Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Cost of Civilized Society

Imagine this: you've worked hard the last two weeks and finally the moment arrives when you get paid for your efforts. You start to think about the things you'll do with your earnings. Sure, you have some bills to pay, but you worked a few extra hours, so maybe you'll make an extra payment on your mortgage, or maybe you'll treat yourself to a nice dinner or save some for that camping trip your friends are planning. 

Before you can barely walk out of the bank with your cashed earnings, someone approaches with a gun, demanding you give him money. "Don't worry," he assures you. After all, he's only asking for about a sixth of your paycheck, and better yet, he's going to do great things with it.

First, he tells you, he's going to give about a third of the money he takes from you directly to your neighbor Paul, but not before funneling it through a convoluted system so that Paul actually receives less than the amount taken from you. You start to wonder why you can't just pay Paul directly, but your assailant tells you that Paul had to do the same thing when he was working, so it's only fair that he takes your money now.

Next, he tells you that he's going to use a few dollars of what he takes to support local artists, television shows and businesses. Before you can object--because you already support these people on a semi-regular basis--the man holding you at gunpoint tells you that the support must come from him because these particular artists, television shows and businesses are critical to your very existence. He informs you that without his generosity, these artists, television shows and businesses may cease to exist. 

You open your mouth to try to argue against his circular logic, when the man tells you that he's going to take the remaining money and attack some people you know in the next city over, Jordan and Georgia. He's going to hurl large bombs and send a bunch of his lackeys over to shoot at them. You ask why he is attacking them and the man says "they are a threat to your safety."

You find it hard to believe Jordan and Georgia want to harm you. Just last month you had them both over for dinner and everything was fine. The man has pulled out a small calculator and is punching in numbers. He finishes his calculations and shows you the total, demanding you pay him that amount immediately. You want to respond, object, do anything to stop him, but ultimately you hand over a sixth of your paycheck; after all, he's the one with the gun. 

You ask the man what you did to deserve this, but he just laughs and says, "That's the cost of living in a civilized society."

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