‘Thank you,’ said the Doveston. ‘Thank you all for coming. Now you all know why this meeting has been called. The harsh winter, followed by the sweltering summer has led to an economic crisis. Everywhere there is talk of revolution and there have recently been several more bombings of cabinet ministers’ homes by the terrorist organization known only as the Black Crad Movement. We all want these senseless dynamitings to stop and none of us want the government overthrown, do we?’
    Heads shook around the table. I looked at Norman and he looked at me.
    ‘And so,’ continued the Doveston, ‘I have drawn up a couple of radical proposals which I feel will sort everything out. Firstly I propose that income tax be abolished.’
    A gasp went up around the table.
    ‘I’ll give that the thumbs up,’ said Norman.
    ‘Please calm down,’ said the Doveston, ‘and allow me to explain.’
    ‘I am calm,’ said Norman.
    ‘He wasn’t talking to you.’
    ‘As we all know,’ the Doveston said, ‘no matter how much money you earn, the inland revenue will eventually get all of it. It is damn near impossible to buy anything that does not have a tax on it somewhere. Allow me to advance this argument. Say I have one hundred pounds. I go into an off-licence and buy ten bottles of whisky at ten pounds a bottle. The actual whisky only costs two pounds a bottle, all the rest is tax. So the man in the off-licence now has the difference, twenty pounds. He uses that to fill his car up with petrol. Tax on petrol represents seventy-five per cent of its market price. So now there’s only five pounds left out of my one hundred pounds. The chap at the petrol station spends this on five packets of cigarettes. And we all know how much tax there is on fags. Out of my original one hundred pounds, the government now have all but one. And whatever the man in the fag shop spends that one pound on will have a tax on it somewhere.’
    ‘Yes yes yes,; said old silly-bollocks. ‘We all know this, although we wouldn’t want the man in the street to know it.’
    ‘Precisely,’ said the Doveston. ‘And we’re not going to tell him. Now this same man in the street is taxed roughly one-third of his weekly earnings in direct taxation. What would happen if he wasn’t?’
    ‘He’d have a third more of his money to spend every week,’ said old silly-bollocks.
    ‘And what would he spend it on?’
    ‘Things, I suppose.’
    ‘Precisely. Things with tax on.’
    ‘Er, excuse me,’ said what’s-his-face, the Foreign Secretary. ‘But if everybody in the country has a third of their money in their pockets to spend and they did spend it, surely the shops would run out of things to sell?’
    ‘Precisely. And so factories would have to manufacture more things and to do so they would have to take on more staff and so you would cut unemplyment at a stroke. And you wouldn’t have to increase anybody’s wages, because they’s all be getting a third more in their pay packets anyway. You’d have full employment and a happy workforce. Hardly the recipe for revolution, is it?’
    ‘There has to be a flaw in this logic,’ I said to Norman.
    ‘There has to be a flaw in this logic,’ said old silly-bollocks. ‘But for the life of me, I can’t see what it is.’
    ‘There is no flaw,’ said the Doveston. ‘And if you increase the purchase tax on all goods by a penny in the pound – which no one will complain about, because they’ll have so much more money to spend – you’ll be able to grab that final pound out of my original one hundred. You”l get the lot.’
    All around the boardroom table chaps were rising to applaud. Even the woman with the bald head, who usually wears the wig, got up and clapped.
    ‘Bravo,’ cheered Norman.
    ‘Sit down, you stupid sod,’ I told him.
    ‘Yeah, but he’s clever. You have to admit.’
    ‘He said he had a couple of radical proposals. What do you think the second one might be?’
    ‘Now, my second radical proposal is this,’ said the Doveston, once all the clappers had sat themselves down. ‘I propose that the government legalize all drugs.’
    ‘Oh well,’ said Norman. ‘One out of two wasn’t bad. Not for a bloke who’s Richard, anyway.’
    Chaos reigned in the boardroom. The Doveston bashed his fists upon the table. Chaos waned and calm returned. The Doveston continued. ‘Please hear me out,’ he said. ‘Now, as we all know, the government spends a fortune each year in the war against drugs. It is a war that the government can never win. You can’t stop people enjoying themselves and there are just too many ways of bringing drugs into this country. So why does the government get so up in arms about drugs?’
    ‘Because they’re bad for you,’ said what’s-his-face.
    ‘You are amongst friends here,’ said the Doveston. ‘You can tell the truth.’
    ‘I’ll bet he can’t,’ said old silly-bollocks.
    ‘Can too.’
    ‘Can’t.’
    ‘Can too.’
    ‘Go on then,’ said the Doveston. ‘Why does the government get so up in arms about drugs?’
    ‘Because we can’t tax them, of course.’
    ‘Precisely. But you could tax them if they were legal.’
    ‘Don’t think we haven’t thought about it,’ said old silly-bollocks. ‘But no government dare legalize drugs. Even though half the population regularly use them, the other half would vote us out of office.’
    ‘But what if they were legalized, but the man in the street didn’t know they were legalized?’
    ‘I don’t quite see how you could do that.’
    ‘What if you were to take all the money that is wasted each year in the war on drugs, go over to the areas where the drugs are originally grown, the Golden Triangle and so on, and use the money to buy all the crops. Ship them back to England, then market them through the existing networks of pushers. You wouldn’t half make a big profit.’
    ‘That’s hardly the same as legalizing them, or taxing them.’
    ‘Well, firstly, the people who take drugs don’t really want them legalized. Half the fun of taking drugs is the ‘forbidden fruit’ aspect. They’re much more exciting to take if they’re illegal. Only the government will know that they’re legal, which is to say that the Royal Navy will import them. You can’t imagine any drug-traffickers wanting to take on the Royal Navy, can you? On arrival here, the drugs will be tested and graded, they could even be trademarked. They will be top quality, at affordable and competitive prices. Any opposition in the shape of rival drug-importers will soon be put out of business. The profits you make can be called ‘tax’. I can’t think of a better word, can you?’
    ‘But if the rest of the world found out..?’ Old silly-bollocks wrung his hands.
    ‘You mean if other governments found out?’ Well, tell them. Tell them all. Get them to do the same. It will put the Mafia out of business and increase government revenues by billions all over the world.’
    ‘But the whole world will get stoned out of its brains.’
    ‘No it won’t. No more people will be taking drugs than there are now. And fewer people in this country will be taking them.’
    ‘How do you work that out?’ old silly-bollocks asked.
    ‘Because a great deal of drug-taking is done out of desperation. By poor unemployed people who have given up hope. In the new income-tax-free society, they’ll all have jobs and money to spend. They won’t be so desperate then, will they?’
    ‘The man’s a genius,’ said Norman.
    ‘The man is a master criminal,’ I said. ‘No wonder he’s so into security. He’s probably expecting the arrival of James Bond at any minute.’ — Robert Rankin, Snuff Fiction

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