[SL4] Places I want to live

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (sentience@pobox.com)
Date: Mon Apr 24 2000 - 00:15:17 MDT

A short story, very Extropian vision, from what is probably the most
*bizarre* writer I have ever encountered. This guy is really, really,
really strange. I mean, we're not just talking "Marching to a different
kettle of fish"; we're talking about setting fire to the damn fish and
having *more* fun with the avocado.

This is actually one of the most normal stories on his site.


    Your Tax Dollars At Work
I had almost managed to fall asleep after the last disturbance when the
doorbell sounded. "Bloody bloody bloody bloody -" I muttered, staggering
to my feet and throwing my robe over my shoulders. Couldn't they read
the notice I'd left on the door?
I brushed hair out of my eyes and peered at the low-res security
display; it was a government official of some kind. I opened the door
and saw that the notice had fallen off and had landed face down in the
corridor. I pointedly retrieved it and held it up; it said: "DREAM
RECALL EXPERIMENTS. DO NOT DISTURB." The official  a woman slightly
older than me  gave me an apologetic grimace and said, "Sorry to bother
you, citizen. I'm collecting taxes for the new tower project." I
brightened at this.
"Please, come in. Can I get you a drink?" Her grimace tightened somewhat
and I realised that she'd probably been drinking people's coffee all
day. "Sorry."
"That's okay. Can you spare anything for this project? We're going to
need at least five hundred dollars, and we've only collected one hundred
and fifty so far."
"Oh, sure. I've got four dollars, and you can have one for however long
it takes  "
"We think it'll take about six months."
"  great. A new tower, huh? I hadn't heard."
She came in and we sat down on the couch. "The stats people said that
this region needs its own tower. The nearest one is -"
"- yeah, just outside the comfortable travel time. Do you have any of
those cool animated artist's impressions of what it'll look like when
it's finished?"
She smiled and held out her clipboard. It played a video: "Your Tax
Dollars At Work", showing the needle spire thrusting up through the
clouds and into low Earth orbit, dollars crawling up and down the
surface, laying down molecule-thick layers of environment-proof paint. I
particularly liked the way the clouds had been rendered.
I got up and went to the kitchen, where one of my dollars was sitting on
the breakfast bar. "Mmm. You know, I could probably spare two dollars
for something cool like this."
She waved this aside. "That'd be helpful, but there's a law against it.
No citizen shall be required to pay more than one-third of their wealth
in taxes for any given year."
"Well, it'd only be for six months, right?"
"Financial year."
Oh, right. Financial years are only three months long. "Are you sure I
couldn't.. you know... accidentally..."
She gave me a stern look. "I'm not going to conspire with you to break
the law."
I shrugged, picked up the domino-sized dollar and tossed it to her. She
caught it, whispered a deactivation command to it and put it into her
satchel. She stood and looked at me with her head slightly to one side.
"Four dollars? How did you manage to -"
"I make custom footwear. I managed to blow up two dollars while
experimenting with plastic injection-molding techniques, and I was
awarded an extra dollar for each one I killed, for showing up faults in
the old ones."
"I didn't know they did that."
"It isn't generally known, otherwise people'd be deliberately trying to
destroy dollars all the time. And they only pay off for things that
might go wrong in the course of everyday life."
"Not much chance of that happening while collecting taxes."
"Are you absolutely certain that I can't  "
She smiled again and shook her head. "No, you can't. Stop that, or I'll
have you locked up."
 1996 AnarchArtists.
Email: Nikolai Kingsley.
Last updated: March 11, 1999. 
       sentience@pobox.com      Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
                 Member, Extropy Institute
           Senior Associate, Foresight Institute

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