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Great idea: 100 percent inheritance tax(76 posts)

Great idea: 100 percent inheritance taxOldEdScott
Jun 27, 2003 9:58 AM
I think Torquer was on to something in his post below.

torquer "Economic Royalists -- Let's get nitty gritty here." 6/27/03 9:07am

With a 100 percent confiscatory inheritance tax, we could accomplish a couple of wonderful things:

-- Eliminate all other forms of taxation.

-- Fairly redistribute wealth in this country, to avoid cross-generation concentration of capital, thereby giving everyone a fresh, fair and equal shot at the American dream, and avoiding an uprising of the serfs when the current Bush system of wealth-concentration in the hands of a few aristocrats runs aground on its own historical inevitability, i.e. revolution.

Thanks, Torquer. I'll pitch this to the DNC, or at least to Hillary.
I tend to agree, but there are some problems,TJeanloz
Jun 27, 2003 10:02 AM
I think there should be a 100% inheritence tax - except that it would be 100% avoidable, as parents can easily transfer wealth to their children while they are still alive.

In fact, I find few concepts truer to the American ideal than an inheritence tax which effectively eliminates the aristocracy that has been created. The biggest problem, however, is that people would just give their money away before death -- if there were a solution to that, I'd be on board.
goodbye to family farms completely nmDougSloan
Jun 27, 2003 10:12 AM
Yes, but why not?TJeanloz
Jun 27, 2003 10:15 AM
It would mean the end of family farms, and many family businesses. As well as homes staying in the family for many generations.

But why should some people have cheap (free) access to these resources purely by accident (i.e. right of birth)?
the decedentDougSloan
Jun 27, 2003 10:20 AM
As you point out above, people would get around this. If I'm wealthy, I'd bet my son will go to work for my company with a really good salary and stock option plan.

I think the focus is not so much the rights of inheritance, but more the rights of people to dispose of their property they way they see fit, even upon death. If you don't value property rights, then that may not seem important.

Property rights absolute as long as you're alive. WhatOldEdScott
Jun 27, 2003 10:25 AM
more can you ask for? Hell, I'm giving you just about everything you want: No taxes, self-reliance, you get to keep YOUR money etc etc.
It is amazing how the right to choose only applies...94Nole
Jun 27, 2003 10:25 AM
to leftist ideals but they want no choice or rghts when it comes to private property ownership, taxes, wealth, fill in the rest of the list with anything else that can be re-distributed at their CHOOSING.
Nole! I figured this would smoke you out ofOldEdScott
Jun 27, 2003 10:28 AM
your royalist tower!
Yes, I am, admittedly, an easy target.94Nole
Jun 27, 2003 10:36 AM
You are certainly a guy they should consider have sitting tarnished microphone of the upcoming AL GORE JR LEFT WING Broadcasting company.

You would be good.
Hey Nole, don't feed the trollSoftrider
Jun 27, 2003 10:38 AM
Don't waste your time, logic and common sense just don't compute for the liberals.
I agree,TJeanloz
Jun 27, 2003 10:25 AM
The issue from my perspective is not the right of the heir to receive property tax-free, but the right of the estate to dispose of its property as it sees fit. Nothing annoys me more than giving somebody a large gift, and then giving them cash to cover the taxes that they have to pay on it.

Your point that your child would get a better job almost serves as an argument to enact this tax -- if he's going to receive benefits of birth regardless, why give him even more when you die?
Why not go one step furtherSoftrider
Jun 27, 2003 10:14 AM
and just take everything right now, before we die. That way the government could distribute it in a more equitable manner.

Wait, that sounds like communism and we know that doesn't work.
No taxes while you're alive. Zip. You get to keepOldEdScott
Jun 27, 2003 10:18 AM
every dime of YOUR money. You don't get to keep a dime of anyone else's money, i.e. Daddy's. You are free to make it or not, based on your own labor, initiative and imagination, and every penny you make you keep until you croak.

Not remotely communism.
I'd buy a really large life insurance policy, too nmDougSloan
Jun 27, 2003 10:21 AM
I actually sort of like thisDougSloan
Jun 27, 2003 10:40 AM
Nothing annoys me more than some a-hole who has a trust fund and thinks that he's better than anyone else because he has a Mercedes convertible while still in high school -- the "born on third and think they hit a triple" people. I've often thought that doing away with inheritance, one way or another, would likely be better for people over-all anyway.

