Sunday, March 17, 2013

Who wants to tax the rich?

Before he found God, he was one of Nixon's henchmen: Charles Colson. In Chapter 9 of his 1989 book Against the Night: Living in the New Dark Ages, Colson wrote:
Near the end, Rome's agriculture and trade languished while inflation flourished. Yet the great city on the seven hills had survived such troubles in the past. The major problem was that the empire had not been well-governed for years -- not since the strong and principled leadership of Marcus Aurelius. Skill in government had long been a Roman specialty; but the cruel expedients by which later emperors tried to force revenue out of people who could not pay, while allowing those who could pay to escape, were not good government.


Luke Smith said...

The temple Juno Moneta was dedicated to the god of foresight and warning (like Cassandra) because the location of the temple was built on top an important battleground. So the story goes that as the Romans slept, the barbarians stealthily made their way into Rome under the cover of night. However, as they attempted to sneak up on the Romans, the barbarians happened to awaken some nearby geese. The noise and commotion of the geese alerted the Romans to the invasion.

Also in dedication of the god Juno Moneta, the Romans began to mint their coins in the temple - establishing the precedent of royal (or sovereign) prerogative. A peasant could give two silver pieces to appease the gods; and the Roman elite could take those two silver pieces, smelt them down, and produce ten silver pieces.

One of my favorite quotes about Rome, by Joseph Schumpeter:

"There was no corner of the known world where some interest was not alleged to be in danger or under actual attack. If the interests were not Roman, they were those of Rome’s allies; and if Rome had no allies, then allies would be invented. When it was utterly impossible to contrive such an interest, why, then it was the national honor that had been insulted.

The fight was always invested with an aura of legality. Rome was always being attacked by evil-minded neighbors, always fighting for a breathing space. The whole world was pervaded by a host of enemies, and it was manifestly Rome’s duty to guard against their indubitably aggressive designs. They were enemies who only waited to fall on the Roman people."

The Arthurian said...

I like your Cassandra and the geese story best. Rome -- I don't like to think of Rome as the bad guy.

It seems the royal prerogative was established very soon after money was invented.