Ancient vs Modern
Updated: Apr 28
If there is one remarkable thing about taxation, that would be how we are using it to the fullest extent possible in today's modern world, after first being introduced to it THOUSANDS of years ago! Quite literally, we are hinging the main source of our government revenue, worldwide, on a system that was designed for ancient people who passed away eons ago. Doesn't that strike you as shocking?
If you were to think about it, how many other systems or products do we employ in today's modern world that were developed in ancient times? Right off the top of my head, I would say writing and body covering of some sort. Then, there is civilization/society itself. And, of course, there is the wheel. Then, there is...well...that's pretty much about it! Why? Because, over time, things evolve into better, more modern approaches. Almost everything experienced in today's world as a system or product fits that description.
Could there be other things still left over from thousands of years ago we use today? Sure, I wouldn't deny that. Would it take some thought and be a pretty short list? I believe that too.
Some might say that things which stand the test of time prove value. I can agree with that. Again, the wheel comes to mind. Writing is high on that list, as well. But, just because something was used for millennia after millennia doesn't mean it is automatically a good idea. Remember, slavery is a system utilized since ancient times too. I'm sure most people would agree that it's not a good idea. So, time is not always a good indicator of a good idea.
Like slavery, bad ideas that stand the test of time do so simply because of powers in place that prevent its change (because they don't want to lose power). Or, because no one has thought of a better way yet. I see taxation as an example of both. Governments lose power and control over the people when they can't force as much funding away from them. Also, non-tax revenue might not be a new idea, but many people automatically default to the thought of taxation when they think of government revenue.
However, alternative revenue sources ARE a proven way for governments to receive income, and they are more modern than taxation, particularly because newer models for income potential are always being developed. In recent times, we have seen the advent of things like the advertisement industry, ecotourism, and crowdfunding, all with the potential to provide funding for governments. Non-tax revenue continues to become more modern every day, constantly re-inventing itself. Taxation remains the ancient artifact it always has been. The most it ever changes is to wear a new hat while forcing money from someone. It doesn't ever change. It is an ancient idea, after all.
We've improved the invention of the wheel again and again by making it out of different things and changing it's performance. It's time we do the same for government revenue, by leaning more on modern sources and developing non-tax revenue sources to a greater extent.