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The Fraser Institute, Essential Nozick: Income redistribution is incompatible with liberty

Essential Nozick: Income redistribution is incompatible with liberty

Welcome to the essential ideas of Robert Nozick.

Some people argue that government should redistribute income from

people with higher incomes to those with lower incomes as a way of improving society.

But Nozick argued that income redistribution is incompatible with a free and open society;

and that it violates peoples' rights. Let's explore this idea with an example:

Imagine a world where the people decide everyone will be paid an equal amount.

One day, an amazing basketball star emerges, the greatest to ever play.

Many people love basketball and willingly pay 25 cents from each ticket purchased to

the basketball star to watch him play. Soon four million people have all willingly paid

25 cents to watch him play. The basketball star now has

an income much higher than others. The only way to maintain the income

distribution of equal amounts for everyone is for the government to intervene, either by:

taking his additional income away and giving it back to the people who paid him, or by stopping

people from freely choosing to pay 25 cents to the basketball star in the first place.

To achieve the government imposed distribution of income (in this case equal income for everyone)

the state has to constantly intervene to redistribute income and/or prevent certain

exchanges, all of which reduce freedom. Nozick recognized that for any type of

state-imposed income distribution to be sustained, the government would constantly have to interfere

with peoples' choices and violate their rights. This insight counters many political philosophies

advocating income distribution which remain popular today.

For more information on Robert Nozick, visit EssentialNozick.org, and to learn about

more essential scholars, visit EssentialScholars.org


Essential Nozick: Income redistribution is incompatible with liberty

Welcome to the essential ideas of Robert Nozick.

Some people argue that government  should redistribute income from

people with higher incomes to those with  lower incomes as a way of improving society.

But Nozick argued that income redistribution  is incompatible with a free and open society;

and that it violates peoples' rights. Let's explore this idea with an example:

Imagine a world where the people decide  everyone will be paid an equal amount.

One day, an amazing basketball star  emerges, the greatest to ever play.

Many people love basketball and willingly  pay 25 cents from each ticket purchased to

the basketball star to watch him play. Soon  four million people have all willingly paid

25 cents to watch him play. The basketball star now has

an income much higher than others. The only way to maintain the income

distribution of equal amounts for everyone is  for the government to intervene, either by:

taking his additional income away and giving it  back to the people who paid him, or by stopping

people from freely choosing to pay 25 cents  to the basketball star in the first place.

To achieve the government imposed distribution of  income (in this case equal income for everyone)

the state has to constantly intervene to  redistribute income and/or prevent certain

exchanges, all of which reduce freedom. Nozick recognized that for any type of

state-imposed income distribution to be sustained,  the government would constantly have to interfere

with peoples' choices and violate their rights. This insight counters many political philosophies

advocating income distribution  which remain popular today.

For more information on Robert Nozick, visit  EssentialNozick.org, and to learn about

more essential scholars,  visit EssentialScholars.org