Friday, June 24, 2011

Death and Taxes

The old saying goes “the only two certain things in life are death and taxes,” and the clowns in government make it a daily double. The estate tax represents government’s ultimate indignity. As they lower your cold dead body into the ground, the greedy clutching hand of government reaches into your pocket and extracts your wallet. They examine the contents with glee then tell your heirs to “keep the change.” Your heirs, the products of your loins, your emotional investments and the subjects of your love must handle the heart breaking tasks of putting your affairs in order while the gluttonous breath of government cascades all around them. The results of your lifetime of risk-taking and hard work are distributed among strangers…bureaucrats, the slothful and the needy. And it is not your desires that matter…Big Brother and Nanny State make the call and pass out the goodies. Your “estate” diminishes to the value of a rental plot in a backwoods Alabama trailer park. Those you left behind must scramble to “fire sale” your assets so that when the tax collector arrives, his sack can be filled with the plunder reaped from your lifetime of labor. That’s “fairness” in the lexicon of oppressive government.

Government represents the greatest of necro-carnivores. My advice to you is not to die. They are waiting for the moment of your untimely demise so that they can squander whatever they can coerce or squeeze from your grieving loved ones. Live forever and drive the bastards crazy. Much has been written about the “death panels” in the negligent health care legislation that was passed last year. If you have a sizable estate, you may hear these melodious tones from your local health care overseers: surgery…denied; medicine renewal…denied. If you are a person of means, you may have a permanent “DNR” tattooed on your forehead. Government’s insatiable appetite for your money will not be denied, and you will be admonished to go quietly for the good of society.

What is the purpose of the estate tax? In fact what is the purpose of any tax? This question should be asked and answered before any confiscation of your labor or property. So, what is the purpose of the estate tax? To punish the wealthy? To redistribute wealth from those “who won life’s lottery” to those who never played the game? To generate income for a specific purpose? To acquire easy money from those who are unable to resist? What is the ACTUAL purpose of the estate tax? Let’s take this query one step further. What are the moral and constitutional justifications for levying the estate tax? Personally, I’m not dead….yet, and the estate tax is no more obnoxious in my view than are hordes of other schemes the government employs to steal our wealth. I chose to write about this particular offensive maneuver because in most jurisdictions within the United States, molesting a corpse is a crime. Much of the tax code that has been adopted in our nation during the past century reeks of criminality. It seems as if the tax code were designed to punish the producers and reward looters. Clearly Ayn Rand witnessed the early abominations in the system and anticipated the later ones.

In a system that honors freedom and protects liberty the tax code should exist solely to raise the necessary revenue for basic constitutional functions. The present system is a convoluted maze for social engineering. Layer after layer of penalties, surtaxes and progressive rate increases are countered by exemptions, subsidies and deductions. The mountainous collection of tax rules, laws and regulations is an unconscionable assault on individual liberty and property and is generally indecipherable and oppressive. Tax law defines the limits of government force that can be used against the citizens. In our present code there appear to be no limits. Every breathing resident is at some level of risk, and even death is no escape from the ravages of the tax collector. RIP.

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