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Anybody But Bill Frist

I can’t add anything to what Alice said here. It seems impossible to find any redeeming character in Bill Frist. Yes, he finally came off his position that embryos must be burned in the incinerators to keep the scientists from learning anything useful from them… I guess we can say that in his favor, if we include the caveat that this might easily have been a craven political maneuver more than a self-correction from a wrong position to a better one. After all, he was a surgeon before his reincarnation as a corrupt politician willing to sacrifice the welfare of the nation on the altar of – whatever altar he worships at… He should have had to spend much less time deliberating before reaching the conclusion that embryos in the barbecue pit were less desirable than embryos under a microscope. He could not have reasonably arrived at a medically or ethically informed position to the contrary, given his personal background… and yet… and yet… for many months he staked his flag on just that position.

The fact that he was a doctor make other indecent incidents in his history the more atrocious. Selling out patient welfare to big Pharma. Selling out Terri Schiavo and her family to Pat Robertson’s flock.

When he wasn’t being inexcusably indecent, he was being corrupt. And when he wasn’t being corrupt, he was just being wrong – on everything from the estate tax to the Iraq war. Wrong in small ways, wrong in big important ways.

How it is that we live in a place where there is real potential that a majority of the citizens will place their faith in such a character to be their governor… how we have come to this pass… I don’t know. But I’d say it’s time to start working on opposition now.

13 comments to Anybody But Bill Frist

  • RW

    The guy was a horrible – simply terrible – senate majority leader, but he should get MAJOR props for sticking with his promise to only serve two terms. In today’s political climate, having politicians say that they’ve “grown” as an excuse for putting forth a lie, it is a bit refreshing that so many of the ’94 freshmen DID adhere to their promises.

    And I still say that all those who are for the estate tax can present their notarized wills that include a good portion of THEIR estates being sent to the federal gov’t upon their death….or, otherwise, they’re still relegated to “I want yours but I don’t want to give up mine” status. Pretend it’s a womb….it’s not the government’s business what I do with my land in my will & if my kids decide to sell it then they’ll pay the appropriate taxes upon the completion of the transation. A death is not a transaction & shouldn’t be a boon for the gov’t when grandpa passes.

  • I’ll give him major props for getting out of the Senate where he didn’t belong, whether its to honor a campaign promise or it’s just to pursue another office – so long as he doesn’t get that other office.

    WRT to the estate tax – Dead people aren’t property owners. They have no property rights. If you want to give away your money, do it while it belongs to you. When you’re gone… sorry. We don’t need an aristocracy in this country, and even if the estate tax gave no other benefit to society, helping even the playing field from generation to generation is a service worth having – just for whatever small contribution it may make to preserving our democracy and way of life.

  • RW

    We’re as close to an aristocracy as we are to a fascist or theocratic state…….yet all I see are people claiming that each of those are just around the corner if we don’t adopt their political positions.

    Dead people aren’t property owners. They have no property rights.

    Actually, their wills decide what happens to their property….except for the one entity that never loses its right to confiscate property: the government.

    Interesting that the largest private landowner in the nation is a self-described socialist (Ted Turner) and the most outspoken oppenents of the estate tax cuts (Gates’ dad & Buffet) still haven’t amended their wills so that the gov’t gets their booty when they croak.

    helping even the playing field from generation to generation is a service worth having

    That, my friend, is a scary statement. The constitution provides for equal rights & we’ve implemented measures to correct any mistakes along the way (voting rights, etc). When the gov’t decides who and what has “too much”, we start down the very steep but still slippery slope. I refuse to believe that pols like Bill Frist or Hillary Clinton should decide what cutoff point is “the limit” on what a dead person’s family should be allowed to own.

    I recall when Joe Robbie died. He was the former owner of the Miami Dolphins & the stadium and when he passed, the family had to sell the team in order to pay the millions in taxes that were owed…..because he died. One day, he’s alive & thriving. The next day, they lose their patriarch and owe Uncle Sam tens of millions of dollars. Sorry, but that’s just wrong and patently unAmerican.

    Besides, the closest thing to aristocracy in America are the Kennedy & Rockefeller families. Didja know that Teddy has sent a good portion of his money offshore so as to be privy to some of the tax loopholes that his supporters endorse?

  • RW, respectfully, if you think that we are “far” from an aristocracy at this point, I think you are misreading the current landscape. Depending on how you define the word, it might even be said that we are already in an aristocratic state. The Presidency all 100 Senate seats, and most of the House seats are bought positions, with the Presidency coming with a multi-billion dollar price tag. The gap between rich and poor multiplies each year & has been doing so since the 60′s. Union busting is a way of life for the megacorporations.

    I don’t know about you, but I know about me – I’m not dirt poor. Middle class, more or less. My influence on public policy is near zero – that’s why I rant on the internet about it – you always gripe more about what you have no control over. The CEO of my company has easy access to virtually anyone in government he wants to, and can help buy a seat here or there if it suits him to. Economic power = political power.

    Contra what you say above, I don’t think the government should limit how much money a person can have. I don’t think there should be a limit that says you have “too much”. Everyone should be free to make money their whole lives in any legal way they can think of. One legal way is through the inheritance laws – they can get it from dead people who wanted them to have it when they were alive, or to whom they were related. That’s fine. But this money does not belong to them or to anyone else – except by dint of the laws we write.

