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Category Archives: Taxation

Ebola, Ferguson and political narratives

The Ebola virus reaching the US and the ongoing troubles and controversy over a police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri display the power and the dangers of political narratives from all sides, both of US politics and more broadly. Thus, one of the more tired and embarrassing responses to Ebola mis-steps in the US has to […]

Regime matters

A recurring error in Western analysis is to not take ideology (particularly religious ideology) or regime structure seriously in analysing the behaviour of other states. Historian A J P Taylor’s famous statement that: In international affairs, there was nothing wrong with Hitler except that he was German. is a manifestation of this. But so is the […]

Banking privilege as social bargaining: a nice case study

Have been reading Fragile by Design: The Political Origins of Banking Crises and Scarce Credit by Charles Calomiris and Stephen Haber. It is an excellent, and highly readable, history of banking: slides from a presentation explaining the basic thesis of the book are here (pdf). The information in the book also explains a puzzle of economic history. Technologically, the key […]

On the US world-role and the economic rise of China

This is based on comments I made here. The World Bank reports that, on a purchasing power parity (PPP) basis, China’s economy is set to become bigger than the US’s while India has overtaken Japan.  China has declined the honour of being soon the world’s largest economy. The economic rise of China to becoming (at some stage) the world’s biggest economy is the return of […]

Robert Waldman’s really clever, very bad, idea

Over at interfluidity, Robert Waldman posted a really clever bad idea. Tax property rights on things where exclusivity has high costs on others (he nominates real estate and patents) at whatever price the owner sets — with the proviso that the state (or possibly all comers) then have the right to acquire the property at the […]

What if ‘net-neutrality’ was a really bad idea? Guest post by Brian Hanley

[SL: Despite long-term engagement with technology, I remain something of a tech sceptic. I'm not the only lawyer who's noticed that modern computer software often impedes the completion of important, time-critical tasks, or who has witnessed the property department at three different law firms refuse to part up with their IBM Selectrics. This article, however, […]

The struggle for the means of reproduction

Recently read the sort of work of history I particularly enjoy–one that gets into how past societies and states actually worked. Edited by historians Walter Scheidel and Ian Morris, The Dynamics of Ancient Empires: State Power from Assyria to Byzantium has essays on the Neo-Assyrian, Achaemenid Persian, Athenian, Roman and Eastern Roman (“Byzantine”) empires (the last […]

States as coordination problems

Economist David Friedman’s theory about the size and shape of nations leads him to postulate that the increased importance of labour income–a result of the Industrial Revolution: one of the ironies of history is that greatly increased propensity to produce capital increases both the scale (through increased demand) and then the average income (through increased relative scarcity) […]

Hybrid military systems

In my previous post, I analysed medieval societies as being marked by the bundling together of military service and income extraction in some sort of fief-warrior system, though the forms of fiefs varied considerably across different medieval societies. There were also various hybrid systems developed from the C6th to the C11th.  Late Sassanid and Thematic […]

The French Revolution as Chinese dynastic crisis

This is an essay on the interaction between states and social orders, using China as a prism to examine European patterns, rather than the other way around. According to Japanese historian Naito “Konan” Torajiro, the history of modern China began in the Song dynasty (960-1279), making China the first modern society; an analysis known as the Naito Hypothesis. […]