Nonetheless, I still don't think this is right. I should have the right to give away my property the way I want -- now or at death. Note that I don't have to give it to my potential heirs -- I can give it to the local dog pound if I want.

I'm not sure this would ensure no other taxes. I'd like to see numbers. Also, people certainly would find a way around this, as much as they circumvented the death tax with the $600k threshold. Would just mean high employment for CPAs, lawyers, and financial planners.

It's not that bad in theory...TJeanloz
Jun 27, 2003 10:42 AM
In theory, I say that it works towards forwarding the American capitalist ideal - in practice is where you begin to have problems.

And there remains the issue of your right to give away money as you see fit.
Jun 27, 2003 10:23 AM
My ancestors brought from England 10,000 pounds, and I'm entitled to my share of it!!! My portion amounts to $300.25. :-)
So is that communism or socialism? nmKristin
Jun 27, 2003 10:24 AM
Neither, not remotely. nmOldEdScott
Jun 27, 2003 10:27 AM
Well it can't exist within a democracy, can it?Kristin
Jun 27, 2003 10:35 AM
And it certainly would destroy capitalism. Human nature is greedy. Capitalism leverages that greed, so it works. If you take away the ability for someone to get rich and pass it on, you take away motivation to gain wealth. It would radically alter the economy. Not that it would be a bad thing. But what shape would it take?
Jun 27, 2003 10:40 AM
Is the motivation to get rich so that you can pass it on to your children? I always thought it had more to do with your own life.
Sure it can!OldEdScott
Jun 27, 2003 10:41 AM
Humans are greedy whether they have kids or not. They're gonna want to create wealth for themselves. The motivation is still there. Hell, there will be even more motivated capitalists running around trying to make money, since they can't live off their inheritance!

This is just a tax scheme, and some social engineering to implement Jefferson's idea that the revolution should be periodic, not just a one-shot deal.

Capitalism is still in effect. The regular political process will proceed. Dems and Repubs will skewer each other on RBR. The only difference is, you get to keep ALL of YOUR money etc etc.
Now, Ed,...94Nole
Jun 27, 2003 10:47 AM
"The only difference is, you get to keep ALL of YOUR money etc etc."

Are you serious? That doesn't sound very much like you. I didn't think our tax rates were high enough. If people spend it all during their lifetimes (since they can't pass it on and the are keeping all of their money, implying that no one, including the govt. gets any) how do we fun all the compassionate programs to care for those much less fortunate than we?
of course we'dJS Haiku Shop
Jun 27, 2003 10:31 AM
either pass it off before death, or be sure to kick off broke. who'd pay to fix the roads then?
I just have one question. Or two. Okay, three. No, four!...mohair_chair
Jun 27, 2003 10:43 AM
I'm not even going to comment on your main point, because I'm pretty sure not even YOU are for it.

Anyway, your second wonderful thing contains the wonderfully vague statement: "Fairly redistribute wealth in this country, to avoid cross-generation concentration of capital, thereby giving everyone a fresh, fair and equal shot at the American dream...."

It's no surprise you are a speechwriter, because, dammit, that sounds like a good idea. Except, wait! Now I want you to explain how that is going to be done. Who decides? The Bureau of Redistribution? What age do I have to be to get some free stuff? If I screw up, do I get another shot?

I have no interest in farming, so naturally the government is going to give me a farm. Here kid, this is your fresh, fair and equal shot at the American dream. Here's an old tractor, too. It used to belong to Ted Turner.

How many people do I have to kill before I get that apartment on the Upper East Side with the 1929 Steinway grand piano, so I can pursue my dream of becoming a concert pianist, or at least playing on the next Whitney Houston album?

How would taxation be eliminated? Property doesn't generate revenue on its own. I don't see how dividing up family farms and businesses generates anything except scorn. To turn most confiscated property into revenue you have to sell it, and who is going to buy it? Oh yeah, that would be RICH PEOPLE.

Sorry, but you have to figure out the second part before you can even discuss the idea. Because that's the part that matters.
HA HA HA HA HA! I have answers butOldEdScott
Jun 27, 2003 10:47 AM
speaking of family farms, I have to go out and put up some hay. You all continue poking holes in this idea. I think you'll end up discovering it is deliciously liberal AND conservative!
Say good-bye to the Dead Kennedys :O)Live Steam
Jun 27, 2003 2:38 PM
I think you would pass this over their dead bodies. Oh I forgot most of them have bought the farm (pun intended :O) It may almost be worth it if they have to play by the same rules. No more bloated Kennedys telling us all how to run our lives.

