For a real interesting evening of lively debate, I’d suggest having a go with an ardent supporter of the federal estate tax.  Real good fun.  Then again, I hear self-dentistry is quite a way to spend an evening too.  Might even be less painful.

We’ve had four federal taxes imposed on estates and inheritance since this country’s founding, all four of them to fund wars and three of them repealed.  The current tax, on hiatus for the last year, was imposed to fund World War One, the “war to end all wars”.  The initial rate in 1916?  A measly 10 percent.

Proponents of the tax feel that it ‘s their right to determine who gets what: typical of the big government types.  I’ve even heard the argument that the tax is a corner stone of true capitalism, as it keeps capital from pooling in families and creates the need for people to keep earning instead of just siting on accumulated wealth.  These privileged layabouts should be out there earning their own way and not living off the labors of others.  Don’t try that argument with welfare though.

That’s a pretty neat description of class warfare, right out there in the open.  Heaven forbid you enjoy the fruits of your fathers, or grandfathers’ labors.  No matter how backbreaking their tasks, no matter how many risks they took, no matter that they wanted a better life for their progeny, you’re not entitled to it because, well, because….because we said so.  Never mind about individual property rights; we’ll decide what to do with your assets.

When Dan Duncan died in March of 2010, he had an estimated wealth of $10 billion.  Had he died in 2009, his estate would have had to pay 45%, dumping $4.5 billion into Washington’s pockets.  Had he died next year, it could have been taxed at the 55% rate.  Now, can anyone tell me what role the United States government played in building his company, generating that kind of wealth, which would entitle it to almost 5 billion dollars?

Unfortunately, every argument seems futile, like screaming into the wind.  They refuse to hear it.  From saving small family farms, to discouraging new entrepreneurs, they don’t want to listen because they know better than the rest of us.  And of course, they want to spread it all around to those who are more deserving, you know, like union leaders and businesses that are “too big to fail. “

I’m sorry but it’s all envy.  Too many have been taught to be ashamed of making a profit, while others have been taught that they are entitled to what others have.  If we tear down enough productive, successful people, we’ll all be better off because we’ll all be equal.  Equally poor and morally bankrupt.

“The envious man thinks that if his neighbor breaks a leg, he will be able to walk better himself”

~ Helmut Schoeck

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