Posted by Simon
In Rothenburg, Bavaria we were surrounded by evidence of the beginnings of the city state. I wrote the other day about the consequences of compulsory taxes for defense. Another early function of government was to try and make the marketplace fair. In Rothenburg we saw two evidences of attempts to have a fair market. The first was that they had standard measuring rods on the outside wall of the City Hall.
The second was a dunking cage for bakers and millers who didn’t give fair weight.
Seeing these artifacts raised two questions. What was the states interest in having standard weighs and measures? Where has this nascent regulation led us?
The answer to the first is that if the marketplace is fair, more people will participate and prosperity will increase. A common and an individual good comes from a government intervention.
The answer to the second is that we are now surrounded by regulation. Most of which are not about fairness in the marketplace but about the governments idea of what is the common good. I would offer as exhibits of this behavior: plastic bag bans and minimum wage laws. But where do we draw the line. That is what politics is about.
A teaser for Friday: Time is on my mind. Did you know it used to be a monopoly.
In Rothenburg we had a great English guided tour run by Claudia Koller-Lindner. Go to the tourist information for the daily group tour at 2 pm or email her at email@example.com to arrange a private tour.
Claudia our terrific guide is the one on the right.
She’s in the stocks for undercharging for tours