The politics of envy

Leftist radicals and the so-called do-gooders constantly are repeating their pleas for higher taxes on inheritances and capital gains.

The proceeds then would go to the disadvantaged members of society. While nearly everyone would approve of measures to help those who are less fortunate, that approach is both wrong and counter-productive. It reflects the politics of envy, ignoring the Tenth Commandment of refraining from coveting.

There certainly should be changes in our taxation system whereby the very wealthy frequently pay a lower rate of taxation than most of the general population.

At first glance taxing inheritances appears to be the best way to reduce the economic inequality, so that those with a great deal of money should not have an advantage over others, the rest of the population.

Yet a more rigorous tax on inheritances cannot continue to reduce the discrepancies in the economy. If one were to impose a steeper inheritance tax, it soon would be evident that the same people would regain their status. They would have the advantage of experience and knowing “the right people.” Before long, their predominance would be re-asserted.

Witness events in the 17th century England, in France following the 1789 revolution, in Germany in the 19th century after the currency collapse in 1923, and even in the U.S.  south following the Civil War.

Still, too many, including the NDP and also U.S. President Barak Obama want to tax capital gains at a higher rate.

All but forgotten is that if the capital gains tax were increased, there would be fewer resources for entrepreneurs and new enterprises. More innovative projects in the long run present the best opportunities for the less fortunate, rather than giving away the proceeds of higher taxes.

We tend to forget that the wealthy have to do something with their money. While some would place it in sterile projects such as oil paintings or gold (neither should be exempt from a capital gains tax), for the most part it would go to, say, a larger home, helping a construction company, a private plane, or maybe a educational endowment fund.

Any of that would help employment and overall economy.

That would be the best way to help those who are less fortunate, far preferable to an envy-related Robin Hood approach to take away the proceeds of a tax-the-rich scheme that certainly would adversely affect the economy.



Bruce Whitestone