Egalitarianism vs. Strong Cryptography

Perry E. Metzger perry at
Thu Aug 4 05:01:41 PDT 1994

Mike Duvos says:
> Perry E. Metzger <perry at> writes:
>  > If I told you that I could save you tens of thousands of
>  > dollars a year just by using some simple to use software,
>  > would you do it? Well, if you had some simple to use
>  > software system that allowed you to escape from the above
>  > ground economy, you could personally save tens of thousands
>  > a year.
> I am not convinced such software exists,

Of course it doesn't exist yet.

> or that it would of necessity be "simple" or "easy to use".

Thats a simple matter of programming, not a matter of infeasability.

> Once standards are created for commerce over the Net and the
> collection of the VAT, you are pretty much locked into using them if
> you wish to do business with any vendor of significant size.

I'm not certain you understand the tremendous economic pressure that
taxes bring to bear.

>  > What makes you think the VAT will be small?
> Bear in mind we are talking about a Utopian society of the future
> with a downsized government.

Since such a society is unlikely to show up any time soon, I'd say
that the odds of my scenario of the future coming true exceed the odds
of your vision of the future coming true.

>  > What makes you think it will be inconvenient? I know of two
>  > pizza places in Manhattan where they very likely don't pay
>  > taxes and where you can also buy drugs.
> I know of some places on the Internet where I can chat with
> people using a version of Unix talk which encrypts.  But if I
> want to talk to some random person, I am probably stuck with
> using the default version which does not.

> I have little hope of convincing people to make the encrypted one a
> standard, in spite of the fact that all they would have to do is
> spend a few minutes to FTP it.

Well, not for long. The IETF Working Group on IP security has just
come to consensus on an IPSP protocol -- in the not that distant
future it won't be necessary to alter any applications software in
order to have it operate over an encrypted channel.

> Encrypting everytime I use "talk" is therefore somewhat
> inconvenient.  A complete escape from the above-ground economy in
> a society heavily dependent on electronic transactions would be
> even more so.

Thats not a valid analogy. There are tens of millions of people in the
underground economy right now -- in a society already highly dependant
on electronic transactions. There is no economic incentive for most
people to encrypt their talk sessions -- but there is a great economic
incentive to evade taxes.

> In a society where taxes were managable, and put to a use all
> citizens felt was worthy, such forces would be much less and
> there would be enormous peer pressure on individual citizens to
> do their fair share.

And if my grandmother had wheels she'd be a bicycle. It isn't
happening now -- the trend is towards larger taxes, bigger government
and more repression, not less. You can't wave a wand and have your
vision implemented -- nor is there anything you could personally do
towards implementing your vision. On the other hand, the only thing
standing between my scenario and reality is someone hacking for about
six months, and some offshore banks deciding to go into the business.


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