Do you hear the music?

Written by David Dylan

A few years ago I bought a house. It was a nice house in a prosperous neighbourhood. Obviously I felt like celebrating, so I invited over all my friends and hired a band. It was a nice band. They played old eighties classics that everyone could enjoy. The party was going swell. There was good food, good drink and the mood was elated. Then my joy was dampened. I happened to glance across the fence into my neighbour's yard. What I saw there was truly beyond belief. There was my neighbour with his unattractive wife. They were dancing! Yes, there was no mistaking it. They had brought out some of their own cheap beer and they were dancing, to the music I paid for! When the neighbour saw me, he raised his hand in salute and had the audacity to compliment me on the music he was so blatantly stealing.

Well, I really saw no alternative but to call the police. The two officers who showed up after a while were surprised at first. I had to explain to them several times that I wasn't complaining about the noise. If anyone had complaints about the noise, I argued, they could take it up with the neighbourhood committee, in true democratic form. No, rather to the contrary, I was complaining about my neighbour so blatantly stealing the music I had spent such a copious sum on. After a while they had to concede that since I had paid for the music, the neighbour had no right to using it for his personal enjoyment. Of course the neighbour argued that he'd never wanted the music in the first place, he'd just considered himself lucky that his new neighbour had a decent taste and had decided to make the best of what otherwise could have been a nuisance. But that, obviously, did not fly. In the end we reached a compromise; The neighbour would pay part of the fee for the musicians or provide proof that his home had been thoroughly soundproofed and that he'd spent the day indoors. After all, you can't just go around enjoying something someone else has paid for, even if you never asked for it. The world simply doesn't work like that. This is still a democracy, a free country! He grudgingly paid up. We never really became friendly anymore, after that. But that is fine with me; I have no need for the sympathies of such parasites on society.

Then, one day, I decided to throw another party. The reason is unimportant, but it was because I had bought a new sofa. Good reason to celebrate, in my book. I really needed that sofa. This time I hired a Techno DJ. I felt like Techno. And this time the neighbour wasn't dancing in his yard. I couldn't quite hear what he was shouting over the fence, but his gestures were quite rude, I can tell you. But fair is fair, he was outside so I billed him.

Dear reader, if you found this short story preposterous. Ridiculous, even, then consider this; every day we pay taxes for things we never asked for, in many cases do not even want, just because we happen to 'enjoy' them. From a standing military, which after all protects our home as well as our neighbour's to social security. Some of us oppose nuclear energy, but pay for it nonetheless because others want it. Some of us oppose us fighting foreign wars, or social security. All these issues are a separate debate that I'd be quite willing to get into at another time. Just consider this; Just because you can hear the music, should you pay?