Monday, September 28, 2009

The Great Tree: Chapter 2

As the years unfolded in the land of the Great Tree the people grew by legions and their lives grew complicated. The wise foretold of a coming day when the number of mouths to feed would far exceed, in spite of man’s intervention, the Great Tree’s ability to sustain them. Fear gripped the hearts of all the people – yet even the threat of famine deterred not the gluttons (those who would not store) from consuming every morsel they could gather.

It was therefore declared that for the good of the community and the survival of the Tree, those desiring to pioneer beyond the shelter and create orchards of their own, would be allowed to do so and retain the bounty of their harvests for themselves and their families.

The majority of those eager to venture beyond the shade however, given their history, would not trust their leaders’ intent. They feared their farms would ultimately be subject to the government’s confiscatory practices. Yet, in spite of all historic precedent, and in the face of an otherwise dire fate, their leader’s aims were indeed virtuous.

As necessity then dictated, to inspire the people’s trust and to advance an entrepreneurial spirit, a new constitution, guaranteeing certain inalienable rights and protecting every citizen’s freedom to work and produce on his own behalf, was drafted and unanimously ratified. The old leaders stepped down as new officials, sworn to defend and enforce the covenants set forth in the constitution (its authors in fact), were duly elected by the people.

So it came to pass that those willing to dirty their hands, to extract the seeds from the fruit of the Great Tree, dig the holes, sow the seeds, water and fertilize the soil and ultimately profit from their own harvests, would be free to leave the shade of their once Great Giver in favor of their own bountiful orchards – conditioned only upon the paying of a small duty to the government. This duty amounted to a modest percentage of their annual yield and would fund the enforcement of the rules of law that protected their rights to build the lives of their dreams, as well as provide for certain essential services to the greater community.

While there were indeed many of the Land’s people who found satisfaction in these pursuits, there remained others however who possessed not the desire to produce their own good fortune, who chose instead to continue to live on whatever the Great Tree would bestow upon them.

Henceforth, while the industrious ones no longer needed to take from the Tree’s limbs, her bounty was sufficient to continue to feed those too old, unable, and even those unwilling to work, for some time to come. As the years passed however, the shade beneath her leaves grew crowded once again. Crowded by men and women who lacked either the capacity or the desire to venture beyond the great canopy to provide for themselves.

As the division in terms of the quality of life among those who strove for better and those who did not widened, a distinct envy began to develop among the self-proclaimed have-nots toward the strivers. The shade-dwellers would contend that, although (except for the disabled) their lot was clearly the result of their lack of initiative, the system was somehow unfair. That there simply should not be such a division, that in the interest of the social good, all manner of men should enjoy an equal share of the Earth’s bounty without regard to their contribution to the production and harvesting of such.

As the shade-dwelling masses grew, their influence upon the once great government grew strong. For all manner of men, pioneers and shade-seekers alike were rightfully endowed with the right to vote. And as the powers (and personal benefits) of political office were expanded, the position of policymaker became a highly coveted one indeed. So much so that the men and women campaigning for these positions would, regardless of their own ideals, cater to the group(s) they believed possessed the requisite votes to win them their desired posts.

And so it came to pass that a new era was born, an era where political gain took precedent over the legitimate needs of a growing society, and the shade-dwellers, now great in number, became a most powerful political force. Prospective politicians would stand within the crowded shelter of the Great Tree and pledge that while in office; they would increase taxation on those who, by virtue of their hard work and creativity, enjoyed lifestyles beyond what the shade-dwellers could ever imagine. As if the very spirit that once saved their land from ruin, could now be deemed selfish, greedy and deserving of punishment through excessive taxation.

Henceforth, under the guise of fairness, the self-interested politicians would commit their efforts to the redistribution of the land’s wealth and yes, the confiscated booty would be distributed among those who, by contributing nothing more than their votes, were deemed deserving of such.

The workers, the entrepreneurs, the pioneers who dared to risk going beyond the shade to build a better life, and to relieve the Tree of her burden, were perplexed by the chastisement being brought to bear upon them. The rule of law that once made possible and promoted their efforts had, at the hands of the politically ambitious, been manipulated and indeed corrupted to the point where the more successful their labors, the disproportionately greater the duties (taxes, regulatory fees, licenses, etc. etc.) they would be forced to pay. They had become villains. In the government’s eyes they had enjoyed too much success and would hence pay dearly for their perceived sins.

Law abiding as they were, the industrious, while they disagreed in principle, would nonetheless pay the higher taxes and fees levied against them. Yet they remained keenly aware of two fundamental truths; that they, not the policymakers, were responsible for the success of their great society, and that the maintaining of their personal liberties would lie, as perhaps never before, in their own hands.. And they knew therefore that a great day of reckoning was soon to come.

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