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4. Binary Intervention: Taxation > 7. Canons of "Justice" in... > C. Distribution of the Tax Burden

(6) Taxation “For Revenue Only”

A slogan popular among many “right-wing” economists is that taxation should be for “revenue only,” and not for broad social purposes. On its face, this slogan is simply and palpably absurd, since all taxes are levied for revenue. What else can taxation be called but the appropriation of funds from private individuals by the State for its own purposes? Some writers therefore amend the slogan to say: Taxation should be limited to revenue essential for social services. But what are social services? To some people, every conceivable type of government expenditure appears as a “social service.” If the State takes from A and gives to B, C may applaud the act as a “social service” because he dislikes something about the former and likes something about the latter. If, on the other hand, “social service” is limited by the “unanimity rule” to apply only to those activities that serve some individuals without making others pay, then the “taxation-for-revenue-only” formula is simply an ambiguous term for the benefit or the cost principles.