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Burn the witch.
“Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live!”
Those were the words young Dorothy Good heard being screamed by a Puritan, as her fellow townspeople dragged her into a prison cell early in 1692. She wasn’t exactly sure what the words meant; all she knew was that people were angry at her.
It all started in January of that year, after several young women in the town of Salem became inexplicably ill. Without an explanation as to what caused these illnesses, the townspeople turned to blaming the supernatural.
It was the work of witches, they said.
Subsequently, Dorothy was tossed into prison along with her mother, her baby sister, and hundreds of other people of the region. Accused of being a witch who had cursed Salem with these terrible maladies, she was powerless but to await her looming fate.
Salem’s illnesses were almost certainly not caused by witches, however. Instead, this was likely the work of an often-undetectable fungus named ergot.
Commonly found growing on grain, ergot is a hallucinogenic fungus from which the psychedelic LSD is derived. But as LSD had not yet been synthesised at the time of the witch trials, humanity was mostly ignorant of ergot’s existence.
But ignorance didn’t stop ergot from working its magic on Salem.
Ergot commonly thrives after a very cold winter followed by an unusually wet spring—exactly like the conditions believed to exist in Salem for the two years preceding the summer of 1692, when the witch trials began. Salem’s grain stores had possibly become heavily colonised by ergot, which the townspeople were unwittingly consuming.
In short, Salem had not been cursed by witches. Instead, its people were likely just consuming bread that had become naturally spiked with psychedelics.
But this concealed truth aside, a resulting frenzy meant over two hundred people in Salem were accused of witchcraft, two dozen of whom were executed for their “crimes”. Most of them by hanging, though one man named Giles Corey had heavy weights placed on him until he was crushed to death.
Thankfully, Dorothy Good would survive her accusers. But just barely.
She would first witness the death of her younger sister Mercy—who was only a few months old at the time—who died in the prison cell they languished in together. Then on the 19th of July 1692, Dorothy’s mother Sarah would be whisked away to be hanged by the neck until dead, after refusing to confess to practising witchcraft.
Eventually, Dorothy was released from prison. But historical reports suggest her ordeal at the hands of Salem’s townspeople led her to insanity, destroying the rest of her life.
Dorothy’s age at the time she was put on trial as a witch? Just four years old.
Thankfully, most of us no longer live in a world where we need to worry about being killed by a religious inquisition. But that doesn’t mean the days of witch hunts are over.
In one of the biggest pieces of financial news right now, it was just announced the United States’ tax authority—the IRS—has started the process of hiring 87,000 new tax collection agents.
That’s a huge number. By my estimates, these new hires will cost the IRS over $4.4 billion in additional salary payments per year. And obviously, they’re only going to be spending that kind of money if they know it’s going to return them more than that in additional tax revenue.
But what’s possibly most concerning was the job listing for these new agents. It stated they must be able to respond to “life-threatening situations”, as well as be expected to “carry a firearm and be willing to use deadly force” if needed. Just remember, these aren’t police officers, or members of an anti-terrorism group. They’re tax collectors.
Basically, it seems as if the IRS is going witch-hunting. But this time, those who commit heresy will be considered people in society who won’t obey the pilfering fingers of their government.
This heavy new focus on tax collection doesn’t just exist in the United States. Dozens of nations around the world are testing—and even implementing—a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), which would be a completely-traceable version of digital cash controlled by your government. Meaning very soon, the days of cash payments, or paying for things outside the ever-watching gaze of your government will soon be over.
One of the biggest arguments for a CBDC is that governments say it will help them fight tax evasion and fraud. But to me, it just sounds like another way for them to exert complete economic control over us all.
Now you might be surprised to hear this, but as citizens of a large community of people like a nation, I believe that everyone should pitch in to take care of each other. And that extends to paying a fair amount of tax.
But I also believe that if there’s a legal avenue available for a person to reduce their taxable income, we should all be educated as to what those avenues are. And if a billionaire has access to accountants that can help lower their tax liability to 1% (or less) per year, the average salaried employee should be able to do the same.
I believe this is the only way we can create a fair and level playing field.
But whenever I talk about legally lowering tax, inevitably the naysayers come out of the woodwork. People who believe we should all just shut up and pay what we owe, and that taking any steps to legally lower our end-of-year liability is in some way morally or ethically wrong. That we’re cheating society.
I’ve long thought this social narrative that we should just obey and pay our “fair share” exists by design. It’s been installed in us, like the feeling most of us get when a police car is driving behind us, even when we’ve done nothing wrong. That subconscious pang of fear-peppered guilt that I’ve come to believe is there so that we blindly remain obedient to authority.
And here’s where the next witch hunt comes into play. And it’s a social one.
Most people who talk openly about using all legal means possible to lower their tax liability—myself included—open themselves up to pressure from the rest of society. Pressure from people who will point fingers, and deride those who take extra steps to lower what they owe at the end of the year. And as humans are tribal creatures who inherently seek approval from those around us, it’s this pressure which stops many from accessing legal avenues that would improve our lives, or keep more money in our pockets.
But this pressure never affected me much. Because I can see the writing on the wall.
Like I can see how a salaried employee in Iceland can pay almost 47% tax on their income, but a politician who owns multiple rental properties pays only 11% on those earnings. Or like in Sweden, where a person could be expected to pay more than half their income in tax to their government (over 55%), while a company earning billions per year pays only 20% tax on profits.
The system needs to be balanced. And that’ll only happen when more of us stop listening to the voices who would disparage us as economic dissenters, and use whatever means are available for us to pay less tax.
I’m not suggesting for a moment you should stash your assets in a hidden Panamanian bank account like Iceland’s former prime minister did—over the years I’ve learned that your government will almost inevitably find out if you’re doing something shady. But I am saying that if there’s a legal means for you to pay less tax to your government overlords, you should take it.
Because many of your government overlords are doing the same.
If you own a company in Sweden, why wouldn’t you move it to Hungary to cut your tax bill by more than half? Or if you’re a location-independent entrepreneur, why not consider moving your legal address to Georgia, a nation that’ll allow you to legally pay just 1% tax?
Obviously, most of the benefits of being able to cut a huge chunk out of your yearly tax bill come when you stop being a paid employee, and structure your life around your own business, company, or solo enterprise. This is why Sorelle and I believe that generating an independent income is the most important first step in becoming a more free global citizen.
Beyond that, for many people the most difficult challenge will be avoiding the accusatory gazes of people who think that by paying less tax, you’re somehow an economic heretic. Or a bad person. A witch even.
But just because they think that, it doesn’t mean they’re right.
I’m fine with being thought of as a witch. The question is, are you?
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