Continuing on his way, Jonathan puzzled over the rules of this troubled island. Surely the people wouldn’t live with laws that made them so unhappy? There must be a good reason. The land looked so green and the air was so soft and warm – this should be paradise. Jonathan relaxed his stride as he passed through the town. He reached a stretch of road with formidable iron fences lining both sides. Behind the fence on his right stood strange animals of many sizes and shapes – tigers, zebras, monkeys – too many to count. Behind the other fence on the left paced dozens of men and women, all wearing black-and-white-striped shirts and pants. The two groups facing each other across the road looked bizarre. Spotting a man wearing a black uniform and twirling a truncheon, Jonathan approached the guard as he marched between the locked gates.
Jonathan asked politely, “What are these fences for?” Keeping a steady rhythm with his feet and club, the guard
proudly replied, “One encloses our animal zoo.”
“Oh,” said Jonathan, staring at a group of furry animals with prehensile tails leaping from the walls of their cage. The guard, accustomed to giving tours to the local children, continued to lecture. “See the excellent variety of animals over there?”
He gestured toward the right side of the road. “They’re brought to us from all over the world. The fence keeps the animals safely in a place where people can study them. Can’t have strange animals wandering around and harming society, you know.”
“Wow!” exclaimed Jonathan. “It must have cost you a fortune to bring animals from all over the world and to provide for them
here.” The guard smiled at Jonathan, and shook his head slightly. “Oh, I don’t pay for the zoo myself. Everyone on Corrumpo pays a zoo
tax.” “Everyone?” asked Jonathan, self-consciously feeling the bottom of his empty pockets. “Well, some folks try to avoid their responsibilities. These reluctant citizens say they have no interest in a zoo. Others refuse because they believe animals should be studied in their natural habitat.”
The guard turned to face the fence on the left of the road, rapping the heavy iron gate with his club. “When citizens refuse to pay the zoo tax, property tax, tall tax, or window tax, we place them here, safely behind these bars. Such strange people can then be studied. They, too, are prevented from wandering around and harming society.”
Jonathan’s head began to spin from disbelief. Comparing the two groups behind the fences, he wondered if he would pay for the maintenance of this guard and two zoos. He gripped the iron bars and scrutinized the proud faces of the inmates in striped clothing. Then he studied the haughty expression on the face of the guard who continued to pace back and forth, twirling his club.
That same old yellow cat was weaving in and out of the bars of the zoo, always on the prowl for a meal. The guard pounded a bar loudly with his stick and the cat scampered behind Jonathan’s legs. He then sat down to lick his forepaw and to scratch the ﬂeas behind his torn ear. “I’ll bet you love mice, don’t you, cat? Lots of mice,” said Jonathan. Patting him on the head, Jonathan named his new companion saying, “How about ‘Mices’ ? Well, Mices, you’ve been on both sides of the fence. On which side of the bars are those of greater harm?”
• Should people be forced to pay for a zoo?
• What reasons could there be for not paying?
• What happens to people who would refuse to pay such a tax?
• On which side of the fence are the people who are harming others?
• Ethical issues?
Bureaucrats administer laws made by politicians. In this position, they are able to inﬂuence politicians into the making of laws. They are unelected and unaccountable to the public, yet When law and they are able to control almost every detail of public life, often having their own agendas and their own scores to settle. All bureaucrats are civil servants but lower civil servants may not be as involved with the administration of laws. Civil servants (i.e.non-military) are unelected and employed as servants to the civilian population (that’s you and me!). They include clerks issuing licenses, traffic officers, municipal employees, public zoo officials, and prison administrators. Are you happy that your money is used for things you do not use? Is it right that we are fined, penalised, or even put in jail for not paying for services that are only of pleasure to someone else? If one considers the public services provided by the state or by the municipalities, and one then considers how many of these are used by only a small portion of the population, one can see that private enterprise is a fairer system. Private enterprise is more motivated to efficiently serve the people who are willing to pay for the services. Only those people using the service would pay. Competition for customers.
Stay updated with all the insights.
Navigate news, 1 email day.
Subscribe to Qrius