Estate Taxes

michaeledward

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Well, first, I have no idea where your variable 'C', came from, nor any idea what it represents.

You also say that the government does not need to follow the rules of income and outflow over periods of time, but I don't see where you explain how and why the state is exempted from this rule.

Yes, revenues and expenditures change year over year, but if there is a running deficit, revenues will be required to pay interest, and the economic theory is the debt will negatively impact the economy via intrest rates. Now that the worlds currency has been disconnected to any tangible asset (we were once on the gold standard, yes?), certainly the government can just print money ... except that is deflationary, which introduces another problem.


What is the purpose of the Estate Tax?

I posit, the Estate Tax is in place to prevent the accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few families. With wealth comes power, to influence politics, communities, and business. Working to restrict that concentration of power, is a valuable, and I believe uniquely American, endeavor.

So, how about this, rather than the Estate Tax going to the Federal Government of the United States, - cuz that seems to be what is bugging you - let us mandate that the 20 billion dollars collected each year instead go to ... oh, ...Unicef. We'll still need to cut federal spending to match the lost revenue, but now we are preventing, or slowing the creation of an oligarchy.

Lastly, the comment about 'a man of modest means', was directed to Don Roley, because he described himself as such. I meant not to describe anyone in a manner deemed by them or others as derogatory.
 

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michaeledward said:
One relavant fact.
Why Pays an Estate Tax?

In 2006, the wealthiest 0.27% of Americans are the only ones who pay estate taxes.
For more than 99 out of 100 citizens, this discussion occurs only in the theortical arena. If you are one of those .3% of Americans who will be effected by this program, please let us know.

For the rest of us, please be congizant of the fact that government programs are not being eliminated to balance the cuts from the Estate Tax repeals. The 20 billion dollars annually being cut by repealing the estate tax are being added to our tax burden.

Source ... http://www.faireconomy.org/estatetax/ETFAQ.html


While I will accept these numbers as the most recently I think people are still remembering afwe years to a decade ago when the values were much lower and many more people would pay.

But, I think this is still an issue for the future, for those who 401K and other retirement plans that have sufficient amounts of money that maybe transfered in the future. Mind you this will not effect me as my parent does not have this type of money. But if it only 0.27 percent of the people and I happen to know at least three retired (* non-related *) couples with that much saved who worked for a living and did very well for themselves. So that would mean that all the rest I know and the next ones I meet to 997 would all have less. So, I agree that the numbers might be fine today, but a review from time to time might be in order.

Then again a straight flat tax might get rid of people thinking that only the rich get a benefit or have to pay. (* Of course there would be a lower end for the flat tax that would not be applied. *)
 

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Well, first, I have no idea where your variable 'C', came from, nor any idea what it represents.

It's just an asbstract idea to repersent a principle, but loosely, 'C' is 'spending', 'X' is 'taxes from one source' and 'Y' is taxes from another source'


You also say that the government does not need to follow the rules of income and outflow over periods of time, but I don't see where you explain how and why the state is exempted from this rule.


I didn't say they were, but t he at like they are, at least over short terms.

The problem with your assesment is that you assume outflow is constant and that income *will* equal outflow. Outflow is not constant, and income is made of *many* sources that are constantly changing, so that a change in one source of income is not, or does not have to be, directly and explicitely offset by a similar change in in another source of income.

Or to put it bluntly, to say that 'they' are getting a tax break (in Estate Tax) meaning that 'you' will pay more is basically an appeal to envy


I posit, the Estate Tax is in place to prevent the accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few families. With wealth comes power, to influence politics, communities, and business.


Which is absurd on the face of it because if that was truly the goal than the Estate Tax would be 100% and there would be no inheritance and every generation would start over. It's also absurd because if I leave you $1B and you have to pay, say, 10%, then that accomplishes nothing to stop you from exercising your money for power. The Estate Tax is useless to accomplihs what you claim it's purpose is (as is evidence by the fact that we still have a lot of families with a lot of money that continue to wield influence).

The purpose of the Estate Tax is just like the tax on winning the lottery or game show prizes. Money is changing hands and the state wants a piece of the action. That it is going from 'rich' to rich' simply makes it more palatable for everyone else to accept, and much more easy to exploit.

