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    Canonfire :: View topic - Clergy of Zilchus: Views on Taxation
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    Clergy of Zilchus: Views on Taxation
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    GreySage

    Joined: Sep 09, 2009
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    Wed Jul 14, 2021 9:12 am  
    Clergy of Zilchus: Views on Taxation

    Hello All,

    Got into a debate with a fellow DM/player and had to agree to disagree in the end. I won't tell you who had what position, but it came down to this, and I want YOUR collective input to help resolve the debate.

    1) Does the clergy of Zilchus support, or denounce, taxation?

    One of claimed that taxation is more about government than it is about commerce, and thusly, the clerics of Zilchus would NOT approve, since it actually hinders the movement of goods and services. The other disagreed, saying that modest taxation is required to support the government to pay for various services required in society, and ANY transaction of money, including taxation, falls under the domain of this Power.

    2) Would the clergy of Zilchus serve as tax collectors in any role or capacity?

    This actually falls under the domain of the first question, but is worth mentioning. Obviously we were divided on this issue too.

    thank you

    Lanthorn
    GreySage

    Joined: Aug 03, 2001
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    Wed Jul 14, 2021 9:51 am  

    I think the god of "Power, Prestige, Money, Business, and Influence" is as much a god of government as he is a god of commerce.

    Further, I don't think that government and commerce are entirely separate spheres in a feudal economy (or any economy that actually exists in the real world, for that matter). Feudal lords collecting taxes from their vassals is, in fact, the basis of the feudal economic system.

    Money was invented to pay taxes with. That's why governments take the time and effort to mint it and stamp it with images of their rulers. Did you think they did that as a public service?

    The idea that Zilchus rewards only perfect laissez-faire capitalism seems anachronistic and naive. Surely he's the god of economics as it exists on Oerth, and not just a libertarian daydream version of economics that's never existed on any world.

    And yes, the god of money is inherently also the god of taxation, so Zilchus is the god of tax collectors. Actually serving as a tax collector might be too menial a task for a cleric, but perhaps initiates have to do it. Governments like the Great Kingdom under Ivid might have forced the clerics of Zilchus to collect taxes as a way of humiliating them and turning popular opinion against them.
    GreySage

    Joined: Jul 26, 2010
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    Wed Jul 14, 2021 11:15 am  

    I agree with Rasgon's assessment, but want to add a further consideration.

    Despite being Lawful Neutral, Zilchus and his clerics may not hold tightly to any rigid philosophy regarding taxation, in general. The Lawful aspect of their philosophy may mean that they support the law of the land that they are operating within.

    So, if a nation like the Great Kingdom or Furyondy want to charge a high tax on merchants within their realm, Zilchus and his clerics would expect merchants to follow the law. It doesn't matter that Furyondy uses much of that taxation to improve the roads and patrols to protect merchants while the Great Kingdom's various lords use it to line their own pockets. Zilchus expects any merchant that doesn't like the laws of the land to find somewhere more to their liking to do business.

    If a nation like Celene or the Rovers of the Barrends chooses to have no nationally consistent form of taxation, or no taxation at all, Zilchus and his clerics respect that and expect their merchant followers to understand the nature and risks of doing business within such nations.

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    Master Greytalker

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    Wed Jul 14, 2021 2:31 pm  

    The temple of Zilchus in Leukish was razed because the clerics refused to pay Justinian’s exorbitant temple tax.
    GreySage

    Joined: Sep 09, 2009
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    Wed Jul 14, 2021 4:22 pm  

    Praytell, then, what you think upon which side of this debate you believe the clergy falls, in general. For, or against, taxes, as part of the portfolio of Zilchus.

    Lanthorn
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    Wed Jul 14, 2021 9:43 pm  

    I can see them, as lawful, wanting to obey the law to a reasonable degree. But when taxation gets so high it starts interfering with business, THEN I can see them refusing to pay... or more likely, just packing up and leaving the realm. It's not profitable to fight a war against a government, after all.

    As far as being tax collectors? Well, there's power, prestige, money, and influence to be found there as well. I'm not sure whether they'd collect taxes themselves, but I can easily see tax collectors among their most faithful.
    Master Greytalker

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    Thu Jul 15, 2021 3:32 am  

    Lanthorn wrote:
    Praytell, then, what you think upon which side of this debate you believe the clergy falls, in general. For, or against, taxes, as part of the portfolio of Zilchus.

