Jeffrey Sachs wrote what bugs him about libertarianism. Here’s one passage:
Suppose a rich man has a surfeit of food and a poor man living next door is starving to death. The libertarian says that the government has no moral right or political claim to tax the rich person in order to save the poor person. Perhaps the rich person should be generous and give charity to the neighbor, the libertarian might say (or might not), but there is nothing that the government should do. The moral value of saving the poor person’s life simply does not register when compared with the liberty of the rich person.
While I find this to be an unimaginative and simplistic false choice, I’ll play along.
I’m assuming Sachs believes it is moral for the government to tax the rich person to “save” the poor person. In other words, it’s moral to force the rich person to do something.
The question I have for Sachs is whether he also thinks it’s moral to force the poor person to do something? For example, can the government force the poor person to give two hours of his labor to the rich person in exchange for receiving the tax?
Keep in mind, the poor person would not have a choice in the matter, just like the rich person. The poor person wouldn’t be able choose not to work in order to not receive the tax. The poor person would be forced to work and to receive the tax, just like the rich person would be forced to give up some of the proceeds from his work effort.
Is that moral? Why or why not?