The Invoice – by Jonas Karlsson (2011 in Swedish, 2016 in English)

the-invoice

 

If George Orwell’s classic “1984” could be combined with the old television shows “The Outer Limits” and “Glenn Beck”, you might end up with this story. Set in Sweden, the main character is living a bland, uneventful life when he receives an invoice in the mail for over 5 million kronor. At first he ignores it, thinking it’s a computer malfunction. What on earth would he have a bill that large for?

The novel portrays a society where the government monitors every event in your life, and records each as either a bill or a credit. Had a happy, well-adjusted life with a good income and lots of possessions? That’ll cost you. Are you disabled, oppressed, have a dysfunctional family, or are discriminated against? You’ll get a credit for that. Basically, the government attempts to redistribute the wealth to even things out. Unfortunately for the main character in the story, he doesn’t fit the typical human mold, and that results in an unbelievable invoice.

The story may seem ridiculous at first, but it isn’t all that far from the truth. It’s just a matter of degree. We’re already experiencing massive surveillance and excessive taxation. The department of revenue service has total control over people, and there is no mercy with them. There is no way to make all people equal financially, but this short novel shows the ridiculousness of attempting to do so.

1984 – by George Orwell (1949)

1984

It’s the novel that people have been reading and talking about for over sixty years. Written after World War II, it portrays a society run by a totalitarian government. Citizens are under constant surveillance at work, on the street, and in their homes. There is no way to opt out of the monitoring. The government tells you what to do, where to go, and what to think.

Winston, the main character in the story, is a simple man who has a government job with the Ministry Of Truth. Ironically, the agency he works for exchanges the truth for whatever they want the common people to believe. Newspapers and history books are constantly being re-written, and as time passes, everyone – at least almost everyone – accepts the altered version. As long as Winston does his job, never disagrees with anything, and toes the government line, he is fine. But when he begins to question the truth, and yearns for freedom to do as he pleases, he finds himself in serious trouble.

This book is as timely now as it was in 1949. The struggle between government and individual freedom has always existed. We enjoy relative freedom in the United States, but many of our liberties are being taken away. “1984” is a chilling reminder of what happens when government is allowed too much power.