Well of course I don’t ‘love’ tax, but even I must concede it is a necessary (and imperfect) evil in a money world.
Many of you will be familiar with the ‘taxation is theft’ memes that have been doing the rounds for the last few years. The suggestion that the system is unfair is perfectly fine with me, but I find this particular approach quite misleading and unhelpful to change movements as a whole.
You see, the theory of taxation is actually quite sound. In a monetary society, where money is the de facto way to get things done, tax makes sense to create and maintain essential infrastructure and deliver services to the community.
The problem with tax (again, within a monetary context) is how those tax dollars are spent. In the case of the US for example, a large slice goes towards maintaining their insane war efforts across the world. And, in all countries, a lot of tax is frittered away in pointless bureaucratic waste – usually in the form of endless reports, swollen parliamentary expenses, political tribunals and inquiries, and other legal blind alleys that have little or no bearing on the actual running of society.
One could then readily argue that waste of tax money is tantamount to theft, but of course ‘waste’ is a subjective noun. What we might consider a waste of money might not be considered waste to invested parties or beneficiaries of that spend. To many people, it’s perfectly reasonable to produce heavy tomes of judicial or consultancy reports. Such is just the nature of business in government. It can also be argued that a government that did not conduct due diligence and made decisions with little or no professional investigation could be considered a menace to society.
So, why do I care anyway? I’m here to see about abolishing the antiquities of money, rule and trade altogether. For me, the monetary system is obsolete anyway, so why would I defend the government’s right to tax people?
Well, that’s not my point of concern. My concern is that activists attempting to ‘flip the switch’ in people’s brains by alerting them that the government may be robbing them defies a general common sense that any civilised society relies on input from its people to succeed – and this is an idea I do very much support. An Open Access Economy is, after all, a society based on community effort.
I think the ‘taxation is theft’ motto has perhaps the opposite desired effect. Its defiance of common social sense automatically instils a sceptical response, and may have the knock-on effect of engendering animosity towards change movements generally and perhaps reinforcing adherence to the established system.
Also, the inflammatory use of the word ‘theft’ suggests criminality more than it suggests injustice or inefficiency – which are far more accurate descriptors for the problems of the current tax system.
There are, in my opinion, far better ways to flip people’s switches and help them see an alternative possible reality than merely tarring current actors as criminals. Negativity begets negativity in my view.
Let’s promote positive alternative systems and actors instead. Let’s try and open people’s minds by showing them the fledgling better systems already underway like Freeworlder, OpenSourceEcology, Envienta, Simbi, HelpfulPeeps, FoodSharing, The Venus Project, The Zeitgeist Movement, Ubuntu, New Earth Nation and far beyond the small-mindedness of tax and punishment altogether.
Delighted to announce that I will be taking these ideas to the stage at TEDx Galway in Ireland on February the 7th.
My talk will be a general focus on the shortcomings of our trading system and how a simple alternative based around cooperation and education is not so far-fetched as people might believe – and how many of us already unknowingly engage in this ‘free’ social contract. The talk will also be my first formal proposal for an Open Access Economy.
Many thanks to the TEDx organisers for having the vision to present what are – to all intents and purposes – heretical ideas in a devoutly trading culture.
The video of the talk will be posted here shortly afterwards and on our YouTube channel.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are locked in an insane cycle of solving problems through economic growth.
Take poverty for example: where it exists, we just think it means we don’t have enough growth in that area, or on that country as a whole. While fiscal growth does combat poverty to a degree, it invariably has other costs such as environmental degradation through resource extraction, and still has a long, long way to go to redress the chronic geopolitical and social inequality that epitomises our human culture.
Mainstream economic thinking has always held that the more wealth you create, the more it flows across society and everyone benefits. While this works up to a point, today we know that:
But there is another way of solving poverty — and the myriad of human issues — and it begins by objectively contemplating our individual humanity.