My sister an I bought an insurance policy that will cover my folks estate taxes after they both pass on. It's only a mere $30K a year. But it's worth every penny to know that Uncle Sam is getting skunked by his own rules. The government gets you even after the last shovel of dirt is thrown on you. The government thinks they have a right to a 40%-50% of everything you accumulated during your lifetime. Understand that everything you own you bought with the residual money you had after paying your taxes. You even paid tax on those objects and property when you purchased them. Then when you die they tax you for them again. Sounds fair to me. Not really!

Just think about it for a moment. You paid all of these taxes throughout your life and then bought stuff with the money you had left over. You die and the government then says you didn't pay enough during your lifetime so we are going to take more. Ed I think you have been sippin' the mash again if you think this is in any way equitable. Your proposal is preposterous too. Where do you guys come from? Do you think Slick Willie and the Witch want to deprive little Chelsea her due after they go? They do know they are going to die don't they? Oh of course they do that is why they have been trying to get their grubby fingers on everything they can including the White House furniture :O)
Not to mention that crafty Bush family! (nm)sacheson
Jun 28, 2003 9:33 AM
You're paying $30,000 a year for an insurance policy??OldEdScott
Jun 30, 2003 5:31 AM
Geez, that estate mush be worth gobs and you must be rich as Croecius. Which, I suppose, explains why you're so concerned about the welfare of the aristocracy!
Not rich compared to ...Live Steam
Jun 30, 2003 6:57 AM
some of your democratic friends I am sure. My family started with next to zero off of the boat from Italy in the late 1800's. Everyone work very hard, educated themselves and strived toward the American dream. Both of my parents were successful professionals. Should they be ashamed of that? They worked very hard to become productive members of society. They would like my sister and I to hold on to some of what they have earned through hard work and responsible investing in the community. Why should we be forced to sell off assets to satisfy excessive estate taxes? The policy is tax deductible and will cover the payments to Uncle Sam.

I will never understand why success by the average American is looked down upon by the left. They use it as a wedge to divide the haves from the have-nots in order to consolidate their voter base against legislation that benefits people who work hard and are successful. Why don't they preach to the have-nots to work hard too so they can have the privilege of either paying excessive estate taxes or paying a high price for insurance to cover it? The left certainly love their celebrities and the money they have to offer their campaigns. They also certainly love to enjoy the same success. Very hypocritical!
I'm in no mood today to tolerate the usual crapOldEdScott
Jun 30, 2003 7:19 AM
wherein the Wacko Right ascribes positions, thoughts etc to the Left that are are simply untrue. I let it go all the time here, figuring the rules of engagement are pretty loose, but -- and I apologize, Steam; necessity is sometimes a harsh mistress -- your post, while engaging as always on a personal level, is just intellectual BULLSH1T.

No one on the Left ever has or ever will suggest your parents should be ashamed of their success. That's garbage and you know it. I suggest YOU should be ashamed for saying so.

The Left has, in fact, never looked down on any hard- working American, successful or un- . The same cannot be said for your Royalist friends and heroes, who see workers as fodder for their own continued personal wealth-generation, and to foot the bill for their tax cuts.

This 'driving a wedge' business is bogus too. Your side complaining about 'class warfare' is like the Germans whining about the Poles starting World War II. There is indeed class warfare in this country, and your class, the aristocracy, declared it. We're the ones being blitzkrieged. Do we not have a right to self-defense?

Sorry, man. Gonna call you on every political misrepresentation till you cry uncle.
Hey I didn't make it upLive Steam
Jun 30, 2003 7:52 AM
Your friends did. They said that the rich will be the only ones to get a reduction in taxes. This is totally false as is the idea that children are being left out of the tax cut. If you pay taxes you get a "tax cut". If you don't pay taxes and you get something else - its called welfare! This simple fact is being used as a wedge and you cannot deny that no matter how you choose to paint it. This is being propagated by your buddies on the left.

Your idea that inheritance tax is just is also another dividing tactic. The idea that the government should have some preordained right to take away what one has already paid taxes on is simply another way of redistributing wealth and buying votes with a certain segment of society. So I can call a spade a spade too. You know as well as anyone that these are planned tactics by the democratic party to make it appear that conservatives are greedy and uncaring for the plight of the poor. Poor for a reason is one thing. Poor because the democrats have you believing it is the governments responsibility to take care of you instead of self accountability, is another.