    Those laws give (rightly, in my opinion) a certain amount of weight to the wishes & family relationships of those who have passed away. That’s fine. Very good, really. But you need to understand that it is an artifice – a government created artifice – that makes that property travel to the designated successor. There is no natural right for the dead to have a say in the world of the living, and there is no natural right of the living to the property of the dead. It is pure artifice, and as such, one can raise just as much of a complaint about a portion being given to the living relative as they can about a portion being given to the general coffers – that is to say there is little cause for complaint other than the beneficiary we felt should receive the property of the dead having been left out to a certain degree.

    Most Americans, myself included, prefer to see the wishes of the dead carried out to a greater rather than lesser degree. I just want to stress – this is a preference.

    It is also a very legitimate preference to wish not to create dynasties of fabulous wealth – and to limit how much property will be transferred based on the wishes of the dead. It is a very legitimate preference to wish to use portions of the largest sums of property to help build society’s infrastructure.

    The property of the dead is “found money”. It belongs to no one until the society of the living decides it does. There are smart ways to decide that, in keeping with the wishes of the dead, and there are dumb ways to do that.

    A good estate tax – one that allows family farms in families (which is something we want) and creates somewhat of a stopgap against keeping aristocratic wealth in aristocratic families (which is something that, to whatever extent, undermines our democracy) – is part of a smart way to spend that found money.

    I won’t get into personality politics or discussing a weak version of the chickenhawk argument with someone who rejects a stronger version of it. Yes, Ted Kennedy is a member of one of the wealthy power politics families. No, he’s not even close to the only one – he just happens to have a very public face. Big deal. Means nothing to me. I don’t know how Bill Gates or Warren Buffet or any of the billionaires who support the estate tax are arranging their own wills & they have no obligation to show me. If their support strengthens that tax, it will effect their own estates and not mine or yours. If Bill Kristol’s efforts keep the Iraq war going, it will likely never touch him or his family, though it stands a strong chance of effecting us or ours. If the latter is a specious argument, then the former is by far more so.

  • RW

    As per the usual practice, not a loathsome fisk but a response to specific points:

    RW, respectfully, if you think that we are “far” from an aristocracy at this point, I think you are misreading the current landscape. Depending on how you define the word, it might even be said that we are already in an aristocratic state.

    Here\’s where we probably have the \”failure to communicate\” part, because I\’m of a mind that people don\’t get to redefine words. There is a specific definition of \”aristocracy\” and as long as our nation is a representative republic & everyone who meets the slight requirements for eligibility of voting (age 18, citizen, non-felon, etc) then we\’re a Democratic-Republic. When millionaire \”names\” like Max Cleland are no longer upset by upstart congressmen like Saxby Chambliss, or when famous family names like \”Allen\” or \”Kennedy-Townsend\” are actually beaten in their home states, it\’s the quintessential example of anything but an aristocracy. Like the never-ending calls of \”theocracy\” because of things like faith-based initiatives (really, people can dislike such measures, but when they claim theocracy, they\’re really displaying a knack of hyperbole), there is no impending aristocracy on the rise.

    The Presidency all 100 Senate seats, and most of the House seats are bought positions

    No, they\’re not. They\’re elected positions.

    The gap between rich and poor multiplies each year & has been doing so since the 60’s.

    By definition, that would be the case. It\’s simple mathematics….when someone starts out with nothing and are compared with an ever-increasing amount of wealth in a nation that is ever-expanding, comparisons with the low end (which will always be around 10K) versus the high end (which keeps increasing) will continue to become exponential. Simple math.

    Union busting is a way of life for the megacorporations.

    And corporation busting is a way of life for striking unions. They\’re always at odds & will always be at odds. That\’s pretty much the design of things, isn\’t it? They have different objectives: corporations seek the highest return on investment via profit & unions seek the highest benefits for their members. As long as their primary goals are different, they\’ll be at odds. That should not be a suprise. There are laws that keep corporations from attempting to thwart the right to unionize. There are now laws, however, to keep unions from striking no matter what the \’corporations\’ are offering by way of compensation. For an extreme yet still relevant example, one need only look at the Major League Baseball Players association, where folks making 8 figures will still strike.

    My influence on public policy is near zero

    You need to hang out with kos more….he says he\’s more influential than a mere US Senator (no joke). :)

    you always gripe more about what you have no control over.

    Ah, I see you\’ve been married. :)

    conomic power = political power.

    In a capitalistic society such as ours, economic power equals pretty much EVERYTHING that people want.
    The more successful you are, the more likely your kids will get a better education. The more likely your health will be better. The more likely you\’ll eat better. The more likely you\’ll retire more comfortably. Likewise, a corporation that is worth a billion dollars will exert more influence on the political process than Joe six-pack making $30K….sure. That\’s because the corporation is worth a BILLION. If Joe can get a few thousand folks like him on his side, he\’ll get more influence by way of deciding what to do with their dollars. That is also basic math (sorry, the engineer in me keeps coming out) and a politician would be crazy to ignore a huge corporation that employs thousands of people and helps boost the economy. However, the billionaire\’s vote is worth just as much as Joe Six Pack\’s. Conrad Burns, arrogant SOB who lost his way, found that out when he was beaten by John Tester.

    Contra what you say above, I don’t think the government should limit how much money a person can have.

