I was having lunch with a friend today, and we shared a single chocolate chip cookie for dessert.  It was one of those big, thick ones, with soft chocolate chip.  Yummy.

The way we divided it was for me to split the cookie, and him to choose.  I tried to be fair with the break, and he got to eat the benefit of any accidental injustice.   It’s a pretty cool self-policing system.  Earlier this morning I had been reading about just that thing, formalized into practice, from Bruce Schneier’s security newsletter.  He blogged about it here.

It seems that over in Greece, if you find something old and want to keep it, you have to pay a tax on it.  An antiquities tax.  And the government lets you set the value of the object, any value you want.  Easy to see where that one is headed: “Oh, that Greek mask of pure hammered gold?  Probably worth about a hundred bucks.  Here’s your ten percent.”

Except for this one little twist the government threw in.  They will accept whatever valuation you want to place on the object, but they have the option of buying it from you at that price.

All of a sudden, people are offering to tell the government exactly what the thing is worth.  Kind of interesting – putting the burden back on the originator.