There is a revolution coming again in America and it will be waged by the hard working, everyday middle American who is tired of their government taking their hard earned dollars and frivolously tossing them out on unsuccessful welfare initiatives. Denying the divide and conquer tactic is gratuitous. It is so easily identifiable it is embarrassing.
More aristocratic misrepresentations.OldEdScott
Jun 30, 2003 8:03 AM
From the very first sentence, you spew out false statements. Neither I nor a single one of my friends EVER said, anywhere, in any forum, public or private, that the rich will be the only ones to get a reduction in taxes.

When your statement starts out and is based on a fabrication, it's a fabrication through-and-through and can't be taken seriously. Sorry. Try again.
Maybe you should read the news once in a whileLive Steam
Jun 30, 2003 8:38 AM
It's hard to debate a point with someone who won't admit the truth. You want to go on record that multitudes of Dumocrats have not repeated the mantra that the tax cut is only for the rich? You also want to go on record and deny that multitudes of the same Dumocrats said that hundreds of thousands of children will be hurt by the tax cut? This is not a dividing tactic? How stupid do you think we are? They try to scare the elderly, infirmed and ill informed with these broad unsubstantiated statements. You can rant all you want, but most of us are not fooled by these tactics and denying them is insulting to our intelligence.
Uh, Steam ...OldEdScott
Jun 30, 2003 8:52 AM
First of all, WHERE in this story does it quote a Dumocrat saying the tax cuts are only for the rich? Maybe my bifocals aren't working.

That's not quite the same as saying the rich are the primary beneficiaries. They are. That's undeniable.

It's also not quite the same as saying children will be hurt by the tax cuts. They will. And so will generations of unborn children, who'll pay debt service as a hidden tax on this foolishness.

I say again: Defending ourselves from attack is permitted under any rules of war I can find. YOU declared class war, and blame us for engaging in class warfare. Speaking of 'the Big Lie.' Typical, typical.

I like the story, by the way. Lays out some of the consequences pretty good. Keep 'em comin'!
I didn't think the Left cared about unborn children...TJeanloz
Jun 30, 2003 9:44 AM
I couldn't help the potshot, FWIW I don't care about unborn children either.

This idea that our children will be devastated by the deficits that we are now incurring is ridiculous and unfounded. The United States has had a national debt every year since the formation of the Federal Government in 1791, and we've done all right over the 212 years since. Democrats have no problem with Roosevelt using deficit spending to spur the economy in the 1930s, but a Republican can't do the same thing? In fact, the public debt rose by about the same amount under Clinton as it did under Reagan (that's one of those statistical damn lies). That's the idiocy of this debate - it has nothing to do with economics, and everything to do with politics.
Well, is national debt like using one credit card toOldEdScott
Jun 30, 2003 9:55 AM
pay another, into infinity? Does the tab ever come due? Does money used to cover the national debt come from taxes, or otherwise from 'the people' in some way? Does that money NOT end up in national defense, or Interstate highway concrete? If the national debt were eliminated, could taxes be lowered WITHOUT impacting services? I was under that impression. Do the federal taxes paid by the smallest 33 states go in their entirety to national debt service? Is debt simply not an issue, and we can run up as much debt as we please? If so, why do we even bother having a budget? Just spend what we have to and tally the rest, in red, as a limitless debt that has no consequences.

I'm happy to admit I'm an idiot in the face of superior knowledge, so explain this to me and I'll become a pro-limitless-debt freespender, I promise.
Is there a limit? Yes. Are we near it? No.TJeanloz
Jun 30, 2003 10:26 AM
Under Roosevelt, the deficit ranged between 30% and 50% of the total budget. With the current budget of ~$2.1 trillion would equate to a deficit of $630 - $1050 Billion. The deficit is projected to be $106 Billion. That's significantly smaller.

The argument that we should spend down the debt and not have any is equally naive, considering that world financial markets would basically collapse if treasury notes/bills/bonds went away. The U.S. national debt plays a very important role in finance as the proxy risk-free investment, and without it, there could be some real problems.

But to answer your questions in the order they were received:

Does the tab ever come due? Theoretically, yes, actually, not really. If the debt got to really outrageous levels - which it has never been anywhere near - there could be a problem.