    The estate tax laws do precisely that.

    But this money does not belong to them or to anyone else – except by dint of the laws we write.

    Everything in any nation is privy to the laws that are written. That\’s taking things to the miniscule level, akin to \”there\’d be no such thing as a criminal if we\’d only do away with all the laws\”. Well, I have possessions and if I decide to give my daughter $5 now or if I decide to give her my house upon my death, it is my possession being passed along to the person of my choice. MY choice. Not someone else\’s.

    There is no natural right for the dead to have a say in the world of the living

    \”Last will and testament\” pertains to the natural right of the deceased to determine the final destination of their worldly goods.

    It is also a very legitimate preference to wish not to create dynasties of fabulous wealth

    Why? Why is it anyone\’s business? Why is the amount of money someone has made during their lives anyone\’s bloody business? What made it the business of the government to determine who is a \”dynasty\” or who has \”fabulous wealth\”? I though the government\’s role was to punish wrong-doing, such as fining people who break the law and who commit various offenses. When did it become cache\’ to actively seek to diminish those who actually succeed in attaining the American dream (as long as they try to give it to their kids, instead of the US Treasury)? If it\’s none of my business what someone does with their body, why is it my business what they do with their home?

    It is a very legitimate preference to wish to use portions of the largest sums of property to help build society’s infrastructure.

    That is handled vie property taxes, smijer. Those with large sums of property pay large sums of property taxes & that helps build society\’s infrastructure, so that argument is already being met with real results.

    The property of the dead is “found money”. It belongs to no one until the society of the living decides it does.

    With all due respect, no. When you & I die our kids will likely get whatever we leave them. You left out this part: \”This doesn\’t pertain to people who aren\’t mega-rich….their families get to keep theirs, in the land of \’all men are created equal\’ and the one that thrives on treating each citizen the same.\” The owners of the property determined in their wills what they wanted to happen. The only entity that can \”find\” the money is the federal government, which simply grabs it out of the estate and tells the family to \”f-off\”.

    is part of a smart way to spend that found money.

    Why is it that the government is the smart way to spend the money and the person who actually earned it shouldn\’t be legally allowed to determine what should happen with it? I can\’t believe I\’m seeing this, but are you saying that the government is smarter in the way it spends its money than the electorate at large? Seen the national debt, lately? :)

    I won’t get into personality politics or discussing a weak version of the chickenhawk argument with someone who rejects a stronger version of it.

    You\’re the first person to be able to pick up on that. I wondered if anyone ever would. I\’ve been using that line for years & no one\’s been able to grasp the obvious retort, although it\’s a bit different since an estate tax by comparison would be somewhat similar to a \”draft\”, where people who would never be \’drafted\’ are pushing for others to be drafted (which is why I mentioned Teddy sending his cash overseas…..even the Kennedys try to avoid the esstate tax).

    I come at this with a bit of personal experience. Back in the late 80s/early 90s I was unfortunate enough to see my my grandparents and my mom pass away (no 23 year old should lose their mom, btw). My grandfather lived a middle-class life & was a child of the depression. Actually, most of my family say I got my miserly ways from him. When he passed, we went through their house trying to catalog everything according to the will & we all noted that he owned around 30 suits – all polyester. Every tie was cotton and the house was 50+ years old. During his adult life he took one \”vacation\”, which was a trip to visit my mom & my dad in Savannah back in 1969. I was there on their 50th anniversary when their kids\’ present to them was their choice of a one week vacation anywhere in the world or any appliance for their home. They chose, instead of a trip to Europe, a new washer/dryer set. Hopefully, all this describes my grandfather adequately, because I am going somewhere with this (and I\’m not trying to put forth a victim-laden sob story). Since my mom (his daughter) was deceased, her \’share\’ of the estate went to her heirs, being me, my brother & sister. We knew he\’d bought a bunch of farm land over the years, but we were pretty suprised when we found out just how much land he owned. Granted, he\’d purchased it back in the 40s/50s/60s for anywhere from $25/acre to a few hundred dollars an acre. Well, with the going rate at the time being around 3 grand per acre, the estate was a bit larger than many of us imagined. And, if you\’ll recall, this was back before Newt & co. took control & changed the estate tax in \’95, so any estate that was $600K was privy to taxation.

    Granted, to this day for me to imagine a home being worth $600K means someone is mega-rich…..that\’s the small-town Georgia boy in me. But, when one realizes that the estate included the home/land where they resided, the land where his office was located, several hundred acres of woodland that he\’d owned for 40 years, the vehicles that they\’d owned and all their worldly possessions, the amount was beginning to creep up. And, to beat it all, the local magistrate/tax guy (or whoever it was) was doing their damnedest to determine that the estate was well over the amount, even though the fair market value was nowhere near. So, we had to fight the gov\’t for almost a year before they reluctantly agreed that it was not at the estate tax threshold. Then again, what did the gov\’t have to lose? Hey, it was going to be some easy revenue for them! A lot of money and all they had to do to collect was wait until some old guy died and then determine…no, declare, BY GOD….that they were due the money. Maybe that left a bad taste in my mouth but after that episode I\’ve always had a hard time discerning why my losing my granddad & mom in a two year period meant that the government should be legally able to confiscate the property that my granddad had promised to my aunts & uncles & grandkids, all of whom took care of him during his waning years, simply because the Democrats in congress during the 80s decided that $599,999 was \’enough\’. So, while I know the estate tax threshold is rather high right now, it\’s the principle of the matter. Our nation praises philanthropy (Bill Gates gets glowing press while he personally owns more than sixty billion bucks while the oil companies are hated because they earn billions in profit……so, Microsoft can over-charge to an obscene level & their execs are the richest dudes on the planet, but the oil companies get the negative press) and we have no families that are able to rule by way of money, since we rely on the vote, so I have to say that the estate tax is still Un-American to me.