In my opinion, to truly solve global problems such as poverty, poor education, unemployment, crime, greed and environmental destruction, we have to fundamentally re-evaluate what it means to be human and be part of a global community of species.
Thankfully, we have reached the point where we are beginning to realise that how we operate society urgently needs to change. This is why we are seeing the rise of green technology like Tesla, Virgin Hyperloop, solar, electric planes, etc. But these solutions tackle environmental problems, not social ones — and there may be far greater social problems in store as intelligent machines displace more and more humans from their jobs. Since any market economy requires employment for it to operate, we can expect far greater social problems in the future as jobs become more scarce.
But the solution is not to keeping shuffling the numbers and letters around trying to make sense of it, but to entirely re-think how we operate on this planet, how we structure our priorities and expectations of life.
All of our problems stem from one basic failure: to organise ourselves according to our shared reality — realising what is truly important and what isn’t.
Years of consumer culture — borne out of post-war recession — have distorted our priorities and values away from natural reality and shoehorned them into a crazy, arithmetic economic binary system — what we can afford to do and what we can’t.
We need to rediscover and reclaim our fundamental priorities and values, and begin restructuring our society accordingly.
The Free World Charter makes a good start by redetermining better personal and social values that work for everyone. This is an initiative that seeks to put the utmost priority on life and our shared fortunes on this planet. It also proposes implementing an open access economy that operates without money, employment or a market system — providing optimum abundance and care for all through shared community objectives.
Individualism doesn’t work. Not even for the individual. The richer we get, the higher our walls become, the more isolated we are. We need to start basing our thinking in group and environmental outcomes, not just ourselves. This is just not possible through an individually-rewarding market system.
Like it or not, regardless of your particular political persuasion, we are all in this together. Our fates on this whirling rock are inextricably entwined. If we are not working for each other, then we are the subtle architects of our collective destruction.
It is simply not possible to ‘fix’ poverty or any human problems within our existing frame of reference. We need to fundamentally shift the mindset of the individual first. A traditional economic system based on individualism demands an imbalance of wealth in order to create flow. This imbalance — in a winner takes all mindset — will always increase over time.
In short, fix the individual human and society will fix itself.
What would you do if money were no object? A familiar question I’m sure. Often we fantasise about the choices we’d make if we had enough money to act without fear. But there is another interpretation of this familiar idiomatic question that is much less considered.
What if money literally were no object? ie. what if it didn’t exist at all? What if we never traded? What if we never got paid, and everything was free? Sounds crazy, right? Well it’s not so crazy as you might think, and, chances are, you’re already engaging in this kind of behaviour. Read More
It has always been my belief that to solve anything, you must go to the source of the problem. Anything less is just easing symptoms. Sometimes easing symptoms can buy you time to focus on the actual solution, but in practice this rarely happens, and the false sense of security it gives usually means we end up living from one round of symptom-easing to the next.
Among the weird and wonderful money-free activist community, there are many doomsday sayers seemingly enthralled with the prospect of the imminent collapse of the financial system and capitalism. While I confess a part of me would certainly relish that spectacle, my overwhelming rationale draws me back.
Some might be familiar with the work of Steven Pinker whose book Enlightenment Now! makes an impressive case for the world being in far greater shape than we generally consider. Pinker presents data showing how our rates of violence are lower than ever, how many have escaped from abject poverty, and how much healthier and longer living we are. Read More
Although Facebook pages’ reach has plummeted over the years, they do still offer valuable social proof that people are interested in the ideas that you promote. Here I’ve made it super-easy for anyone to check and add a like to each of the various projects I am involved in. If you like these ideas, please like and follow these Facebook pages. Read More
As a self-professed 99% vegan* for more than five years, I have, in my social filter bubble, been exposed to pretty much every argument, meme and statistical fact in favour of veganism out there. Everything from the shape of our teeth (or not), to comparing meat and broccoli proteins, to those hilarious 9GAG cartoons bemoaning the vegan’s lot when it comes to socialising among ‘normal’ people. Read More