More importantly you are now talking about using Taxes in a punitive way to accomplish social engineering, and frankly it scares the hell out of me that the governement would cross that line. If you tax me to give a portion of my money to someone else who has less..well that's a different discussion, but if you are taxing me *just* because I *have* money and you don't want me to have too much...or do with it what I want..that's frightening.

So, how about this, rather than the Estate Tax going to the Federal Government of the United States, - cuz that seems to be what is bugging you


Not at all. What bugs me about it is that it's eing assessed at all. I'm not bugged that the State is getting it, I'm bugged that the state is taking it. That the state decides "well you can afford to pay than what you are already are so we'll find more ways to get some from you". That the people this affects may have more money than me is immaterial to me. That the State is making decisions like this over the citezenry really bugs me


Lastly, the comment about 'a man of modest means', was directed to Don Roley, because he described himself as such

Because it was Don's point that the freedom to use your money as you fit should be universal and not restricted to those whom the state sees as worthy; it's not the State's responsibility or priveledge to limit the rights of the citizens based on their wealth (one way or the other); it's not the State's job to limit freedom to those of 'modest means' and thne decide what constitues 'modest'
 

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michaeledward said:
While I haven't checked, I believe there are places in the world where you can do just that. Generally, there is an accompanying title with this ability ... things like 'Lord', 'Duke', and 'Prince'.

My country was established in a manner in which each generation is able to undertake efforts for itself, and to step away from the inherited positions within society. While this ideal is never going to be reached, we have put in place, mechanisms to prevent the creation of a stratified, oligarchy.

Strange. I thought that in the country I was born it the ideal was freedom to do what you wanted as long as it did not harm others. That includes using every cent you earn as you wish- like giving it to your kids. The problems my founding fathers had with royalty was in that the laws treated them differently than ordinary people- not that they were rich.

But the country you live in caters to the greed and envy of the many who want to take from the rich and put it under the control of the many- i.e. them.

Fearless freep put it best when he said,

More importantly you are now talking about using Taxes in a punitive way to accomplish social engineering, and frankly it scares the hell out of me that the government would cross that line. If you tax me to give a portion of my money to someone else who has less..well that's a different discussion, but if you are taxing me *just* because I *have* money and you don't want me to have too much...or do with it what I want..that's frightening.

In the country I want my kids to grow up it, the laws treat the rich and poor alike and the people tell the goverment what to do instead of the small elite trying to social engineer society.
 

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FearlessFreep said:
Well, first, I have no idea where your variable 'C', came from, nor any idea what it represents.
It's just an asbstract idea to repersent a principle, but loosely, 'C' is 'spending', 'X' is 'taxes from one source' and 'Y' is taxes from another source'

Well, those were not my variables for X and Y. Kinda makes everything else moot, doesn't it.
 

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michaeledward said:
Well, those were not my variables for X and Y. Kinda makes everything else moot, doesn't it.

ME,

I used to quote the dictionary to show what the definition of words I was trying to use in making a point while others were using a the same word in a manner not in the dictionary and expecting others to understand their point of view and get upset when people did not understand or agree.

So, please understand I am not trying to be a jerk, here when I ask, what were the definitions of your variables?
 

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Rich Parsons said:
So, please understand I am not trying to be a jerk, here when I ask, what were the definitions of your variables?

Rich Parsons, from earlier in this thread ... post # 11.

michaeledward said:
You are correct that the 'total tax revenue is not established to be 'X'. However, the total of government outlays is established yearly to be 'Y'. No matter how one devises it, X must equal Y.

The bold font letter 'e' in the post was omitted in the original ... a typo. I apologize.
 

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Well, those were not my variables for X and Y. Kinda makes everything else moot, doesn't it.

nope, because you're position was that if estate tax went down, tax burden for others went up because spending would be constant and therefore revenue had to be constant to match. The phrase "x + y = c" was just a shorthand way of expressing , and therefore illustrating that fallacy of, what you had already proposed.

In your equation, or thought experiment, "C" was "$100" as the constant spending and therefore constant that revenue had to match. Never mind that spending is *highly* variable and that correlation between spending and revenue with the US govt is pretty non-causal anyway

"X" was the estate tax that would be cut by 5$, requiring a corresponding increase in the other side of the equation

In your words (with my inserts)

If the Government cuts the Estate Tax ( X) by $5.00 forever, the amount Government spends (C) does not change.