    And I hope that this didn\’t come across as anal or preachy or obtuse. I was just typing on the fly and got off on a rant. If it did, then \”sorry\” in advance. Imagine me watching an episode of Andy Griffith & sitting in a rocker while being a blowhard about the whole matter. Look, I have no love for execs…they often make my life miserable, but I don\’t like the idea of the gov\’t confiscating private property be it via Kelo or the estate tax. People & families should be praised and held up as examples of achieving the American dream, after all.

    Finally, in order to avoid the appearance of the ability to garner seats via money, here\’s the solution: term limits.

    I tell ya, I\’m sorta sick of politicians being folks who are semi-successes who make around $100K in the real world who go to DC & then retire 30 years later worth ten million bucks.

    [/rant]

  • RW

    Well, I screwed that up, but good.

  • I’ve got to get this bug fixed – - I closed the blockquote tag, but obviously, in the process of editing your comment, wordpress inserted /’s everywhere you had punctuation. Sorry about that. I originally read your comment from the dashboard (that’s where I do most of my reading) – so I didn’t have any trouble with it. Hopefully, anyone else reading won’t be too troubled by the /’s. I’ll reply later, but I want to press this point one more time in case I don’t get back to it: Dead people have no say because they have no stake. One cannot violate the rights of a person who no longer exists. The rights vanish with the person. That’s why there is no natural right. The last will & testament is a contrivance that mimics natural rights to a degree (the natural right to discharge one’s own property), because we have a cultural – perhaps even biological – preference for honoring the wishes of the dead. But, it remains a contrivance: not a natural right. More later…

  • Ok – I\\\’m back – sorry about the weekend pause. I hope I can answer all the topics, but I\\\’m prone to leave something out when it gets this thick. I\\\’d like to lead again with what I said before my absence:

    (smijer) Dead people have no say because they have no stake. One cannot violate the rights of a person who no longer exists. The rights vanish with the person.

    That\\\’s one end of it. Natural rights are grounded in the nature of the beings to which they apply. When the beings perish, there can be no rights – because it is impossible to harm or help those who are already dead. Going on with the topics as you present them:

    because I’m of a mind that people don’t get to redefine words. There is a specific definition of ”aristocracy” and as long as our nation is a representative republic & everyone who meets the slight requirements for eligibility of voting (age 18, citizen, non-felon, etc) then we’re a Democratic-Republic.

    I\\\’m actually not redefining anything. First, Democratic-Republica and functional aristocracy are not mutually exclusive. Dictionary.com:

    1. a class of persons holding exceptional rank and privileges, esp. the hereditary nobility.
    2. a government or state ruled by an aristocracy, elite, or privileged upper class.

    Although it probably should, our Constitution does not prevent a hereditary class of wealthy elites from gaining and keeping the majority of the political power. It does create a good potential for those not so-blessed to have political power, but it does not guarantee that they will. So long as the state functions aristocratically, then it is an aristocracy, besides whatever else it may be.

    When millionaire ”names” like Max Cleland are no longer upset by upstart congressmen like Saxby Chambliss, or when famous family names like ”Allen” or ”Kennedy-Townsend” are actually beaten in their home states, it’s the quintessential example of anything but an aristocracy.

    Those are quintessential examples of anything but an aristocracy. And, since they are the exception to the norm in the U.S. rather than the norm itself, it is certainly plausible that the norm is the quintessential example of an aristocracy.

    No, they’re not. They’re elected positions.

    They are both. Take your best qualified, most charismatic candidate and ask him to run a campaign without money, and you are asking him to lose. The more money, the more likely he will win. Look at the pricetags on these elections.

    By definition, that would be the case. It\\\\’s simple mathematics….when someone starts out with nothing and are compared with an ever-increasing amount of wealth in a nation that is ever-expanding, comparisons with the low end (which will always be around 10K) versus the high end (which keeps increasing) will continue to become exponential. Simple math.

    Your math has two assumptions (maybe these are part of the \\\”definition\\\” you mentioned) – one – that the lower economic class cannot improve their standing, and that the high end has indefinite opportunity to expand theirs. I\\\’m not sure about either of those assumptions, but even given them: a) when wealth=power, and power=opportunity, you cannot describe such a society as \\\”equal opportunity\\\” by any stretch — \\\”aristocratic\\\” would be a better term, and b) this effect is compounded when each generation of people starts not with a blank slate, but with an economic status based on the accident of birth… this will always be the case so long as people are free to dispose of their wealth in the way that they please in life, but it will be all the more so when they have absolute control over how their wealth will be disposed of after their own death.

    I think I\\\’ve mentioned them to you before, but have you ever read Jefferson\\\’s thoughts on inheritance and aristocracy? They did not include the notion of an estate tax, but then, things were quite different then than now…

    And corporation busting is a way of life for striking unions.

