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Abstract

This Article summarizes various formal theories of justice and of income taxation. It explores the nature of the American perception of justice. First, it provides an overview of the two political concepts that have shaped our country—liberty and equality. It then summarizes the American tradition, labeled "moral economic individualism," that articulates the meanings of liberty and equality that resonate most strongly within the national psyche. It surveys empirical evidence of American beliefs about distributive justice and taxation. The Article concludes that American beliefs in liberty and equality support a mildly progressive hybrid income-consumption tax, rather than a pure income tax or a flat-rate consumption tax. Such a tax acknowledges the pluralistic meanings of liberty and equality under the unifying umbrella of a fluid and flexible conception of fair tax.

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