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Plucking the Goose: The Role of Taxation in the Modern Social Contract

Amir Paz-Fuchs
Publication date: 
Fri, 29 Aug 2008

This report is intended to provide both a record and a critical assessment of the third workshop of the Foundation for Law, Justice and Society’s programme on The Social Contract Revisited: The Modern Welfare State. The workshop was held in Oxford on 23rd to 25th April 2008.
The third workshop of the programme The Social Contract Revisited: The Modern Welfare State dealt with questions of taxation and distributive justice. Though many writers on welfare focus exclusively on spending, surprisingly few have written on just takings, that being left to tax scholars and libertarian constitutional law scholars.
A complete account of the social contract demands attention not only to what the state must provide, but also to the financial burden these provisions entail and the way they will be funded. This is one good reason for investigating taxation within the scope of the analysis.

The art of taxation consists in plucking the goose as to obtain the largest amount of feathers with the least amount of hissing

Jean Baptiste Colbert, Finance Minister to Louis XIV