    No – when I say \\\”union busting\\\”, I mean attempting to prevent unions from being able to operate using any means at one\\\’s disposal, whether legal or illegal.

    In a capitalistic society such as ours, economic power equals pretty much EVERYTHING that people want. [...] However, the billionaire’s vote is worth just as much as Joe Six Pack’s.

    It\\\’s true that economic power equals a lot of things in a society \\\”such as ours\\\”. I guess you and I differ, in that I see that as a liability on our society. However, I do draw the line at political power – even if economic power equals everything else, we should do our best to prevent it equalling political power – because that\\\’s the definition of aristocracy, and because it defeats the intention of organizing our society around the principles of the democratic republic.

    The gazillionaire\\\’s vote may be worth only as much as Joe SixPack\\\’s, but his dollars in a campaign coffer, his threats to relocate his manufacturing plant, his golf junkets to Scotland – all of these are worth a hell of a lot more than Joe SixPack\\\’s vote. That\\\’s a problem.

    Everything in any nation is privy to the laws that are written. That’s taking things to the miniscule level, akin to ”there’d be no such thing as a criminal if we’d only do away with all the laws”.

    That\\\’s not what I\\\’m doing. We have laws because some things are more proper or improper in our society than others. We outlaw rape because women have a right to live unmolested. However, if the law forbade pistachio ice cream then pistachio ice cream would only be illegal because of the law. That is the case with inheritance, or nearly so. We don\\\’t have a law because the dead have a right to property and the disposal of it. We don\\\’t have a law because the living have a right to the property of certain among the dead. We have a law because, by social convention, and in order to grease the wheels of society, we have decided that we will honor the wishes of the dead. No social convention, no law. No law, no reason to respect \\\”last wills and testaments\\\”.

    Well, I have possessions and if I decide to give my daughter $5 now

    Entirely up to you.

    or if I decide to give her my house upon my death, it is my possession being passed along to the person of my choice. MY choice. Not someone else’s.

    Your choice no longer matters – because you are no longer affected by that choice. You no longer stand to gain or lose by it. Only other people.

    ”Last will and testament” pertains to the natural right of the deceased to determine the final destination of their worldly goods.

    \\\”Last will and testament\\\” pertains to the social convention that the deceased will have a say in the final destination of their worldy goods. There is no natural right involved. (If you still contend there is, we will have to get this discussion out of the comments where the philosophy of natural rights can be duly examined)

    (smijer) It is also a very legitimate preference to wish not to create dynasties of fabulous wealth…
    (RW) Why? Why is it anyone’s business?

    Because such dynasties of fabulous wealth – a) crowd more and more resources into a limited subset of the population over time – they don\\\’t go back \\\”into the ground\\\” to \\\”fertilize\\\” the next generation. Because such dynasties of wealth are tantamount to dynasties of power and opportunity, and are a detriment to the democratic way of life.

    I though the government’s role was to punish wrong-doing, such as fining people who break the law and who commit various offenses.

    This could be another big conversation into itself. I\\\’ve heard of conservatives who believe the role of government should be restricted – I\\\’ve never heard of anyone who felt that its role should be purely punitive.

    That aside, the government\\\’s role as I see it, that I think would apply to regulating the management of estates, would fall under the heading: promote the general Welfare. Besides, if the government doesn\\\’t regulate it, what makes you think that inheritances will be respected at all? The laws provide for the instrument of \\\”last will and testament\\\” – it isn\\\’t a binding contract in its own right. So, without the government\\\’s involvement neither the anti-estate-tax nor the pro-estate-tax group gets their way.

    Why is it that the government is the smart way to spend the money and the person who actually earned it shouldn’t be legally allowed to determine what should happen with it?

    I\\\’m not saying that the government will be smarter with it – I\\\’m saying the government is the tool of the commonwealth and requires funds in order to promote the general welfare. Rather than taxing the living, who might need the money, it is smarter to tax their estates after they no longer have any use for them – at least in some cases.

    Lastly, without quoting you, or getting too much into your personal story… let me take that into the abstract and deal with two prongs of it separately.

    Prong 1) Individual A gets a $600,000 estate unexpectedly and worries over whether he will have to pay the estate tax on it. Well, there are reasons we should think about fixing it so he doesn\\\’t have that worry. And I support a higher threshhold such as the one enacted under Clinton & Gingrich. On the other hand, even without fixing that – even if he winds up having to pay the estate tax – even if the estate tax is 50% of the value of the estate – this individual still gets a big bonus. He gets a $300,000 value for nothing, out of nowhere…

    Prong 2) Person A has taken care of person B in their waning years and both have agreed that the work of taking care of him is worth $600,000. In this case, person B and person A should execute a contract by which person A is paid a large salary – in cash or in kind, including as a percentage ownership of the property involved – for taking care of person B, pays his income taxes on that salary, and makes out like a bandit. Upon death, the remainder of the estate will almost certainly fall well below any estate tax threshhold, and can be passed to him without any taxes whatsoever. This is better than repealing the estate tax and letting him gather the inheritance in payment for his labor, because a will can be changed in secret, and he may be cheated – whereas a contract must be changed under signature.

