Economics 2

March 10, 2007


The Tax of Cthulhu


            As Jonathan walked away from BLOCK A, BLOCK B, and BLOCK C, he came across a newly-built cathedral.  It was surrounded by thick marble columns that sprouted from their epic stone bases and held aloft a thick granite roof.  A grand bell tower next to the building punctured the sky with a sharp metal spire that reflected a sliver of light across the street below.  Jonathan’s curiosity overwhelmed him, and he entered the palace of worship.

            No sooner than when the great wooden doors slammed shut, a woman wearing a fitted black business suit and thin glasses darted in front of Jonathan and eagerly said, “Hello fellow believer!  Welcome to the Church of Cthulhu!”

            “I’m sorry, but this is actually my first time in here,” Jonathan corrected.

The polite smile on her face erupted into a teeth-bearing grin.  She responded, “So, you’d like to join our faith then?  Excellent decision.  Follow me.”

She began hastily walking down an open aisle, flanked by two rows of seemingly endless wooden benches.  Jonathan had not noticed the expansive interior, the stained glass windows, and the magnificent alter that lay at the other end until now.

She reached the front of the altar and stopped.  “Here at the Church of Cthulhu,” she continued, “we provide an elegant setting for the members of our church to practice their faith.  Thanks to donations by the Palace of Lords, our community has been able to build this magnificent church in honor of the great Cthulhu.”

Jonathan inquired, “The government paid for the construction?”

The woman haltered her presentation and shot him an annoyed look, but answered his question with much-rehearsed grace.  “We provide a fine service to the public, and the government thought it was best to fund our construction.  The Palace of Lords knows we help shape the moral character of the community.  It is by Cthulhu’s grace that the current administration agrees with our religion’s teachings more than any other, so we have been blessed with an increase in government funding in the past year.  Blessed be our influential Cthulhu lobby.”

Jonathan decided to change the topic of conversation.  “Can you tell me about your religion?”

The woman became more relaxed.  “Certainly!  We believe in the existence of the great Cthulhu who lies dormant in R'lyeh, an underwater city.  One day, he will give his call, the mighty Call of the Cthulhu, and we will be there for him to awaken him from his deep slumber.”  Her arm delightfully motioned to the pictures on the stained glass windows.  In each frame, a gigantic flying green beast swept through the different landscapes, causing chaos and destruction.  It appeared to be a winged dragon, but with tentacles protruding from it’s head like an octopus.

The woman quietly placed her hand on Jonathan’s shoulder with paternal care and continued.  “Yes, we pray and chant towards the Cthulhu so that we may be eaten first by him.  For you see, when Cthulhu arises once more, he will devour and engorge himself in our world.  It would be preferable to be eaten first, rather than later after all your friends have been eaten.  Wouldn’t you agree?”

Jonathan had many difficult questions about the bizarre story to ask at once, including some that questioned the woman’s sanity.  Jonathan finally said, “If someone does not believe in your faith, did their taxes still help pay for the church?”

She fired back, “Well, of course!  Though the government says they cannot prefer one religion over another, they can still provide donations to faith-based charities.  It’s a little under the table sometimes,” she winked, “but they know our influence over public morals and opinions is too great to be ignored.  During a sermon last month, our cult leader told our community about the benefits of a proposition concerning social security.  I can still remember him shouting, ‘The great Cthulhu will never arise if Prop 82 is defeated,’ and in the next election, it passed with a wide margin!”  She fondly added, “We had some really great human sacrifices that week,” and let out a loving sigh.

“You know,” Jonathan said, “I don’t think the government has any right to give taxpayer money to organizations that not everyone agrees upon.  Couldn’t you simply use donations from your churchgoers?”

“Well”, the woman snapped, “donations alone could never pay the construction costs to build this.  People need this service, and the people need to pay for those services too.”

“Many of the people who paid for that construction do not believe your teachings and will not come into your church.  Is it fair for them that they also had to pay?” said Jonathan.

The woman paused and clasped her hands together in meditation.  “Sacrifice is one of the virtues taught by Cthulhu.  Religion is one of the essential building blocks of any civilization.  People need to pay for our organization, whether they believe our faith or not.  It’s only fair.”

Jonathan asked, “How is it fair?”

The woman responded, “The Cthulhu community has to pay taxes to fund other religious organizations, so it is only fair that they pay us too.”

Jonathan thought about this, and presented, “What if the attendees of the churches directly donated to the churches themselves instead of that inefficient tax?  Wouldn’t that solve the current problems?”

The woman hastily answered, “If you don’t like how our church works, then you can leave it.  We would like to have our community remain for those who actually believe in our religion.  Now if you’ll excuse me, we have a mass later tonight, and I need to start lighting the ceremonial bonfires.”

Jonathan quickly left the church and began walking down the sidewalk.  He quietly thought to himself, “As bizarre as that church was, it may not be the most absurd idea believed here.”