Gonzalo Otalora wants good-looking people to pay more tax, to compensate ugly ones. Is he right?
Luck egalitarianism, as defended by Richard Arneson (pdf) says he is. This says people should not be worse off than others because of brute bad luck, things they have no control over. And being born ugly is such bad luck. And it's costly. Even leaving aside the impact it has on one's social life, it's economically damaging. Ugly people do less well at school and earn less than good looking ones - so much so that some turn to crime (pdf).
So, why shouldn't ugly folk get compensation for such damaging involuntary advantages?
There are practical problems. Should the state hand out money to Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney on account of their mingingness, only to take it back on account of their footballing talent? And beauty is a positive externality; do we want the state to encourage Emily Procter to try and drab herself down? Do we really want bureaucrats deciding who munts and who doesn't? This isn't just intrusive and costly, but also - as Liz Anderson points out - humiliating.
Then there's Nozick's famous self-ownership objection. Some things, he said, we should just let lie. Or there's Lang's "see-saw" (pdf) objection. If we compensate people for the brute bad luck of being ugly, we impose brute bad luck upon the good-looking - they suffer the bad luck of being good-looking in a society in which they get taxed. Shouldn't they get compensation from the ugly to compensate for this?
I confess, I'm not sure. But are the arguments for taxing the good-looking really obviously more absurd than those for taxing the rich?