It’s not unusual to hear people complaining about the government, and about how Wall Street is corrupting our political processes. It is certainly true our political process is corrupt — and it can be very frustrating down at our end of the political spectrum, where they only real power we have is every two years we get a chance to throw the bums out.
Fortunately, there is more you can do than merely lamenting the sad state of affairs if your intent is to throw a wrench into the status quo. I’m not talking about camping out in front of corporate headquarters or setting up roadblocks in remote areas of the country; I’m talking about substantive steps you can take in your own life, all completely legal, that really do stick it to the man and slash revenue to Wall Street by taking advantage of loopholes in the system. Here are four that will make you a rebel, minus the pepper spray.
Live a Mobile Lifestyle
Whether it’s living in an RV, camper, or tiny house, there are big advantages in mobility — but it can also be a political statement. When my wife and I spent years living in luxury RV parks, we didn’t pay a dime in property taxes. The RV park owners did, but those taxes were certainly a fraction of the population density of the park. Since we could locate ourselves near the services we generally needed, we could ride a bike or take the scooter, cutting down on the gas taxes we paid. Our mobile lifestyle was a blow to the state’s ability to tax us. The tiny house people leave wheels on their structures because then it’s a camper, and not a permanent improvement to the property.
Live Debt Free
Our entire economy revolves around the concept of debt as money. Paul Gringon’s 47-minute presentation on Money as Debt is a classic. If you really want to stick it to Wall Street, cut up your credit cards and live debt free. You can easily get by in the modern world without credit; people do it every day. They fly, rent cars, buy gas, and stay at hotels, all without using credit cards. There are many who either pay cash for a house or pay off their mortgage early, robbing the Wall Street barons of interest income. Not going into debt or using credit is a powerful economic statement in the modern economy, and hurts Wall Street far more than camping out on the front steps of their building.
Ride Your Bike
Young people are causing headaches for government agencies because they’re holding off on buying cars; increasing numbers are not even bothering to get a driver’s license. Everyone who gets by without a car is not only helping the environment, they are dealing powerful blow to state and federal revenue. No car means no license fees, no gas taxes, no insurance, and no or reduced-rate tolls. Obviously if you live in the country this is not an option; but using a fuel efficient car, motorcycle, or scooter cuts down on the taxes you pay, and keeps state budget planners up nights worrying about forward revenue.
Participate in the Underground Economy
Flea markets, garage sales, farmer’s markets, and Craigslist are all alternatives to corporate retail, and parts of an underground economy that’s been estimated at nearly $2 trillion dollars. Buying used when you can, trading goods and services, and taking off-the-books cash work all rob the state of tax revenue. Services like AirBNB, Uber, Lyft, and other sharing services all take a bite out of retail sales numbers. Sometimes you’re supposed to be paying taxes on those transactions, so I would expect all of you to be scrupulous about following up, right? Well, maybe you forgot or weren’t sure of the process; when you participate in the underground economy sometimes those little tax bites accidentally slip through the cracks, or you’re not obligated to pay them.
Instead of complaining about the rules, just don’t play the game. There is ample evidence that people changing the rules of modern life, not buying cars, and using technology to subvert traditional sales processes are beginning to hurt the system, with some states thinking about other ways to raise money. The current state of corruption depends on everyone playing along with the status quo of borrowing money to buy a house or car and carrying a balance on credit cards. These days the boldest statement you can make is simply not playing the game.