tliat money wasn’t eerything (“Wealth, wealth makes thernman,” as one eynical prover]> went), none of them vvonid pretendrnto rise above all such material qneshons.rnEven Aristotle, who regarded the life of eontemplahon as therneiilmination of human existence, was er” clear about the needrnfor a certain level of wealth and comfort. But we, whose entirernculture for two centuries (at least) has been deoted to gethngrnand spending, tell ourselves that the great billionaires are rcall)rnonh’ in it for the game, that money can’t buy happiness. (Tellrnthat to the non-English-speaking immigrant who makes minimumrnwage for mixing up your order at McDonald’s.)rnWealth is so important to Americans that we skip the usualrnGreek provisos about wisdom and justice. Rock starsrnwho cannot play their instruments, athaletes who jump likernkangaroos, stock-market swindlers who batten on insider tradingrnthen set vip foundations for business ediics, and the parasitesrnwho build and run casinos to keep the suckers from wastingrntheir money on their children’s education — these are thernheroes of American life.rnEen ChrisHan ministers are esteemed in proporHon as thevrnbuild media empires or fundraising dodges, and I am not justrnspeaking of evangelical charlatans like the Bakkers and Swaggarts.rnI shall never forget the time I attended an Episcopalianrndiocesan convention and heard our bishop, the Rt. Rc. GrayrnTemple (a name obviously invented b v l rollope) praised to thernskies, not for ministering to Ghristian souls, but as the CKO ofrna corporation with so many millions in property assets, a budgetrnof sueh-and-such. Gonsideriug what the Episcopal Church hasrnbecome, perhaps it is better to concentrate on the onl real assetsrnthe “church” has left.rnCMuirches do not pa’ taxes, presumabK’ because thc’ are saddledrnwith the “death” half of the “death and taxes” cquahon.rnThe rest of us, however, do pav taxes unhl we die (and afterward,rnso long as the l”)cmocrats have their wav), and though werncomplain, we rareh are candid about the American tax structure.rnVox example, we usually like to compare ourselves withrnHie oertaxed Europeans, but our ealeidahons rarelv take intornaccount what we hae to pa out in state income taxes, property,’rntaxes. Social Securitv, etc. We also pretend that we are gettingrnsomething for our mone, but nothing is plainer than thernfact that the more money our government dcotes to some noblernend—sav, educahon —the worse the result.rnWe refer to the fatal certaint’ of taxes as if it has e’cr beenrnthus, but it has not. Republican peoples have traditioualK’ paidrnlittle or no direct taxes. Classical Greeks and republican Romansrn(like Americans before 1913) paid various kinds of duriesrnand taxes —on goods brought into a harbor, on manumittedrnslaes, on |Dublic land rented for farming or used for pasturingrnsheep — but anything like a capitation or rexenue tax wasrnviewed as an emergency measure that might be, in theorx atrnleast, paid back to the eihzens. After the conc|uest of iVIacedonia,rnthe Roman republic had enough money to tenninatc evenrnthe (probabK) one percent trihiitum levied on propert valuernfor support of the annv.rnIn die hcday of the Greek eit’-states, citizens did notexjjcctrnto pa’ taxes. “Greek deuiocraeies,” observes Alfred Zinimern inrna once-famous book,rnalwas shrunk, unless die were driven to it b necessit’,rnfrom direct taxation. It was regarded as derogator’ to therndignity of a free cihzen. Resident aliens and freedmeurnmight pay a poll-tax (i.e., a tax per individual or on his income)rnand be thankfid for the privilege; but the citizenrnmust be left free to help the eit’ in his own way. Everyrnkind of indirect tax he was indeed willing to pay, taxes inrntime as well as in money; but the onl} direct contributionrnhe made as a citizen to the State’s resources he made as arnfree gift.rnAt Athens, the rich undertook (mosdy voluntarily) to subsidizerndie production of die tragedies put on in die festivals andrnto outfit ships of war, and the poorer citizens could, during thernagricultural off-season, perforin labor building walls and temples.rnWhat imposts and duHes there were (apart from taxes collectedrnby the neighborhoods or “denies”) had to be collected byrntax fanners, whose profession has been held in universal abhorrence,rnas Prof Enist Badian points out in Puhlicaiw and Sinners,rnby the same people who “arc likeK’ to be shocked that (sax) therntelegraph service or the water suppK’, in another socieh’, shouldrnbe in ]5rivate hands.”rnThe .Athenians did collect taxes, of course, but from the citiesrnwhich were gradually converted from ship-eontributing allies torntribute-paving subjects. Pericles used some of the nione’ tornbeautiR Hie Acropolis, whose temples the Persians had burntrnwhen the people of Athens (almost alone among the Greekrnmarihme powers) deserted Hieir cit)’ and faced the polyglot imperialrnforce in the straits of Salainis. Adieus behaved abominablyrntoward her “allies” —that is beyond dispute—but theirrntribute was, in one sense, a small price to pay for the sacrificesrnshe eontinued to make on behalf of (Tieek liberhes.rnd he point is wordi repeahng: k’ree people do not pay taxes;rnsubjects do. k’rec people do pay duties; Hiey iiia put some ofrnMata Hari’s Ghostrnhv B.R. StrahanrnWhat light there isrnfalls unnoHcedrnon our east off dreams,rnphoton bv photonrnerasing our facesrnfrom die dark marquees.rnE.acli dance becomesrnanodier death, each songrna requiem in stone.rnBone hand rubs against bonernunhl dieir obscenerngeshires tuni to dust.rnDrained of lustrndie plavers floatrnweightless ‘cross the stage;rnflieir rage more realrnthan all our dead desiresrnand flic light we’ve lost.rnFEBRUARY 2001/11rnrnrn