Microsoft billionaire and quasi-monopolist Bill Gates recently proposed that we should tax robots. But should we really tax robots? Why not impose a tax on every line of computer code instead? Or why not tax computer programmers who sport beards? Via Wikipedia: “In 1698, Peter I of Russia instituted a beard tax to bring Russian society in line with Western European models.  To enforce the ban on beards, the tsar empowered police to forcibly and publicly shave those who refused to pay the tax.  Resistance to going clean shaven was widespread, with many believing that it was a religious requirement for a man to wear a beard.  The tax levied depended upon the status of the bearded man: Those associated with the Imperial Court, military, or government were charged 60 rubles annually; wealthy merchants were charged 100 rubles per year while other merchants, and townsfolk were charged 60 rubles per year; Muscovites were charged 30 rubles per year; and peasants were charged two half-kopeks every time they entered a city. ” Notice the “progressive” nature of this old Russian beard tax. (The footnotes are below the fold.)
 Corson, Richard (2005). Fashions in Hair: The First Five Thousand Years (3 ed.). London: Peter Owen Publishers, p. 220.
 Worthington, Daryl (2016). History’s Strangest Tax? Peter the Great Puts a Price on Beards. New Historian. London: Forgotten Books.
 Walsh, Devan (2015), Analysis of Peter the Great’s Social Reforms and the Justification of the Reactions from the General Public.
 “Указ Императора Петра I — О бритiи бородъ и усовъ всякаго чина людямъ, кромѣ поповъ и дьяконовъ, о взятiи пошлины съ тѣхъ, которые сего исполнить не захотятъ, и о выдачѣ заплатившимъ пошлину знаковъ” [Decree of Tsar Peter I — Concerning Beards and Mustaches of Certain Ranks of People, Exempting Priests and Deacons, and Levying a Fee and Issuing a Mark to Those Who Do Not Wish to Shave] (in Russian).