Leasing Your Life From The State


One of the many beneficial side effects of driving Democrats out of power is that they become more open about their beliefs when they’re panicked.  Such a moment came on Megyn Kelly’s Fox News program on Wednesday, when Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY) freaked out over the estate tax.

The estate tax is defined by the IRS as “a tax on your right to transfer property at your death.”  It has been at zero percent for the past year.  The tax deal reached between Obama and the Republicans would raise it to 35%, with a $5 million exemption for two years.  The original plan put together by House Democrats would have made it 55% on everything over a million dollars – which, as a USA Today analysis from last July points out, is not too difficult for middle-class workers with pension benefits, living in areas with high property value, to reach.  Now they’re insisting on 45% for everything over $3.5 million for an individual, $7 million for couples.

Of course, estate taxes fit neatly into class warfare rhetoric, which is the sole economic principle in Democrat ideology.  If you doubt that, consider that House Democrats just embarrassed an already unpopular President by trying to kill his tax deal, in a move that will raise middle-class tax rates by 50%, just so they can raise taxes on The Evil Rich by less than 10%.  They want another big chunk of that evil money when those fat-cat Enemies Of The People kick the bucket.

All of the assets included in an estate have already been taxed, probably more than once.  Megyn Kelly challenged Weiner on this point, asking “if I work all my life and I pay my taxes on my income and then I die and I want to pass on what would be great if it were a $5 million estate to my kids, why should I pay the government again? Why should there be a 35 percent, or 45 percent, or 55 percent tax on that again?”

Keep in mind that Anthony Weiner is a full-time class warrior, a very loud spokesman for Democrat ideology, who knew he was going on a hostile show – there’s not much doubt where Megyn Kelly stands on these matters.  Here is his initial response to her question: “You aren’t paying anything in that case, because you’ll be dead.” 

If you think he was joking, he returns to this point several times, during a long stream of helpless stammering and angry bluster.  He sums up his position on estates by saying, “It’s unearned income, Megyn.  That’s the bottom line.”

This is one of the purest expressions of reflexive Marxist impulse in recent memory.  You don’t own anything in the mind of the Democrat Party.  It all belongs to the State, and it always did.  You are allowed to keep what our wise and benevolent masters decide to let you keep, and when you die, they’re entitled to take it all back.  They are being incredibly generous by allowing you to pass some portion of it along to your family.

It doesn’t matter that all of that estate income has already been taxed.  You don’t own your life – you lease it from the State.  You’re not “paying a tax” when you die, because you’re dead, and the State is merely reclaiming what it allowed you to use during your life.  Your family has no intrinsic claim on those resources that must be respected.  They should be grateful for whatever the State gives them, and Democrats are livid that the State has been giving them too much. 

They certainly didn’t do anything to “earn” that income, the way President Obama “earned” his Nobel Prize, or Democrat politicians “earn” their fabulous taxpayer-funded perks.  Weiner said this explicitly to Kelly during the interview: “This deal [to keep estate taxes at 35%] would basically say that for people who inherit money, that money gets taxed at a lower rate than if they worked 70 hours to earn it.  That’s just not fair.”  Right, because rich people do nothing to earn their money.  They just catch it as it falls from the overflowing baskets of angels who look like the Monopoly guy with wings.  It certainly doesn’t take them 70 hours a week to do that.  Also, all rich people begin life swimming in money – the concept of achievement through hard work is a Republican illusion.

Like all other punitive taxes, the estate tax prompts avoidance behavior… and, as always, the steps taken to avoid the tax produce negative results for the economy as a whole.  Show me a $5 million dollar estate, and I’ll show you a team of very skilled tax accountants working to preserve as much of it as they can.  The simplest avoidance strategy is to refrain from earning dollars that will be taxed at high marginal rates.  Socialists hate talking about the wealth lost when high earners relax their ambition, but it’s obvious from a cursory examination of the wreckage left behind whenever they’re in power.  Hey, I’ve got a great idea: let’s seize money from people who know how to invest it productively, and shower it on the unemployed!  I’m sure that will create tons of jobs and produce a million volts of economic stimulus!

The right to own property is actually one of the most intellectually challenging aspects of our Constitutional system, as evidenced by how easily people are willing to abandon the defense of that right for others.  There is towering public outrage at the merest suggestion of compromised First Amendment rights for millionaire actors or musicians, but nary a peep at the idea those same millionaires don’t have the right to pass their full estates – built with already-taxed earnings – along to their children.  You don’t “own” anything that can be taken away from you when you’re no longer alive to defend it.  This is an essential concept for a mature economy to understand.  We’ve got a long way to go before Anthony Weiner, and the people who take him seriously, grow up.