Does the money used to cover the national debt come from taxes etc.? Yes it does. But it also goes back to taxpayers (and non-taxpayers) in the form of interest payments. These interest payments are largely held as investments, and are reinvested [primarily] in the American economy.

Does that money not end up in N.D. etc.? It doesn't in the first round, but due to money velocity, it will pay for those things many times over in the future.

Could taxes be lowered without impacting services without a debt? Maybe, but everybody's income would also be lower. Investment would be lower. We'd have a real macroeconomic problem.

Can we run up as much as we please? No. But even the Democrats couldn't max out this credit card. The scenario we're in is that of the chargecard holder with a trillion dollar limit, whose wife is upset because we've got 100 billion on it. We've got a lot of credit to spend. So yes, we can spend pretty much whatever we want, to a point, and we are nowhere near that point.
Praise Jesus! When we libs regain power we canOldEdScott
Jun 30, 2003 10:31 AM
spend like drunken sailors! Whooooooooo-hooooooooooo!

I am now a freespender!
Go nuts - I stopped paying taxes this year (nm)TJeanloz
Jun 30, 2003 10:32 AM
FOR the year, or quit all together?OldEdScott
Jun 30, 2003 10:36 AM
Completely and totally. It's very refreshing -TJeanloz
Jun 30, 2003 10:40 AM
Except sales tax and meals tax, which I can't seem to avoid.
AH! You must be in the top 1 percent! nmOldEdScott
Jun 30, 2003 10:41 AM
Nope, bottom 1 percentTJeanloz
Jun 30, 2003 10:44 AM
I have no income. Hence no tax.

Well below the poverty line.
Maybe the Democrats can develop a program for me (nm)TJeanloz
Jun 30, 2003 10:51 AM
Happy to! Especially since debt & budgets don't matter soOldEdScott
Jun 30, 2003 10:55 AM
the sky's the limit! How much you want?
Cool. Does L'Espalier take food stamps? (nm)TJeanloz
Jun 30, 2003 10:57 AM
I suppose you own/formed a corporation?ColnagoFE
Jul 7, 2003 1:28 PM
you make tons of $ as the corporation and pay yourself $1 salary or something like that? am i close?
Not really,TJeanloz
Jul 14, 2003 7:03 AM
I made some money, paid taxes on it, invested it, got sick of paying taxes. Put most of it in a charitable trust, invested the rest in tax-free municiple bonds, live on the interest. I do have to pay state income tax on the bond income, but I can live with that.

I do also work, but I don't own the company, nor do I draw a salary - it's really to prevent me from going crazy.
there are deficits, and there is debt.rufus
Jul 1, 2003 8:34 AM
the national debt, currently approaching $7 trillion dollars is the problem here. much like the household who uses their credit cards to make up yearly shortfalls, ultimately the time comes when their total debt becomers unmanageable, where just the interest payments become more than they can afford to pay. ultimately it leads to bankruptcy.

you mentioned earlier that the debt went up the same amount in clinton's presidency as in reagan's. i believe this is in error. the national debt doubled under reagan, from under $1 trillion to over $2 trillion. under clinton, the debt increased by around 300 billion or so, primarily because of interest debt accumulating.

and the elimination of the debt won't prevent the government from continuing to issue treasury bonds. just that those bonds could now be used to raise money, not finance our debt.

and lastly, i thought this year's budget deficit was going to be close to or over $400 billion. another $400 billion, plus interest, added to the national debt, soon to be $8 trillion.
How about facts, rather than thinking and believing?TJeanloz
Jul 1, 2003 9:43 AM
As I pointed out, Clinton increased the national debt by approximately the same amount as Reagan ~$1.6 trillion. Under Reagan (1980-1988), the debt went from ~$1 trillion to ~$2.6 trillion. Under Clinton (1992-2000), the debt went from ~$4 trillion to ~$5.6 trillion. As I pointed out in my original post, this is a damn lie statistic, because Reagans increase was a 160% increase, while Clinton's was "only" a 40% increase. However, if we want to break it down more, the average annual increase in the debt under Clinton was $210 billion, the average percentage increase was 4.5%. Under Bush, the average increase has been 1.4%, or ~$84 billion. Bill Clinton was not exactly afraid of deficit spending.

All statistics courtesy of the United States Treasury Department (I don't believe their estimates reflect the current tax structure):

Your first point, the analogy to the household, is popular, but misses a basic premise. It presumes no growth in the economy - the U.S. economy is not a household with fixed earning potential, it's a household whose breadwinner gets a huge raise every year, thus we can "lever up" and borrow money that, in essence never needs to be repaid. This country has NEVER been out of debt. In fact, we were in debt before we were a country. Bankruptcy hasn't come for more than 200 years, and it's not coming anytime soon.

