Places I want to live

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
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. -- Eliezer S. Yudkowsky Member, Extropy Institute Senior Associate, Foresight Institute

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