There are people in the NFIB who persist in calling the billionaire’s estate tax a “death tax”, and who now want people to tell their congressional representatives to oppose it, in the interests of “small business”. Here, the sham is exposed.
Originally published 2005
You can call it a “death tax”, or a billionaire’s estate tax. But what it really is an “Equal Opportunity” Tax — and we need a Constitutional Amendment to make sure it is never repealed again, because doing is incredibly corrosive for society.
Here is what NFIB/Grassroots (www.NFIB.com) wrote:
Time to Kill the Death Tax!
> Tell Your Senators that Compromise Will Destroy Small Business
> For the first time since 2001, the U.S. Senate appears ready to seriously consider death-tax repeal.
> But your opinion is critical leading up to the vote…because tax-relief foes may attempt to water down full, permanent repeal of this onerous tax.
> “The death tax kills jobs,”…”It forces capital out of America’s family businesses at the time when they can least afford it – immediately after the death of one of the principal owners.
> It would be difficult to think of a more burdensome time to tax a business.”
What follows is my response.
Dear Representative of the NFIB:
The billionaire’s estate tax you want to eliminate has a tremendously positive social benefit in the long term. It helps to produce a meritocracy, where everyone has a chance to rise to a level of success equal to their abilities.
The policy you recommend looks great right now, because you get to pass on to your kids the silver spoon you were either born with acquired along the way. But the long term consequences of that policy are deadly to society.
The result of that policy is an accumulation of wealth from generation to generation that produces an aristocracy of privilege, where a select few live well for no reason other than having had the luck to be born into the right circumstances.
I take it that you have little interest in creating a fair society. I doubt that you can even imagine what one is like. To begin to get an idea, imagine for a moment that reincarnation is a reality. Now, forget all about the concept of repayment for past sins, or being reborn as a tomato. Just imagine that you might be reborn as anyone on the planet — anyone at all, of any race, creed, color, or nationality.
If you have ever experienced any disadvantages in your life, of any kind, that line of thought should give you the beginnings of a clue. If you haven’t, then there is no hope that you will have the understanding necessary for the true comprehension of compassion. But if you have, then you must realize that the creation of an aristocratic minority means that the odds of your being a future member of that club are incredibly slim.
In other words, for every one life of easy and luxury you enjoy in your future lives, you will endure a thousand lifetimes of hardship, misery, and deprivation.
If you imagine this reincarnation scenario thoroughly, it might just awaken a sense of compassion in you, because it is you who will endure those thousand undesirable lifetimes. The reality, of course, is that for every one person who enjoys a life of privilege and luxury today, a thousand others endure hardship and misery, while another ten thousand slave away their lives in the service of others to avoid it. (This is where it is important for you have to suffered some hardship in your life. Otherwise, you simply will not care, no matter what I may say.)
That future is the one that you aspire to, in your uncritical acceptance of the idea that a repeal of the billionaire’s estate tax is somehow a good idea.
As for the assertion that this tax somehow affects “small business”, that is simply another damnable lie that billionaire Republicans are feeding people in order to preserve more money than 100 people could possibly spend in a thousand lifetimes. The last time this came around, the lie was that it was to “save the small farm”. That lie has long since been exposed. Now you’ve moved on to a different lie — in the same way that you attempt to portray the tax as a “death tax” as though it affects the lives of ordinary people, when the facts are manifestly otherwise.
Finally, even if there were an onerous impact on small businesses, then the solution would be some measure that works to hold the small business together — where small business is defined in such a way that it doesn’t include international mega-corporations. But clearly, repealing the only tax that will have any impact on Bill Gate’s 50 billion dollar fortune, along with those of other members of the billionaire’s club, is not an idea that has any serious thinking behind it. It has plenty of selfishness, greed, and powerful money behind it. That’s clear. But thinking? No. There is none of that.
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