Dominic Frisby is a financial writer and comedian from London, England. He is bringing awareness to important matters like investing, tax, gold, commodities, currencies, and cryptocurrencies. He is the author of the books Bitcoin: the Future of Money? and Life After The State. He also co-wrote the documentary Four Horsemen, and presents the chat show, Stuff That Interests Me. In his new book, Daylight Robbery – the past, present and future of tax, Frisby talks about how death and taxes are inevitable, and how we are in a post-war slavery time.
Interview Date : 17th March 2021
How did you encounter Bitcoin?
I started writing a financial column and I discovered it from there. People would email me and say, “you have to look at Bitcoin.” Sometimes people would send me Bitcoins, and one time, a guy sent me176 Bitcoins. Unfortunately, I got hacked and the Bitcoin I had received at that time got stolen from me. This was 2014 and I didn’t have proper internet security in place.
Everyone needs to understand and own a little Bitcoin even at today’s prices. I believe that Bitcoin will coexist with our fiat currencies. I’m still going to use fiat currency when I go to buy milk from the local store, but I will use bitcoin to store my savings, for cross-border payments.
Is our taxation system too old for our modern society today?
Tax systems are designed around the physical economy and they haven’t been able to adapt to the globalized digital economy. Once upon a time wealth was physical. Land, mines, farms, and factories were all considered wealth. However, now wealth is becoming digital, like Bitcoin, data, trademarks, intellectual property, shares in.com companies, etc., so the big money is in the digital economy today.
If one country charges a lot of taxes, then companies like Starbucks, for example, will say “ we are not based in the UK, we are based in Holland” where they pay close to 0% tax. Think about where is Google-based, or Apple, Amazon, and Binance, etc., such companies are all based in different jurisdictions where they pay low levels of tax. In this way, they’ve been able to avoid paying taxes. However, the ordinary worker is domiciled in one country and doesn’t have that option available to him. Thus, he ends up paying much more.
Since when is humanity using taxes?
The very first examples we have of handwriting are tablets of mud from ancient Mesopotamia, 7~8000 years ago. Those very first examples of writing have been tax records. Thus, tax is as old as civilization itself. Often, when historians look back into society, they look at the tax records because they tend to be very well preserved.
It’s probable that even in hunter-gatherer societies, this idea of a sense of duty to the greater collective existence. When civilized societies started forming and growing, taxation wasn’t always paid in money because ordinary people didn’t hold money in those days. They didn’t have coins, so it would be a share of your labor or a share of your product, and that is how taxes were taken.
How did our early money system look like?
The very first system of money was little bits of clay shaped, for example, like a disk representing a sheep or a cone representing some barley. They were baked inside a clay bowl and preserved until the debt was settled. After the settlement, the clay bowl would be smashed symbolizing that the debt was settled – they were like little tokens.
It’s like an early blockchain. Later, they found that instead of baking the money inside these clay bowls, they inscribed the clay with pictures of the tokens instead, thus creating the first system at hand-written. So, the relationship between technology, writing, money, and tax records is ancient. The people who mastered this new system of writing, early hieroglyphs, were called the scribes. The scribes were our first tax collectors.
Do you think our governments are getting too big?
I think the government is too big, our tax systems are outdated, and our system of fiat money is broken. Japan is playing the same game for much longer than the west has been, like suppressing interest rates, keeping its currency low, and trying to offset its debts by destroying the currency. Sooner or later, it will end badly, and Bitcoin is accelerating this process of the end of fiat money.
Why did you call your latest book “Daylight Robbery”?
I called it “Daylight Robbery” because some people think that taxes are the price we pay for having a civilized society, while others think “taxation is theft”. Both these arguments are true, but it all depends on the degree to which you are taxed and how you are taxed. For example, in North Korea, people are taxed 100% and nobody owns their own labor; they work for the nation and don’t receive any money for it. In anarchy, you own all of your labor and there’s no taxation.
People associate the expression “Daylight Robbery” with theft, but in fact, the expression has its origins in the window tax in the 17~1800s in England and across Europe. In those days, there were no electric lights nor gas lights, and people would use candles. To lose your daylight was a big issue, but people blocked out the window so they didn’t have to pay the tax and they lost daylight as a result. Thus, the tax was known as “daylight robbery”.
We don’t have the window tax anymore but our money is still forcibly taken from us. If you don’t pay it, you have to go to prison and that is why people say that taxation is a form of theft.
How would blockchain used for taxation work?
The implications of blockchain technology being used to tax and regulate the economy are becoming very real with central bank digital currencies and central bank wallets. However, it’s going to make tax evasion that much harder, and it is going to make us that much less free.
Interviewer , Editor : Lina Kamada
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