Monday, December 28, 2009

History repeating itself

La Gabelle was the most hated tax in France - indeed, it was so hated that it was one of the reasons that King Louis was not just shuffled aside into a Constitutional Monarchy role, but had some Quality Time with Madame Guillotine. You could call the tax a mistake.

So what was it about la Gabelle that made it so despised? After all, it was just a tax (in this case, a tax on salt). You don't like the tax, don't buy so much salt. Ah, there's the rub.

You had to buy the salt. By law, everyone ten years old or older had to buy salt, at a price set by the Crown. More infuriating, different parts of the realm paid different tax - favored regions got a break. Naturally, this led to a thriving smuggling trade, with increasingly draconian penalties as time went on. In the end, the cash was too important to the financially-strapped Ancien Regime to allow for reform, and the whole system collapsed.
Borepatch posts a history lesson regarding forcing a people to buy something by government decree. La Gabelle

Sound familiar?


Crotalus said...

It is all too familiar.

strandediniowa said...

I thought this to be an interesting story - I never head of the La Gabelle before.

History repeats itself, as what goes around comes around. And Karma can be a bitch.

Borepatch said...

Thanks for the link. I thought that this would be another Borepatch's-unified-field-theory-of-carburetors-and-income-inelasticity. ;-)

strandediniowa said...


Isn't nearly everything related to income inelasticity? At least in my household.

I'm glad I found your site, I've learned quite a bit. Your global-warming fraud posts have been especially informative.