That $5.00 is distributed over the population not paying the Estate Tax.(Y)


All I did was reduce the thrust of your thought experiment to an equation, to illustrate the fallacy of the argument
 

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michaeledward said:
Rich Parsons, from earlier in this thread ... post # 11.



The bold font letter 'e' in the post was omitted in the original ... a typo. I apologize.

Thank you.


michaeledward said:
I would encourage you to spend some time on this as a thought experiment.

You have tried to brush off the entire discussion by telling us 'Deficit Spending is a different issue' ... which it is not.

You are correct that the 'total tax revenue is not established to be 'X'. However, the total of government outlays is established yearly to be 'Y'. No matter how one devises it, X must equal Y.

If Government Spending is $100.00 annually.
Then Government Revenue must be $100.00 annually.
If the Government revenue equals only $90.00 this year, then a $10.00 Debt is carried forward (interest begins to accrue).
If the Government cuts the Estate Tax by $5.00 forever, the amount Government spends does not change.
Either Spending needs to drop to match that eliminated revenue or,
That $5.00 is distributed over the population not paying the Estate Tax.

If the Government rolls that Estate Tax deficit forward, as debt, the burden now falls on future tax payers.



One argument Conservatives have made in the past, is they are for 'smaller government', theoretically because this creates small tax burden. Under the current Congress, taxes have been cut, and the size of government (and related expenditures) has increased.

See John Dean .... Conservatives without Conscience.

Now correct me if I am wrong. If "X" is the dollars raised by what ever means and "Y" is the amount the Governement spends.

If "Y" is greater than "X" would not that value be the deficit for the year?

And as there is one then they do not always equal. I agree they should equal.
 

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Rich Parsons said:
Now correct me if I am wrong. If "X" is the dollars raised by what ever means and "Y" is the amount the Governement spends.

If "Y" is greater than "X" would not that value be the deficit for the year?

And as there is one then they do not always equal. I agree they should equal.

If Y is greater than X, the Federal Budget would be in 'Surplus'. This happened under President Clinton (in no small part because of the Gingrich Revolution). When revenues exceeds expenditures, the State can pay off the debt it created in earlier years (Reagan's budgets for instance). As that debt is reduced, Federal interst payments are reduced, and monetary policy can be strengthened, lowering borrowing rates for all consumers.

For individuals, there are times when carrying a 'debt' is a good thing; a college education, a mortgage. These expenditures are often best paid for by borrowing over a long term, because the value of the acquisition will carry over that long term. For this reason, 30 year mortgages are not a horrible idea.

The Federal government does not have the ability to put any item on the books for the 'Long Term'. Each year, all expenditures must be considered. This is why the budget battles in Congress get so troublesome. Our Representatives have to revisit every discussion, every year.

FearlessFreep said:
nope, because you're position was that if estate tax went down, tax burden for others went up because spending would be constant and therefore revenue had to be constant to match. The phrase "x + y = c" was just a shorthand way of expressing , and therefore illustrating that fallacy of, what you had already proposed.

If that is the way you diagram the problem?

Try this .....

X is government revenue from all sources.
Y is government expenditures.
D is government revenue from the Estate Tax (in charity, I will allow the variable for this factor to be D :)
X = Y
X - D = Y
Both of these statements cannot be true (unless D = Zero; and currently, D is not equal to zero)


Perhaps, I should not have used the term 'annually' in my thought experiment. Perhaps because of this term, you assumed a 'constant'. I certainly did not mean to imply there is a constant. And I don't think my text indicates a constant. What I think I implied, and actually said, was that Revenue and Expenditures must be in balance.

Certainly, there are times when the balance is carried forward. But to ignore an out of balance is not good monetary policy.
 

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If that is the way you diagram the problem?

*shrug* That's the way you described the problem.


Perhaps, I should not have used the term 'annually' in my thought experiment. Perhaps because of this term, you assumed a 'constant'. I certainly did not mean to imply there is a constant. And I don't think my text indicates a constant. What I think I implied, and actually said, was that Revenue and Expenditures must be in balance.


You said...

the amount Government spends does not change.

That's your constant, 'does not change' and the rest of our argument rests on your assertion of that constancy



Try this .....

X is government revenue from all sources.
Y is government expenditures.
D is government revenue from the Estate Tax (in charity, I will allow the variable for this factor to be D :)
X = Y
X - D = Y
Both of these statements cannot be true (unless D = Zero; and currently, D is not equal to zero)


If that's the way you want to express it, that's fine, because now it's your expression.

