Boomers Beware

Who Pays the Price for Taxing the Rich?

Janet Kuypers

    Although ability, and the ability to keep what you’re earned, individual rights to their own property, is what made America great, people still continue to attack the rich for earning money.

    What was originally a reasonable article in the newspaper about how the estate tax affect many more than the “rich” and how it should be eliminated, became yet another slam on success, ability, and everything America worked to become.

    USA Toady printed an article by Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise institute called “Boomers Beware: Estate Tax Now Not Just for the Rich.”

    It started by stating that the estate tax is only applicable to amounts over $600,000, which has made it in the past apply only to a small group of the very rich. However, Baby Boomers are reaching retirement age - and when they pull their tax-deferred saving out to live on, they multitude of taxes, including the estate tax, could take up to 90 percent of their money away.

    Seems reasonable to want to fight that.

    What I wonder, though, is why it’s okay to take it away from the “very rich,” as our government has done in the past, versus the Baby Boomers. Because you’re earned more you should be punished more? Because you’re earned more means you don’t have a right anymore to what you’ve earned?

    The concept of a redistribution of wealth should be like fingernails to a chalkboard to every American. America was based on the right to work for a living, and the right to be able to keep what you’re earned. That’s why, as Americans, most here have a profound hatred for communism - because most here believe that you should be rewarded for your achievements, not punished. But placing a higher burden on the “very rich” via taxation is a form of wealth redistribution, yet many people don’t think twice about it.

    The article then goes on to drop the bomb:

    “Beyond the changing politics of wealth accumulation, estate taxes need rethinking for other reasons. The fact is they have not done what they were intended to do: prevent the handful of super-wealthy from concentrating their gains even more in a small elite.”

    Why would the intention of a tax be to make sure the rich don’t stay rich? Why would a government want to tell the people that have the most wealth (in other words, the people that produced the most, or the best, products and services, the people that have been the most productive) that after working for their earnings all this time, they no longer have a right to all of it? What harm does someone see in someone being rich?

    Other than people who hate accomplishment, hate the good for being good, other than people who are envious of talent, I can imagine no one that would think its fair to take the money away from someone who earned it, because they earned it. We don’t want the government, or robbers, for that matter, doing that to us. Why would we want to do it to someone else?

    The article goes on: “Many western countries are doing away with estate taxes altogether, a course advocated by Speaker Newt Gingrich. America won’t do that; an estate tax at least makes a statement about our values and our desire to prevent too much concentration of wealth and power.”

    If an estate tax at least makes a statement about “our values,” what statement does it make? And who did he talk to to know that an estate tax makes any statement about our values. Who’s values - every American’s values? That’s strange; the estate tax is anything but capitalistic - it’s very un-American.

    Keeping an estate tax shows what we don’t value more than it shows what we do value. If we value an estate tax, we must not value the right to our own property, because we take money away from people simply because they have more. If we value an estate tax, we must not value the mind, reason or ability, because we are telling our producers that the welfare of poor people, of people who haven’t produced and haven’t shown ability, is more important than the producer.

    And why would America want to prevent too much concentration of wealth and power? Money is power, only in the marketplace - it is not political power, or intellectual power. And the person who earned their money has the right to power in the marketplace, to be able to purchase what they want, or save what they want. That is their right.

    Ornstein goes on to say, “But we surely can change a set of levies that ends up punishing savings and investment and will soon punish middle class success.” Yes, we shouldn’t be punishing savings and investment; that helps our economy as a whole and helps everyone in the nation as a whole. And no, we shouldn’t punish middle class success. But why does that mean we should punish upper class success?

    I don’t know how America could have ever achieved as a nation with the philosophy that wealth should be redistributed. If so, we’d have a nation of equals, just like the Soviet Union promised its comrades. A nation all standing in bread lines together.

    Yes, the estate tax should be eliminated, but for reasons that are the opposite of what Mr. Ornstein suggests. The tax is morally wrong. It’s wrong, if an individual’s rights are to be upheld, to take away their money because they happen to have more. Let’s not slip into the same mistakes other countries in history have made, by overtaxing the rich, who earned their money, and giving it to the poor, who didn’t. If there’s no incentive to work for achievements, and earnings, there will eventually be no one producing, and everyone will suffer. Who pays the price for taxing the rich? Every last one of us.



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