Denial of Consumption (DOC)
First Installment: STOP the NONSENSE
"How to fight a poor government, not be imprisoned for 'enemy combat' and get slim, healthy, fit and rich in the process".
By Peter Schmitz * 8 November 2002
"You work in a job you hate, to buy stuff that you don't need, to impress people that you don't like."
"This is the time. Maybe for the first time in 60 years common sense has a chance again."
- Peter Schmitz
In this article I will make the case for what I will call the DOC-strategy (Denial of Consumption). I will outline how governments finance themselves and how three quarters of the year we work for government initiatives most of which we don't actually agree with or wouldn't support if we had the choice. I will argue that elections are a great eye-wash and that politicians try to fixate our attention upon elections as THE means of democratic participation (in reality choice is mostly between the bad and the worse) and try to keep us distracted OFF the one really important mechanism of democratic choice.
I will argue that we need to understand that in capitalist societies how we deploy our hard-earned money is the most powerful expression of our political free will and that many people simply waste this power by mindless spending on things that range from utter nonsense right to the absurd. By strategic non-consumption we will also cleanse the system from parasite corporate entities that subtract value and resources from human society and we will focus on strengthening those entities that add value to society. To make that selection in a responsible way will be entirely up to the individual reader. I will just give some obvious examples to illustrate my point.
I will in subsequent articles introduce targets for our denial of consumption initiative. I haven't really thought it through yet and will be grateful for your input but a couple of very obvious targets come to mind: cars and car manufacturers, TV, McDonald's, ToysRus, all of which convert precious resources into stupid trash or even worse, waste our time and make us sick.
The tax spiral
"Governments come and go but the taxes they impose on us stay with us for a very long time"
- Jim Puplava
Lets start with a question: Why is it that central banks move heaven and earth to make sure Joe Q. Average keeps spending? Why do automakers lend you money at zero percent interest; zero, niente, nada, rien???
The answer is found in biology: Every system has one overriding goal: Its own survival. In order to survive, a capitalist government has to achieve one crucial goal: To connect an interest in consumption without funds and funds without an interest in consumption. If this isn't achieved, the system will go under. Fast.
We need to understand a few of the building blocks of a functioning First-World government. Right, you say, let's start with the citizens. O.K., fair enough. Interestingly most governments could really do quite well without any citizens. Most governments manage to inflate themselves to a degree that at one point they form some sort of closed system, totally self sufficient in all respects but one: funding. Fortunately for them that problem has been addressed by smart people in the past. The funds are just ripped off their citizens - a.k.a. income taxes.
There is not much we can do against direct taxes if you don't want to stop working or start working in the shadow economy, which of course I wouldn't advocate, would I? In many states in Europe we have inflated our welfare state to the point that in many instances you are actually better off on social aid and unemployment benefits than you are when you work. I believe that this is a difference between America and Europe. Still I think the side effects of being dependant on social aid are so undesirable that I suggest we find other LEGAL ways of avoiding taxes. Let me reiterate that I do not think it is worth the effort to cheat on your tax declaration. In most countries I've studied the penalties for tax fraud are much worse than those for raping women or abusing children. Another example that governments will do absolutely everything to secure their god given right to rip the shit off their citizenry.
Other important sources of income for ALL First world government are:
(1) Drug money (monopolized sale or excessive taxation of Heroin, Cocaine, Alcohol, Nicotine,...)
(2) Oil (same)
(3) Financial crime in the form of certain transactions monopolized and/or selectively legalized to a few buddies of the trade but criminalised for the ordinary citizen, (example: gambling, gold carry trade etc..),
(4) Bribes from Lobbyists (example: sponsored election campaigns, donations to political parties...)
(5) Non-tax expropriation of citizens - typically the middle class - and confiscation of their assets. (Example: privatizing state monopolies during stock market booms in order to then steer them towards bankruptcy, requiring more funds from the citizens in the form of capital increases or rights issues to keep them alive (Example: all European Telcos).
(6) Colonialization (war) and exploitation of second or third world countries. A strategy that has fallen a bit out of favor lately but Bush gives a new spin to the theme as we speak. Bushel needs that oil to keep goin' and the war on Iraq has been heavily invested in by (4).
All perfectly legal or is it? Point is that all this evil has become so woven into our political systems, we've even stopped worrying about it.
