DAILY BRIEFINGThe Fruits of Tax Evasion
May 17 - Like most of Denmark, the DMG and I spent Saturday recovering from the royal wedding (see photos from the royal wedding on Moron Abroad). Doing so required only that we ignore all media outlets, avoid conversation with others, and cower indoors for most of the day.
On Sunday we went to a barbecue hosted by one of my Studieskolen comrades—specifically Britain (female), who lives up north with her Danish man. Japan attended also, along with his Danish wife and their 10-week old daughter.
They live in a suburb of Copenhagen, about twenty minutes north of the city, on a broad swath of property adjoining a forest preserve. Britain's man is one of a half-dozen brothers who share the house on this property, which is one of those lovely old-style Danish homes with a thatched-straw roof. The house looked a little weary, and it was explained to me that it had been a little neglected lately because any improvements would push its assessment value into the next tax bracket, and their annual house tax (distinct from their property tax) would double. The property itself—several acres of beautiful wilds—was also mostly neglected, with the exception of a handsomely groomed half-acre backyard. This was also a calculated neglect: improvements to the property, like improvements to the house, would raise their tax burden enormously.
I've observed repeatedly that tax evasion appears to be the Danish national past-time, but as I get a deeper and deeper understanding of the lengths to which most Danes will go to avoid taxes, I also get a better and better feel for the purposes for which those taxes were implemented in the first place. Tax evasion is only more pervasive in Denmark than in the states because there are more taxes here. We all try to avoid taxes. It's a natural human impulse to want to keep as much of our money as we can—which is just one of the reasons why governments, like all muggers, must be heavily armed. My own nation, the most prosperous and powerful on the face of the earth, was actually founded as a tax dodge. But Denmark isn't using all of its taxes as a means of government revenue: I'm convinced it's using many of them as a means of government coercion. That is, it's not about the money the taxes will raise, but the behavior those taxes will encourage when people try to dodge them.
And Sunday evening I saw one of the most brilliant fruits of tax evasion since the American Revolution: the construction, on the aforementioned property by the aforementioned brothers, of a walking, amphibious house.
Why walking? Because it's not taxable as a permanent residence! (Why amphibious? I don't remember, actually. Probably just because it was cool.)
And now you're scratching your head, wondering what the hell I mean by a "walking house." You probably suppose this is a question of semantics—that I'm actually describing a mobile house, or a portable home. But I mean what I say. This is going to be an ambulatory home. Or, as Nancy Sinatra might sing, this house was made for walkin'...
More accurately, this house is bein' made for walkin'. It's still under construction. A vast geodisic dome arcs over the construction site. Within the dome the base of the house is already nearing completion.
Now, this isn't going to be one of those futuristic houses that comes strolling over to pick you up at the bar when you're too drunk to drive home, or one of those houses that marches you off to the vacation destination of your choice. As its designer explained, it's merely going to be able to walk across the field on which it's being built. He speculated that, upon completion of construction, he would probably walk it over to the best site on the property, set it down, and leave it there for several years. Should the landscape change, or neighbors invade, the house will then be walked to a new site.
It will not be capable of long hikes, nor will it be able to go up or down significant grades. But it will indeed walk, and I found that spectacular.
The American Revolution and the Incredible Walking House—brought to you by an aversion to taxes.
We're just 95 days from Bean's due date. It was educational seeing Japan's 10-week-old daughter—and when I say educational, I mean it in the sense of fucking terrifying.
My friend Lisa is blogging again, and apparently has been for a while. She's worth checking out.
The word of the day is gående, which means "walking." It's also used as a noun for "pedestrian."
Birthdays and Holidays
It's Sugar Ray Leonard's 48th birthday, and also marks the birthdays of Dennis Hopper (1936), Maureen O'Sullivan (1911), and Ayatollah Khomeini (1900).
It's Constitution Day in Norway and Nauru (no relation), as well as Gaza Liberation Day in Palestine.
© 2004, The Moron's Almanac