A Modern Fairy Tale with a Sad and Shameful Ending
In 1204 the Crusaders from northern Europe gathering support along the way arrived in Constantinople, burnt and sacked it. They murdered and pillaged both Christians and Moslems for their non-conformist religious beliefs, and for the riches of an industrious and imaginative people.
There is a 21st century crusade afoot and it is not about religion. It is about money and taxes. Tax havens are sanctuaries for individuals overburdened with taxes and regulations that had grown to pernicious levels in their homelands. The crusaders, comprised of the richest nations of Europe, do not arrive armoured on horseback to sack and pillage as of old. Instead the weapons of destruction – delivered by the electronic media – are threats of isolation from the world of international finance – the lifeblood of small countries with little to offer in trade other than sunshine. As in the olden days, to create an appearance of moral rectitude, conclaves of representatives from many countries gathered in the hallowed halls of the ancient capitals of the middle kingdom to formulate their plans, as the intended victims languished in blissful innocence of their impending fate.
Successful defense of the modern citadel lies not in the strength of the ramparts – but on the craftiness of its leaders to deflect the arrows aimed at the bubbles of prosperity in the little countries. Carelessly their leaders had grown soft. Basking in the wealth bestowed by the grateful refugees, they failed to notice the advancing enemy’s determination to retrieve what they believed to be rightfully theirs, the incomes of their most prosperous and productive citizens.
Alas, lacking the stomach for battle, the leaders of the little country turned on their own people to sacrifice their liberty to the almighty God of Tax Collectors in vain hope of limiting his wrath to a few fiery breaths of hot air. (Something they knew a lot about!) The offers of appeasement included rigorous controls on all financial and many commercial activities backed by an armed force of bureaucrats with rights of forced entry, confiscation of property, the revoking of licenses and fines of 100,000 dollars.
There is a tragic irony to this tale. The final onslaught by the advancing hordes had to be aborted when the crusaders failed to convince the leaders of the mighty power in the West, land of the free and the brave, that a universal tax system and information exchange is a virtue to be desired. Thus unable to garner support from the mightiest of them all, the crusaders turned their armies away from the little tax haven to rearm themselves with more persuasive arguments for enticing the great power into their camp.
Sadly, the fate of the little country was sealed when their leader surrendered early in the campaign. To this day the people remain in bondage to a formerly weak leader, who gained immense power when he discovered that the people are not so much interested in liberty as they are in compromise on the alter of expediency.
Words: 506 – June 23, 2001