“Why not fund the welfare state with a 100% inheritance tax?” asks Abi Wilkinson in a Monday-published op-ed in The Guardian.
The op-ed appeared under The Guardian’s Utopian Thinking vertical; Wilkinson ponders “the greater good”:
The idea that we should be able to pass on our life’s accumulated wealth is deeply embedded. But imagine if we could use that money for the greater good.
Wilkinson inadvertently acknowledges the Left’s war with human nature; “Social progress,” she argues, requires a transcendence beyond “individualistic urges” so that people can “work together for the common good.”
In advocating for total state confiscation of dead persons’ property, Wilkinson dismisses such a policy’s impact on incentives toward productivity and saving:
It’s sometimes claimed that the prospect of leaving an inheritance motivates people to work harder, but I’m sceptical that self-interest isn’t enough. Where’s the evidence that people without children are less productive, on average? And those who are motivated by a desire to help their family will presumably still want to do so while they’re alive. Honestly, if people did decide to retire earlier and enjoy their later years, instead of slaving away for as long as possible, would that be such a bad thing? And given that youth unemployment is such an issue, it may well be socially beneficial to free up those jobs.
It is unfair that some inherit more wealth than others given their familial circumstances, argues Wilkinson:
Morally speaking, people who stand to inherit large sums haven’t done anything to earn that money. An accident of birth placed them in a comparatively wealthy family and they’ve benefited from that their whole life. Some people who stand to inherit have struggled, true, but so have many people who won’t inherit anything at all.
Living people have greater needs than the dead, argues Wilkinson in her advocacy for a confiscatory “inheritance tax”:
But what if the desires of the dead directly damage the wellbeing of the living?
Property rights should be subservient to “social care,” argues Wilkinson:
Cultural norms teach us that the inheritance of private property is the default and any expropriation of this wealth must be justified. It should be the other way round. There’s some value in respecting the wishes of the dead, yes, but why is that more important than social housing, healthcare or any number of other possible uses for the money? It’s natural to want to protect and care for your family, but what about people who don’t stand to inherit a penny? Is there any reason their needs should matter less? We have to fund our state somehow — what makes inheritance tax more objectionable than income tax or VAT charged on essential consumer goods?
The Guardian is a neo-Marxist news media outlet based in the United Kingdom.
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