And the problem with your expression is that you used it to posit the idea that if D goes to zero than the tax burden of the 'rest of us' goes up, which is not true.

First off, X is not Y on a year to year basis. Be nice if it was, but it isn't. Hopefully over a series of years it'll square out. But apresumption that X will be Y is false because, sadly, it just doesn't happen. But before proposing that since X and Y are equal that therefore any change in X will be offset by another chnage in X to equal out to Y, you have to fix the problem that X is not usually Y to begin with.

Second, Y is not constant, it changes year to year. So D could go to zero and if Y went down by the same amount, it would square. Since tha amount we are talking about is $20-30B a year and you keep complaining that the war in Iraq is going at $20B a week, I'm sure you could suggest some ways to drop Y by at least $20B a year ; )

Third is that X is made up of many components and they are all variable. So taking D out of the components of X does not mean that one other compnent of X (my income tax, or yours, or the 'rest of us') has to go up. My income tax is currently much higher than t was a decade ago simply because I make more money then I did then soin a sense, my 'tax burden' has gone up, but that's really not what you meant to imply when saying that the tax burden for the 'rest of us' would go up.
 

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michaeledward said:
What is the purpose of the Estate Tax?

I posit, the Estate Tax is in place to prevent the accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few families. With wealth comes power, to influence politics, communities, and business. Working to restrict that concentration of power, is a valuable, and I believe uniquely American, endeavor.

So, how about this, rather than the Estate Tax going to the Federal Government of the United States, - cuz that seems to be what is bugging you - let us mandate that the 20 billion dollars collected each year instead go to ... oh, ...Unicef. We'll still need to cut federal spending to match the lost revenue, but now we are preventing, or slowing the creation of an oligarchy.

Lastly, the comment about 'a man of modest means', was directed to Don Roley, because he described himself as such. I meant not to describe anyone in a manner deemed by them or others as derogatory.



Whenever I look at these things, I tend to ask myself what the Founding Fathers wanted. While your position on the Estate Tax most definitely echoes their intention that there be no “American Aristocracy,” and while, by their days and even today’s standards, the richest men among them would mostly have been considered “landed squires,” or upper-middle class, I find it doubtful that they’d have endorsed the idea of the Estate Tax any more than they’d have endorsed Income Tax.

Furthermore, as I pointed out in my earlier posts on this matter, the Estate Tax has hardly done anything to prevent the development of an American Aristocracy, vis a vis the Fords, Rockefellers, Kennedys, Trumps, Firestones, Watsons, and, erm, Bushes…..and, if it is not repealed, it will continue not to do so.Granted, those people inherited wealth that was largely initially generated prior to the establishment of the estate tax in 1916, but the fact really is that the only people that it really taxes are the ones that I mentioned earlier- people with inheritable assets in excess of $1 million who are not necessarily wealthy, but simply upper-middle class, the same sort of people as the Founding Fathers. If Bill Gates did not intend to follow the example of Warren Buffet (and I have every reason to believe that he will) and chose to do so, there are enough ways to minimize this tax so that his children would still inherit vast wealth-indeed, if he chose to do nothing whatsoever to minimize the estate tax burden for them , his children would still inherit vast wealth-I don’t think anyone could inherit 55 sum odd percent of his fortune, and quibble about losing %45 or so to the government….strike that, they probably would, but they’d still be the sort of vastly wealthy person you seem to be speaking of-indeed, in the matter of such fortunes, and even smaller ones, it is a corollary that money begets more money, thusly those with fortunes have more fortune, unless they are fools.

The trick to money is having some.-Stuart Wilde


So Michael, while I really agree with you that it would be foolish-given the current fiscal disaster that is our government-to repeal the Estate Tax, I don’t agree with you at all about what it is meant to do, or that it even accomplishes that, or even could. Money is power, and those that have enough of it and are not foolish with it will continue to have more of it and pass it on to their heirs-and their heirs will have more, even after paying the full tax in some cases, almost without any effort.

Lastly, I certainly did not take exception to the use of ‘modest means”; there are those who refer to my wife and me the same way, some of them friends-and we certainly live modestly-quite a bit below our means, as a consequence of our upbringing and aesthetics. I’m not a “working” slob, or any other kind of slob, though I do work. I do think that your attitude in this matter seems to border on an almost socialistic prejudice towards people who have money, and I find that somewhat offensive, both personally, and in terms of what I think these United States are supposed to represent.
 

