Taxation as a Quasi-Market Process: Explanation, Exhortation, and the Choice of Analytical Windows

27 Pages Posted: 8 Dec 2013

See all articles by David J. Hebert

David J. Hebert

Aquinas College

Richard E. Wagner

George Mason University - Department of Economics; George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Date Written: December 6, 2013

Abstract

This paper identifies two broad strands of fiscal theorizing which date back to the late 19th century in the persons of Knut Wicksell (1896) and Francis Edgeworth (1897). From Edgeworth descends the treatment of public finance as a branch of applied statecraft, as conveyed these days largely through notions of optimal taxation. From Wicksell descends the treatment of public finance as offering explanations for observed patterns of collective activity. These two branches are not so much antagonistic as they are non-commensurable. The explanatory branch, moreover, is underdeveloped in comparison with the hortatory branch, and this paper seeks to sketch some contours for an explanatory theory of collective activity, paying particular attention to the American fiscal context.

Keywords: optimal taxation; tax pricing; fiscal philosophers; political realists; centralized mindset; carbon taxation

JEL Classification: D63, D72, H20

Suggested Citation

Hebert, David J. and Wagner, Richard E., Taxation as a Quasi-Market Process: Explanation, Exhortation, and the Choice of Analytical Windows (December 6, 2013). GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 13-34, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2364694 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2364694

David J. Hebert

Aquinas College ( email )

Nashville, TN
United States

Richard E. Wagner (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
334 Enterprise Hall
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States
(703) 993-1132 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://mason.gmu.edu/~rwagner/

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

3434 Washington Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

HOME PAGE: http://ppe.mercatus.org/scholars/richard-wagner

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