Hail, Hail, Freedonia!

Email Print
FacebookTwitterShare

That
Groucho
Marx
was anarchic in the comedy domain is in no doubt, but whether
he was in the political domain is another matter. The FBI tried
to get him on being a Communist and it would seem that his leanings
were definitely towards the left. But one of the Marx Brothers’
films “Duck
Soup
” leaves us in no doubt about the anti-war and anti-fascist
nature of their possibly best movie.

Today,
I am not so much focusing on the Freedonia of that film, but another
Freedonia partly inspired by a dialogue in the film where Groucho
(as Rufus T. Firefly, ruler of Freedonia) holds a cabinet meeting:

Minister
of Labor: The Department of Labor wishes to report that the workers
of Freedonia are demanding shorter hours.

Firefly:
Very well, we’ll give them shorter hours. We’ll start by cutting
their lunch hour to twenty minutes. And now, gentlemen, we’ve got
to start looking for a new Treasurer.

Minister
of Labor: But you appointed one last week!

Firefly:
That’s the one I’m looking for.

Secretary
of War: Gentlemen! Gentlemen! Enough of this. How about taking up
the tax?

Firefly:
How about taking up the carpet?

Secretary
of War: I still insist we must take up the tax.

Firefly:
He’s right. You’ve got to take up the tacks before you can take
up the carpet.

Secretary
of War (now exasperated): I give all my time and energy to my duties
and what do I get?

Firefly:
You get awfully tiresome after a while.

Secretary
of War: Sir, you try my patience!

Firefly:
I don’t mind if I do. You must come over and try mine sometime.

Secretary
of War: That’s the last straw. I resign! I wash my hands of the
whole business.

Firefly:
That’s a good idea. You can wash your neck, too.

I
would say he was awfully taxing rather than tiresome, but have you
ever thought of that place many dream for? A place a little bit
closer to Heaven, a place where statism reigns not and liberty is
proclaimed across the land?

Let
me take you now to my anarcho-capitalist Freedonia. It is a pleasant
land, bejewelled with placid blue lakes, bedecked with white-capped
mountains and babbling with verdant brooks. But let’s cut the flowery
prose and get to the point, they have a tax burden of 5% and dropping
as the powers that be see the continuing fruit of their wholesale
privatisations and monetarist reforms.

What
makes Freedonia interesting is not so much how a libertarian nation
is run but the fact that it is bordered by several statist nations
including the grievous Sylvania which delights in coshing its citizens
for 55% of their GDP each burdensome year. Relations between Freedonia
and these socialist neighbours are somewhat strained as events shall
unfold.

How
Freedonia began to emerge from the darkness of statism is a tale
for another day, but suffice to say that its good citizens came
to their senses and ousted the political ruling class in a relatively
bloodless manner as befits a non-coercive system of practise. As
it happens, the last few years have been somewhat akin to the pains
of a mother travailing in birth as a handsome and healthy child
is brought forth to the wonderment of the political world. The various
class actions brought against the now rather small and decentralised
authorities of Freedonia bring into sharp relief what was then as
opposed to what is now.

Consider
the class action of the elderly who demand that somebody – anybody – makes good on previous statist governments’ promises regarding
state pension provision. They generate some uninformed sympathy
as many have poor private provision but the other side of the coin
rages over the definition of the legal entity called "The State"
which declared itself officially bankrupt some years back and was
dissolved into its current disparate atoms. The prosecuting lawyers
are finding it hard who to pin any liability on and indeed what
assets to seize in compensation for all is now privately owned.

It
is a fight to relish with so many adjoining statist nations plundering
their own citizens to swell the prosecution's slush fund but with
an increasing number of friends in business, that is becoming less
of an issue. What is a boil on the backside of freedom is the United
Nations who is constantly poking in its nose as a self-appointed
mediator but with only a mandate from its majority statist members.
Less irritating and more amusing are the orchestrations of the hard-left
nations like Cuba to pass a UN sanctions resolution on Freedonia
for “violating the human rights of the poor in not supplying state
welfare relief." Laugh? I nearly cried.

However,
truth is worth its weight in gold (certainly more than the vaporous
fiat money the prosecution is being paid) and a telling argument
in an age of paradigm shifting is gaining the ear of the citizenry
of nations round about as they see the evident Freedonian prosperity
budding before them.

As
we take a trip to the border of Freedonia and Sylvania, it is a
hive of activity. There are border posts set up on every major route
and you will guess that these are Sylvanian border posts, as Freedonia
has none. You see, there are two queues of automobiles formed at
these checkpoints. One to leave Freedonia and one to enter Freedonia.

