Making the unjust provide for the least well off

The Journal of Ethics 2 (3):247-259 (1998)
Michael Otsuka
London School of Economics
I propose that liberal egalitarians and libertarians can find common ground in support of an unfamiliar means of forcing well off individuals to come to the assistance of the least well off. Such means would not, as is typically the case, involve the taxation of the income of all well off individuals. Rather, assistance would be provided by the taxation of only those well off individuals who have been properly convicted of performing justifiably criminalized acts that they had no right to commit. In Section I, I argue that many liberal egalitarians will discover that a strong case can be made for the taxation of only the unjust, since such a scheme would mitigate the objectionable nature of the coercion that must be applied in order to provide for the least well off. In Section II, I argue that libertarians who reject standard schemes of redistributive taxation will not also be able to resist the case for taxation of the unjust. In Section III, I defend taxation of the unjust against the objection that it would call for punishment in excess of what justice permits
Keywords liberalism  libertarianism  punishment  redistribution  taxation
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Reprint years 2004
DOI 10.1023/A:1009741102862
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