[ExI] libertarians and inheritance

Dan dan_ust at yahoo.com
Mon May 4 15:10:42 UTC 2009

--- On Mon, 5/4/09, John K Clark <jonkc at bellsouth.net> wrote:
> "Damien Broderick" <thespike at satx.rr.com>
>> One of my biggest problems is with "inheritance." On
>> the one hand I
>> do not support inheritance taxes as they strengthen
>> the State.
>> On the other hand, I'm sick of hearing Libertarians
>> and Objectivists
>> say how everything in life must be earned and then
>> they look away
>> and whistle when I say, "True, but how about
>> inheritance?  It's not earned."
> I must admit you may not be entirely wrong about that. I'm
> not a big fan of
> any tax but inheritance tax would be the LAST one I'd
> remove. I'd also say
> that Libertarians are right in advocating Ivy League
> universities stop their
> affirmative action admittance policy, but they should also
> get rid of their
> legacy admittance policy.

As a strict libertarian, in terms of justice, I'm only worried about what's justly acquired -- not necessarily earned.  In this case, the person who justly acquired property has a right to give it to her heirs as she sees fit.  No, as a person, I might find it repugnant when a person who worked hard all her life, spoils her kids and then leaves them a big fat inheritence.  But I wouldn't initiate force to change her decision.

Regarding inheritence in general, too, I think the outcome of enforcing  taxes on it has been to increase the power of the state and dependency on it by making sure rival wealth centers either don't arise or are hampered.  Instead of allowing people to build family fortunes -- and I find nothing wrong per se with building and maintaining such fortunes -- instead these are often destroyed, limited, or shifted into less productive areas (to protect them).  As an aside, this actually prevents elite cycling -- where old elites are replaced -- as the established elites make it harder for different groups to move up the ladder.  (Notably, the super-wealthy don't suffer much from such taxes.  It's the people at the bottom or in the middle who tend to suffer the most, especially as they often lack the skills to maneuvere around arcane tax laws.)

Finally, true libertarians would not be against, as libertarians, any admissions policies universities choose -- but they would be against anything that initiated force, such as public monies going to universities (which should all be privatized) or forcing them to have certain admissions policies.  Thus, in a just world, universities would not be tax funded and could select their admissions policies.  One might expect a diversity of policies with some being more prevalent -- instead of one policy for all public universities.




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