Global income inequalities are met with increasing calls for direct supranational redistribution. This article argues that from the perspective of political feasibility, this approach should not be prioritised. We use the example of tax competition to show that supranational regulation that stops short of direct redistribution has better chances of being implemented. Moreover, as the case of tax competition illustrates, such regulation can help to shore up the capacity of nation states to redistribute internally, which indirectly tends to reduce global inequalities, too. Against this background, we formulate the conditional subsidiarity principle of redistribution. It states that when the case for direct supranational redistribution is built on the alleged incapacity of the state to redistribute due to the pressures of globalisation, our first instinct should be regulatory reform in order to restore this capacity. Finally, the article asks whether two prominent proposals for global taxation – the global resource dividend and the financial transaction tax – pass the test of the conditional subsidiarity principle.
Moral Philosophy and Politics is an international, peer-reviewed journal for original philosophical articles on issues of public relevance. Of particular interest to the journal are the philosophical assessment of policy and its normative basis, analyses of the philosophical underpinnings or implications of political debate and reflection on the justice or injustice of the social and political structures which regulate human action.