Editor, The Times:
I am currently reading “Medieval Europe: 400-1500” by H.G. Koenigsberger.
Despite his Teutonic-sounding name Mr. Koenigsberger writes a fairly easy read about the period from the late Roman Empire to the Renaissance.
On the subject of Roman taxation Koenigsberger has this to say, “Governments always try to tax the greatest sources of wealth within the state. But governments do not necessarily tax those best able to bear the burden.”
He goes on, “Even when there was no collusion, the tax burden was invariably shuffled onto the peasants! While the rich found innumerable legal loopholes to escape it.”
Some tax reliefs were granted to certain cities and provinces but as Salvian, a priest of Marseilles (5th century) wrote, “What else have the reliefs that were granted to some cities achieved but to give immunity to the wealthy and burden the poor even more?”
There is the old much used saying, “The more things change the more they remain the same.”
Of course, some things are different. If the emperor declared a certain thing done, it was done. Things like the HST and Flaherty’s corporate tax breaks have to be slithered through.
Well not in the case of Flaherty free loaders. With a Conservative majority this can be bludgeoned through Parliament.
However, with the HST, the art of “making the peasants pay” is alive and well in the 21st century!