Economic growth! So important to the world. Wealth creation has been the prime directive for much of the world for the last couple of centuries, after most European powers abandoned zero-sum beggar-thy-neighbour bullshit like Mercantilism. Most states realised that the amount of wealth in the world was far from constant, and that you could amass great towering mountains of wealth far more easily from profiteering and commerce, than you could from looting and pillaging, so beloved of nomadic raiders for millennia.
So over the last several decades, the race for global economic growth, nation-versus-nation competition, has shot through the roof. Countries go to extreme lengths to outdo each other in economic performance and boasting. Who could forget Nikita Khrushchev’s thundering, shoe-flailing roar of “We will bury you!” in the 1967 UN general assembly? Who could forget Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s declaration at the very same UN assembly, 40 short years later, that he’d invented the Internet? He got seven seconds into his speech before being spear-tackled by a furious Al Gore, then roundhouse-kicked by an apoplectic-with-rage Tim Berners-Lee. They both screamed “I invented the Internet, you fraud!” and chased him off stage with raging machine gun fire.
The size of a nation’s economy thus became closely linked with national prestige and pride. Universities and think tanks around the world shunted vast brains behind the task of achieving rocket-powered economic world share for their host nation. But how? What’s the best way?
First up, there’s conventional economic growth. The usual story. People work, create products and services of value, and add to their nation’s total wealth pool. But that’s hard work, y’know. We can cut out the middle man.
The New Zealand government, in 1979, discussed and brainstormed these matters and more at great length. We want in on this moola, the NZ government said. See, our country is the leading member of the Soviet Union; the Arab League; OPEC; the Holy Roman Empire; the Justice League; and the Mickey Mouse Club. But these just aren’t cutting it any more. Not quite the gold mines they claimed to be. That Mickey is a tight bastard. Wallet like adamantium.
First up, they toyed with the notion of the straightforward looting of other countries, and in February 1980 physically stole the Australian cities of Sydney and Melbourne, literally excavating and scooping them out of the earth whole, and floating them off the Fiordland coastline. Unfortunately, though, this soon hit a snag – the Irish comedian Ed Byrne stumbled across a similar phenomenon: “I’m a skinny fucker, and to get out of fights, I convince my aggressor that he’s so good at fighting, and I’m so shit at fighting, that if he were to fight me, he would become worse at fighting.” Sydney and Melbourne, in much the same way, became an anti-Kiwi vacuum cleaner of mediocrity and despair, and soon sucked the vibrance and vitality out of much of southern New Zealand. Luckily, though, the main country flavour they forcibly removed was the Nazi Remnant, and once this was extracted, the NZ government plopped the two cities back into the Australian holes from whence they’d come.
Second, they took steps to increase the rate at which money circulates in the economy – the whole point of the gross domestic product is to measure the total amount of money paid for goods and services in a year, and the government task force lost no time in getting cracking in speeding up money circulation. Through a hilarious misunderstanding, though, the task force confiscated and physically destroyed all banknotes and coins, and re-issued the entire country new currency, faster currency. Jet engines, obviously. Whatever else? The 1983 State Of The Nation address involved the Prime Minister, Robert Muldoon, declaring to the nation that “We pledge that, before this decade is out, our currency will have a minimum cruising speed of Mach 6! No other country will have economic speed like ours!”
Third, the task force declared that the cash registers of large foreign Powers, like, say, China, were now NZ territory. The tried-and-true way of stamping international legitimacy on territorial claims is, as everyone knows, to demonstrate that the claim in question is NZ soil, so the task force started counterfeiting millions of Yuan banknotes made from finest compressed NZ topsoil, designed to instantly revert from note form into actual soil upon contact with the sweaty palms of Chinese shopkeepers.
Result: when the shopkeeper touches a fake Yuan note, it explodes into a mountain of territory-expanding topsoil, concealing the rest of the cash register. Normally, such notes would give themselves away by being quite a bit heavier than other Yuan notes, so the covert factories making these fake Yuan notes had to surreptitiously attach huge helium balloons to them, in the shape of a huge inflatable grinning Chairman Mao bobble head. Who in China would ever dare be servile and unpatriotic enough to whine that random corner shops shouldn’t be completely filled by gigantic helium Mao heads? Traitors, that’s who!
Fourth, and most controversially, the task force declared that spiritual wealth was legal tender. The spirituality of your average man on the street is now taxable! The task force put into practice hastily laid plans to quantify and extract valuable percentages of peoples’ spirituality.
Like economic wealth creation, is it not possible to generate spiritual wealth? Prophet factories! Mass-produce Jesuses. It could be argued that US megachurches do this already. Solution: the task force sent great armies of fact-finding missions to Pat Robertson’s secret underground lair to glean precious insights into his ruthless propheteering genius.
The Government then began taxing peoples’ spiritual wealth. Extracting a certain percentage is ever so much fun. Applying emotion research to individual spiritual taxpayers allows auditors to extract exactly, say, 28% of each taxpayer’s wealth, depending on their tax bracket.
How, you might ask? Several ways. First up, start subsidising evangelism – equip the evangelists in question with the very latest FaithSuck 5000 gadgets, and insist to participating churches and other organisations that only their most obstinate and blunt members may evangalise. Imagine Fred Phelp’s even more sociopathic brother. You get the idea.
See, the point isn’t to foster healthy, robust and intelligent interfaith debate, it’s to annoy the crap out of those evangelised at, and to make ‘em feel like their very living essence is being forcibly drained out of them. Because that’s exactly what’s happening.
Draining evangelees’ vitality is, of course, the entire point. Vigour and vim, peoples’ spiritual wealth, then became forcibly removed from the populace, added to the country’s treasury, boosted GDP, and thus help retain NZ’s share of global wealth.
The extraction and thus monetisation and centralisation of an entire country’s vim, although keenly encouraged in New Zealand, wasn’t exactly recognised as legal tender in other parts of the world. As the NZ government attempted to pay its national debt with bottled faith rather than globally-recognised hard currency, international accounting and economics became rather strained. The last straw broke when a suitcase full of compressed-earth Yuan, delivered to the UK Houses of Parliament, was handled by an aide and exploded into a volcano of territory-consolidation. What little remained of the UK Parliament instantly ejected NZ from the Commonwealth, and declared war an hour later.