Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Peretz on Lamont, II, and Maybe a Heresy

The problem with blogging from the West Coast during the month of August is that Knippenberg gets a three-hour head start on linking to the best stuff like the Marty Peretz article linked on the previous post. (Of course, I’ve long started referring to NLT as "Knippenblog" anyway.) Peretz is a reasonable liberal who has learned from mistakes, including some of his own. After all, Peretz was one of the primary funders of the 1967 "New Politics" conference in Chicago that was a shot in the arm for the nutty New Left. Bet he wishes he could get his money back on that escapade.

One interesting tidbit in his article that I had previously missed is that Ned Lamont is the nephew of the old Stalinist Corliss Lamont. Of course, we don’t visit the sins of the uncle on the nephew, but both Ned and Corliss enjoyed their frivolous politics because of enormous inherited wealth. Remind me again, someone, why conservatives support abolishing the Death Tax? I know, I know, it hits small and medium-sized family businesses, farms, etc, would give more money to the government, is against justice, and so on, but for every John Walton who does something decent with his inherited wealth (or Martin Peretz, who bought The New Republic with his inherited fortune), it seems there are 20 Ned Lamonts and 200 Kennedys and 2000 Rockefellers who are mostly wastrels or who do relentless malicious mischief. I’m almost ready to flip on this one.

Discussions - 8 Comments

Steven, there is an easy way to deal with your concern about family businesses and farms. Just raise the minimum at which the tax is incurred. It wouldn’t be too hard to fix the tax to protect family farms without exempting New England’s feudal lords like Lamont and Kennedy.

I was thinking that very thing, and I think that’s what we’re likely to get out of Congress eventually. However, the people with really large fortunes like the Kennedys have clever ways around even the existing tax. Merely raising the exemption won’t change that. Thus, we need a higher tax for the large fortunes, with fewer loopholes, if anything. But then the stoopid guvmint would get more money.

Maybe we could earmark all Death Tax money for the defense budget??

Steve,

You can always take advantage of the time difference and post on tomorrow morning’s news and opinions before you go to bed at night. A Hayward-dominated blog would surely attract more readers.

But I go to bed early! (And still sleep in late.)

The problem with the Death Tax is that if your estate is $10 million in securities and whatnot, the heirs liquidate enough assets to pay the tax and move on. If it’s $10 million consisting of a single large asset like a farm or family business, the entire business usually has to be liquidated to satisfy the tax man. That is the grossly unequitable part. Most "old money" is held in securities and can be easily converted into cash and used to pay the tax. Less easy to do with a 20,000-acre ranch without having it pass out of the family.

I agree with Steve H. that there should be some way of tweaking the inheritance tax to deal with this problem and still get at some of that old money. Can’t we protect the family farmer and the ordinary businessman while not lowering the ridiculously low taxes of the Kennedys and Lamonts even more?

Oh no! This site has taken a left turn. Better call Peter.

Didn’t Peretz marry his fortune? I remember having read that his wife was a Singer heiress.

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