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Beyond all of that, it seems to me that the ability to use the trust structure, as mentioned upthread, makes the entire issue of Estate Taxes moot anyway. Though a trust can be pricey to establish, the subsequent tax savings will more than offset that cost. So, perhaps we can assume that the only estates paying this tax are the estates that both had a sufficient amount of assets, and as well either failed to plan appropriately, or were otherwise ignorant of the trust strategy. I'm curious, at this juncture, just what quantity of revenue, on average, that the IRS generates in estate taxes on any given year.

Having said that, I also disagree with any tax regime that will double tax. If they could just do away with estate taxes, there'd be fewer people paying lawyers so that they could establish trusts to work around it.

Regarding the argument that government revenue must necessarily (sooner or later) equal spending, let's not forget that the "spending" portion of that equation is variable. Given that, it doesn't necessarily follow that revenues must be made up elsewhere. Spending could be reduced to offset the decrease in income. However, again, I'd be interested to know how much lost revenue we're really talking about here.
 

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Flatlander said:
. However, again, I'd be interested to know how much lost revenue we're really talking about here.

In 2003, the estate tax is estimated to have raised $20 billion. Several cabinet departments including Labor, Commerce, Agriculture, and Interior each have discretionary budgets equal to or smaller than $20 billion.
 

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FearlessFreep said:
If that is the way you diagram the problem?

*shrug* That's the way you described the problem.

FearlessFreep.

You seem to be jumping between the 'Real World' and a 'Thought Experiment'.

And, it seems you can't diagram a word problem. The way I described the problem, Government expenditures were a 'given', but it was not a constant, and it belonged on the other side of an equal sign in the equation.

In the real world, you are correct, revenue and expenditures never match. Both can vary greatly, by design, or not. But unless a specific offset is listed, you can not make the assumption that the money cut is not going to be spent.

Elder999 ... I agree the actual results of an Estate Tax don't line up very well with the intent. But, I do believe it moves in the correct direction.

I agree, the Founding Fathers would be against the specific tax as designed, but I think they would be in favor of the idea. But even more so, I think the Founding Fathers would be disgusted with the current tax structure supporting a military apparatus such as established in these United States. So, appealing to that higher authority, is probably not a great idea.

If you view me as socialist, that's OK. Certainly, I think socialism as an idea is a valid one. Like other systems, when put into practice, it fails a bit. And while I will never be subject to the Estate Tax (save for a lottery winning), my wife and I are in a position to take advantage of some of the policies the Bush adminstration have put into place. Many of these policies, I think are a bad idea, and dangerous for the American Experiment, and hurtful to the least among us. But, that doesn't stop me from taking advantage of them. But I think it sucks that those more needy than I, are unable to benefit from the policies and programs.

The Department of the Interior has a budget less than what the estate tax generates. And isn't the Bush administration selling off public lands? Think about it.
 

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First appearance in Post #11: (* Quote completely to show the part I am taking and not trying to take things out of context. *)

michaeledward said:
I would encourage you to spend some time on this as a thought experiment.

You have tried to brush off the entire discussion by telling us 'Deficit Spending is a different issue' ... which it is not.

You are correct that the 'total tax revenue is not established to be 'X'. However, the total of government outlays is established yearly to b 'Y'. No matter how one devises it, X must equal Y.

If Government Spending is $100.00 annually.
Then Government Revenue must be $100.00 annually.
If the Government revenue equals only $90.00 this year, then a $10.00 Debt is carried forward (interest begins to accrue).
If the Government cuts the Estate Tax by $5.00 forever, the amount Government spends does not change.
Either Spending needs to drop to match that eliminated revenue or,
That $5.00 is distributed over the population not paying the Estate Tax.

If the Government rolls that Estate Tax deficit forward, as debt, the burden now falls on future tax payers.



One argument Conservatives have made in the past, is they are for 'smaller government', theoretically because this creates small tax burden. Under the current Congress, taxes have been cut, and the size of government (and related expenditures) has increased.

See John Dean .... Conservatives without Conscience.

