A Lodging of Wayfaring Men - by Paul Rosenberg

That which I have seen and heard, I bear witness to. I believe my own senses. I believe my own mind.

Phillip was always smiling at people who looked productive, sharing a conspiratorial moment with them; his eyes expressing his appreciation of their labors. Even though these moments consisted of little more than a glance, most of these people understood Phillip’s intent. At most opportunities, he offered directions to people who seemed lost. He held doors for elderly people, people carrying loads, and for people who seemed in a productive hurry. Most people doing such things are acting on some sense of obligation or duty. Phillip did these things because he wanted to help these people birth benefit into the world. He enjoyed making their paths slightly easier. “Lubricating progress, one drop at a time,” was the way he explained it.

“We decided that there were only two ways of surviving on planet earth: production or theft. Either you produce what you need, or you take it from someone else. Aside from a few minor gray areas, no other choice really exists. You can, of course, get a government to take it from others and give it to you. But that's still theft, just with government doing the dirty work for you. “We concluded that if we wanted to have time to do great things, we'd have to make an abundance of money, so we could work little and live much. That meant that we had to be entrepreneurial, to own our own businesses. Employees almost never get the combination of excess money and free time that we needed. So, that’s how the business aspect started.

Then there was the question of the people who were avoiding taxation. “Where is the harm?” Max asked himself. “They don’t hurt anyone, but they aren’t putting the required money into the government’s hands… maybe a little harm… they want to keep their money in their own hands… Hell, I’ve done the same thing… just not as well.” The reasoning began to get difficult and slow now. On one hand, Max understood wanting to avoid taxation… who didn’t? On the other… the rules were that everybody had to pay… not paying was supposed to be the same as stealing from others. But why? How? There seemed nowhere to go with the thought; paying was your duty, your obligation, service to the country that what? Supported and saved you? Just then the phrase there are things that you do not question jumped into his mind. And immediately after, he remembered something Bari had told him years ago: “When someone would rather that you didn’t think too deeply, beware. There’s something wrong somewhere.” Max took a note pad from his pocket, and wrote on it “Why is non-payment of taxes evil?”

It is difficult to discuss taxes. The problem is that most people consider them to be a force of nature – a thing whose basic existence is not to be questioned. We can argue in polite company about the details of taxation, but once you question the morality of taxes themselves, discussion ceases, and you are branded as a radical, an extremist, and a bomb thrower. The short exposition is this: Do I have the right to come to your house and take your property? (You answer, ‘No’.) How about if I convince ten others that it is a good idea? (You still answer ‘No’.) Then why does it become ‘moral’ when I convince a majority of the people in your town to take your stuff? And if I don't have the moral right to loot you, how can I transfer that right to a government? My point is this: The collection of taxes is not moral; it involves coercion and intimidation: things that are rightly branded as evil if a person does them to his neighbor. All taxes involve the threat or use of force. This intimidates people into paying. None of the arguments for the morality of taxation stand up to real scrutiny. Ultimately people give in because the rulers are the ones with all the power and they don't want to be on the side that opposes them.

I need to understand my reactions to your private market plans. I’ve read about things about such ideas for years, and I always loved them. But now that it becomes real, something in me doesn’t want it to be. Why? I should love this idea.” I’ll try to make some sense out of this for you, but you understand that this is not the simplest explanation.”

  1. Fear of responsibility. Freedom is threatening because it eliminates the possibility of shifting responsibility for your errors onto others. Freedom puts in the open with no cloak for your mistakes. (It also gives you full credit for your successes.) 2. Fear of separation. 3. Rulership as a force of nature. So many generations have come and gone under this arrangement that it now seems like a force of nature. When you mention something different, it causes people mental stress. 4. No mental image. Because none of us have ever lived in any situation except subjection to power, we have no mental images of anything different. So, when we start talking about a truly free place with no rulers, the listeners have no images to draw upon. It seems like we are proposing a pointless journey into an unknown and dangerous place. 5. Group conditioning. Almost the entire populace has gone through 11-17 years of social conditioning in the school systems. The conditioned responses are: Obey authority. Don’t cause a disruption. Accept the place given to you. Conform. Our system flies in the face of almost all of this. 6. Fear of reprisal. This is the simplest one, and a reasonable concern.

A few more months, and we can think about getting out all together. JF: Yeah, but I think it’ll be more like eight or nine months. We want it to develop its own culture. PD: I understand, but I’m not so sure they’ll need us to do that. Let them do it on their own. JF: You think the impulse to ‘lead and guide’ is a mistake? PD: Almost always. Let them be creators, not followers. Followers have a certain mentality, and independent creators a quite different mentality. We want creators - people who find solutions by themselves, who have their own conceptions of the right and good, and who are capable of independent, righteous action. Followers don’t do that. To get the creator mindset, you have to get out of the way and let them rise to the occasion.

There is a never-ending battle between economics and politics, between creation and control. The market and the state fight a never-ending territorial battle. The freer and broader the market, the less the state has to do; and the more intrusive and controlling the state, the less the market can operate. A crush of legislation and regulation clogs the marketplace till it slows down, and forces some of the economic traffic to find ways around the regulatory system. The players who avoid the obstacles become more productive than those who work within the system. This is why black markets always flourish in oppressed economies.

If you speak the truth clearly enough, evading it becomes difficult; and when people lose the ability to evade reality, they may become violent.

In Prague, every day was an adventure. People would wake up in the morning, take care of whatever business they had, then walk down to one of the local cafes to see who was there and what new things were happening. Once you hit one or two of the cafes, you never knew where the day would go, or the next week or month for that matter. There were so many people, so many projects, so many opportunities. And every few days, the crowd had greatly changed.

You imply that if you don’t provide money to old people or medical fees that such things will not be done at all. You imply that it is either government or nothing. That is a false assumption. I don’t want to attempt a history lesson here, but that idea is manifestly false. Everything that your governments do can be done by other means, and done more efficiently.”