Commentary: The Rich Can Include Government in Their Wills - If They Wish To

In a Wall Street Journal opinion, former Treasury Secretary Rubin appealed for the reinstatement of the "Death Tax" because more revenue is needed to support government spending (no mention of spending cuts).

This is similar to the view of many, that our incomes belong to government and we are fortunate to be allowed to keep some of the fruits of our labor.

Alleging that the case of the tax is “grounded in powerful philosophical underpinnings…a meritocracy and a land of opportunity [with] a proud legacy of upward mobility", he appears to have forgotten an even more important philosophical principle - private property rights.

Uncle Sam and money
Uncle Sam and money

Consistent with the “tax the rich” philosophy, somehow seizing the wealth produced by the successful will produce more upward mobility?

The accumulation of wealth by those who work hard or are lucky does not stand in the way of the upward mobility of others, there is no limit on wealth accumulation for anyone who works hard.

Rather, producing wealth creates jobs and supports the investment that creates more opportunities to succeed. This tax encourages spending, not saving, since the results of saving (and investing) will be heavily taxed.

Why save it for the government to take?

Having paid taxes all along the way, why should government be allowed a second "bite" out of earnings at the end, interfering with the individual's right to do what they wish to with their private property?

Implied in his view, of course, is that government will do great things with the wealth it confiscates to improve upward mobility, a view that is not supported by experience.

"If Mr. Rubin thinks this is such a great idea, he can voluntarily leave half of his wealth to the government." -Economics Professor, Temple University, William Dunkelberg

If Mr. Rubin thinks this is such a great idea, he can voluntarily leave half of his wealth to the government. Better yet, he can send in extra money every year to finance the government spending he appears to favor, saving the government the effort of confiscating his wealth at the end.

I suspect, however, that i could live well on what he pays professionals to minimize his tax burden and avoid the "death tax", money he is spending to prevent or blunt the very redistribution he supports. Hmmmmm.

William Dunkelberg is an Economic Strategist, Boenning & Scattergood and Chief Economist, National Federation of Independent Business.