    Lanthorn

    I’d say the Duchy of Urnst example shows that taxation is not part of Zilchus’ portfolio. If it were—if the faithful truly believed that taxes were the divine will of Zilchus—then they wouldn’t have joined the Temple Coalition Revolt. They’re not necessarily anti-taxation in all cases, but as with anything else outside of their deity’s portfolio, they’re free to have their own opinions.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Thu Jul 15, 2021 3:52 am  

    I don't see there being a definitive answer on this, since a position taxation is unlikely to be found in the holy texts of Zilchus. And in any guess I don't know that the church is completely aligned in doctrine across the whole of the Flanaess?

    So I suspect the clergy's view on taxation would vary much like our views.

    I could see a good number supporting a reasonable degree of taxation as a necessary part of a lawful community. They would probably then expect to see some of that funding supporting the promotion of business and trade. For example, the upkeep and building of roads to promote trade. I think they would only object when the taxation becomes oppressive and/or is not used to support trade.

    There is also the argument that taxation is part of Government business and therefore fits very much with Zilchus, as long as you define business as including the conduct of government, where as in modern times when we say business we tend to mean not including government, ie. private enterprise.

    So I think clergy of Zilchus could be viable tax collectors, as long as they saw taxation as allowing the government to conduct its business and especially if funds from taxation were also used to promote trade (by making better roads).
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Thu Jul 15, 2021 10:53 am  

    According to WGR7 Ivid the Undying, The priests of Zilchus *were* tax collectors, at least within the lands of Aerdy:

    "Priests of Zilchus are left as the only non-evil priesthood of real note. They always have played a vital role in the economy of Aerdy, forming the bulk of the tax gatherers, chancellors, and advisers to the overking on trade and monies."

    I suspect the priesthood in general would be pro-taxation (roads need to be built and maintained, militias are needed to secure the safe passage of road users etc), while trying to minimise the tax burden on merchants - at least protecting traders from ruinous taxes.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Thu Jul 15, 2021 1:45 pm  
    Re: Clergy of Zilchus: Views on Taxation

    Lanthorn wrote:
    Hello All,

    Got into a debate with a fellow DM/player and had to agree to disagree in the end. I won't tell you who had what position, but it came down to this, and I want YOUR collective input to help resolve the debate.

    1) Does the clergy of Zilchus support, or denounce, taxation?

    2) Would the clergy of Zilchus serve as tax collectors in any role or capacity?

    This actually falls under the domain of the first question, but is worth mentioning. Obviously we were divided on this issue too.


    I wrote an article describing the beliefs of the Zilchan church in my Greyhawk, but to summarize one of its most important precepts is that spending resources, whether it be money or influence, is a very good thing if it leads to profit down the line, again whether it be in money, social standing, political capital, etc. On the other hand, waste is one of the worst sins in Zilchus's faith.

    So to answer question #1, the Zilchan faith as I see it would accept taxation as a necessary evil, but one that should be spent wisely. Money to upgrade and maintain infrastructure like docks, roads and sewers, or to pay for patrols and a standing army to guard against monsters and bandits, allow for trade to flow and for people to continue using their talents effectively. However, many of them would support flat taxes, since in their view everyone would pay equally in such a system. They would obviously deplore excessive waste, mismanagement or lavish living at the taxpayer's expense.

    As for question #2, one of my minor pet peeves in both the LGG's section on deities and FR's deity sourcebooks has been how they describe clerics doing things that secular laypeople would do just as well, and arguably take away from their time doing 'priestly' things, such as being judges, actors, etc. I find myself wondering when they actually find the time to do healings, marriages, exorcisms, and all the other things most people would ask clerics for help with.

    Tax collection is one particular area I doubt any secular government would want to cede control over to a third party. Most Flanaess states are arguably a lot more secular than real-life medieval states were, since the real ones typically only had one religion to interact with while Flanaess ones have multiple faiths all jockeying for influence, exceptions like Iuz and the Pale notwithstanding. Giving one particular church the job of collecting taxes, even one that's generally politically neutral like Zilchus, is putting far too much power into its hands. Not only is it problematic for the ruling authorities, other prominent faiths would obviously resent one church gaining so much power.

    In short, no Zilchus does not collect taxes on the state's behalf. Neither do any other church.
    Black Hand of Oblivion

    Joined: Feb 16, 2003
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    Fri Jul 16, 2021 5:02 am  

    1. The Church of Zilchus would support taxes. A properly funded government is more likely to be stable. A government that is stable is more likely to engender economic stability. Economic stability is conducive to vibrant commerce. Vibrant commerce, and everything related to it, promotes everything Zilchus stands for - Power, Prestige, Money, Business, and Influence. And the Church of Zilchus would be right in the middle of it.