The "elimination" of the debt would prevent the government from issuing t-bills/bonds/notes. What do you think a t-bill is? These notes ARE the national debt. Without the national debt, there would be no notes.

On this years deficit, there are conflicting reports (because we have yet to receive this years taxes), I pulled the original # I used from the AFL-CIO, because I (wrongly) assumed that they would overestimate it. Current estimates are in the $300-$400 billion range.
how recent are these numbers?rufus
Jul 1, 2003 12:07 PM
if they are still estimating debt for the year 2000, i can't see they are two recent, nor have they figured in the impact of the current tax cuts and spending on war which is increasing yearly deficits and thus the debt.

what if the economy doesn't grow? households are not a static income either, at least hopefully. but it's possible for expenditures and debt to increase faster than economic growth. and you are also not taking into consideration the enormous strain that will be placed on the budget when the baby boomers retire and begin collecting social security and medicare, etc.

i don't believe that we need to eliminate the federal debt, and i am a big believer in deficit spending during times of crisis and to provide economic stimulus. but we need to lower that national debt to a more workable level, or else it's going to balloon exponentially at some point. it's the difference between finding yourself in a deep hole and continuing to dig it deeper, or starting on level ground, digging a small hole only to fill it back in, and then dig again if necessary in the future.
Does it matter? Historical facts shouldn't change...TJeanloz
Jul 1, 2003 12:31 PM
With regards to the Bush numbers, the estimates must include a tax cut, unless the balanced budget that Clinton admirers harp on didn't really exist.

If the economy doesn't grow for an extended period, we'll have some serious problems, no question. The deficit would probably be one of the smaller problems that we have. But there are practically no scenarios, short of nuclear holocaust, under which this could happen - it isn't worth worrying about.

You go on to say that you are a "big" believer in deficit spending "during times of crisis and to provide economic stimulus" - it seems to me that the United States currently meets both criteria. I would wholeheartedly agree with this assessment.

My point is, and has been, that the level of deficit spending and debt currently held by the Government is not significant enough to be alarming. In FY2002, the deficit was 5% the size of the total budget; this is the 54th highest it has been in the last 100 years. And for historical perspective for deficit hawks, which years had among the largest government surpluses (as a % of receipts)? 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931. We aren't anywhere NEAR the deficit (as a % of receipts) that Bill Clinton used to lever us out of the 1991-1992 recession (18%).

What this really comes down to is that politicians know that Americans understand very little about public finance, but do know that debt is bad in private finance, and the opposition party always uses this debate to scare monger the other side. Republicans did it in 1994, Democrats do it now. It's time we all admit that it's politics, not economics, at work here.
well, clinton's balanced budget was largely smoke and mirrorsrufus
Jul 1, 2003 12:43 PM
just as almost every president's has been, when they take the amount of money that should be in social security and medicare coffers and use those numbers to make the deficit look smaller on paper. but as we all know, the assumptions of economic growth, tax revenue, and federal expenditures have all been thrown out the window since clinton left office, and so the resulting federal debt growth numbers may also no longer be valid.

yes, the deficit as a % of the total budget isn't that large, historically. but then again, historically, we also didn't have the threat of a $7 trillion dollar debt looming over us, nor the prospects of federal expenditures skyrocketing exponentially in the next 15-20 years as the baby boomers retire.

yes, i know what deficit spending can accomplish. but at this point in time, given these other circumstances, i'm not in favor of spending like a drunken sailor, nor am i in favor of tax cuts that primarily favor the very wealthiest among us. i am in favor of spending on infrastructure, construction, roads, and other targeted spending that will serve as an economic stimulus, create more jobs, and trickle down to the masses this way. not to give a millionaire an extra $100,000 and hope he tips his waiter better.
Is the total debt unreasonable?TJeanloz
Jul 1, 2003 1:07 PM
It is probably a reasonable question to ponder whether the total national debt ($6.2 trillion in 2002) is a lot. I think we would all agree that the relevant statistic is debt/GDP, so how has this statistic performed through time (or at least for recent history)?

