Well, he's back on his soap box again. Dan hasn't changed his views (I wouldn't expect that from a political extremist like Dan). If anything, he is more hardened.
On the other hand, I have moderated my opinions somewhat after speaking with some very intelligent people whom I respect a great deal. (Of course, Dan's comments also had an effect, since I like and respect him as well.)
More on that in a sec. First I want to respond to a couple of Dan's points.
Dan said "Wealth may be earned, but real wealth is inherited"This indicates to me that Dan is too young to have learned what real wealth is. Try watching It's A Wonderful Life a couple more times. More to Dan's point, however, Dan seems to think we're living in a time like the early 20th Century where Vanerbilts and Astors live off the dollars generated by accumulated fortunes.
To be sure, there are some superrich people out there. But unlike Dan's vision, most of the current day elite have earned their riches and actually are still working. They're more like Jay Gatsby than Tom Buchanaan. Think about Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, hell, even Ken Lay who built their fortunes on skill, talent and hard work (and in Lay's case, douchebaggery).
And the current superrich have a lower concentration of total wealth now [pdf] than they did in the early 20th century. In fact, contrary to what Dan seems to think, there hasn't really been an increase in wealth concentration since the mid-90s.
Dan said "It's not double taxation, etc."I guess in theory this argument is true. But following Dan's logic, nothing should be sacred from taxation. And this is what worries me. Are we in a society like The Beatles imagined, where the taxman wants a cut of every little transaction you make? Am I going to eventually have to pay a "Taking a Dump" tax to help pay for sewage treatment? Come on...
Now, I mentioned earlier that I have moderated my view (that's what we moderates do). Don't get me wrong. I still believe that we all have the opportunity to start poor and end up well-to-do, even (dare I say it) rich.
It's not easy, it takes a long time and it certainly is more difficult at the bottom of the economic ladder than at the top. It's not popular to say it, but inequality can be a good thing. It provides an incentive to climb the ladder.
The important thing is to make sure the rungs on the ladder are solid. That means making sure there is access to the most important asset in climbing the economic ladder: Quality education and skills development.
The way to better your economic status is to acquire valuable skills. Flipping hamburgers, cleaning toilets and mowing lawns are not valuable skills. This is why an increasing the minimum wage is merely shooting at the flames. It won't be long before robots are performing these tasks.
All this is to say that I'm okay with stealing money from the rich when they die, as long as it isn't wasted on paying for enhanced cable television and cigarettes for the poor. Put all estate tax into funds for education, scholarships etc., and make access to those funds a competitive process.
tagged: death, tax, inheritance, fair, property rights, education, Astor, Vanderbilt, economy