Wednesday, April 13, 2005

How the Parasites Came to Run Everything

Today the House may vote to repeal - permanently - the estate tax. We come closer to having a titled nobility, the rich will get richer, and the poor will get shat upon. How did it happen?

"For almost a century, the estate tax affected only the richest 1 or 2 percent of citizens, encouraged charity, and placed no burden on the vast majority of Americans," they wrote. "A law that constituted the blandest kind of common sense for most of the twentieth century was transformed, in the space of little more than a decade, into the supposed enemy of hardworking citizens all over this country."

The secret of the repeal movement's success has been its appeal to principle over economics. While repeal opponents bellowed that only the richest of the rich would ever pay the estate tax, proponents appealed to Americans' sense of fairness, that individuals have the natural right to pass on their wealth to their children.

The most recent Internal Revenue Service data back opponents' claims. In 2001, out of 2,363,100 total adult deaths, only 49,911 -- 2.1 percent -- had estates large enough to be hit by the estate tax. That was down from 2.3 percent in 1999. The value of the taxed estates in 2001 averaged nearly $2.7 million.

"Fairness" my ass. That is one of the real faults of the American character - we think it's "fair" to let every illegal immigrant in to force down our wages and benefits, we think it's "fair" to allow other countries to undercut our companies and put millions of Americans out of work, and we have the freakish and stupid idea that it's "fair" to permit economic serial killers pass their often ill-gotten gain - money that should have gone to their workers and stockholders - to their parasite children. Think Paris Hilton. And Democrats don't have the balls to stand up to these people:

House Democrats, led by Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.), today will propose permanently raising the exclusion to $3.5 million -- $7 million for couples. That would be enough to exempt 99.7 percent of all estates. The Pomeroy bill would cost the Treasury $72 billion over 10 years, compared with the $290 billion price tag of a full repeal through 2015, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.

Ooo yeah, that makes a big difference. What crap.

A compromise that includes any estate tax, no matter how small, may fail if the fervent repeal coalition holds firm, Graetz said. Repeal opponents have been unable to whip up big support, he said, because they never made the emotional case that the American belief in equal opportunity runs counter to the existence of an aristocracy born to inherited riches. Paris Hilton, who inherited her wealth and now famously enjoys spending it, could have been their counter to the small-business owners and family farmers whom repeal proponents held up as the victims of the tax.

Of course if they did the Repugs would run around screaming "class warfare," when in fact the only class warfare in this stinking country is the rich raping the poor and middle class.

But ultimately, whether people believe the estate tax will affect them has little bearing on support for repeal. Early this year, with Soldano's money, Luntz again began polling, this time in the face of record budget deficits and lingering economic unease. More than 80 percent called the taxation of inheritances "extreme." About 64 percent said they favored "death tax" repeal. Support fell to a still-strong 56 percent when asked whether they favored repeal, even if it temporarily boosted the budget deficit.

Americans are real, real stupid. They must be to have been persuaded by Repugs that the inheritence tax is a "death tax" and cleans out innocent small businessmen and farmers. Those are hardly the people affected. The people affected are people not with millions, but tens of millions, hundreds of millions, billions, people who can never ever have enough. These people need to be turned upside down and shaken out, every generation. It's only fair that they give back what they "earned."

Update: mdjeffersonian over at Daily Kos says it much more eloquently that I did:

Now there will be a permanent repeal of the estate tax. Consequence No. 1: philanthropy will dry up. There will be far fewer Jack Kent Cooke Foundations, far fewer Pew Charitable Trusts. Consequence No. 2: The rich will get richer - much richer. And the richer they get, the more laws they will buy. Think Bush (they both buy and sell), think DeLay. The effects on our democracy would be devastating. We already talk about people buying Senate seats. Just imagine a Congress with nothing but Kennedys and Rockefellers, except their names will more likely be Mars, and Mellon Scaife, and Coors, and the far right wingnut theocratic heirs to the Dominos pizza fortune. Consequence No. 3: the economy will suffer - I firmly believe that when capital is tied up in trusts (which cannot take major risks) and when wealth is being spent on yachts in Europe, while the middle class is shrinking and the poor are driven into extreme poverty, the result is not a robust economy. Consequence No. 4 (and this is the least of them but having known some of these people I tend to actually feel sorry for how lost and weak they often are): entire generations of leeches will be born.

So the next time you hear about the "unfairness" of the "death tax," remind people that America wasn't supposed to be an aristocracy.

I'm sorry, but the children and grandchildren of the rich should have to work for a living. Just like everyone else. It's only fair, after all.

Read the whole piece, and the comments.

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