Wednesday, December 15, 2010

On Death and "Death Taxes"

By my reading of history, it is very hard to know what strategic move will have the best impact, but, having said that, I don't think I'd mind seeing the tax bill rejected.

I'm much more concerned with framing the issues accurately. George Lakoff excited me at one time, but he needs a shot of James Carville's adreneline or something. As it is, he is putting people to sleep, so let me give it a try.

The inheritance tax is double taxation IF AND ONLY IF we are a nation of dynasties rather than individuals. The basic philosophy of our tax system is that money is taxed when it changes hands in a meaningful way. Taxing the dead is of course meaningless; no individual is being taxed twice; it is only the dynasty that gets taxed twice. From the point of view of a nation if individuals equal before tha law, the inheritance tax is a tax on having a big pot of money fall into your lap; NOT a tax on dying. To abolish the death tax (and to a lesser extent to drastically weaken it) is to put ourselves on the road to a dynasty based society; i.e. plain old 18th century aristocracy, if we weren't pretty far down that road already.