by Than Pence
In a world where revenue is an issue, taxing every tenth step is only the beginning...
|“Sir, I don’t think this is wise.”
“The public didn’t say anything when we initiated the Tenth Step Tax. I hardly doubt they’ll rise up about the new Fiftieth Wheel Rotation Tax.”
Bottley, the President’s aide, only nodded because the President was right: there had been little fuss over the Tenth Step Tax, a tax that charged people for every ten steps they took outside of their home.
But Bottley knew that no one had made a big stink about it because they had found numerous ways around the tax, starting with people simply taking larger strides from place to place. And people picked each other up more lately, both in the vehicular sense and in the piggyback sense: Bottley had seen more elderly women being carried around by more muscled young lads lately than in his entire life before the Tenth Step Tax.
Regarding the idea of being picked up in cars, it was not uncommon to have a driveway terminate at the front door, or to have massive garages built for every car within each family. The tax only took effect once a person stepped out into the open air.
Bottley was always more amazed when people tried to get around the tax by simply not putting on their new pedometers. When the devices weren’t being worn, they sent a red flag up at the nearest Tenth Step Tax Affirmation Center. And they knew when they weren’t being worn because the pedometers were activated electrostatically: the human body kept them functioning. Only the tiniest of power supplies were inside the pedometers and that was just so the devices could tattle on their owners.
That had been nearly ten years ago and the revenue that the Tenth Step Tax brought in was nothing compared to what it was after being implemented, which was why the Fiftieth Wheel Rotation Tax was being placed. Bottley had noticed an increase in the use of wheelchairs: everyone had one nowadays. He had been ordered to drum up a team and answer why, but everyone knew it was the simplest means of getting around the Tenth Step Tax.
He now regretted the report that held his findings because it had been the catalyst for the Fiftieth Wheel Rotation Tax. As applied to wheelchairs, the tax would actually bring in more money than the Tenth Step Tax ever did. The tax would also be applied to automobiles, which Bottley knew might only drive people to carpool more and possibly even lower greenhouse emissions.
I guess I might’ve saved the planet in the long run!
After the tax passed and the government noticed the same spike in revenue that the Tenth Step Tax had generated, life became chaotic. Bottley himself found he couldn’t always afford the drive to work so he found himself walking two hundred and forty-nine steps to the subway. He counted and always hated going over when he was forced to move further and further back in the train: everyone always wanted to be closest to the doors since that meant less steps for them.
Bottley wanted to buy a Segway but knew the Fiftieth Wheel Rotation Tax would hurt him just as badly as the Tenth Step Tax. He went into the office that day with the idea that he might ask the President about working from home. But the President didn’t show up to work that day. Bottley went to find the President’s wife to ask if she knew when her husband might be in the Capitol.
The President’s wife was only in tears and the secret servicemen were up in arms over what, Bottley couldn’t decipher.
Early the next day, Bottley went in, accruing a staggering three hundred and forty-two steps doing so. He was angry about the tax but then surprised when he saw the President. But the President didn’t seem to recognize Bottley and even mispronounced his name.
Bottley was suspicious and he went to ask the President’s wife what was really going on. After terrible bouts of crying, she finally revealed that the President had been killed in an explosion involving an unsafe jetpack prototype that had been built for him. She explained that not even the President was immune to the new and vicious taxes and he’d asked for a means of circumventing them without looking like a cheater.
Bottley was shocked as the words spilled out of her mouth.
What have I started?
The President’s body double took over but leaks began to spread about the real President’s death and the only thing that stood on everyone’s mind was where they could get their own jetpacks! Bottley quit his job and joined an underground movement that lived away from their pedometers and tagged wheels and every other means having necessary movement taxed.
He had horrible dreams from time to time that included greater taxes on food and even the bottling and distribution of clean, fresh air that could be used when real air threatened to make you pass out or just vomit. He’d awake from those dreams in cold sweats.
Eventually, chaos arose in droves to consume the United States. People refused to pay their ridiculous taxes and the nation crumbled under the threats of losing all forms of revenue. All because someone, one day, had thought it would be a good idea to start taxing a person for every tenth step they took.
Bottley arose to become the leader of this new land that held only moderate forms of taxation. He didn’t exactly like it but he was the best man for the job since all other members of government had died while attempting cowardly escapes with faulty jetpacks and slow Segways.
Word Count: 952