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The phrase redistribution of wealth commonly refers to government policies that are intended to increase the income or benefits of poor people using money raised by general taxation of the rich, the prosperous, and the middle classes. Sometimes the debate is limited only to the redistribution of income, but generally any policy intended to benefit the poor, whether in the form of income or services, can be considered an attempt to redistribute the wealth. The ethical debate about redistribution is usually framed as a conflict between egalitarian proponents of redistribution, who claim that society has a collective moral responsibility to look after the poor, and libertarian critics, who see such transfers as an unethical violation of the property rights of those who pay the taxes.

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