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...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!