(Slate) -- Earlier this month, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez floated the idea of a 70 percent tax rate on incomes over $10 million. Critics piled on to call the tax “astronomical,” “higher than Communist China”—some even likened it to slavery. On Tuesday, former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker compared the multimillionaires’ tax to taking money from fifth-graders after doing their chores, then referenced the fall of the Soviet Union as evidence that “socialism” doesn’t work.
The irony of all this is that AOC’s tax proposal finds inspiration not in Karl Marx, but in mainstream American political philosophy. How we tax the rich depends on why we tax the rich, and AOC’s proposal reflects a surprisingly moderate view of economic justice.
Her plan can trace its intellectual lineage to John Rawls, the giant of American political philosophy. His 1971 classic, A Theory of Justice, defends a vision of liberal society that still appeals to most Americans: equal rights, a market economy, and a welfare state.
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