Abstract

This essay traces the displacement of the equality ideal and progressive taxation from the US tax code in the 1980s. After a brief background on the origin of the equality ideal and the current vast income and wealth disparities, the article examines the political process and philosophical premises of the 1986 tax reform. It shows how “supply side” tax arguments made their way into and ultimately prevailed in Congressional deliberations, a success resting in part on Robert Nozick's misinterpretations of John Locke's entitlement and taxation theories. The article then counters the Nozickian interpretation with biographical and textual evidence of Locke's egalitarian commitments.

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