From Arch, who is very involved but not an AFA member, posted at the request of an AFA member:

Buried deep in the vaults of every government, there’s a “Money Tree Owner’s Manual.” Had Edward Snowden shared this information, no country on earth would have offered him asylum.

As your humble scribe isn’t seeking asylum anywhere, I’ll share what Snowden couldn’t. Here are the rules:

  1. The peasants must believe the money has true value. If they do not believe in it (be it shells, sticks, or fancy pieces of paper), they will notwork hard and be satisfied with receiving a piece of paper or trinket in return.
  1. The peasants must believe that you, the owner of the money tree, are acting in their best interest. If you tax them, you must convince them it is for their own good. Whether it is building roads, bridges, providing education or police for their protection, there must be visible symbols that prove you are looking after them.
  1. You must not allow competition from any other trees or crops. If your tree produces fancy paper, you cannot allow others to copy your paper to make it look like money. They must face stiff penalties for doing so in order to discourage competition. You cannot allow other fruits like gold or bitcoins to be used as currency; only using money from your tree is allowed.
  1. Keep your lavish spending out of sight. Peasants do not appreciate working hard and being heavily taxed to support the lavish lifestyle of their feudal overlords. History is full of examples that the symbols of luxury are the first to be destroyed in a revolution.
  1. Establish a vast and vicious army. Your reign is only as good as your army is intimidating. You must discourage others who wish to be king from attacking you and capturing your money tree.
  1. Keep the peasants in a perpetual state of fear. Use the media to continually frighten the citizenry—tell them how their very lives are threatened by those who want to conquer and kill them. That way, you have justification for all your many taxes. Peasants will pay dearly to those who offer protection from harm.
  1. Get the peasants to fight among themselves. Pit one class against the other. If you have a two-party system, let each blame the other for the problems at hand, even if they essentially both have the same goal: to serve themselves and their most influential members. In that manner, the peasants are less likely to unite and overthrow the king.
  1. Addict the majority of peasants to your handouts. The more dependent you can make the population on your handouts—as opposed to the results of their own work and effort—the easier it is to maintain power. As the old saying goes, “When you rob Peter to pay Paul, you can always count on the support of Paul.”
  1. Borrowing is fine. Go ahead and spend more than you take in through tax revenue. You are pledging the work efforts of future generations of your citizens to garner money for you to spend right now. But you will probably be dead before the bill comes due, so you need not worry. This can continue for decades as long as your creditors have faith in your money and ability to repay. Copious borrowing and spending is one of the fun parts of belonging to the government elite.
  1. Keep the illusion of stability as long as possible. When taxation or borrowing no longer work, it may become necessary to magically create money. The never-ending spending must continue. Inflating the currency, making the value of each piece of paper or trinket worth less is a non-violent choice—so you can pay your debts back with “cheaper” money.
  1. Use the power and might of your army and police force to protect the system. Flex your muscles regularly as a reminder to all peasants that they need to conform. Confiscation of wealth is an idea that can be easily sold to the masses. After all, what do the rich need all that money for? Redistribution of wealth is part of the rulers’ job. Without the benevolent government to lead, the peasants would never be able to survive. Always remember, you know best what your citizens need.

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