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View Diary: The Estate Tax: Tough Questions and Honest Answers (49 comments)

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  •  I can understand your position (0+ / 0-)

    But I think that you hold it mostly because of the present consequences of ages of artificial inequality. Society is so unequal that at times, inheritance is the only realistic way to fill needs basic needs such as housing, food, education, retirement funds. But if those needs were already being met, then there would be far less need for inheritence.

    Not to mention that I don't see any rush to immediately put such a policy in place. It may make good sense to slowly phase in an inheritance tax so that it increases as inequality decreases.

    But if you accept that inheritance is a valid means of wealth distribution, you are implicitly accepting the idea that a person's control over their possessions extends past their deaths. How then would you argue against a right wing legislature that ``in the interest of justice'' allows debts to be inherited because ``it isn't fair to the creditors.''

    •  Our friend Jefferson (0+ / 0-)

      said something like "The earth belongs to the living."

    •  I would argue against allowing debts... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      April Follies

      to extend to the next generation simply because I don't like the idea.  It usually takes a lifetime to build up any sort of estate to pass on; debts can be incurred in an instant, especially crushing medical bills in old age.

      I would allow reasonable transfers of wealth at time of death (not exorbitant, as in tens of millions, or even billions), but not debts.  What constitutes "reasonable" in any given age can be worked out by elected representatives.

      If that's inconsistent as between inheritance of wealth versus debt, so be it.

      As Ezra Pound put it, "Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."  (though I'm not saying that about you, rest assured!).

      So even fascists are occasionally right!

      •  I'd quibble with Ezra (0+ / 0-)

        Being inconsistant, as a matter of practicality, leads to monstrosities like the present US tax code and budget bills that span thousands of pages that no one really understands. Complaints with cheap quotes aside, I'm not as opposed to a graduated solution as I might appear provided that the solution concedes that it is an imperfect solution.

        IMO, all laws should start off with a preamble to explain why they are needed and when the law deviates from a fundamental principle, it should explain the deviation. A law for an estate tax should start out with ``Whereas property rights are a function of material being and whereas the deceased, having passed on to the next life, no longer have material being and no longer have any right to own property ...'' I wouldn't think it unreasonable to include a clause further down to the effect of ``But as survivors of a decedent attach great sentimental value to the former material affects of said decedent, we hold it compassionate and necessary to make the following exceptions ...''

        The problem is that those exceptions are likely to grow and be abused. But that is really another discussion altogether.

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