I’m currently reading “For Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes on the Course of Civilisation” by Charles Adams and I came across a fascinating description of tax theory during the time of Louis 16th in France. I quote:
Economists in the ancien régime believed that the best medicine to cure poverty was heavy taxation. Indeed, the poorer a region was the heavier it should be taxed. Increased taxation, said these experts, would increase productivity and benefit everyone; consequently, taxes were the appropriate tool to combat poverty.
The poor were like grass– the more they were cut down, the stronger they would become.
Adams is definitely not a libertarian but here he lays out the retarded philosophy that has plagued man since time immemorial, that taxes are a good thing.
Incidentally, the only way to avoid taxes was to become a nobleman by issue of the King or work for the State. Noblemen despised work, as all good aristocrats do. I find this outlook on life compelling when one considers the lens from which Marx, the wealthy landed aristocrat, looked at the world and how much he despised and refused to work for a living, thinking it was beneath him. As has been pointed out before, the intellectuals of today have a lot in common with the aristocracy of 300 years ago: they love the State for the privileges it grants them but they also despise work.
I’ll revisit this in another post once I’ve finished the book but Adams demonstrates how the feudal system resulted from the savage taxation from Emperor Commodus to the collapse of Rome in which farmers preferred to become chattel slaves to the local biggest landowner (who was normally exempt from tax and was granted his land as a political favour) than actually pay the taxes and starve. Parents used to sell their children as slaves just to pay the tax collectors.