Redistribution and Public Provision

Liam Murphy and Thomas Nagel

in The Myth of Ownership

Published in print April 2002 | ISBN: 9780195150162
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833924 | DOI:
 Redistribution and Public Provision

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Taxation has two primary functions. First, it determines how much of a society’s resources will come under the control of government, for expenditure in accordance with some collective decision procedure, and how much will be left in the discretionary control of private individuals, as their personal property; call this public-private division. Second, it plays a central role in determining how the social product is shared out among different individuals, both in the form of private property and in the form of publicly provided benefits; call this distribution. Though these functions are typically run together in political discussion--by the use of slogans such as “big government”–they are conceptually and normatively distinct. It is difficult, however, to address the two policy issues separately, since the two functions are mutually interdependent in practice.

Keywords: public provision; redistribution; big government; taxation; expenditure

Chapter.  7068 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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