Those
leaving for Sylvania are the former welfare dependents who are quite
fed up with no longer getting something for nothing and are heading
to a place where the welfare check still flourishes. Sylvania is
not pleased with this but the socialists there feel dogma-bound
to accept them. The Sylvanian voter is not so enamoured at the prospect
of their taxes being diverted from hospitals and schools to dole
money. Watch that particular space.

Strange
to relate, but the members of the former Freedonian socialist parties
are conspicuous by their absence in this outbound queue. Where is
the solidarity with the oppressed welfare barnacles and the single
mothers who got deliberately pregnant to jump the state housing
queues and so on? Ah well, you see, they are all now (and always
were) fully paid up members of the Self-Preservation Society. A
paycheck with a miniscule tax deduction column was just too much
to bear and they had to stay "to fight on for the re-nationalisation
cause." The rumour is that the private pensions they were obliged
to set up are noticeably replete with shares in the newly privatised
industries.

One
may have expected large numbers of the elderly to join that disgruntled
queue but they are surprisingly small. This is no mystery when one
considers the power of the family bond. Many have decided to just
stay as sons and daughters throw off the yoke of the Nanny State
and realise their responsibility to their grey-haired parents and
the increased financial power to do it gained from not only a virtually
tax-free wage but an economy buoyed by another queue we shall mention
later.

Meanwhile,
the other queue into Freedonia shuffles along. The Sylvanian border
guards may have power in refusing people into Sylvania but it is
rather more difficult to stop people leaving for Freedonia. The
difference between the two queues tells a tale, all who leave Freedonia
think there is no welfare hope (but they consider not private welfare
at this time) but those who enter are well skilled and know a winning
economy when they see it. From taking home 48% of one's salary home
to 95% is Christmas every month and the temptation is too much to
bear as the citizens of the nations around clamour for entrance
into Freedonia.

One
can see the scuffles that break out in that queue as Sylvanian government
officials try every trick in the book to keep them in. Anyone with
unpaid debts is turned back whilst a two-year military service bill
is currently going through parliament to keep the youngest and brightest
in. Not surprisingly, this adds to the queue size. Today is a particularly
hot day as tempers mount up like the baggage on the roof racks.
One fellow resents the Sylvanian official’s revelation that he is
twenty dollars behind in unpaid taxes and must turn back. The official
is faced with two clenched fists – one holding a twenty-dollar bill
and one aimed at his face. Which to choose is somewhat obviated
by the guard’s twitchy hand on his rifle.

Contrary
to the Statist propaganda being blared across the Sylvanian media,
Freedonia is not dumping the poor on the surrounding nations. In
fact, the statistics bear out that the immigration queue into Freedonia
is well stocked with the low waged. Why is this? No tax to pay is
one thing, but the unemployment rate is dropping fast compared to
other nations and demand for skill is increasing wages above the
State-controlled levels in Sylvania. It seems only the idle and
the self-made mendicants are determined to leave Freedonia.

The
other reason for the decreasing unemployment rate is that other
queue I briefly mentioned. It is the corporate business queue and
they are falling over each other to get into a nation which charges
zero per cent corporation tax. It seems that the absence of a Trade
and Industry department is no bar to these fellows as they rush
into find a good site for their international headquarters. The
construction industry in Fredonia has never had it so good.

Which
obviously leads us to conclude that this is an appalling state of
affairs for Sylvania. Not only is the best and bright talent heading
off to sunnier fiscal climates but the companies are uprooting and
following them as well! These events cease not to leave the debating
chambers of their parliament as demands are made by lobby groups
and trade unions to do something about it. One may assume unemployment
is increasing in Sylvania but it is not yet. A person emigrating
to Freedonia will have their position refilled, but the companies
beginning to relocate there are beginning to affect the desperate
attempts of the Sylvanian government to fill the gaps with State-controlled
startups. The most noticeable thing is the gradual population shift
and the superior quality of the workforce leaving which drives down
replacement wages and tax revenues. Sylvania is borrowing heavily,
needless to say. How this pans out in the next few years is a subject
for another day.

But,
in the meantime, the future for Freedonia is stable if not excitedly
unpredictable. So tune in next time for the next revealing episode
of "Freedonia," this anarcho-soap could yet run longer
than "Dallas"!

July
2,
2002

Roland
Watson [send him
mail
] writes from Edinburgh, Scotland. He now runs his own Christian
libertarian blog
.

Roland
Watson Archives

Email Print
FacebookTwitterShare
  • LRC Blog

  • LRC Podcasts