Politics, Philosophy, Polemics

Archive for the ‘Taxation’ Category

Bill Niskanen and redistribution

In Taxation on February 11, 2012 at 9:55 AM

As can be seen on the “About” page, this blog is opposed to anybody who would forcibly remove one eye from a fully sighted person and redistribute it to a blind person. While the whole idea of redistributing body parts may seem obscure, the reason the example was originally mentioned by those such as Ayn Rand and Robert Nozick was to suggest that there is little moral difference between forcibly redistributing body parts and forcibly redistributing income or other assets via the method of taxation.

Bill Niskanen, a former Reagan economist and  Chairman of the Cato Institute’s Board of Directors, recently passed away. In his book, Autocratic, Democratic, and Optimal Government, Niskanen also attacked redistribution of income by suggesting that there are other factors that ought to be considered for an individual’s well being. He does this via the use of a stark example:

One young man is healthy and handsome, spends his days on the beach, has his pick of young women companions, and makes $10,000 a year by busing tables in the evening. Another young man is confined to a wheelchair, has congenital body odor, has never had an intimate relationship, and, with no other life, makes $100,000 a year as an expert computer programmer. In this case, who is worse off? Who should redistribute what to whom and how?

A very good question!

Hat Tip: Andrew Murphy.

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