    You made one other argument – that an estate tax treats people unequally – since poor people can get all of their beneficiary\\\’s estate, whereas rich people can only get part of it. Remembering that the estate is pure windfall, and remembering that the rich person will still get more than the poor person, I don\\\’t think that complaints of unequal protection would hold up. We could explore that more if you like.

  • RW

    Let’s see how much I screw up the html:

    So long as the state functions aristocratically, then it is an aristocracy, besides whatever else it may be.

    Huh? What’s the difference between that and “because I said so”? The state functions as a republic & the people get who they vote for. Obviously, they don’t want the cook from McDonald’s running the AG office, but that doesn’t make it any less Democratic. That cook can file for office & can run just like anyone else. The people decide. That the people usually choose the ‘elite’ is a function of common sense: I don’t want that cook as an AG, I want someone with a solid background. Saying that it ‘functions’ as an aristocracy is akin to my saying that the DNC ‘functions’ as the Clinton’s personal playtool because Hillary will get her way. It’s not because she’s an aristocrat, it’s because she & her husband have put in place the right political machine & they’ve convinced people to give her the boatload of early money. In the end, the primary voters of the Democratic party will decide….and let’s keep in mind that the early money guy from ’04 ended up yeeaaarrrghhing out. :)

    Take your best qualified, most charismatic candidate and ask him to run a campaign without money, and you are asking him to lose.

    Well, we are a capitalistic society so it would stand to reason that the foundation of our economy would play the biggest role. Although, people (currently…..subject to change depending on who is calling the shots in the future) still get to choose who to donate to, millionaires who self-finance their elections aside. Bush ended up with the most money in ’00 because Republicans wanted him more than McCain or Gore. Hillary has the most now because Democratic donors like her more than the others. Would you rather the state declare that people no longer have a choice & thus our money is divied out across the board? I don’t donate to any pol but if I were to donate to the RNC (fat chance of that ever happening, btw….I hate the parties) I most certainly wouldn’t want it funding McCain’s campaign or someone like Trent Lott any more than Steve Gilliard would want his money going to Joe Lieberman’s campaign. That’s anti-choice and quite un-American. And, no, it’s not akin to taxation and pacifists seeing their tax dollars go to the military, so please let’s not ‘go there’. That’s a never-ending argument….would rather try to convince Jerry Falwell to donate to Emily’s list.

    you cannot describe such a society as ”equal opportunity” by any stretch

    Oh, our society is the epitome of ‘equal opportunity’. Oprah Winfrey herself, very liberal Dem, states that the only country in the world where a black woman could rise to become the most powerful in her field is America. Our nation has laws in place that demand the people be given an equal opportunity. What you’re looking for is ‘equal outcome’, which is practically a panacea. Sorry, but there are some folks who are destined for mediocrity (that’s not an elitist statement…..the average person is….well, average). It’s not unfair that someone with an 85 IQ and no work ethic won’t achieve as much as someone with a 75 IQ but a yeoman’s work ethic. Sure, there are some things that suck (remember, I lost my job due to 9/11) but our nation’s laws still dictate equal opportunity. Go look at any job application & it’ll be spelled out in legalese on the paper.

    No – when I say ”union busting”, I mean attempting to prevent unions from being able to operate using any means at one’s disposal, whether legal or illegal.

    Any illegal action can be easily taken care of via a complaint to the NLRB. It is illegal in America for a company to keep a union from being formed, period. America is less union-friendly than it used to be because, let’s face it, it’s no longer the 1930s. You have high-school grads with C averages driving lift trucks for the Big auto companies making $40/hour in Detroit……America doesn’t feel sorry for that guy if he & his union want to strike because the company wants to outsource the purchase of lugnuts to the lowest cost provider instead of the high-cost union in Trenton. For good reason, I say. Likewise, America doesn’t like a company that steps on its workers, hence the negative reactions to many of Wal-Mart’s practices over the years.

    all of these are worth a hell of a lot more than Joe SixPack’s vote. That’s a problem.

    We agree 100%.
    That’s why I support limitless donations but instant disclosure in campaigns. Hillary or McCain (I’m going to use them as the generics so I don’t have to type “Edwards” or “Giuliani” or whatnot….I don’t assume you like Hillary & I don’t like McCain, but that’ll be my generic, okay?) don’t get the cash until the donor – BY NAME – is listed on their campaign web site, along with the cash amount. And no more wads of cash from “Americans for a bright future” or “Americans who love happy children” or other fronts…straight up, I want to know if Jack Abramoff is giving wads of cash to some pol. It’s then up to the press to ask the pol about the influence that may incur & the public to make up its mind. An informed public, someone once said….

    That is the case with inheritance, or nearly so.

    And that is wrong, IMO. If I purchase a piece of property, be it land or a painting or a vehicle, it’s mine in perpetuity. I legally own it and I can do with it as I please (legally, of course). It’s wrong to say “yeah, Ricky bought that car…but the state has declared that he was worth too much so his will doesn’t mean a damn thing, the state is taking it”. That’s just wrong. There is no time limit on a purchase unless it’s agreed to at the point of purchase. Same with compensation – you don’t agree to get paid for something with the caveat that you might not get to keep the money if you don’t spend it by a certain date (ie, your death).

    that I think would apply to regulating the management of estates, would fall under the heading: promote the general Welfare.

