Progressive Taxation: An Aesthetic and Moral Defense

24 Pages Posted: 6 Jan 2012 Last revised: 24 May 2012

See all articles by James Ming Chen

James Ming Chen

Michigan State University - College of Law

Date Written: January 6, 2012


The power to tax is at once the power to create and the power to destroy. If the United States government hopes to discharge its primary duty as creator and protector of its citizens’ wealth, it must be willing to destroy wealth, from time to time, by redistributing it. More than any other tool, the means by which government finances and depletes its treasury affects the societal distribution of wealth. Differential taxation and targeted spending are the most significant and most effective means by which government can “gradually and continually...correct the distribution of wealth to prevent concentrations of power detrimental to the fair value of political liberty and fair equality of opportunity.” Redistribution and the attendant destruction of entrenched wealth serve as society’s ultimate weapons of “creative destruction.” Of the many forces that have propelled the United States to the economic, political, social, and military pinnacle of the modern world, its willingness to countenance radical technological and organizational upheaval probably ranks first. American prosperity depends on the federal government’s commitment to an economic environment in which citizens are able not only to amass large amounts of new wealth, but also to lose it in rapid and remorseless fashion.

Keywords: tax, taxation, wealth distribution

JEL Classification: K34

Suggested Citation

Chen, James Ming, Progressive Taxation: An Aesthetic and Moral Defense (January 6, 2012). University of Louisville Law Review, Vol. 51, p. 659, 2012; University of Louisville School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012-01. Available at SSRN:

James Ming Chen (Contact Author)

Michigan State University - College of Law ( email )

318 Law College Building
East Lansing, MI 48824-1300
United States

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