The Romanian government, in its never-ending grub for money, first decided to tax the nation’s witches, fortune-tellers, and astrologers. Now it is contemplating fining them, too, whenever it is determined that their spells failed, or their prognostications did not move into the Real.
Romania is broke: the economy contracted by 7% in 2009, when the nation went into hock to the vampires of the International Monetary Fund for more than $27 billion. As I noted here, last autumn thousands of Romanians took to the streets to demand that the government rescind a 25 percent cut in all state employees’ salaries, and restore the “wage incentives” that constitute up to 60 percent of state workers’ incomes. In an attempt to placate these people, the government has vowed to funnel money collected from “tax evaders” into the depleted wage-incentive pool; creating more taxpayers—like witches, fortune-tellers, and astrologers—creates more tax-evaders.
The government’s “tax the spirit-finders” crusade followed new taxes earlier levied on fast food, the pittance old people receive in pensions, and even the allowances of children.
The Romanian witch tax, decreed in January, resulted in Outrage: multiple witches rained down curses on various and sundry government officials, employing such implements of destruction as dead dogs, the feces of cats, mandrake root, yeast, and black pepper. Jeebus knows what new assaults will besiege government toads if they actually follow through on this fining business.
Here’s the news outta AP:
A month after Romanian authorities began taxing them for their trade, the country’s soothsayers and fortune tellers are cursing a new bill that threatens fines or even prison if their predictions don’t come true.
The latest bill was passed in the Senate last week, but must still be approved by a financial and labor committee and by the Chamber of Deputies, the other house of Romania’s parliament.
The new bill would also require witches to have a permit, to provide their customers with receipts and bar them from practicing near schools and churches.
The AP piece more or less portrays the Romanian government, on all levels, as a collection of bumbling goofballs.
European Union and Romanian officials say local authorities are hampered by political bickering and bureaucracy. The centrist government is unpopular, the opposition is weak, the press thrives on conspiracy and personal attacks, and EU officials say the justice system needs to be reformed. Romanians are jaded and mistrustful.
Meanwhile, the claim out of India is that Romanian government officials were heretofore hesitant to move against the nation’s oo-ee-oo people for fear that bleeding string-warts might suddenly sprout all over their bodies, but now are less afraid of that than of having no money:
Last year, as Romania struggled to emerge from a deep recession, members of the ruling liberal party tried to tighten rules on witches. But the Senate voted down the bill, prompting accusations that opponents were scared of being cursed.
Romanian political commentator Stelian Tanase observes that “[t]he government doesn’t have real solutions, so it invents problems.” He suggests the nation’s witches place spells on the country’s president and prime minister, directing them to fashion real solutions for real problems.
Romanian witch Bratuara Buzea denounced the Fining Solution as balderdash:
[She said] that the government should blame the tools of her profession, the Tarot, the crystals, the dirty palms, not the witches themselves if their predictions don’t pan out. Sometimes, she argued, people don’t provide their real identities, dates of birth or other personal details, which could skew a seer’s predictions. “What about when the client gives false details about themselves?” Buzea said. “We can’t be blamed for that.”
Too, and as my daughter, the award-winning deviant, pointed out in the comments to my first piece here on the Romanian government’s decision to rummage around in the pocketbooks of witches, fortune-tellers, astrologers, and other assorted seers:
It frustrates me that psychic work is the only field on earth in which a perfect outcome is expected every time, and if it doesn’t, the practitioner is declared a fraud. Just like an athlete who loses a game or there must be a fraud. Or a lawyer who loses a case. Or a fisherman who comes home empty-handed some evenings. Why do I get the feeling that far more witches will be sued for failed spells than doctors will be sued for lost patients?
That’s a good point there, about the doctors. Here in the US of A, some 98,000 people per year die from “preventable medical errors,” while another 99,000 are massacred by hospital-acquired infections. The numbers probably aren’t that high in Romania—simply because Romania has fewer people, and fewer malpracticioners—but that reads to me like a lot of coin the alms-seeking Romanian government could rake in from its leeches, butchers, and wielders of saws.
Then there are economists. This is a peculiar form of soothsayer invented by white people; to my knowledge no economist anywhere has ever been right on any prediction. Surely some of these charlatans roam free in Romania, and can be beaten like gongs with huge fines each time their predictions explode in their faces like a big clown cigar. Not to mention government officials themselves, who are incessantly promising and predicting shit that never comes anywhere near true. All of these people need to have their pockets turned out before internal-revenuers are dispatched to snatch the purses of ball-gazers, card-readers, and mojo-ministers.
Also, sometimes the magic does work, but the beneficiary bungs it up in some fashion. This should hardly be blamed on the deliverer. Then there are dueling desires: if three women contract with three different magic-workers for the love of the same woman, odds are not everybody every time will emerge shiny and happy. Also, what if a neutrino horns in? These things are barely matter, they’re flowing through our bodies all the time, and sometimes, when zooming through a brain, they inadvertently trip a synapse, and cause a person to start doing things For No Known Reason. Not even freaking jeebus can account for that kind of weirdness.
Fining seers because Things Don’t Work Out sounds to me like an invitation for the creation of a mammoth new sub-field in the practice of the law. Though maybe that’s the government’s intention. Maybe those people are shrewder than they seem. Fixing things so that each seer needs to retain an attorney would certainly generate revenue, as lawyers are known to have a dollar or two, and known even more to fail to properly report those dollars . . . thus creating a whole new swamp of “tax evaders,” whose monies may be drained into the “wage-incentive” pool, thereby keeping those unruly government workers from swarming again into the streets.
Geniuses, maybe, these people are.