Saturday, February 7, 2015

Dead light loss of taxation

From Wallace Oates and Robert Schwab, in the JEP, we learn of the deadly effects of The Window Tax regime of 1696-1851;
The most serious adverse effect of the window tax was on human health. A series of studies by physicians and others found that the unsanitary conditions resulting from the lack of proper ventilation and fresh air encouraged the propagation of numerous diseases such as dysentery, gangrene, and typhus. In one instance in 1781, a typhus epidemic killed many citizens in Carlisle. Dr. John Heysham traced the origins of the outbreak to a house inhabited by six poor families...and described the dwelling in this way:
In order to reduce the window tax, every window than even poverty could dispense with was built up, and all source of ventilation were thus removed. The smell in this house was overpowering, and offensive to an unbearable extent.  There is no evidence that the fever was imported into this house, but it was propagated from it to other parts of town, and 52 of the inhabitants were killed.
For a century and a half houses in England and Scotland were taxed by the number of windows they had. Naturally, the citizens subject to the tax responded to the incentive and minimized the number of windows. Even bricking up windows that had once existed in dwellings and shops.

The poor suffered the most. Sorta like they do from the minimum wage law (tax) today.

1 comment:

  1. Some harm was done, but government looked at what it had done and corrected itself in only 150 years. According to that standard, minimum wage legislation will be discredited by 2070.

    I have read an observation about science. Professional science should be the area where people most change their minds when the data says so. But, the scientific big names hold onto their theories. New ideas, however well supported, don't usually take hold until the prior establishment dies. People hold onto their positions by holding on to their theories. In science, it takes two generations (60 years) to firmly establish a new, correct idea.

    In politics, it seems to take 5 generations. Politicians establish dynasties. The old idea doesn't die out until the grandchildren are dead.