SMBC is hilarious, Dilbert is not.
But Scott Adams is also a greedy dick.
He’s recently switched his endorsement from Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump and thinks we all are just dying to know why. It has a lot to do with death, actually.
Scott Adams is annoyed that Hillary thinks the government needs money to do stuff, and getting money from people who have money is somehow immoral.
I’d like to his article but that’s just too much free press for someone who was “born to modest means and worked 7-days a week for most of [his] life”. If he wants it, he can earn it.
In particular, Adams’ is annoyed with the “death tax” or estate tax. He claims the following:
I call this a confiscation tax because income taxes have already been paid on this money. In my case, a dollar I earn today will be taxed at about 50% by various government entities, collectively. With Clinton’s plan, my remaining 50 cents will be taxed again at 50% when I die. So the government would take 75% of my earnings from now on.
Let’s break down two absurdities here.
First, he argues that the estate/death/cum-confiscation tax is being paid on income that has already paid income taxes, and is, therefore, unfair.
By the same logic, 7-11 corporate shouldn’t pay corporate taxes, because their revenues are primarily based on purchases of goods in their stores – purchases from individuals who have already paid their income taxes. How unfair!
In fact, none of us should pay income taxes, because every dollar we earn has already been taxed by someone else! It’s all double, triple, quadruple taxation and I’m not going to take any of it! Down with the geometric series!
Or, that’s absurd. Of course, taxes make sense when money changes hands even if it’s already been taxed. We understand this in every other situation except estates? (Well, and capital gains, but don’t get me started on that.)
The second point flows from the first – an estate tax is not paid by you, it’s paid by your inheritors. Why? Say it with me – because money has changed hands. So when Adams’ claims that the government is going to tax his “remaining 50 cents”, and how this means it will take 75% of “his earnings”, he seems to be forgetting an awfully important fact: he’ll be dead.
Dead people don’t pay taxes because dead people can’t own things.
What do we do with the things owned by formerly living people? We split them up to their inheritors, each of which now inherits money they didn’t have before, you know, a lot like income. And so it’s perfectly reasonable to tax that.
Why these taxes in particular? Well, why not? The government needs cash for that aircraft carrier and those welfare programs. It’s gonna get it where there is cash to be gotten, namely, transactions between people through sales, income, and yes, estate taxes.
But there’s a much more important reason why we should tax estates: it is one of the only forms of protection we have against gilded aristocracies.
You see, here in America, we believe in the myth of the person “born of modest means, working 7 days a week” to make her fortune. And that requires modest means! We don’t like that some kids don’t get by on merit, they get by on pedigree. It’s intrinsically unAmerican. So estate taxes are intrinsically American.
You know who doesn’t pay anything on their estate? Fucking Kings and Queens. And they can gather wealth for generations to maintain power. That ain’t America.
Scott Adams wants to give his children an unlevel playing field – he seems to have forgotten whatever lessons it was he learned by his own modest means and work ethic, and make sure his kids don’t have to learn it. And he wants them to kick your kid’s asses, who didn’t get the same perks. All because he got lucky and was discovered as a cartoon artist – meanwhile far more hilarious strips just didn’t get the limelight.
I’m okay with that – sometimes lucky breaks happen. In fact, nearly all wealth that’s been built without family connections in this country can be traced back to a few things:
- Incredible preparation
- A ludicrous work ethic
- Ambition and talent
- A huge fucking lucky break
4 is required. Because I know too many smart, hard working people who are going to die of modest means to believe otherwise. So guess what, I don’t think it’s fair that some people get to elide the whole “lucky break” system and give their kids cash that those kids didn’t themselves earn. And I think a good way to make sure society gets its due is to tax those estates about as much as we tax any other form of income.