The perfect socialist economy

Following a link from Instapundit, I got to read about the “economy” of the Inca Empire.

In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the Inca Empire was the largest South America had ever known. Centered in Peru, it stretched across the Andes’ mountain tops and down to the shoreline, incorporating lands from today’s Colombia, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina and Peru – all connected by a vast highway system whose complexity rivaled any in the Old World. Rich in foodstuffs, textiles, gold, and coca, the Inca were masters of city building but nevertheless had no money. In fact, they had no marketplaces at all.

The Inca Empire may be the only advanced civilization in history to have no class of traders, and no commerce of any kind within its boundaries. How did they do it?

How neat, I wonder how they did it. Of course, they explain it later in the story.

The secret of the Inca’s great wealth may have been their unusual tax system. Instead of paying taxes in money, every Incan was required to provide labor to the state. In exchange for this labor, they were given the necessities of life.

Of course, not everybody had to pay labor tax. Nobles and their courts were exempt, as were other prominent members of Incan society.

Hmm. People forced to labor for the benefit of others and given the “necessities of life.” This sounds suspiciously like what we used to call slavery.

Some have argued that the Inca Empire was the ideal socialist state, while others have called it an authoritarian monarchy.

So I guess “Labor Tax” is the new PC term for slavery. How long until we start hearing our politicians calling for a “Labor Tax?”

One response to “The perfect socialist economy

  1. Rob Crawford

    The ludicrous thing is the assertion that any of their system was unique. The pyramids and royal tombs of Egypt were built with labor-as-tax mixed with labor-as-offering. Most of the produce of ancient Egyptian farmers was “taxed” and then paid back out to the farmers and tradesmen as they worked the dry season on the tombs.

    Even the Roman empire took taxes “in-kind” at different times. Usually it was because the last few emperors had debased the currency to the point not even the government wanted it.

    More likely, the Incas just hadn’t figured out a way to represent economic value in a widely recognizable, easily portable way.