From Property Law: Rules, Policies and Practices
. p. 1106, note 5:
"Suppose a legislature passed a statute imposing a 100 percent inheritance tax on the ground that it would promote equality of opportunity by taking away from the children of wealthy parents unearned economic advantages and giving them incentives to succeed on their own."
Wow. That may not be a bad idea. I mean, how many lazy assholes do you know that are just living off of trust funds? Ok, maybe not that many. But still, that would provide plenty of incentives. Kids would be forced to pay their own way through college and beyond. No Mercedes for the 16th birthday. You see too many reality TV shows of kids who are heirs/heiresses who have never done their own grocery shopping, or put gas in the car. They are (for the most part) whiny bitches who are incapable of doing anything other than buying things.
But then again, what is this country all about? I mean, equality in opportunities is a foundation of our country, and it's part of what makes us great. But, just because I am better able to graduate from college just for financial reasons, doesn't mean you lacked the same opportunity to go to college.
And this whole part about "unearned" economic advantages kinda bugs me. Do you know who makes up the majority of millionaires in our country? Doctors? nope. Lawyers? nope. Entrepreneurs? You betcha. People who start their own businesses have a higher net worth, on average, than every other classification of people. And if you've ever seen a true family business, you know that it is a family endeavor (hence the name). Most small business owners understand the kind of work ethic and the amount of intelligence that is required to run a business, and they try to pass these values on to their children. That means, you'd be hard pressed to find an entrepreneur who hasn't made his kids mow the lawn at the business, or work in the shipping department, or give legal advice (ahem). I won't deny that your average hotel heir/heiress has a limited conception of work. But I would imagine that for every Paris Hilton, there's a Jimmy DaysInn whose parents made him work as a concierge, or luggage handler. He'll get the hotel when his parents die, but you can bet he'll know the ins and outs of that business, and the business will be better off for it.
And wouldn't that law, in a way, provide an incentive for the parents to not work as hard? If they know that they aren't going to be able to pass anything on to their children in order to make them better off, why bother working so hard? I realize that the parents could just spend everything before they die, but let's be real. How much can you really spend during retirement? Eventually, you'll have to buy a retirement home, or a Ferrari. And should that go to the government?
Take Sam Walton for example. His widow and children are all in the top 10 (I think) of the richest people in America. Sam started Wal-Mart from scratch. What would happen to the wealth that he built up in that company if it was taxed 100%? It would go to the war in Iraq. And let's be honest, no matter how disadvantaged you may have been, you wouldn't support that. And Sam's children are all on the board of directors for the company. They have seen this business grow throughout their lives, and no one has a better idea of how to run that company than they do.
The book that gave this hypo asked if the law was constitutional. I have no idea. I guess that gives me an incentive to study Property a little bit harder.
I say, if I have to keep my laws off your body, you should keep your laws off my wallet. And my children's wallets. Which will be able to fly. And have spinners.