2002: .59
1992: .64
1982: .37
1972: .36
1962: .52
1952: .72
1942: .45
1932: .33

GDP and debt data courtesy of

So it's clearly on the high side of the range that it has historically been on - but we're still pretty far from that .72 number, and we are in the midst of a recessionary period. $7 trillion sounds like a big number, but our GDP is big enough to handle it. It's all a question of scale. I'm not really advocating spending like a drunken sailor, just pointing out that the deficit/debt that we're currently looking at isn't much of an issue, from an economic perspective. In terms of Federal expenditures skyrocketing in the coming years, because of the "baby boom", it will make for some interesting politics - but you can't convince me that if we raised taxes and put them in a "lock box" for future expenditures that "lock box" wouldn't be pilfered from for current expenditures.
Is that what they want?TJeanloz
Jun 30, 2003 7:35 AM
Did your parents and grandparents put in all those years of hard work so that you could reap what they sowed? I know that it's pervasive, but I don't really see why my children (as yet nonexistent) should have some "right" to the benefits of my labor - except that I might want to give some of it to them. But really, I think I'd rather they worked for themselves, and toiled as I do. It would be easier to inherit your wealth - but men make their own.
To each his own I guessLive Steam
Jun 30, 2003 8:06 AM
I know my great grandparents and grandparents strived to provide a better life for my parents. That is why they risked life and limb to travel steerage to get here. My folks want the same for their kids and I and my sister want better for our children (me if I am fortunate enough to be blessed with them). I guess it's easy to say that "real men make their own" when the cards are already dealt. However the idea of families passing down successful business' from one generation to the next is nothing new and nothing to be ashamed of.

My grandparents enjoyed what they had and took comfort in the knowledge that they were able to leave behind some assistance that would make life somewhat easier for the next generation. That was a measure of their success I know they were proud of. The same for my parents too. They didn't sit back on their laurels. They made more of what they were fortunate enough to inherit. The same goes for my sister and I. Hey if my dad was a mailman or an auto worker, I would be just as proud of him. And I am sure even with less means, he would want to provide as much opportunity for my sister and I as he would be capable of doing.

You are free to spend every last dime you earn here in this life that Uncle Sam does not get his greedy paws on and leave nothing but memories to your children. I am sure they will love you just the same.
A better life? Sure. A free pass? I don't know...TJeanloz
Jun 30, 2003 8:58 AM
My parents certainly tried to give me a better life - 10 years in private schools, a college education. I hope that I'm not dependent on their estate when their time comes. I'm pretty sure that I won't be getting any of it anyway, so it's a bit moot. But after all that they have already given me, I don't really see why I deserve to reap the benefits of their hard work any more than society as a whole deserves to receive it. I don't really think the Government should take it - but that's because I see it as their right to dispose of it, not my right to have it.

Part of the American experiment is a rejection of the inherited nature of wealth and status that was so common in Europe. Another issue is do your parents want a better life JUST for you, or do they want to leave the World a better place, by contributing to all of society? I hope the latter is the case.
I believe they want bothLive Steam
Jun 30, 2003 9:54 AM
for me and society. They were/are productive members of society and they have instilled the same values and virtues in me and my sister. I can say without hesitation that they will leave this Earth a better place. You are correct about your parents right to dispose of their hard earned money any way they see fit. Why is it that you believe you will "not be getting any of it"?

Where did you get the notion that Americans want to reject the inherited nature of wealth? This country was built by entrepreneurs that arose out of the fabric of the land. They built vast empires and passed their legacy on to their survivors. That is a part of the American Dream and what made America great. It is what separated us from monarchial governance. Here everyone has the equal opportunity to be king!
I believe they want bothTJeanloz
Jun 30, 2003 10:05 AM
First, I'm certain that I'll be getting nothing from my parents because I already have enough. Whatever they have, other people need it a lot more than I do, so I'm pretty confident that they won't be giving it to me.

The rejection of an American aristocracy, explicitly written into the Constitution (Article II, Section 9), as well as the Federalist Papers, implies that the Founding Fathers (if not the framers) wanted a government free from the shackles of inherited wealth. I do believe that the framers would be disconcerted to learn of the influence that money now has on American politics - as this inherited wealth has effectively created the aristocracy that they wanted to avoid.
Article 2 deals with the PresidencyLive Steam
Jun 30, 2003 10:21 AM
I do not see any section #9 associated with Article 2. Please verify this.
I'm sorry, typo, Article I, section 9; shown below:TJeanloz
Jun 30, 2003 10:27 AM
No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.
How does this apply to passing wealth from ...Live Steam
Jun 30, 2003 10:33 AM
generation to generation?
How does this apply to passing wealth from ...TJeanloz
Jun 30, 2003 10:39 AM
It is the explicit rejection of the development of an aristocratic class. Passing wealth from one generation to the next furthers the development of this aristocratic group.