Again there is not much that you and I could do about these practices if we wanted, except (we are led to believe) at the ballot box which is funny, because we all know the next government will probably cheat us even worse and the next one, and the next one. Still we have been indoctrinated to the effect that whoever thinks of himself as a responsible citizen obviously goes to the election and exercises her democratic and PATRIOTIC right and duty. Seems that whatever sewage you want to sell to Joe Q. these days, as long as you attach a sticker 'patriotic' to it no one even dares say: "Hang on, can I think about the logic of what you just said for a second or two?".
This brings us to the third important source of government income which I believe is the most important one for our purposes: INDIRECT taxes. These include things like VAT, oil taxes, alcohol taxes, vehicle taxes etc, in one word consumption-related taxes. Yes I've mentioned oil and alcohol but the wonderful thing about things that people desperately need like drugs and oil is that you can tax them up to 3 or 4 times BECAUSE the demand is guaranteed. As an example, in my country the government collects 70 cents to the dollar in taxes on each unit of ordinary gasoline. On a $3 package of cigaretts, the government will collect roughly $2. On Alcohol it is pretty much in the same.
An interesting foot note of history is that the British government in India fell over the monopoly and excessive taxation of common salt. Indian people finally decided that enough was enough and kicked them out. Generally speaking, if you're interested in the history of crime just follow the story of British colonialization. The Mafia all over the world has been quick to learn from the British but that's just me thinking.
As an example, an official government statistic for Germany cites the income from consumption related taxes on oil, coffee, alcohol, cigaretes etc. as being 65 Billion dollars. This however is only the money taken directly from consumers, not counting the various taxes levied upon the manufacturers and resellers of the substances. If nothing else can make you quit smoking...
For the US I would estimate that this is probably three times that figure or roughly $US 200 BILLION. Go and find the data on the web. So lets say this represents 40% of the sales price overall then manufactures make another $300 BIO. So this alone represents nearly half a trillion dollars of potential for our initiative and we haven't even started to boycott McDonald's!
So here's some advanced math: On every dollar you earn the government takes say 40 percent in income tax. On that remaining 60 cents you may safely assume that the government will collect another 20 to 40 cents in indirect taxes. Don't believe me? Talk to your local gas station or wine dealer. Depending on what purchases you personally count as being unavoidable, the effect of this is that only sometime between September and November you actually start working for yourself. I'll put the next statement in bold letters.
DURING THE FIRST NINE TO ELEVEN MONTHS OF THE YEAR WE WORK FOR OUR GOVERNMENT.
Did you ever wonder why you seem to not get anywhere financially despite the fact that you seem to be working your head off? That's why.
However that may be, it doesn't stop here. The man you buy from will pay business and income taxes to local, state and federal governments. Then after that, the shop owner will take the remainder, i.e. his net-net profit and spend it on something with another shop owner and so on. So your dollars get recycled over and over again until probably 90% of it has been carried home to Ruth, i.e. to the government. This in a nutshell is the power engine of each and every government in the developed world. This also explains how West-Germany was able to take over an entire country (East-Germany) with an intrinsic value of zero and convert all the worthless funds of the population into hard Deutschmarks one by one. All this money got recycled and went back exactly where it came from. Again do some study of the economics of that deal. It is absolutely fascinating. The largest takeover in the history of capitalism..
So we begin to see how the paradox of a perpetual motion machine has become a reality.
When all this started to dawn on me it just caused that feeling of irritation that you all know so well. I asked myself how I could possibly retaliate and now having crossed the bridge it is all so obvious that I cannot believe it didn't come to me 10 years earlier. But there you go. This way I can share it with you because we have the web and together we can actually create an effect, something an isolated person can't.
In the next installment I will start to outline the actual strategy of how we are going to make our political statement. In short it involves what I call 'Denial of Consumption'. That is a somewhat misleading term because I'm not asking anyone to become an ascetic monk. What I will ask you is to stop MINDLESS consumption and put your spending habits under inexorable scrutiny. WE will choose to strengthen certain entities while WE will withdraw our support for others exposing them to the nonsense of their produce, because what justification has a product or company that nobody wants?.
More important WE will start to get a grip on our incompetent governments. By the time this initiative gets any momentum you will see all sorts of funny incentives for spending money pop up from thin air. "Buy, Buy, please spend some money, I'll give you five for free if you buy one" you will hear them cry. You will see the government design huge benefit schemes just to encourage you to spend and invest. "Hmm" I hear you say, " I appreciate it, but I'm not really interested until I get double that tax break. No...? Not possible...? No problem, don't worry, I'll spend my money some other time. Or maybe never. Buy some gold instead. Save a buck for a rainy day..."
If you would like to comment or help me in this effort, please write to me with your suggestions. This is nothing less than a worldwide initiative and I hope that my own input will become irrelevant really fast.
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