The Conscription of Wealth: Mass Warfare and the Demand for Progressive Taxation (2010) by Kenneth Scheve and David Stasavage.
Scheve and Stasavage assert that redistribution of wealthy through progressive taxation has remained a major concern for governments for many years. Most governments adopt tax policies, which support the use of progressive taxation to lower income disparity, promote investment and minimize collective sacrifice and suffrage of citizens in warfare (Scheve & Stasavage 529). However, the increase in demand for progressive taxation is fuelled by existence of political parties, which mobilize mass to participate in warfare and the establishment of electoral democracy. The authors have proposed a hypothesis that articulates that the demand for progressive taxation is as a result of mobilizing mass for collective warfare and to promote equality of sacrifice at the battle fields (Scheve & Stasavage 535). Scheve and Stasavage formulated this hypothesis to criticize the normative discussion about demand for progressive taxation. In so doing, the authors wanted to substantiate the claim that demands for progressive taxation is contingence of mobilizing mass for collective sacrifice in wars.
In order to prove their hypothesis, Scheve and Stasavage conducted a series of empirical studies where they compared income tax for nations, which mobilized mass and participated in the World War One and Two. Research findings, indeed confirmed an increase in progressive taxation in those countries, which participated in wars and in other facets of the society. However, the authors could have elaborated more on specific areas or measures, which they established progressivity and expound on how these areas or measures influenced demand for progressive taxation. This move will help the readers to have an insight understanding on how other constructs apart from mobilizing mass for collective sacrifice influence demand for progressive taxation in participant nations. The authors also tried to explain why ordinary citizens are unable to influence rich people in electoral democracy and they argue that financial sacrifice that is demanded from the rich was determined by warfare sacrifice the society demanded from individual citizens. Although this is the case, the authors could have considered whether governments had hidden motives why they impose progressive tax on ordinary citizens. For instance, the government could have imposed high tax on ordinary people not for the collective wellbeing of its citizens, but to finance political campaigns for politicians in government.
Although it is difficult to prove the hypothesis empirically; considering the fact that the researchers need to define and measure variables qualitatively and quantitatively, Scheve and Stasavage have tried to a large extent to achieve this goal, convince the readers and prove the hypothesis by substantiating their claims using scholarly sources and comparing their research findings with research findings obtained by other researchers; an aspect that enhances accurate, reliability and valid of data collected (Jesper & Daniel 370). In the same breath, the authors have strived to improve their effectiveness in proving the hypothesis by incorporated relevant examples, which shed more light on the topic. Despite the few shortfalls in the article, Scheve and Stasavage have managed to substantiate their claims and hypothesis empirically and add knowledge in this field.
Jesper, Roine, and Daniel Waldenstroˆm. "The Evolution of Top Incomes in an Egalitarian Society: Sweden, 1903-2004." Journal of Public Economics 92.1 (2008): 366-87. Print.
Scheve, Kenneth, and David Stasavage. "The Conscription of Wealth: Mass Warfare and the Demand for Progressive Taxation." International Organization 64.4 (2010): 529-61. Print.