    2. I see the Church of Zilchus as being much more likely to engage in banking rather than tax collection, exercising power and influence in a more subtle (and less hated) manner. Nobody likes a tax collector; especially in a feudal tax system.
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    GreySage

    Joined: Aug 03, 2001
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    Fri Jul 16, 2021 6:43 am  

    DMPrata wrote:
    The temple of Zilchus in Leukish was razed because the clerics refused to pay Justinian’s exorbitant temple tax.


    I think clerics of Zilchus aren't required to respect taxes that will ruin them (and they may advocate for lower taxes in some circumstances). But the fate of this temple is a good example of what would happen to the faith as a whole if it condemned all taxes.

    "Taxes pay for roads and bridges and for militias/knights/adventurers that deal with monsters and bandits" is a fine argument but perhaps not the most salient one.

    "Taxes pay for the king's salary" is probably the most crucial issue. Unless clerics of Zilchus are preaching about abolishing feudalism (generally a bad idea, except perhaps in the Yeomanry), they aren't roaming the lands talking like anarcho-capitalists.

    "Hi, I'm a feudal lord. My income comes from taxes and from rent on my lands (which are functionally a tax, given that I'm the government)."

    "Hi, I'm a cleric of Zilchus. Have you considered relinquishing what you view as your rightful due as a feudal lord and instead opening a private security firm that clients can opt out of?"

    "Interesting point, cleric of Zilchus. Have you considered my headsman's axe separating your head from your body?"
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Fri Jul 16, 2021 10:19 am  

    Lanthorn wrote:
    Praytell, then, what you think upon which side of this debate you believe the clergy falls, in general. For, or against, taxes, as part of the portfolio of Zilchus...


    -To sum it up, it would depend on the tax and what it's used for, and on the fine points, clergy of Zilchus might argue with each other. The two points of view you can rule out are 1) all taxes are wrong (i.e., they're not anarchists) and; 2) every tax is right (Justinian's tax in the Duchy of Urnst being an example).

    Did the debaters have a specific tax in mind? Maybe we can debate it here, through the prism of Zilchian theology. Laughing
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Sun Jul 18, 2021 4:52 am  

    Phalastar wrote:
    I don't see there being a definitive answer on this, since a position taxation is unlikely to be found in the holy texts of Zilchus. And in any guess I don't know that the church is completely aligned in doctrine across the whole of the Flanaess?

    So I suspect the clergy's view on taxation would vary much like our views.


    I would lean into this here, with the potential for sects, heresies and even an outright schism. I can see the potential for a minority of Zilchans (Zilchusites?) that fully believe that "Taxation is Theft!" while the rest of the sects simply disagree on more nuanced points like "how much should be allocated to government vs to everyone else?"

    As for which are the heretics and which are the orthodoxy, that would would depend on where you are and who is in power.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Sun Jul 18, 2021 8:20 pm  

    DMPrata wrote:
    The temple of Zilchus in Leukish was razed because the clerics refused to pay Justinian’s exorbitant temple tax.


    And that exploded into the Temple Coalition Revolts, where pretty much every faith withdrew from the Duchy of Urnst. I imagine Justinian's popularity sank like a stone with a populace that benefited from clerical support, even if most citizens weren't especially religious.

    Imagine all the doctors suddenly moving out of a jurisdiction because of their objection to government policy and see how the public reacts.

    In my Greyhawk, the Scarlet Brotherhood starts undermining a realm by appealing to Suel elites who would be receptive to its perverted message, but they wouldn't have touched that clown with a forty-foot pole.
    GreySage

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    Mon Jul 26, 2021 11:43 am  

    Friends of Oerth,

    I am really thankful, and pleased, by the outpouring of suggestions, philosophies, and viewpoints on this topic.

    For the record, I was the proponent who argued that the dogma of Zilchus SUPPORTS taxation, since it involves the movement of goods, services, and monies. I did not see taxation serving a government as being antithetical to commerce, but part and parcel of it. My friend, on the other hand, took the opposite viewpoint, which is odd to me, since he has a Master's in Business!

    Of course, that being said, if taxation oppressed, hindered, or stifled business or the economy in any way, I would expect the followers/priests of Zilchus to act against it!

    thank you all once more,

    Lanthorn
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