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

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Home | Mises Library | 5. The Swiss: From William Tell to No Tell

5. The Swiss: From William Tell to No Tell

  • A New History of Taxation
September 6, 2004Charles Adams

Tags Taxes and SpendingWorld History

King Solomon, king of Israel from 970 to 931 BC, lusted after women as he grew older. He had a thousand wives and concubines. Solomon spent tax moneys for luxurious palaces and his harem. His treasury was soon empty, so he found new ways to drain money from his people.

The Greeks thought that direct taxation caused tyranny. The British had used direct taxation to describe income, poll or land taxes. Excise taxes were considered equally destructive.

The European Union requires a VAT – value added tax. Adams dislikes a VAT on top of any income tax. Most any tax is ok if the rate is ok.  

Roman General Cerialis told the French people that they should not prefer rebelliousness and ruin to obedience and security. Most rebellions fail.

Henry the VIII was nicknamed Bluff King Hal. From a tax standpoint he was Heister Hal. He stole the assets of the Catholic Church throughout England. Queen Elizabeth I was called Good Queen Bess. She was not tempted into wars. She saved the coinage and restored the currency. Despite meager revenues, Elizabeth’s England was on its way to becoming a superpower.

Frederick the Great was a true benevolent despot, except with respect to the Jews. Jews couldn’t marry.

Sir Robert Walpole, who hated the merchant classes, still abandoned his excise tax as the primary tax for Britain. The British had a good system although they never could find a good tax. The Dutch understood that taxation meant the strangling of trade. The Dutch settled in New York thinking they would avoid all taxes there. New York was seen as the first tax haven.

When the rebels win, the taxpayers lose. Examples were the American Revolution and the Dutch. Taxation with representation is worse than taxation without representation. The biblical ten percent is probably what tax should be.

Lecture 5 of 10 from Charles Adams' The Rosetta Stone to the US Code: A New History of Taxation.

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