Gallery of art and thoughts

The cartoons and contemplations of a twentysomething copy editor.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Death and taxes

David Runciman has a good article in the London Review of Books, a review of "Death by a Thousand Cuts," by Michael Graetz and Ian Shapiro. The book is about the estate/death tax and how the Republicans managed to -- albeit temporarily -- eliminate it. He raises a point I wasn't aware of -- conservatives used minorities and gay people as spokesmen for their effort to repeal the "death tax." Among the minorities was African-American millionaire Bob Johnson, who made the interesting point that having struggled against racial injustice to earn his money, the government would take away some of it on his deathbed.

Runciman has some familiar evidence to support his belief that the estate tax should nevertheless survive -- it targets a very small percentage of Americans, "the richest 2 per cent of American families." He lambasts President Clinton's triangulationist -- or accommodationist? -- policy, charging that this made the GOP salivate over the prospect of tax "reform" once Clinton left office.

The conservatives' work may not be done; Runciman predicts an onslaught on the income tax next. True, the income tax has been used to bolster Big Government, but whether it's through Democratic social programs or Republican wars on terror, effective government isn't free. Steven Weisman made a decent case for an income tax in his history (more like a regurgitation of facts) "The Great Tax Wars."


Post a Comment

<< Home