Thursday, April 4, 2013

Willie Sutton Goes to Cyprus

      Willie Sutton was a notorious American bank robber.
       When asked why he robbed banks, he answered with a phrase that has become part of the American Lexicon as well as of the oath taken upon graduation by law school students everywhere, i.e.,  'That's where the money is.'
       Cyprus is an island nation in the Mediterranean Sea and is a member of the European Union. Like many other members of that proud organization [Proud of what? Nobody knows.], the government of Cyprus recently discovered that money does not, in fact, grow on fig trees,
       "Dimitrius, my fellow Minister. We will have to give up our fine villas, our cars. Hummus will no longer flow in the rivers. What will we do?"
       "Relax, Pecunius. I have just finished reading a very interesting book about a famous  American back robber. I think I have an idea."
       And, so, the Cypriot government decided to take 10% out of all the deposits in all the banks of Cyprus. Just push a computer key and (Slurp!) 10% of your money is now in the treasury of the government of Cyprus. What could be easier? No bills to send. No stamps to buy. They're actually doing it for your own good. Just, click, click, and it's done. If only Willie Sutton had had a computer...
       Think it couldn't happen here in America? Think again. 
       The Cyprus tax is just another type of 'ad valorem' tax, i.e., a tax 'according to value.' We already have taxes like that, e.g., real estate taxes, car taxes (in states that levy a yearly tax on the value of your car), estate taxes. Not that different from a tax on the value of your savings.
       Next time you hear, 'spread the wealth...', 'more investments...', 'you're entitled...', just substitute, 'Click, click. Slurp, slurp!' Then go out and buy the biggest mattress you can find so that you'll have a place to store what's left of your life savings.

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