    That’s the candy coating when all else fails, my friend. Someone can argue pretty much any stance and say “well, it’ll promote the general welfare”. Heck, a freshly minted $50 bill at the end of the work week would do a lot to promote the general welfare, but it’s not the role of the government to give folks $50 a week simply for not getting fired (okay, I’m running nout of analogies).

    Besides, if the government doesn’t regulate it, what makes you think that inheritances will be respected at all?

    There’s a difference between regulation & confiscation, my friend.

    On the other hand, even without fixing that – even if he winds up having to pay the estate tax – even if the estate tax is 50% of the value of the estate – this individual still gets a big bonus. He gets a $300,000 value for nothing, out of nowhere…

    A. Not for nothing, buddy. Someone died.
    B. It’s not just a “he”. In our case, it was nine people and none of it was cash. All the money in the banking account went to pay the bills, lawyers, funerals, liens, loans, etc. It was all property, and all of it property that the family tried to purchase from my grandfather thru the years but he didn’t want to single out which kid would get which piece of property…you know how families can be, mine’s no different. “why did they get the piece of land with the creek while I got all the pine trees?”. Yeah, welcome to my world. So, we didn’t get $600,000 for ‘nothing’, we lost the family patriarch and then had the government come in and attempt to say “no, you’re not going to get your father’s property…..it’s ours. You’ll get a portion of the proceeds after we auction it off”. That is Un-American. And wrong. As long as the taxes were paid on the property, it wasn’t being used for illegal practies and the paperwork was in line, it’s none of the governement’s @#%ing business what was going on. I say that when it pertains to a family practice clinic and I say it about an estate. The gov’t is a necessary evil & it should stay out of people’s business & only be there when needed. It is not needed as a confiscator when someone dies.

    Remembering that the estate is pure windfall,

    You mean for the government, I presume. For the family it is knows as “purchased property”. It would be a winfall for Uncle Sam (and the folks who want that money to fund their goodies) were it to get its hands on someone else’s cash for the audacity of someone dying, yeah. I never considered my granddad’s death a ‘windfall’. The local tax assessor sure thought it would be for the county, though. Once the government has an interest in confiscating personal property, we’re going down a scary path.

    It is not the role of the government to confiscate property without just compensation. And it’s no one’s business how much it’s worth.

    and remembering that the rich person will still get more than the poor person

    A. No one’s business. Especially not Bush’s or Pelosi’s. Pretend it’s a womb, if you must, but this is the USA & not Cuba.
    B. Interesting that the equality discussed above goes out the window….which is why I typed “equal outcome”.

  • RW

    Hey, other than misspellings I did okay!

    Lastly, it wasn’t like the family got a cut of the overall amount. We all purchased the land from the estate and the estate paid the taxes on the transactions (meaning we paid the taxes on the purchases). I think in the end my ‘share’ ended up being $12,000 in property (that I sold immediately), three quilts, some salad dishware and a 25 year old stand-up freezer, all for the price of losing my mom & grandfather. Those things aren’t “windfalls”…we all paid, dearly. The gov’t had no business even trying to take away my grandfather’s house & the hand-sewn quilts that my grandmother did during her retirement. It’s a crime that it was even attempted.

    BTW, if you’re ever driving down hwy 411 through a small town in Gordon county called “Fairmount” you can see their house as it’s right at the intersection of hwy 53 and 411. My sister bought their house upon the completion of the estate for the grand sum of $60K. She & her family still live there. Sixty grand for a house on an acre & a half. There’s what the government wanted to declare as “rich” in the early 1990s.

  • RW,

    The side of me that is aggravated about other things going on in real life right now, who doesn’t have much heart for a philsophical debate… that part is urging me to say “let’s agree to disagree”.

    The stubborn side of me that just won’t let go until I’m convinced that we are going to talk past each other in perpetuity… that part says let’s get this back a level, to the philosophical underpinnings, & see if we can figure out why we are talking past each other.

    I guess the stubborn side wins this time, but just barely. FYI – I’m truly and remarkably depressed as I type this, and I hope you’ll forgive me if I say something unpleasant. It isn’t personal.

    Ok – I’m going to back up a step or two & see if we can figure out where our core philosophies part ways, so – if nothing else – we can see how one another arrives at the conclusions we’ve been arguing so vociferously for. I’m going to take this as much as possible out of the concrete and into the abstract, so that we aren’t distracted too much by the particulars of the discussion and can see the reasoning behind it more clearly. Here we go:

    (me) So long as the state functions aristocratically, then it is an aristocracy, besides whatever else it may be.

    (you) Huh? What’s the difference between that and “because I said so”? The state functions as a republic & the people get who they vote for.

    I am making two arguments: one, that function is at least as important as form, and two that the same system can function in more than one way. Our government uses the forms of a republic, and to a certain extent still achieves many of the functions of a republic. Our government avoids the forms of aristocracy, but to a certain extent still manages to function as one. You may disagree on either point: Perhaps you believe that the forms (i.e. secret ballots, a parliament, etc.) are the defining feature, and the function is either guaranteed to share the nature of the forms, or is itself unimportant. In fact, reading what you wrote, that seems to be the argument that you make: that it doesn’t matter if our system consistently generates a government chosen from among a narrow class of socioeconomic elites – the fact that people go to the polls and elect representatives means that the system must be republican, and the fact that there is no tangible ineligibility of “lower class” potential candidates, there is no aristocratic form and therefore no aristocracy.

