THE NATION: Out of the Woods Again

"Please tell me, Caius, why are all these laws necessary to civilization? Why don't people weave cloth and bake bread of their own accord in return for payment?"

[Caius answered:] "It is the duty of the government to provide the necessities of life at a price the poor can afford; once you start doing that you have to fix the price of a good many other things as well, and compel people to work at the unpopular trades that lose money."

—The Little Emperors

It was 105 years since the Emperor Diocletian's price control edict (301 A.D.), and rigid economic regulation and manpower...

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