© Gage Skidmore
Our nation’s attitude towards the legal concept of estate needs some serious adjustment.
In simpler terms, we need to re-think our entire philosophy regarding how life, property rights, and the state should operate in relation to each other.
To help frame this discussion, allow me to pose a question: What should happen to an individual’s wealth when they die?
Block out everything else. Block out history. Block out current policy. Block out your own current opinion.
Pretend we somehow made it all the way to 2011 without ever thinking about it, and all of a sudden someone asked that question. Everything else in the world is the same, except no one ever conceived of the concept of an estate, and when a person died, every ounce of their wealth was just buried with them. It doesn’t make any sense, but you get the point.
And all of a sudden, that question is posed to you.
Really though, under the assumption of the theoretical circumstances described above, consider that question and comment if you want to share your answer.
I certainly know what my answer is. It might shock/piss off certain people, but if it does, at least go on and read my reasoning.
But when a person dies, I believe that money should go to the state a.k.a. be acquisitioned by the United States government.
Oh my God! Never! That, sir, is wrong, injust, and immoral!
(Is what a conservative Republican would say).
They’re very good at calling something the opposite of what it is until everyone around them believes it just so they’ll shut the fuck up. (That’s been their strategy ever since their last one stopped working).
Of course, they wouldn’t elaborate on why it is any of those things. They would simply yell stuff like that every time I try to explain it until I give up and no one learns anything.
It’s an effective strategy, really. I’ve always been very forward with my belief that Republicans are masterful politicians.
(I just happen to believe that the U.S. needs masterful leaders, but I digress)
While conservatives will never be able to explain why the idea of an estate tax, let alone the acquisition of one’s estate by the state, is wrong or injust or immoral, I can explain right now why the absence of one is all three.
One of the problems with us as a nation at this juncture of our destiny is our inability to be grateful for our ability, granted to us by the state, to live the lives we please. We, the people, don’t see taxes the same way a tenant thinks about the rent they pay; although they are basically the same thing in practice.
A landlord is responsible for completing a number of tasks the tenant can’t bother with, such as obtaining property so the tenant can live there without owning it, and maintaining that property for the tenant. In return the tenant pays a monthly fee to the landlord.
If the landlord comes to the conclusion that his property is worth more than he’s been charging, or that he needs to charge more to make a profit, the tenant might be perturbed, but generally they aren’t going to think the landlord is “taking” money from them.
But when the government does the same thing on a greater level (obtain territory, maintain territory, defend territory, provide property, ensure public health, draft legislation, enact legislation, enforce legislation, judge real-life applications of legislation, etc…) for the people, and just happens to need some compensation from those whose behalf all these expensive tasks are being performed on, the same message reverberates from the people: Fuck you; raise my taxes, lose my vote.
Basically we’re all a bunch of spoiled fucks.
It isn’t entirely our fault, though. However, the only other culprit to blame is “society“, which never gets anyone anywhere. So, if you’re like my mom for instance, and you perceive my critical observations of the nation and government I owe my life to as a malicious personal insult… just don’t do that. It’s stupid, I don’t bitch about politics and shit in China or Russia or Germany because it’s not my job to bitch about them, it’s my job to bitch about my own nation’s politics and shit, and if you think that by me doing so I’m less patriotic than the overwhelming percentage of other people who don’t say or think shit, then you’re a fuckass – but it’s okay because I love you anyway because you’re actually reading my shit and hopefully the fact that I just called you a fuckass won’t impede your willingness to continue doing so.
Our current policy regarding what happens to a person’s wealth when they die is inspired by archaic logic which is a remnant of class systems from the past. Those unfortunate enough to be born into a family with no money occupy a class in society below those born into wealthy families.
Laws should facilitate the cultivation of a society where those with the most potential in any given respect, regardless of their socio-economic standings, are provided with what’s necessary to live up to that potential. That way, the society is limited only to the potential of the collection of it’s smartest members.
A society in which the rich and powerful grant favors for their children, and their friends’ children, and their children’s friends, and so forth, is a society which limits itself to the intellectual capacity of whomever was lucky enough to be born a leech on a cow. (I just made that up.)
So, going back to what I was talking about earlier, let’s think about estates from a pragmatic standpoint.
It is 2011. Currently, a person born in this country’s ability to live out their potential is dependent upon which socio-economic class their family is. That’s just a fact.
The money those lucky enough to be “entitled” to a large inheritance get wouldn’t even exist had the United States of America not provided an economy for their dead relative to participate in.
So why is a person’s child, or anyone else, entitled to the money they were only able to make because of the great nation in which they live? Why do we think it’s right that the child of a person who utilized the tools provided for them by the state to amass wealth is entitled to use that money any way they please? Conservatives, you’re telling me, considering the fact that without it no one could have an estate in the first place, that the state isn’t entitled to any of a dead person’s wealth?
Pragmatically, I’m not saying that a 100% estate tax is ever favorable, but if conservatives argue it should be abolished, the other extreme warrants a defense, as well. That’s how good policy is made.
I believe that when you’re born in this country, you’re given a gift that transcends worth; freedom. Remember that thing, conservatives? That thing that pretending to care about gets so many votes?
Freedom is something that only lasts from birth until death, and considering the United States of America is the entity that bestowed upon all of us this gift, it’s wholly un-American, un-patriotic, and just plain wrong to cling to your daddy’s inheritance like a bratty screaming child clinging to a box of cookies when told to share.
And those very bratty screaming [fat-fuck] children are the ones who end up with all the economic power. Because yeah, if you’re like me and you’re born into a middle-class family and you have all the means to obtain an education and whatnot, if you work very hard you can become extremely successful, but I’m still going to be in debt before I start my career.
Someone from a lower-class family must work even harder.
Those toward the higher end of the socio-economic spectrum still don’t have it super easy, but they’re pretty much set as long as they don’t totally fuck up and get like three DUI’s or something.
Someone from an incredibly wealthy family, on the other hand, doesn’t even have to do well in high school. They can literally get DUI’s on the first Thursday of every month just for fun. It doesn’t matter, because even if they totally fail in life, they can still get a position at their family’s company or whatever, and they still have that huge trust fund, and they still probably get lots of money from their parents when they die, unless they totally piss them off.
And then that idiot ends up running daddy’s company. But daddy’s company deals with a large sector of the United State’s financial economy. So with the guidance of those his father appointed to be around him, he manages to do alright running the company.
But then he dies, and his son starts running the company.
By now, the company has been run to the ground, the U.S. economy slides into a second great depression, and now everyone’s poor. Except, of course, for the people who caused it; gotta love them trust funds!
That is, of course, a dramatization. However, it’s also one of the factors I attribute to the 2008 global economic collapse. And it’s only going to happen over and over again, each time more severely than the last, until we realize that the way we’re doing things isn’t necessarily the right way.
All I’m saying is that in a political culture where cutting benefits for people in need is way easier to accomplish politically than raising taxes on dead people, I feel I need to say something.
Because I believe that’s wrong.
I believe it’s the result of centuries of political manipulation, and if we were truly doing things the American way to get out of this recession, we would be raising taxes on those making over $500,000 a year and substantially raise the estate tax before even thinking about depriving citizens of benefits they’re relying on to make it through the very recession that necessitated their use of them in the first place.
Unfortunately, Fox News has a slightly larger audience than I.