The Laws of Economics are Universal

by Don Boudreaux on June 3, 2005

in History

The great 14th-century Muslim scholar, Abu Zayd Ibn Khaldun, anticipated Arthur Laffer by 600 years:

In the early stages of the state, taxes are light in their incidence, but fetch in a large revenue…As time passes and kings succeed each other, they lose their tribal habits in favor of more civilized ones. Their needs and exigencies grow…owing to the luxury in which they have been brought up. Hence they impose fresh taxes on their subjects…[and] sharply raise the rate of old taxes to increase their yield…But the effects on business of this rise in taxation make themselves felt. For business men are soon discouraged by the comparison of their profits with the burden of their taxes…Consequently production falls off, and with it the yield of taxation.

From Ibn Khaldun’s magnum opus, Muqaddimah.

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