Read the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers - which both position the development of aristocracy as a threat to democratic government.

Certainly, I'm not saying that the Constitution bans passing wealth down. But equality among men was certainly a theoretical goal of the framers, and significant inheritence runs counter to that end.
No it just states that titles carry no weight ...Live Steam
Jun 30, 2003 10:47 AM
here in the US. Everyone is the same no matter how much they have or have not.
I'm done here,TJeanloz
Jun 30, 2003 10:49 AM
If you want to read the Constitution with blinders, go ahead. I can't force you to understand the historical perspective.
No blinder here. I think people ...Live Steam
Jun 30, 2003 11:09 AM
like to read things that aren't necessarily there. This article says that if you are a person of nobility in another country you cannot expect the same consideration for you title here in the US. Simple and plain English. The Federalist Papers are not a part of our governance. They are essays.

I don't recall Thomas Jefferson or any of the other Fore Fathers dispensing of their wealth to the state. They left their money to their descendants.
Jefferson didn't. He died broke. nmOldEdScott
Jun 30, 2003 11:11 AM
People have to read things that aren't there...TJeanloz
Jun 30, 2003 11:19 AM
If you interpreted the Constitution as the sole body of law in the United States, there wouldn't be much to work with.

And you'll note that NOWHERE in this discussion have I said anything about banning an aristocratic group as a fact of law - only that it was/is a part of the American ethos. And period essays, like the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers, are exactly where you would find evidence of this attitude. This is not a legal discussion; never has been. The cited section of the Constitution was merely provided as further evidence of the rejection of an American aristocracy. The question at hand is whether inherited wealth runs counter to the American/Puritan dream/ideal of building yourself through hard work and effort. I postulate that it does.

Furthermore, your interpretation of Section 9 is completely incorrect - it says that "No title of nobility shall be GRANTED by the United States"; not that some other nation's title won't be honored, but that WE do not grant the status of noblemen. It goes on to say that no Federal officeholder may accept such a title from a foreign country.
And where's the stuff that specificallyOldEdScott
Jun 30, 2003 10:29 AM
prohibits child labor laws? I sure don't see it. Once again, the feds meddling without authority in private business, keeping the rich down and hurting working people trying to make a buck.
Hee it is and it's probably the most powerful sentance ...Live Steam
Jun 30, 2003 10:42 AM
in the entire document. It is discretely hidden in Article I,Section 7. I believe this is the single most powerful statement in the Constitution. It basically says the government can do anything they see fit.

"To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.""
OK, STOP! This is nuts.OldEdScott
Jun 30, 2003 10:52 AM
Here's what I have learned today:

Steam admits the Constitution authortizes the government to do just about anything it wants, even though I seem to recall him frequently saying the Constitution doesn't authorize certain laws and activities and wanting to 'see the section.' Maybe that's my own memory failing, but I know I see that here all the time. Maybe it was another reactionary, but still ...


TJeanloz, who knows his stuff, says national debt can be essentially bottomless, that even Dems can't get us to a ruinous level of it, and so -- I must conclude -- there's little reason to worry about a budget, taxation levels, spending restraint, anything we devote so much time to. Just spend what we want, don't tax the rich very much, and things will sail right along just fine.

I'm dizzy. I feel like I've jumped through the rabbit hole, or whatever that hole is that leads to an alternate reality.
Not don't tax the rich,TJeanloz
Jun 30, 2003 10:56 AM
Don't tax ANYBODY very much. The poor and middle class already enjoy this status, can't we just extend the same courtesy to the rich?
Don't see why not. Now that I know deficits and debt don'tOldEdScott
Jun 30, 2003 11:04 AM
matter. Good God. What's the country been arguing about all these years? Let the good times roll.
Glad we cleared that up...TJeanloz
Jun 30, 2003 11:08 AM
The argument really is the concern that one group really would run us up against the limit - which the Democrats have historically come pretty close to.
You should be estatic ....Live Steam
Jun 30, 2003 10:58 AM
you basically have everything you could ever have dreamed of in two simple posts :O) Alice! Oh Alice!