Taxation & Democracy


by Sven Steinmo "The politics of taxation is one of the most important policy concerns in the modern industrial state; yet we know very little about it," author Sven Steinmo states at the opening of , a publication detailing the politics and development of tax systems of the United States, Great Britain and Sweden. The three nations discussed are prime examples of "industrial democracies," and Steinmo looks at each in comparative fashion, showing many differences but more abundantly the similarities between the three. In his introductory chapter, Steinmo discusses how taxes are looked upon by us. "Indeed, not only do we know little about tax policy, but what we think we know is often ...

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growth, penalizing consumption, directing investment, and rewarding certain values while penalizing others. . .indeed, taxation is a major instrument, if not the major instrument through which governments try to affect the private sector," as the author explains. Steinmo offers three explanations as to give insight into the "wide divergences" between the public policies of different nations and cultures. The first is the interests explanation that argues that "policy outcomes vary because the distribution of power among political interests differs from one polity to another." The interests theory also assumes that groups will always primarily pursue their self-interests and try to displace the burden of tax away from themselves. However, the explanation of why these public policies vary does not explain taxation policy, and tends to treat self-interest as a given. The second explanation provided is the values explanation, which looks into the fact that different publics want ...

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Since the U.S., Sweden and Britain are representative democracies, they are presented with the dilemma of linking the wishes, desires and preferences of those who they represent with the decisions of the "political elite," even when the public may be ignorant to the facts and the government must enact policies out of absolute necessities. This is a key variable in understanding why the nations have developed such contrary policies regarding taxation. The characters of all the countries' systems of taxation and public revenue are a result of their own institutional structures. With Constitutions of most countries either being either vague or unwritten, every country has had to adapt ...

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PAPER DETAILS
Added: 1/9/2008 12:28:21 PM
Category: World History
Type: Free Paper
Words: 2977
Pages: 11

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