The Uneasy Case for the Flat Tax
There is a secret paradox at the heart of social contract theories. Such theories assume that, because personal security and private property are at risk in a state of nature, subjects will agree to grant Leviathan a monopoly of violence. But what is to prevent Leviathan from turning on his subjects once they have lain down their arms? If Leviathan has the same incentives as his subjects in the Hobbesian state of nature, he will plunder them more thoroughly than ever they plundered themselves in the state of nature. Thus the social contract always leaves subjects worse off, unless Leviathan can fetter himself. And how can Leviathan bind himself, if he can always impose confiscatory taxes or choke off trade through inefficient regulations? This Article suggests that schemes of progressive taxation, in which marginal tax rates increase with taxable income, may be seen as a useful incentive strategy to bribe Leviathan from imposing inefficient regulations. Income taxes give Leviathan an equity claim in his state's economy, and progressive taxes give him a greater residual interest in upside payoffs. Leviathan will then demand a higher side payment from interest groups to impose value- destroying regulations. Of course, progressive taxation imposes its own incentive costs, by reducing the subject's private gains. However, these costs must be balanced against the gains from correcting Leviathan's misincentives, and it may that such gains exceed the costs of progressive taxation.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Volume (Year): 11 (2000)
Issue (Month): 4 (December)
|Contact details of provider:|| Web page: http://www.springer.com|
|Order Information:||Web: http://www.springer.com/political+science/journal/10602/PS2|
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Robert M. Townsend, 1979.
"Optimal contracts and competitive markets with costly state verification,"
45, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
- Townsend, Robert M., 1979. "Optimal contracts and competitive markets with costly state verification," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 265-293, October.
- Slemrod, Joel, 1990.
"Optimal Taxation and Optimal Tax Systems,"
Journal of Economic Perspectives,
American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 157-78, Winter.
- Rasmusen, Eric, 1992. "An Income-Satiation Model of Efficiency Wages," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 30(3), pages 467-78, July.
- John E. Roemer, 1997.
"The Democratic Political Economy of Progressive Income Taxation,"
97-03, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
- John E. Roemer, 1999. "The Democratic Political Economy of Progressive Income Taxation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(1), pages 1-20, January.
- John Roemer, 2003. "The Democratic Political Economy Of Progressive Income Taxation," Working Papers 9711, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
- John E. Roemer, . "The Democratic Political Economy Of Progressive Income Taxation," Department of Economics 97-11, California Davis - Department of Economics.
- Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1998.
"The Quality of Government,"
Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers
1847, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
- Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert Vishny, 1998. "The Quality of Goverment," NBER Working Papers 6727, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Rafael LaPorta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert Vishny, . "The Quality of Government," Working Paper 19452, Harvard University OpenScholar.
- Richard A. Posner, 1971. "Taxation by Regulation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 2(1), pages 22-50, Spring.
- Rasmusen, Eric B & Zupan, Mark A, 1991. "Extending the Economic Theory of Regulation to the Form of Policy," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 72(2-3), pages 167-91, December.
- Posner, Richard A, 1975. "The Social Costs of Monopoly and Regulation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(4), pages 807-27, August.
- Gordon Tullock, 1975. "The Transitional Gains Trap," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 6(2), pages 671-678, Autumn.
- Becker, Gary S & Mulligan, Casey B, 2003.
"Deadweight Costs and the Size of Government,"
Journal of Law and Economics,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 46(2), pages 293-340, October.
- Gary S. Becker & Casey B. Mulligan, 1998. "Deadweight Costs and the Size of Government," NBER Working Papers 6789, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Gary S. Becker & Casey B. Mulligan, 1998. "Deadweight Costs and the Size of Government," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 144, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
- Brickley, James A. & Bhagat, Sanjai & Lease, Ronald C., 1985. "The impact of long-range managerial compensation plans on shareholder wealth," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(1-3), pages 115-129, April.
- Veitch, John M., 1986. "Repudiations and Confiscations by the Medieval State," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(01), pages 31-36, March.
- Snyder, James M. & Kramer, Gerald H., 1988.
"Fairness, self-interest, and the politics of the progressive income tax,"
Journal of Public Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 197-230, July.
- Kramer, Gerald H. & Snyder, James M., 1983. "Fairness, Self-Interest, and the Politics of the Progressive Income Tax," Working Papers 498, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
- Becker, Gary S., 1985.
"Public policies, pressure groups, and dead weight costs,"
Journal of Public Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 329-347, December.
- Gary S. Becker, 1984. "Public Policies, Pressure Groups, and Dead Weight Costs," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 35, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
- Kreps, David M. & Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John & Wilson, Robert, 1982.
"Rational cooperation in the finitely repeated prisoners' dilemma,"
Journal of Economic Theory,
Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 245-252, August.
- David Kreps & Paul Milgrom & John Roberts & Bob Wilson, 2010. "Rational Cooperation in the Finitely Repeated Prisoners' Dilemma," Levine's Working Paper Archive 239, David K. Levine.
- Weiss, Lawrence A. & Wruck, Karen H., 1998. "Information problems, conflicts of interest, and asset stripping:: Chapter 1's failure in the case of Eastern Airlines1," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 55-97, April.
- Young, H Peyton, 1990. "Progressive Taxation and Equal Sacrifice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 253-66, March.
- MaCurdy, Thomas, 1992. "Work Disincentive Effects of Taxes: A Reexamination of Some Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 243-49, May.
- Easterly, William, 1999.
"When is fiscal adjustment an illusion?,"
Policy Research Working Paper Series
2109, The World Bank.
- Pechman, Joseph A, 1990. "The Future of the Income Tax," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 1-20, March.
- Klein, Benjamin & Leffler, Keith B, 1981. "The Role of Market Forces in Assuring Contractual Performance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 615-41, August.
- Kaplow, Louis & Shavell, Steven, 1994. "Why the Legal System Is Less Efficient Than the Income Tax in Redistributing Income," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(2), pages 667-81, June.
- Gary S. Becker, 1974.
"A Theory of Social Interactions,"
NBER Working Papers
0042, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- J. A. Mirrlees, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(2), pages 175-208.
- James B. Davies, 1992. "Tax Incidence: Annual and Lifetime Perspectives in the United States and Canada," NBER Chapters, in: Canada-U.S. Tax Comparisons, pages 151-188 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:kap:copoec:v:11:y:2000:i:4:p:295-318. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla)or (Rebekah McClure)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.