Ingrid Robeyns argues that there is a point at which increasing one’s income no longer increases one’s quality of life. Her argument states that given better uses for this money, namely restoring political equality and meeting urgent needs, it is morally wrong for individuals to have surplus money, which is money beyond that which is needed to live a good life. Therefore, Robeyns argues that surplus money should be taxed at a rate of 100%. The original argument only applies to individuals with excess wealth. However, there is no reason why it should be restricted only to people. In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the United States Supreme Court ruled that corporations have free speech rights, building on previous cases that gave corporations protection under the Fourth, Fifth, Seventh, and Fourteenth Amendments. Given that corporations have rights similar to people, should they be held to the same consideration of surplus economic value? Just as Robeyns argues that super-rich individuals have surplus money, so do mega-corporations have wealth beyond their use. I call this argument “corporate limitarianism”. In this paper, I apply Robeyns’ arguments for economic limitarianism, namely the democratic argument and the argument from unmet needs, to corporations. In the case of urgent needs, I also look at the expanded causal role of mega-corporations in creating and contributing to these issues and how it supports the corporate limitarianism argument.
Penn Journal of Philosophy, Politics & Economics: Vol. 16:
1, Article 4.
Available at: https://repository.upenn.edu/spice/vol16/iss1/4
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