The cuneiform signs, as shown left, are copied from a clay cone now on display at the Louvre. The cone was excavated by the French at the site of ancient Lagash, a prehistoric city located in Mesopotamia. The messages on the cone were etched with a reed stylus on soft clay during the third millennium B.C.
While the experts on Sumerian civilization may not agree precisely in their interpretations, the consensus is that the above three signs mean “freedom from taxes.” There are two features to observe about these ideograms. First, the word “freedom” here puts in its earliest written appearance. Second, is the remarkable clarity used to depict “taxes.” These Sumerians expressed in a symbol the nature of governmental “take” better than we express the process in our modern languages. Note its barb or fishhook or harpoon characteristics, suggesting, so very clearly, that this instrument is one which can be thrust into, but hardly retrieved from whatever it penetrates. The nature of taxation thus revealed itself at the very dawn of history, and experience confirms this early disclosure: Taxes are easy to increase but almost impossible to decrease.
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- The Progressive Roots of Zoning | The Freeman | Ideas On Liberty (postamericana.wordpress.com)