I hope you have had the chance to see this play. Perhaps you are fully aware that it is “The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz” based on the 1995 Gregory Maguire novel “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West”. It represents an alternative telling of the witches from the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz” and L. Frank Baum’s classic 1900 story “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.”
The musical is told from the perspective of the witches of the Land of Oz; its plot begins before and continues after Dorothy’s arrival in Oz from Kansas and includes several references to the 1939 film and Baum’s novel. Wicked tells the story of two unlikely friends, Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the West) and Glinda the Good, who struggle through opposing personalities and viewpoints, rivalry over the same love-interest, reactions to the Wizard’s corrupt government, and, ultimately, Elphaba’s public fall from grace.
On one level, this is simply a great back-story. However, most people who see the play agree that it is an interesting commentary on what is truly or not truly wicked about a person and their deeds in life. My favorite part of this is the soliloquy by the Wizard in the song Wonderful where he states:
“Where I come from, we believe all sorts of things that aren’t true. We call it history. A man’s called a traitor or liberator. A rich man’s a thief or philanthropist. Is one a crusader or ruthless invader? It’s all in which label is able to persist. There are precious few at ease with moral ambiguities, so we act as though they don’t exist.”
What brings this to mind is an article in the Wall Street Journal lamenting the shifting sands of taxation as the internet continues its growth, you, and I stop buying things in conventional ways. Taxes are being reduced as a result, so taxing authorities try to find new ways to tax their replacements. We stop buying DVDs, so let’s tax video streaming services like Netflix.
Shouldn’t we first ask the question why taxes are being collected in the first place? If I watch TV on my computer, I see ads that pay for that service just like ads pay for TV being broadcast to a TV set. What difference does it make whether I watch the program using the over-the-air broadcast system or I watch it online. I have to pay for the data when I do that online.
So, who is being evil here? I think the taxing authorities should first be explaining why we should be paying the taxes in the first place and for what purpose and then work through the new supply chain to see who would be willing to fund the rightful costs in exchange for their imaging or good will. We have the Public Broadcasting Network already built on that model.
Taxing the economy is just like the play Wicked. It is a matter of perspective only after you take a very close look at both sides of the issues. It seems we are excessively prone to continue taxes just because those depending upon them feel they need them. I am not convinced.