Instead of thinking about taxes as levies and fines we pay in a punitive sense, what would it look like if we regarded them the same way we do a Netflix subscription?
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What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for watching the video.
Christopher Penn 0:15
In today’s mind readings, I was reading an article about some tax changes and stuff.
It’s that time of year, it’s April as I record this, and of course, a lot of folks making a trying to score political points by arguing for or against certain taxes and things.
And it got me thinking, if we want to be able to fund stuff that matters, we might be looking at taxes as really just a branding problem, right? What if we tackled it as a branding problem, instead of taxes being seen as this punitive thing like, Oh, you must give your due to, to the government? What if you consider taxes essentially as a subscription, right? Imagine that citizenship to a nation was a subscription grant, it’s very hard to change providers, right? It’s a lot easier to go from Netflix to Hulu than it is to go from America to Canada, or from, you know, Ukraine to Germany.
But when you do, you’re changing who you pay your taxes to, right, you’re essentially changing your subscription by picking up and moving from one spot to another.
But more than that, when we think of a subscription, we think about what are we getting for our money? Right? So if I pay 999 to Netflix a month, what do I get? I get, you know, unlimited views of certain types of videos.
If I add on the DVD rental add on, I get, you know, to rent DVDs for like the five people who still on DVD players.
When I subscribe to Disney plus, what do I get out of that? Well, I get different content, I get content that’s, you know, Star Wars, for example, if I subscribe to, you know, CBS All Access, like at Star Trek.
And so we look at all these different subscription services and way, what are the benefits? What are the things that I’m getting out of? What I’m paying, you know, 999 a month for whatever.
If you think about your taxes, you know, if you’re paying 25% of your income, and say you make 1,000 a month, you’re paying250 A month as a subscription to a government, right? What are you getting for your subscription, what’s included in your subscription, you know, roads, national security, right? Hopefully, your your, your subscription includes things like police and fire fire departments, to to solve disasters and stuff like that.
electrical lines, some regulations, things like Weights and Measures, so that when you go to the gas station, and you put fuel in your car, assuming you have a car that burns gasoline, when the Meet the meter says you’ve put nine gallons in your car, you’ve actually got nine gallons worth of gasoline, because someone from weights and measures is certified that the pumps are not crooked.
So what are all the things that you get in a subscription for your taxes? And then if you don’t like what’s included in your subscription, what are your choices? You can and people do petition governments to change how they do things.
And sometimes it goes, well, sometimes it doesn’t often, it takes a really long time, for any kind of change to go through, which is actually probably a good thing.
Because governments moving in the fevered pitch of a mob is never a good thing.
And so you then have to start looking around and saying, Well, are there other services out there? That if I paid about the same amount for a subscription? Would I get more of what I wanted? Right? So or if you say like, you know, I really don’t want to pay 25% of my income, are there other services, aka governments, other nations where I could pay less of my income to pay less for my subscription to citizenship? And There absolutely are there are some nations which are known as tax havens and stuff and you can pay a lot less money, you do have to live there.
And you get different services.
Right? If you move to a nation, say like Sweden or Denmark, you know, your your subscription fees are a lot higher, they are France, your subscription fees are a lot higher, but you also get very different things right in the American subscription.
The things on the subscription plan that aren’t included like health care, and the French subscription, you get universal health care, right.
If you get sick you can you can get medical help and not have to worry about how you’re going to pay for it.
If you want to pursue higher education, you can do that and not have to think about how Are you going to pay for it or take hundreds of 1000s of dollars out in loans to pay for it?
Christopher Penn 5:05
If you reframe citizenship as a subscription and put it in a modern context, because very often we talk about these things, as you know, in the same language as they were written in, in legal documents, 250 years ago, if you upgrade the language around it, it suddenly becomes a lot more comprehensible to people to say, Oh, well, I’m paying this.
And here’s what I get in my subscription and do what am I happy with that if I’m not happy with that, I could try to make some changes, which is valid, why can change providers, and you relocate.
And as the world becomes more global, as the internet allows us to see snapshots of everyday life, in other nations, we might want to say at some point, yeah, you know what, I’m not thrilled with this subscription.
And I’m going to cancel it.
And I’m going to, to change providers, I’m going to go from, you know, a country that has no universal health care, and then spends 27 cents on every dollar for a defense budget, maybe I will move to a nation which spends, you know, 11% on this defense budget and spends, you know, 34%, on on social services, maybe you want to move to a place you like, if you’re not happy with the weapons laws in a place like you want to be able to own and operate, you know, more and bigger and cooler weapons.
There are plenty of countries on Earth where that would be included in your subscription, there’ll be other things missing.
So you’d have to figure out whether or not those trade offs are worth it.
But in reframing the problem as instead of one, where we assume that national identity is part of our personal identity.
If we change it to thinking about a subscription service, then it frees us to think more about where else could we be living closer to the quality of life and the things that we care about.
In our lives, while we while we are able to do so, if we unwind and remove sort of national identity from our personal identities, then you start to see, okay, I can move around, I can change subscriptions, right? We have this sort of notion of national pride.
And when you think again, about in terms of subscription service, this just sounds kind of weird.
Like, I’m really proud to be a Netflix subscriber.
I mean, I pay Netflix, but I say I’m proud.
I don’t wear shirts with, you know, the Netflix logo on it.
Or they haven’t sent me any.
And yet, you also have lots of people who will have the colors of their nation or their flag or whatever on their clothing and stuff.
And again, once we transition into a modern mindset, you go, that’s kind of weird, isn’t it? If it’s a, if my taxes are really just a subscription? Do I have a ton of loyalty towards the subscription provider? Or do I have more of a commercial relationship with them? Like, yeah, here’s the money for the subscription, you give me the stuff that I’m I’ve agreed to buy from you.
And if you don’t give me those things, then I’m going to stop giving you my money, I’m going to find a different provider, there’s something like 192 nations on Earth, give or take, you know, plus or minus 10 or so maybe there’s a better place.
Hell, maybe there’s a place that gets you more of what you want, for the money that you’re spending on the subscription fees.
So something to think about something to mull over.
And as we become more global citizens, as our kids grow up with services, like, you know, Discord, or Reddit or whatever, and they and they have friends in other nations.
I think we will all change slowly what our, our AI personal identities are versus our national identities, and maybe, maybe start to ask more of our governments for what we’re getting for our subscription fees.
give that some thought.
Hope you have some thoughts of your own on this if you do to stick them in the comments whenever and I’ll talk to you soon.
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