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A tax on products or activities which are socially harmful, or have socially harmful side effects, in an attempt to reimburse society for the costs of repairing that social harm. Or, in the esoteric jargon of bourgeois economics, a tax on a product with a negative “externality” which seeks to pay for part (or very rarely all) of the cost of that externality. Examples are such things as extra taxes on cigarettes, or on automobiles which emit high levels of pollution.
These are called “Pigovian taxes” after the British bourgeois economist Arthur C. Pigou, who advocated them in his book The Economics of Welfare (1920). Such taxes are especially apt to be favored by liberal reformers who seek to mitigate socially harmful results mostly through laws and penalties on individuals, rather than on laws or restrictions on capitalist corporations which produce the harmful goods in the first place.
In a socialist society Pigovian taxes will no doubt be used as part of the means of transforming society, but the main focus will then be on the socialist production of goods which are more truly in the overall interests of the people in the first place, rather than production for profit regardless of the harm to society as is so often the case under capitalism. And the primary means of changing the harmful behavior of individuals will be through education, ideology and social peer pressure, rather than through endless laws, taxes and legal penalties governing individual behavior.
PISAREV, Dmitry Ivanovich (1840-1868)
Russian literary critic, materialist philosopher and revolutionary democrat.
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