[This was drafted during a load-shedding session on iPad while Eskom bosses were enjoying their bonuses.]
Visit Market and other places crawling with people who can do or make useful things. Look especially for people who grow things in their own backyards and windowsills.
Plant the idea that maybe it’s better to exchange goods and services instead of cash. Call this campaign #AggressiveBartering (#AB) or #GuerrillaBartering (#GB). Or someone please come up with a better hashtag.
Cultivate networks around this concept.
Money is how government claims 14% of transacted value in your life save for milk, bread, eggs, fuel and fresh produce, I think. So, switch over to swapping goods and services instead of cash.
You may initially be limited but with time and practice at bartering and as your network increases, you’ll gain greater independence from the taxable money system.
A social network that revolves around cashlessly exchanging goods and services is a threat to the establishment because such a network can declare whatever value it decides to declare for whichever transactions it decides to report. The looser the structure – a “network” can be anything – the looser the law around the transactions. Such a network would exist entirely within SARS’ blind spot.
I don’t know whether the transactions that occur in my backyard are fiscally important just as Former President Jacob Zuma didn’t know whether what was happening in his backyard was fiscally important. I do know that I could vanish from the system’s radar. I’d like to keep my conscience clean but where there is no money transacted, the option of having the transaction taxed remains with me. The discipline of bartering suffocates State corruption. The State cannot misappropriate tax payers’ money if there isn’t that much of it to play with. Government corruption costs you less when you barter.
Yes, there is tax on bartered goods and services. But common sense tells me that the context as well as the nature of the institution you present yourself as determine the legal nature of the transaction you’re participating in. And how you describe these things can be a matter of taste, as we’ve learned from our government (think of Former President Zuma’s “fire pool”). Most importantly, everything depends on whether anyone declares the transaction to begin with, which in turn is dependent on the platform on which the transaction transpires. So take it from Market to your backyard or your kitchen or your bathroom.
The policing and quantifying of semi-private exchanges would be beyond the system’s immediate reach. As you swap your back-yard ingredients for Wi-Fi access or painting services, you get to decide how much you feel the transaction is worth to you, and declare that. You decide the amount you feel like being taxed. Nobody can truly contest how much the transaction was worth to you because nobody knows its scale, depth, extensiveness and value except you and the other person. Or your whole network. Where there is no price tag, the price is difficult to pin down, isn’t it? Where the value of the asset is knowable, play it safe.
But must you declare every transaction that happens among you and your loved ones even if you and your “friends” and “family” are a actually highly organized network of recruits that may have decided to load-shed their taxes with you? I mean, in this confusing confluence of criss-crossing cultures and religions we call our rainbow nation, just who is and who isn’t “family”? Yell “culture” or “religion” and nobody will ask questions. Throw dust in their eyes. Pick the most unlikely person, and say he or she is your lover. If someone would ask questions, make it embarrassing and have fun watching that person squirm.
Right now, we can’t see what the government doesn’t want us to see since it’s turned the light off, leaving us in the dark both literally and metaphorically.
But we can also play that game.
Ethics? I’d say render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s. But also look for transactions that don’t fall within the scope of the rules, and arrange a mass migration in that direction for more transactions among more people. As I twice told Iman Rappetti twice on Power FM radio, we created every existing system and we can dismantle every one of them while remaining quite innocent. If enough people load-shed their VAT without being dishonest about taxable transactions, the difference will make itself felt.
Then, it won’t matter who got the most votes. It will matter who pays the most tax.
If businesses starts talking more openly to government about what’s really happening in this country as I pointed out that they should, we might still spend money on those businesses in order to support them.
Otherwise, though…money? What’s that?
With salaries rising so slowly and with unemployment so rife, nobody’s seen Money anywhere or knows where he went. Check, my pockets are really empty. Not making it up.
What’s that? How am I surviving – nay, thriving – without taxable cash? I guess it’s because I have a big, erm, family.
And we’re mighty resourceful.
[Reader, let me know what you think. Also, tell me where I may have bungled up the technical, legal or ethical details.]