About fifteen years ago, on holiday in the United States, I bought Adam Smith’s ‘An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations’ in a second-hand bookshop.
I haven’t read it cover to cover ; it’s written in the late 18th century style of literature, which is ‘hard going’ at times. I have, however, read a fair chunk of it and some of his words (rather, the thoughts behind the words) have remained in my mind.
1 “The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities ; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state.”
2 “When the toll upon carriages of luxury, upon coaches, post-chaises, etc. is made somewhat higher in proportion to their weight than upon carriages of necessary use, such as carts, wagons, etc., the indolence and vanity of the rich is made to contribute in a very easy manner to the relief of the poor ….”
3 “In some cases, the state of the society necessarily places the greater part of individuals in such situations as naturally form in them, without any attention of government…. In other cases the state of society does not place the greater part of individuals in such situations, and some attention of government is necessary in order to prevent the almost entire corruption and degeneracy of the great body of the people.”
In (1), he is saying that taxes payable should be in proportion to an individual’s ‘revenue.’
In (2), he accepts re-distribution of income (‘relief of the poor’).
In (3), he accepts the wide variation regarding ‘a good start in life,’ and is advocating taxpayer-funded education for the less fortunate.
As they say, “Discuss.”