Saturday, May 21, 2005

After posting earlier today about an article by Eugene Volokh, I thought it would be interesting to see what Becker and Posner were up to.

Turns out they've been posting on estate taxes. From Becker's take:
I believe taxes on estates should be permanently abolished since they do little to reduce income or wealth inequality, benefit a vast army of lawyers and accountants whose role is to find ways to cut taxes on the estates of the wealthy, create problems for some families with smaller businesses, and do not raise a lot of tax revenue.
Note that the arguments Becker makes pertain solely to praxis and never to principle. For Becker, I imagine this may be a typically pragmatic position; but after hearing Bush and his libertarian cronies crow on and on about how the estate tax is unjust or unconstitutional, an empirical argument comes as something of a shock.

That said, I still disagree with Becker -- justice, I think, demands an estate tax regardless of efficacy.* But it's nice to see someone move away from the libertarian argument all the same.
*This would take a book to argue properly, but the brief argument is that cooperative labor -- and the generation of wealth -- is contingent on not only rational incentive, but also a common awareness of redistributive measures designed to alleviate inequitable accretions of wealth. (Update: No, this does not make me a radical socialist. A Rawlsian, maybe, but not that.)


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