The Rosetta Stone to the US Code: A New History of Taxation

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1. The Making of a Tax Historian

A New History of Taxation

Tags BiographiesLegal SystemTaxes and Spending

09/06/2004Charles Adams

Charles Adams, the tax writer, tells young people to get a liberal education and go with the flow. He took tax law and he taught history. He saw that there was a tax story behind every event. Taxes, not slavery, caused the Civil War.

Taxes began in Sumer. “Taxes are the fuel that make civilizations run,” but how we tax and spend determines to a large extent whether we are prosperous or poor, free or enslaved, and most importantly, good or evil. Taxes are forced exaction.

In Egypt, scribes were not taxed. All others were taxed twenty percent, unless you could flee to a temple or you were granted immunity. The Greeks were brutal tax collectors. The Rosetta Stone was inscribed in three modes - Greek and hieroglyphics. It was a tax document.

The tax history of the Jews goes back five thousand years. Their economic and political story has been one continuous struggle against outrageous taxation. Land taxes were based on what the land should produce, not on what they did produce.

Lecture 1 of 10 from Charles Adams' The Rosetta Stone to the US Code: A New History of Taxation.


Charles Adams

Charles Adams (1930-2013) was an attorney and specialist in international taxation. He wrote extensively on taxes and their impact on civilization, for outlets including the New York TimesWashington Post, and Wall Street Journal. He was also an adjunct scholar at the Mises Institute and the Cato Institute. Among other books he was the author of For Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes on the Course of Civilization​.