https://doi.org/10.31979/2151-6014(2012).030108">
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Abstract

Mencian benevolent government intervenes dramatically in many ways in the marketplace in order to secure the material well-being of the population, especially the poor and disadvantaged. Mencius considers this sort of intervention to be appropriate not just occasionally when dealing with natural disasters, but regularly. Furthermore, Mencius recommends shifting from regressive to progressive taxes. He favors reduction of inequality so as to reduce corruption of government by the wealthy, and opposes punishment for people driven to crime by destitution. Mencius thinks government should try to improve the character of the population by preventing or relieving poverty, by setting a good example, and by teaching people to respect and care for each other. He considers a government to be legitimate only if it has the support of the people. His recommended foreign policy is approximately the same as his recommended domestic policy: set a good example and enhance the material wellbeing and moral values of one’s own people so that they will enthusiastically support their country, while foreigners will long to immigrate. These are policies of today’s left. Mencius was a radical reformer in his own day. His description of benevolent government shows that he is an extreme liberal by contemporary standards, too.

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