[ExI] libertarians and inheritance

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Fri May 8 16:06:21 UTC 2009

At 04:38 PM 5/8/2009 +0200, Mirco wrote:

>People, usually, don't work so hard only for themselves, but also 
>for their offspring. You take away the inheritance and they will 
>stop working so much and will start to consume more or work less, or 
>will find a way to pass their wealth to their heirs anyway.

Yes, yes, yes, all this is self-evident. It has nothing to do with 
the point I raised, which is that if giving tax-sourced money to the 
lazy poor is held to be wrong *in part because* it corrodes the moral 
character of the recipients (among other reasons why it's wicked and 
damaging), then giving money to the children of the rich might do 
just the same damage, and should be prevented *if only for their own sake*.

Pragmatic questions of who or what could prevent this dreadful damage 
to heirs (the government? Robin Hood? religious obligations? customs 
of potlatch? etc) is beside the point. So are questions of whether 
the largesse was forcibly appropriated from taxpayers (or paid by us 
with our general consent, as we pay for police protection), or 
bequeathed by a plutocrat who earned it all by masterful inventing, 
investing or managing etc.

The question is: does unearned income always *corrupt*? Or does it 
only corrupt those worthless lazy stupid-but-cunning millions sucking 
on welfare's tit? (Or does it corrupt everyone alike, except that the 
heirs of billionaires are few in number, as I think Rafal noted, so 
their ruin is negligible compared to the 51% who allegedly vote 
themselves bread and circus and drive every democracy into squalor?)

This line of thought might lead to further questions: if nanotopia 
arrives, with all of us getting food, shelter, education, 
communication and transport for free, must we face a future of 
hopeless degradation because these benefits are *unearned*? Or is 
that okay, because in this case the goodies aren't being taken from 
your pocket and "spread around" to the welfare queens--and besides, 
you don't have a taxable job anyway because the AIs took it?

Damien Broderick

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