Chance et fiscalité

En ces temps où il est beaucoup question de « pigeons » et de fiscalité, cet article de Richard Posner sur le rôle de la chance dans la réussite économique est digne d’intérêt. Extrait :

I think that ultimately everything is attributable to luck, good or bad. Not just the obvious things, like IQ, genes that predipose to health or sickliness, the historical era and the country in which one is born, the wealth of one’s parents, whom one happens to meet at critical stages of one’s life and career, one’s height and looks and temperament, to the extent genetic, and one’s innate propensity to risk or caution (that is an exceptionally important factor); but also the characteristics that cause a person to make critical decisions that may turn out well or badly, characteristics that really are derivative from some of the previously noted “luck” characteristics. The decision-determining characteristics include intelligence, imagination, attitude toward risk, and personality characteristics such as aggressiveness, maladjustment, indolence, and having a low or high personal discount rate (how future-regarding one is or is not). Talent is luck but so is the propensity for working hard (often the consequence of a compulsive personality) or not working hard.


The effects of heavy taxation of wealth may depend in part on the kind of luck that generated the wealth that is now to be taken away and given to someone else. There may be different effects from taxing wealth that results primarily from personal qualities, such as IQ and ambition, and taxing wealth that is unrelated to such qualities—inherited wealth, for example, or wealth obtained by winning a lottery, or, a subtler and more important example, wealth resulting from financial risk taking unguided by real insight (or, it hardly needs noting, from antisocial activities such as crime). Heavy taxation of earned wealth is likely to induce many able and energetic people to increase their leisure activities relative to productive work—but to induce other such people to increase their work effort relative to leisure in order to preserve or augment their wealth in the face of the heavy taxation. Heavy taxation of unearned wealth is more likely to have the second than the first effect, because, lacking talent, such people will have to work hard (to work, period—maybe they were living off their inherited or otherwise bestowed wealth and not working at all) in order to maintain a decent standard of living, lacking as they do the talent of the wealthy people who earned their wealth rather than having it fall into their laps.


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Une réponse à “Chance et fiscalité

  1. Gu Si Fang

    « But the reason that it would be ridiculous is that it would have terrible incentive effects, not that it would violate some deep sense of human freedom. »

    Wow ! Il se place sur le terrain de l’éthique et raisonne en parfait utilitariste. Allons au bout de son raisonnement : si les esclaves voulaient bien travailler, il n’y aurait aucune raison de les libérer ; c’est uniquement parce qu’ils travaillent mieux lorsqu’ils sont libres que serviles qu’il est souhaitable de les libérer. Brrrrrr !

    Sur la question de la chance, il faudrait que je lise Reuven Brenner mais je n’ai pas encore trouvé le temps. Il écrit depuis longtemps sur le hasard, le risque, le jeu, les loteries, les paris sportifs, la spéculation, leur rôle historique et leurs conséquences économiques et sociales. Voir par exemple ce livre :

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