What is it called when a nation takes by law (and under threat of punishment for disobedience) something of value from a person in order to spend it for the general good? Answer: a tax!

Taxes can be allocated in various ways, but a principle of fairness governs (or at least arguably should govern) a good system of taxation. People should pay their fair share: people in similar circumstances should pay similar amounts, and those who can afford more should pay more, especially if they benefit more from social services. One can debate the details, but the general framework is pretty generally understood and agreed upon.

So what kind of tax would it be that selected some individuals to contribute huge amounts --- but only if they met certain criteria of age, physical fitness, sex, and inability to afford good advice on how to escape from donating? On top of that, include an element of pure chance: only take a randomly selected subset of those eligible.

That's the classical military "Draft", in a nutshell. Quite convenient, for those who don't have to pay ...

(see also OnDelegation (17 Oct 2000), ForGreatJustice (1 Dec 2002), ... )

TopicEconomics - TopicSociety - 2004-07-04

(correlates: SelfConfidence, NationalWealth, TheVeto, ...)