Posted by Simon
About 1200 in Rothenburg, Bavaria (pronounced rotenberg) in order to build a city wall they levied a tax on all of the properties within the walls of the city. The tax was unusual for the time in that it was compulsory and according to the local history people who refused to pay were run out of town.
Today paying compulsory taxes for common defense, roads, education and many more government services are perfectly acceptable but many people have drawn the line at compulsory taxes for a common level of healthcare.
In Rothenburg it seemed obvious that they needed compulsory taxes to fund city walls. But once you start there is really no sensible place to end. Now that the Supreme Court has said that the individual healthcare mandate is a tax we have arrived at the end of the road we started down when everybody had to pay a tax to build walls to defend against the Mongols or the Huns.
My personal objection to National Health is not that the government shouldn’t do it. I object to the federal government doing it not the states because a federal program will become to large to be effective and to monolithic to evolve. Examples include the Post Office and Amtrak. I also object to any benefits that is financed by borrowing money for present consumption from the earnings of future generations. Roads and utilities we can finance but defense, healthcare, retirement and welfare have to be on a pay as you go basis.
On Wednesday I’ll look at some other early functions of government that we encountered in Rothenburg.