The death tax: a terrible idea that needs to end

| August 7 2012
Christopher Cook

One of the cruelest things that the left does (and it’s a long list) is to tax people while they live and then tax those same earnings again when they die. It is born of their anger and hatred for the wealthy. It is born of their need to use class warfare to gain control over the votes and opinions of the masses, so they can take power. It’s called the estate tax, but it might as well be called the “robbing families” tax or the “destroying family businesses” tax:

First, the death tax destroys family businesses and farms that seldom have enough liquid assets to pay the estate tax bill, forcing a liquidation of the business or sale of the family farm.  That wipes out the source of modest wealth for many middle-class families, but leaves the truly wealthy, who have ample liquid assets and sophisticated estate plans, relatively untouched.

The author lists three other reasons that the death tax is the dumb tax . . .

  • It reduces, rather than increases total federal tax revenue.
  • It fails to reduce income inequality.
  • It has little, if any effect on inequality in wealth.

. . . and all of those are worth reading. However, I find his conclusion profoundly striking:

Given that the death tax is dumb, unfair and immoral, why are the governing elite so committed to its imposition?  Because it is in their self-interest as well.

The death tax is an attack on the shop-keepers, the proprietors, the family farms, the small business men and women, the owners of capital, the bourgeoisie who since the 17th century have been the political force who supported the principles of constitutional government and natural rights.  They ultimately overthrew the ancient regime of royalty and divine right, and produced the modern world.  Today they stand, as they did then, independent of government, seeking the liberty to innovate, serve their customer, and engage in what the elites have always viewed as the unseemly business of commerce.

Then, as now, the governing elite were offended by the bourgeoisie’s ability to make money and to ascend into the higher classes. And, now as then, the wide spread accumulation of middle-class wealth and capital which the death tax seeks to disrupt, would diminish their own power and prestige.

The ascendancy of a wealthy middle class would demonstrate anew the virtues of self-reliance, and the passion and courage it takes to own and build a business. Moreover, the increase in middle-class wealth would increase the capacity of the private sector to take care of our social concerns without the heavy, debilitating hand of the welfare state.

It’s the same old story. The elite oppressing the rest of us. But what makes it so frustrating is that—unlike kings and dictators, who are easily spotted—today’s oppressors cloak themselves in language of concern for the “little guy.” Today’s leftist elite pretend to be for the common man, when in fact, they are just a new batch oppressors.

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