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Category Archives: Taxation

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. […]

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold … A post somewhat about China

Historically, taxing land (rents) and trade have been the dominant income sources of rulerships not reliant on labour service (not to be confused with taxes on labour income, which have a different dynamic).* Trade was a particularly attractive source of income because it often involved taxing outsiders. But trade was also mobile–too much tax for […]

Charity begins at the IRS

The head of the US tax agency has quit after it emerged his staff singled out conservative groups for extra scrutiny, President Barack Obama has announced. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew had asked for and accepted the resignation of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Acting Commissioner Steve Miller, he said. “I will do everything in my power […]

Paid Parental Leave v Income Splitting

Two things have come to my attention in the last 24 hours. First, in Australia, both Labor and the Coalition are introducing/plan to introduce a form of paid parental leave to replace the baby bonus. Labor’s policy is set at the minimum wage and is therefore cheaper to the taxpayer and less onerous on the […]

Against free markets

The term that is. There seem to be few usages that are a greater barrier to clear thought and debate than free markets. Whether used as a term of sneering abuse to create straw-person arguments or as a slogan of the right and proper, it is ready-made to close minds and abstract away from the issues […]