[ExI] libertarians and inheritance

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Mon May 11 06:31:16 UTC 2009

Mirco wrote on 5/8/2009 10:07 AM

 > The right to inheritance is the right to inherit because other
 > unrelated people have not the right to take the inheritance for
 > themselves. The right to inherit is, mainly, a right to leave our wealth
 > to someone after we die. The inheriting people have not the right to
 > kill us to collect before or to force us to work more so they will be
 > able to collect more.

Thanks for stating this much better than I could;
we end up in the same place, mostly, but by
different routes. (I also appreciate Dan's very
readable essays on basic libertarianism.) You
see this as a fundamental question of "rights",
a language that for some reason has never made
much sense to me, while I see it in terms of
what will happen to a  society that adopts
confiscation as policy.

 > Entitlements funded with taxes give
 > the entitled people an unjust claim
 > that they can collect from taxed
 > people when thy want collect what they
 > want collect, as the taxed people have
 > no right to complain.

Quite apart from the "justice", I come
at it from the view of incentive. Here
is the difference between true charity
and entitlement: in the former, the
receiver realizes the act as charity,
and especially if he or she knows the
giver, is motivated not to disappoint.

Whereas the problems with "entitlements"
hardly need stating.

 > The collecting people receiving
 > damage is not a problem, as they are
 > free to refuse the unjust help
 > offered and so refusing to take the
 > damage.

Yes, but it's a very rare person who
refuses such gifts. I myself, for
example, would be completely against
the U.S. government issuing checks to
every adult citizen for $100,000, but
you can be sure I'd cash mine.

At least half of the real problem is
that the gifts *are* accepted, and
destroy motivation and incentive
accordingly. I wish I knew why this
doesn't seem obvious to many people.

 > The real problem is the damage
 > imparted to the taxed people,
 > that will find themselves forced
 > to pay and will choose to work
 > less or will choose to use welfare.

Some are affected, but not all. Yes,
the mechanism you refer to is real
and operative. But in many cases,
especially those who find their work
rewarding, we can't really speculate
on the effect, IMO.

 > [Damien writes]
 >> Or [do entitlements] only corrupt those
 >> worthless lazy stupid-but-cunning millions

Hey, let's not get personal!

 >> sucking on welfare's tit? (Or does it
 >> corrupt everyone alike,

Mirco is probably right; it's too hazardous
to generalize. Some people have (for whatever
reason) a strong enough work ethic that it's
not corrupting for them, for others it is.
However, it's pretty easy to see that it
often does corrupt, and not just in our own

 > [Damien wrote]
 >> 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?

As someone wrote, this is a very difficult
situation to analyze indeed. That person
(sorry for the lacking ref, but it was
BillK I  think) wisely noted that nothing
changes in isolation.

I've felt for a decade and a half a lack
of imagination on my own part about how
the economic consequences would unfold.

We see this in miniature all the time,
however. Every time someone invents a
new widgit, we have wealth creation.
But there are myriad mysteries here.
For example, when the European countries
"damage" African economies by exporting
artificially cheap food to them, how
exactly is this different from an
African genius inventing a machine
that does the same thing?


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