Thursday, 10 September 2015

February 24, 303 Revisited XII

What most people do not know, because the history of Western Civilization stopped being taught in most high schools in the 1980s, is that Diocletian came into power with an agenda because of the serious economic problems preceding his reign. This man knew who to organize. He knew how to push the envelope in order to save Rome.

He did something which may happen again in the States and in the EU. Because the Romans were no longer taking over new lands and bringing back slaves, there was a shortage of workers. (Does this sound familiar now, with abortion and contraception?)

He made, through law, a serfdom, by taking away the small farmers civil rights and tying them to their land. This created the coloni underclass who farmed the land and paid rent to the owner. This rent was either money, part of the harvest or more labor.

Many people were forced into becoming coloni. At the same time, the trade of Rome was dropping. If one could compare the times with today, one could say that Wall Street collapsed. The difference was that the emperor sought reforms by taxation and an emphasis on control of personal freedom and rights.

This may happen. This can happen. That the Great Persecution was part of the overall plan of renewal meant that it was accepted both as necessary for the continuance of the empire and the lifestyles of the empire, and as a necessity for the return of the "true Rome."

Inflation caused the Roman currency to drop. Here is a chart of early "quantitative easing".

And here is a detailed description of Diocletian's monetary reforms.

The reforms of Diocletian (284-305 CE) completed the recovery. He again tried to issue a new stable gold and silver coinage but, more importantly, he revised and regularized the tax system with some revolutionary new concepts. First he conducted a census of the Empire and divided everything into two types of tax units based on productive capabilities. These were land units called “iugera” and head count or “capita” (and yes, that’s where our modern term “per capita” comes from).
These were flexible units which took into account the different productive capacities of various types of land and the different productive capabilities of men, women, slaves and children. For instance, adult men were each calculated as one capito or one head count, but it took two women to make up the same amount of head (and I’m going to bite my tongue before I take a straight line like that any further!) and even larger numbers of children.
The greatest innovation was the concept of Capitatio. What this meant was that the state has the right to demand whatever it needs from its citizens in whatever form it wants provided it is done legally and correctly… as follows…
Each year on September 1st, the state’s total requirements were published and taxes would be apportioned to each province according to its assessed resources. In effect, what Diocletian had created was the modern idea of a national budget and tax system. Though the burden was undoubtedly heavy, it was at least equally assessed in all areas.
So efficient was this new system that the money seemed to pour into government coffers like it hadn’t in memory. No longer did the citizenry suffer the regular experience of being treated like conquered territory by armed men who were supposed to be their protectors. People’s iuga and capita were known to them in advance, tax receipts could prove what they had paid, and appeal could be made if collectors tried to abuse them.

Diocletian the financial saviour became Diocletian the moral saviour by killing those whose god was not Rome. 

All we need is one crisis, folks. One.....................To be continued......

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