Now you state here that "X" is the 'Total Tax Revenue'

michaeledward said:
You are correct that the 'total tax revenue is not established to be 'X'. However, the total of government outlays is established yearly to b 'Y'. No matter how one devises it, X must equal Y.

(* Quote completely to show the part I am taking and not trying to take things out of context. *)

michaeledward said:
If Y is greater than X, the Federal Budget would be in 'Surplus'. This happened under President Clinton (in no small part because of the Gingrich Revolution). When revenues exceeds expenditures, the State can pay off the debt it created in earlier years (Reagan's budgets for instance). As that debt is reduced, Federal interst payments are reduced, and monetary policy can be strengthened, lowering borrowing rates for all consumers.

For individuals, there are times when carrying a 'debt' is a good thing; a college education, a mortgage. These expenditures are often best paid for by borrowing over a long term, because the value of the acquisition will carry over that long term. For this reason, 30 year mortgages are not a horrible idea.

The Federal government does not have the ability to put any item on the books for the 'Long Term'. Each year, all expenditures must be considered. This is why the budget battles in Congress get so troublesome. Our Representatives have to revisit every discussion, every year.



If that is the way you diagram the problem?

Try this .....

X is government revenue from all sources.
Y is government expenditures.
D is government revenue from the Estate Tax (in charity, I will allow the variable for this factor to be D :)
X = Y
X - D = Y
Both of these statements cannot be true (unless D = Zero; and currently, D is not equal to zero)


Perhaps, I should not have used the term 'annually' in my thought experiment. Perhaps because of this term, you assumed a 'constant'. I certainly did not mean to imply there is a constant. And I don't think my text indicates a constant. What I think I implied, and actually said, was that Revenue and Expenditures must be in balance.

Certainly, there are times when the balance is carried forward. But to ignore an out of balance is not good monetary policy.

Yet you corrected me with this:
michaeledward said:
If Y is greater than X, the Federal Budget would be in 'Surplus'.

And then went on to say:

michaeledward said:
X is government revenue from all sources.
Y is government expenditures.

If if Expenditures are greater than the income how can it be in surplus to pay of debt when it would acrue debt.
 

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Rich Parsons said:
If if Expenditures are greater than the income how can it be in surplus to pay of debt when it would acrue debt.

Cuz I'm standing on my head ... and thinking out my ***.

Of course, you are correct. Although, I was 100% certain when I typed that crap I was saying what I meant, not what I said.

Actually, I think it may be the sequence of variables there ... although irrelevant to the equation, ... I listed X first, you listed Y first.

Thanks .. Good catch.
 

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michaeledward said:
Elder999 ... I agree the actual results of an Estate Tax don't line up very well with the intent. But, I do believe it moves in the correct direction.

I agree, the Founding Fathers would be against the specific tax as designed, but I think they would be in favor of the idea. But even more so, I think the Founding Fathers would be disgusted with the current tax structure supporting a military apparatus such as established in these United States. So, appealing to that higher authority, is probably not a great idea.

Looking to that higher authority is almost always a good idea, or it is in the very least a good means of investigation. I agree with you about their likely thoughts about the military industrial complex, though.

michaledward said:
If you view me as socialist, that's OK. Certainly, I think socialism as an idea is a valid one. Like other systems, when put into practice, it fails a bit. And while I will never be subject to the Estate Tax (save for a lottery winning), my wife and I are in a position to take advantage of some of the policies the Bush adminstration have put into place. Many of these policies, I think are a bad idea, and dangerous for the American Experiment, and hurtful to the least among us. But, that doesn't stop me from taking advantage of them. But I think it sucks that those more needy than I, are unable to benefit from the policies and programs.

The Department of the Interior has a budget less than what the estate tax generates. And isn't the Bush administration selling off public lands? Think about it.

Funnily enough, it doesn't matter to me if you're a socialist, or not-it was your prejudice against the wealthy that I dislike.It might interest you to know that my father's parents seriously flirted with Communism back in the 30's, as did many "people of color" at the time. Grandpa apparently put an end to that when he realized that it would mean giving up his wealth.

And, funnily enough, my wife and I are also in a postion to take what I presume to be an even greater advantage of the policies the Bush administration have put in place, but Mrs. Conscience has made certain that any advantages gained in that quarter have been accounted for and donated to valuable social programs-to make certain that those more needy are able to benefit from those policies and programs, at least-somewhat.

