Maybe the Heirs Aren't Apparent

Maybe the Heirs Aren’t Apparent

THE watchdog group Public Citizen (citizen.org) and the advocacy group United for a Fair Economy (faireconomy.org) issued a report this week saying that 18 superwealthy families are largely responsible for financing the lobbying campaign aimed at repealing the estate tax; the Senate is scheduled to take up repeal next month.

The families, worth $185.5 billion, have financed and coordinated the campaign and have, until now, managed to hide their participation behind the trade associations and business groups they have formed to represent their interests, Public Citizen reported. The families include those behind some of the nation’s biggest and best-known companies, like Wal-Mart, E.& J. Gallo Winery, Nordstrom and Koch Industries.

Who cares the estate tax sucks.

Agreed. Estate tax is absurd. It turns the IRS into vultures, while deep down they really think of themselves as top predators, not scavengers.

Ah. So you guys like that most wealth in the US is inherited, and increasingly concentrated. with a de facto aristocracy.

It doesn’t bother you that families like the 18 “superwealthy” ones lobbying repeal of estate taxation are the only ones that truly benefit from the repeal?

It doesn’t bother you that the end result is that your taxes have to be higher to sustain the same level of service? Screw that. Tax these manipulative filthy rich bastards.

Wasn’t the estate tax the idea of the founding fathers? Something about seeing the lazy aristocrats in Europe and wanting to prevent that from happening here?

The estate tax is great. You just need to set the floor at a reasonable level. Taxing everything after the first $10M or so (and eliminating many of the shelters currently in the tax code) and linking that figure to inflation would be a great way to make it clear to most Americans that the estate tax is not aimed at the working man (or family farmers or small businesses), but rather at the guy who either has the massive golden parachute or the guy whose grandfather invented velcro but hasn’t ever worked an honest day in his life.

but rather at the guy who either has the massive golden parachute or the guy whose grandfather invented velcro but hasn’t ever worked an honest day in his life.

Even then who really gives a shit? Its not like this affects most americans. The ammount of money that the Govt gets from this is really nothing when you take in to account the big picture. Its just one big last fuck you that the Govt gets to tack on when some foolio dies.

Estate tax rocks. I didn’t know America had that. I also don’t know anything about it, but I approve of the general idea. Is this a uniquely American thing?

Double Taxing FTW!

Payroll/sales is “double taxation” too, and nobody seems to mind.

You mean no one bitches loud enough.

I don’t believe that’s true. I don’t have any numbers handy, but I recall reading it’s a substantial amount of money, and an important part of the big picture.

When you say it’s “really nothing”, is that just a gut feeling, or do you have some specific numbers in mind?

Really its just a gut feeling that its an insubstantial ammount.

Can you provide some actual proof that this “de facto aristocracy” actually holds and uses the power that this scary name implies? That they are more influential than, say, Exxon or Fox News or the Kennedy clan or the Bush family? Is Paris Hilton a political force to be reckoned with?

Owning lots of shit is irrelevant in a modern democracy with mass media and stock markets. Having lots of voters or viewers or customers or employees is important, and none of these is directly related to extreme personal wealth. Now and again, some important companies are led by their super-rich founders but heirs usually don’t bother with that and leave the actual company leadership to salaried managers.

It doesn’t bother you that families like the 18 “superwealthy” ones lobbying repeal of estate taxation are the only ones that truly benefit from the repeal?

Is injustice okay with you as long as it harms only a few people? Minority protection, except for the rich?

It doesn’t bother you that the end result is that your taxes have to be higher to sustain the same level of service?

What, by 1 cent per year and person? You just said that there are only a handful of rich families where this makes a big difference, and taxing inheritance is by definition a one-time gain. Worse, stealing rich people’s property gives future rich people an incentive to deposit their wealth in Swiss bank accounts or foreign tax havens rather than invest it in America and bequeath it on their American families. Do you think that’s a bright idea?

Inheritance tax is one of the few taxes I approve of. Income tax? Screw that - I earned that money. But the money my parents have lined up for me? I did nothing to deserve that. Money IS power, and allowing it to be passed on unfettered from one generation to the next is creating a virtual aristocracy. Just look at the Murdochs.

Some actual proof? Like the fact that in the US wealth is concentrated in a few hands, and elections are overwhelmingly won by those that spend the most money? Is the Hilton family a political force to be reckoned with? The family behind Walmart? Hell yes. The Kennedy and Bush families obviously fit the bill too, and are hardly the counterpoint you suggest. Fox News works for the rich men that run it, and Exxon as well – these corporations aren’t influential for their own sake, but for those few that run them. All the examples you listed are examples of family wealth.

“Owning lots of shit” is far from irrelevent in a democracy – as those who founded the US well understood. Moreover your bit about the “actual company leadership” being salaried managers is simply untrue. Final control and the majority of profit rest with the owners, and heirs to fortunes often do get involved, even if they hire accountants and managers. A few Paris Hiltons here or there have zero impact on this.

Is injustice okay with you as long as it harms only a few people? Minority protection, except for the rich?

Progressive taxes are not injustice. Defining a progressive tax as injustice, and then claiming that progressive taxes are bad becaues they’re injust is circular logic.

As it stands now, corporations and the wealthiest individuals are often able to avoid paying significant taxes. Over the past 50 years the tax burden has shifted dramatically towoards those with lower incomes, while at the same time actual wealth has concentrated in the wealthy. Your definition of “fair” seems to be a return to the industrial baron days of the late 19th and early 20th century, which completely boggles my mind. Why is it “fair” that the rich pay less and less taxes while owning more and more?

What, by 1 cent per year and person? You just said that there are only a handful of rich families where this makes a big difference, and taxing inheritance is by definition a one-time gain. Worse, stealing rich people’s property gives future rich people an incentive to deposit their wealth in Swiss bank accounts or foreign tax havens rather than invest it in America and bequeath it on their American families. Do you think that’s a bright idea?

IMHO you are failing to account for the massive concentration of wealth in the US. There are only a small percentage of families that are extremely wealthy, and yet they own more assets than the rest. I.e. Your “1 cent per year and person” is a blatant under exaggeration of the revenue from the estate tax – You think it amounts to a mere 3 million dollars per year? Bullshit!

Your bogus statement that merely taxing rich people (“stealing their property”? give me a break!) means that all capitol will fly the country is patently ludicrous. Oh wait, you’re right, the risk is too great – rich people shouldn’t be taxed at all, that way they can generate more wealth, which will surely trickle down onto all!

Rich people can be, have been, and should be taxed. The estate tax is not onerus, nor unfair. If anything the tax burden of the rich in this country is light, and it’s generous to hold off on taxing these people what they deserve until they’re dead.

On the other hand, maybe you’re right. We should cancel the estate tax – and instead tax the same amount up front while the taxees are alive.

Other countries have it too, and it’s an excellent idea. However, in Sweden it was recently repealed.

calling Steve Forbes… calling Steve Forbes…

A flat tax would remove the injustice that’s inherent in our current tax system.

And create an exciting new injustice. I like where this is going.

Where’s the justice in the poor paying a greater proportion of their disposable income in tax than the rich?

I’d rather ditch income tax altogether and replace it with a goods tax so you pay in relation to how much you can afford to consume.