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Taxation in the Liberal Tradition


In this essay, we argue that liberal economists should take more seriously the problems of public goods and externalities as well as the capacity of taxation and state action to improve human welfare. While taking seriously the public choice concerns about how the political process works as well as Austrian concerns about the limits of our knowledge in the absence of market price signals, we should also acknowledge that public goods and externalities do exist and taxation can provide a means to improve human welfare.

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  1. Here we use the term liberal in the correct sense, not the corrupted American sense.

  2. This metaphor could easily be reversed to be about a husband who hates his indifferent or scornful wife, but the drunk, abusive husband seems more politically correct.

  3. If you are willing to argue in favor of free trade by invoking the consensus of economists, then you really have no basis to complain about people invoking the global warming science consensus.


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Correspondence to Robert A. Lawson.

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Lawson, R.A., Clark, J.R. Taxation in the Liberal Tradition. Rev Austrian Econ 32, 131–137 (2019).

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  • Taxation
  • Classical Liberalism
  • Public Goods
  • Externalities
  • Austrian Economics