Voluntary taxation: a lesson from the Ancient Greeks
Dominic Frisbyis a financial writer from London. His books are Bitcoin: The Future of Money? (2014) and Life After the State (2013). He co-wrote the documentary Four Horsemen (2012) and hosts the Virgin Podcast.
Edited by Nigel Warburton
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The word liturgy – from the ancient Greek leitourgia – means ‘public service’ or ‘work of the people’. The idea of benefaction was embedded in the ancient Greek psyche, and had roots in mythology.
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The beauty of the liturgy system was that public works tended to be funded and managed by people with relevant expertise, rather than by some less accountable state official. The benefit was that both personal wealth and personal expertise were shared through the community, without bureaucratic or government involvement. The job tended to be done well because the liturgist’s reputation was on the line.
In this age of the super-rich, perhaps it’s time to revive liturgy. It worked for the ancient Athenians, and perhaps it could work for us.
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What a fantastic idea?
Everyone always says that “taxation is the price of civilization”. Obviously, that’s wrong.
Us little L libertarians always say “taxation is theft”. Obviously, that’s correct.
Here’s the ancient Greeks teaching us how it CAN be done.
Can you imagine a US grazillionaire building a bridge with his reputation on it?
Similarly, the progeny in a rich family would be expected to do something other than post on Facebook their bragging.
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