Yes, the Bush administration is selling off public lands-the intention is to open them to energy development/exploitation. In other words, it's to benefit his oil industry cronies, not to generate revenue for the government-we'll see about that, though......
 

michaeledward

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I don't know if I have a prejudice against wealth, or the wealthy.

What I have a prejudice FOR, is that we should have equality of opportunity. Again, while that ideal will never manifest, there are certain things that stack the deck; such as being born 'William Gates III' (or VII).

That William Gates Jr. dropped out of college, out maneuvered some competitors, and snookered IBM into buying a product he didn't have, was clever and created. He has executed upon his vision of 'A computer on every desktop', and it has made him exceedingly wealthy.

What happens if that wealth stays in his family - currently, two children, if I am not mistaken? What legacy does that create?

I think that everyone should start the game in the same place. It's an ideal, and will never come about. But can there be policies that move toward that objective (such as public education for all K-12).


Some argue that - geesh - Bill Gates earned all that money, all by his lonesome, and now the big bad government wants to take its cut. (intentional hyperbole). Something we must keep in mind, is that the government has established the rules of commerce, and has an enforcement agency to police those rules. If it weren't for those rules, it is quite possible Mr. Gates' better ideas would have been stolen and pirated; which could have crippled Microsoft before it became Microsoft.

An excellent text on the issue is 'The Myth of Ownership'.

I know this response has wandered a bit ... it's been a long day. But we need to remember, so few people are affected by the Estate Tax. Many of the arguments are about the 'small businessman' ... well, let's change the rules so the small businessman is unaffected. Move the cutoff up to 20 million dollar estates; 50 million dollar estates. Those who argue against it because it would hurt the small businessman begin to show their true colors .... there is no point where it is acceptable. Which then begs the question ... what is the function of government?

I think some view government as their own personal income source (e.g. HHS Leavitt comes to mind).

One last thought ... for Mrs. Conscience ... Hey, I voted against this guy and his policies. But, the majority (well, once at least) of Americans wanted to put his policies in place. Who am I to argue against 50.4% of the public?
 

elder999

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michaeledward said:
I don't know if I have a prejudice against wealth, or the wealthy.

What I have a prejudice FOR, is that we should have equality of opportunity. Again, while that ideal will never manifest, there are certain things that stack the deck; such as being born 'William Gates III' (or VII).

That William Gates Jr. dropped out of college, out maneuvered some competitors, and snookered IBM into buying a product he didn't have, was clever and created. He has executed upon his vision of 'A computer on every desktop', and it has made him exceedingly wealthy.

What happens if that wealth stays in his family - currently, two children, if I am not mistaken? What legacy does that create?

Well, you might be surprised to learn that he and his father pretty much agree with you on this issue.

As for the level playing field, it is level-"all men are created equal," but only within the eyes of the law-I don't have the jumping ability of a Michael Jordan, some don't have the brain power that I'm said to have, few have the combination of things that led to Mr. Gates entrepenuerial success-especially at such a young age.

Some, it seems, are also just lucky.

If the wealth stays in his family (and I do believe that whatever his intentions for the bulk of his wealth, he will see to it that the kids are taken care of-they'll just have to come up with their own means to their own 47,000 sq. ft. house) it will be a legacy no different than that of the Fords-and, much as personally dislike him, I have to admit that Bill Ford has done a sincere, if not always successful job of guiding his family's company-what's wrong with that?

As far as your cutoffs-there are graded percentages for the amount inherited in the Estate tax-for fortunes over $50 million it's around 70%.

As for Mrs. Conscience-hey, I thought it was a good idea, too-a tax cut for us, especially during these times, is laughable. I couldn't, in good conscience, accept that money while so many important (to me) programs are being cut, and families that have less suffer, and I certainly couldn't trust the money going to the government at this point, so we did a little extra tithing-it's not like I even missed it. This may just be the issue I have with the wealthy-rather than the fact that they exist at all, which is what your issue seems to be to me-but that one should only be able to fill one's life up with so much stuff before one comes to the realization that they have more than enough, and turns that money to other things like helping people-I can only enjoy so many cars, motorcycles, houses, etc.-much better to help the hungry, the infirm, the homeless and needy, where one can, if one has the means to-at least , that's the way it seems to me, and the way I was raised.

Yet it seems to me, at times, that the wealthy (and even the merely rich) are the hungriest people of all.....
 
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