do–unless I have a gun as well.

  5. I’m prepared for a barter economy too. In fact, I used to scoff at the real estate investors who thought barter was not possible in the current US economy. I live in an area with over 50% of the people being foreign born and I can tell you that most of them are highly familiar with bartering. Some of my local grocery stores would happily take gold coins in exchange for groceries and they would let you run credit.

    In my area, you can’t sell art short either. The “global rich” love art and will trade other valuables for it. That’s a win/win when you have to barter. (And by “art,” I don’t mean framed paintings from Walmart.)

  6. Just a funny observation about barter: yes, the IRS considers it income, and expects you to pay income tax on what you barter for–whether it be item for item, item for service, or service for service.

    It’s one of those things I learned when I prepared my income tax by hand, years ago, rather than by computer. Since this is on the income tax form itself, I’m probably not the only one who has noticed this.

  7. Ubu,

    Your art has value only so long as you have access to an economy that still has room for “luxury value”. No one will swap two goats and a chicken for SATCOM time or a plane ticket to get your horded Picasso to your potential buyer in Macau. . . presuming that the collapse of YOUR doemstic currency system doesn’t cause the collapse of HIS, forcing him into survival mode where the best value he can obtain from his Renoir is fuel to boil water. (This is significantly more likely if your currency system is, or is totally dependant on, the US dollar — the US dollar’s influence as an international medium of exchange is so great as to have widespread effects on economies that aren’t theoretically tied to it. The Euro, Yen, and Yuan, are trying to achieve this status.)

    No market = no sale. If you cannot reach the market, then it effectively doesn’t exist for you, either — what is the value of a Picasso to a castaway adrift in a lifeboat? (Easy answer? Shade, possible limited rain and wind protection. But a cheap poncho or an intact 55-gallon drum liner trash bag would be even more valuable to him.)

    Even gold, silver, and other precious metals or gems face similar limits. In the best of cases, they are useful industrial materials due to their physical properties, but the majority of their value is actually luxury value, and exists only so long as people have access (or believe they will have access within the foreseeable future) an economy that has enough slack to accomodate luxury value. Every iota of value above their utility based on physical properties is as artificial as the Tulip Craze. However, since these inflated artificial values are nearly universally accepted across a wide spread of humanity and history, people tend to believe they are real, and teh react accoridngly — but art? Most people cannot tell the difference between the work of a master (especially modern art) and the stuff that gets (in the words of Dilbert) bought by the pound for office buildings.

    For that matter, what do Napoleon Bonaparte, the Washington Monument, and disposable soda cans so cheap most people won’t even bother recycling them for cash have in common?

    Aluminum, at one time the most vauable precious metal on the planet. That’s why Napoleon had a set of state dinnerware made up from it, that’s why the Washington Monument is capped with it. Better production techniques reduced it in value to a purely industrial material, precious only to the extent its physical properties met the desired engineering specs, almost instantly.

    It’s possible to do that with other precious metals as well. All that needs to happen is access to a supply that outstrips the luxury demand and fulfills the industrial demands. Such as one nation or organization proving a viable asteroid recovery technique (even if it uses multi year orbits), and establishes that they can strike metallic objects often enough to plan on it. (Don’t laugh too hard. . . lots of people became wealthy on laundry. . . shipping it from the US to Hawaii by SAIL, washing it and returning it to California. As long as it is predicable in cost and time, length of journey is no impediment.)

    Things that have an intrinsic value (albeit subjectively different for each person and circumstance, else trade would be impossible) are those which are inherently useful for survival — food, fuel, materials. Useful skills ALSO fall into this category, although their value is even more subjective (yet still intrinsic). You can turn skills into value via trading value for your skills (employment), using skills to add value to materials that can be traded for things you value more (creation), or by conveying your skills to another n exchange for value (teaching). (This doesn’t even count the ability to use your skills directly for your own benefit, without trading the fruits — for example, using skill at marksmenship to hunt for your dinner.)

    There have been examples of societies where the currency system utterly collapsed, yet the people still found ways to implement a “medium of exchange” economy rather than pure barter. (Although, really, the only true difference between a medium of exchange economy and a pure barter one is that the medium acts as a middleman to the barter — if you conduct all your transacctions in “diesel”, and your society accpets that all goods are valued against “diesel”, and people trade more diesel than they intend to use, becuase it is accepted by everyone at a known value, you have a medium of exchange society. . . even people who do not USE diesel as a fuel will likely conduct business in diesel. If you only swap enough diesel for YOUR anticipated needs, and you don;t expect people to accept disel unless they need it, you’re in a barter economy. You are in a currency based economy when the medium is an artifical medium that has a socially acccepted value — such as printed pieces of paper that read “1 gallon diesel”; the paper has no intrinsic value comperable to it’s economic value, but people accept that it is worth one gallon of diesel.)

    Examples of post-currency collapse medium of exchange economies have included adopting a still-functional currency other than the domestic one, producing their own currency with socially accepted value, or even continuing to use the defunct fiat currency, pegged at local socially accepted value!

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