If you listen to Anthony Weiner and Gary Ackerman, the Republicans are robbing the federal treasury of $80 billion on behalf of 40,000 high networth individuals.
Parenthetical: It’s so easy to take money from other people isn’t it — especially if they are RICH. In today’s world the rich are undeserving. They must have done something bad in order to become rich. So it’s okay to take more from them than from other people.
But let’s break down the estate argument and see what we’re really talking about.
Rep. Weiner, in answer to why it is ‘fair’ that the federal government should tax one’s estate, argued that it’s ‘unearned income’ — not double taxation. In other words, the deceased is not being taxed twice — once when he earned the money and then a second time when he dies because (a) he’s dead and (b) the recipients of the estate did not earn the money.
The problem with that argument is that it is the estate that is being taxed — not the recipients. In other words, before the recipients receive their share, Weiner and Ackerman believe it is fair to significantly reduce the value of the estate because those recipients didn’t earn the money.
I could live with Weiner’s position if it was the recipients who were taxed. Then I’d know that my minor children, charitable foundations, church/synagogue/mosque, etc. would be protected by their status against having to pay 50% or more of the money I leave them to the federal government.
Republicans are not protecting individual people but a principle. That principle is what I believe is embodied in the philosophy of Declaration of Independence and the framework of the U.S. Constitution:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. . .”
The power of government is derived from the citizens; not the other way around. To Weiner and Ackerman, it appears that a person’s property is only his or hers to use as long as the government allows you to possess it and that the true owner of all property in our society is our government.
When one dies, if one-hundred percent of one’s private property is owned by the government, then of course the government can decide how that property should be distributed. They may not want to confiscate 100% of it, but they do insist on having the power to decide how much they will confiscate and how much you can leave to your heirs and designees.
Because it is based on power and not principle, this can of worms is subject to the whims of the day. The government needs more money today so we’ll raise the estate tax rate. Tomorrow when things are better we may lower it (although they probably won’t because elected officials can always find someplace or someone else that needs our money).
If we don’t protect the rights of the individual in our society, including the right to private property, then how different are we from Stalin’s Soviet Union or Mao’s China? But we know how those systems fared and how the masses in those countries today keep pushing for the very rights that we are playing footloose and fancy with here in the U.S.
So, tax the rich if you like my friends, but also tell me what you’re going to do when you’ve killed the geese — our individual rights — that produces all those golden eggs.