Trick or Treat, Taxpayer

Email Print


It’s October
31 again: the day loved by people who like to dress up in silly
costumes and wear masks.

All over America
this evening, children will be ringing doorbells, offering adults
a choice: trick or treat.

Then, a week
later, millions of Americans will go to the polls. This scheduling
is fitting and proper. The choice is basically the same: trick or

Voters will
get their choice of electing people with masks. Not physical masks,
of course. Rhetorical masks.

Voters will
decide which disguised door-knockers will knock on their doors for
the next two years. Rival politicians promise specific groups of
voters a large share of any treats collected.

Everyone will
have to put treats into bags, of course. The program is called “No
door left unknocked.” The larger the house, the higher the percentage
of treats demanded. This is called “treating your fair share.”

There are two
issues to be settled officially next week. The first issue is whether
your preferred would-be representative masked agent will share the
lion’s share of the treats with you, or whether the other would-be
representative will share the treats with his supporters.

The second
issue is the size of the bags. One representative promises smaller
bags. He is dressed in a red costume. The other representative promises
even larger bags, but only for the largest homes. He is dressed
in a blue costume.

We can be sure
of one thing: No matter who wins, the bags will be larger next year.
They always are. Bad news.

There will
be more bad news, beginning next January, after the holiday season
has ended. As soon as the person in either colored costume journeys
to the headquarters of the Society of Masked Agents to distribute
the treats he has collected, he will send out a message to his supporters.
It will say something like this:

supply of treats this year is up, indicating a strengthening economy,
but your share of the distribution has been reduced. In previous
years, we ran low on treats, so we handed out IOUs to people, promising
additional treats in the future. The future is now. We have to honor
our earlier IOUs.

But there
is very good news. Enclosed are IOUs — your legitimate share
of future treats. Just as the Society of Masked Agents has always
fulfilled its obligations with respect to past IOUs, so we guarantee
that we will deliver on this year’s IOUs. Trust us.

You may recall
that you were sent this same message a year ago. And the year before
that. You remember, don’t you? I remember mine. It had a tiny notice
at the end: Bank of China. Odd, I thought at the time.

Soon, the nation
will get ready for Thanksgiving. Its timing is always appropriate:
the election results are always in by then. Some people will give
thanks because of the success of their masked agents. Others will
give thanks for the treats to come, however reduced.

Then millions
of thoroughly plucked turkeys will be consumed as a meaningful symbol
of America’s heritage of democracy.

the holiday season begin!

31, 2006

North [send him mail] is the
author of Mises
on Money
. Visit
He is also the author of a free 17-volume series, An
Economic Commentary on the Bible

North Archives

Email Print