Online Book on Taxation and Welfare

RNH is, in cooperation with Atlas Network and ACRE, the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe, supporting the republication online by AB (The Public Book Club) of many books relevant to individual and economic freedom. In early 2016 a recent book by RNH Academic Director, Professor Hannes H. Gissurarson, was published, The Icelandic Fisheries: Sustainable and Profitable. In January 2017, a 2009 book by Professor Gissurarson was made available online, Ahrif skattahaekkana a hagvoxt og lifskjor (Impact of Tax Increases on Economic Growth and Living Standards). In the latter book Professor Gissurarson discusses the two most important philosophical cases for the welfare state, Hegel’s emphasis on social inclusion and Rawls’ concern for the worst-off. He argues that the “Icelandic model” pursued in Iceland under the leadership of David Oddsson in 1991–2004 met both Hegel’s and Rawls’ criteria. It provided for more social inclusion than most other societies because unemployment was insignificant, the poverty level was low, pension funds were strong and retirement age was relatively high. The worst-off in Iceland were better off than in most other countries and had the opportunity to better their conditions. In fact, during this period the income of the lowest-income group increased more rapidly in Iceland than in any other European country with the exception of oil-rich Norway. Professor Gissurarson presents evidence from the Fraser Institute’s Index of Economic Freedom that generally speaking the worst-off are best-off in free economies. Therefore, a Rawlsian social democrat ought to support the market economy, free trade and the rule of law. Professor Gissurarson also describes the success of comprehensive tax reductions in Iceland in 1991–2004, warning against tax increases.

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