    It is also possible to argue against the notion that the aristocratic result comes as a matter of course from aristocratic functions; that the aristocratic result is a chance occurence, one of many equally likely outcomes under republican style forms *and* functions. If that is your argument, then I disagree because no other outcome is presented remotely as often as the aristocratic one, which should not be true if the function was purely republican.

    Can you clarify which parts of my thinking you disagree with in these terms, and why you disagree?

    Saying that it ‘functions’ as an aristocracy is akin to my saying that the DNC ‘functions’ as the Clinton’s personal playtool because Hillary will get her way.

    Change DNC to DLC and you’ve got the real world, not an abstraction. And yes – the DLC is in many respects her personal playtool, despite having nothing in its charter to indicate that is their mission – despite having a much loftier-sounding mission statement, bylaws, etc…

    It’s not because she’s an aristocrat, it’s because she & her husband have put in place the right political machine & they’ve convinced people to give her the boatload of early money.

    In fact, this is one of the rare cases where people from relative middle-class backgrounds, with very little in the way of a family legacy economically or socially have managed to break into the big leagues, politically. So, it isn’t quite aristocratically arranged with them. Still, having been able to convince a few wealthy donors to fund her very heavily does not demonstrate her merit for office in the least. Instead, it’s merely a plebian’s ability to appeal to a certain aristocratic group that gives her the edge. That, and huge name recognition – which may be part of her appeal to the aristocrats, but otherwise doesn’t come into our discussion.

    Well, we are a capitalistic society so it would stand to reason that the foundation of our economy would play the biggest role.

    In what? In our financial markets, sure. In our manufacturing & distribution systems, sure. The adjective capitalistic (should) only apply to such aspects of our society. It shouldn’t define our society in entirety. It doesn’t stand to reason that the foundation of our economy will play the biggest role in – for instance – our religion. Or rather, it does in a cynical and undesirable way – but we would *rather* it didn’t. Our Constitution – our goal of being a democratic republic with liberty and justice for all… *that* should be what plays the biggest role in our government and electoral system. To say that “it stands to reason” that money will, instead – is like saying that it “stands to reason” that money is bigger than our Dieties in church. Yeah, maybe so – but that needs fixing.

    Bush ended up with the most money in ’00 because Republicans wanted him more than McCain or Gore.

    (noted that I am still straying from the abstract to the concrete… I guess I can’t resist a rabbit trail)

    I disagree and argue instead that Bush ended up with the most money in ’00 because Republican donors wanted him more than McCain or Gore (who as far as I know, did not run in the Republican primary). Money is not a surrogate for votes. I will pre-empt your rejoinder by saying that Bush ended up with the most votes because most Republican primary voters wanted him – and that this came for a variety of reasons, but the two biggest were a) name recognition – a family legacy, and b) the most money.

    Would you rather the state declare that people no longer have a choice & thus our money is divied out across the board?

    I would prefer a system – in this case for complex reasons tangentially related to the first amendment, one that is not entirely state-dictated – where the people *do* have a choice, each person’s choice is as important as the next, and thus each person had one vote and the money had nothing to do with it. That’s the Utopian ideal. Understanding that we live in reality, I will settle for a system that does a good job of recognizing voter choice and doesn’t allow money to become so important a factor that a candidate cannot win without it.

    Oh, our society is the epitome of ‘equal opportunity’. Oprah Winfrey herself, very liberal Dem, states that the only country in the world where a black woman could rise to become the most powerful in her field is America.

    a) she exaggerates. There are other lands where a minority woman may rise to the top of her profession – and some where they may do so with fewer obstacles.

    b) equal opportunity is not a relative term – even if America is the only place where a black woman could rise to the top of her profession, that only means “greater opportunity than elsewhere”. Equal opportunity would be when a black woman would stand just as much a shot as anyone else at rising to the top of any given profession.

    (and, I recognize we are firmly back in the concrete – but I know what is ahead, and quite a bit of it is more abstract)

    Our nation has laws in place that demand the people be given an equal opportunity.

    Laws are not a panacea. Nor can they feasibly demand that the people be given an equal opportunity, any more than they can demand that people be born with British accents. They can demand (and to some degree succeed in forcing) employers to consider applicants without regard to race, etc., – but they cannot (or at least do not) give each person the same opportunities as the next. While that would be impossible, they and other institutions can do more to create a situation where each person is born with *more nearly* the same opportunities as the next.

    To prove once and for all that there does not exist equal opportunity in the U.S., I cite this Princeton study. Not only were white applicants more likely to get callbacks from employers than Latinos, and Latinos than blacks – white applicants with felony convictions were also more likely to get callbacks from black applicants without them. Clearly the black applicants lacked some opportunities that the white applicants had. Similar results in an earlier study in Wisconsin.

    Sorry, but there are some folks who are destined for mediocrity (that’s not an elitist statement…..the average person is….well, average). It’s not unfair that someone with an 85 IQ and no work ethic won’t achieve as much as someone with a 75 IQ but a yeoman’s work ethic.

    That’s not what I’m talking about at all. I’m talking about opportunity pure an simple – all else being equal. Race comes with opportunity. Gender comes with opportunity (women still make ~.80 on the male’s dollar for the same job). Money comes with opportunity. Unless people are born without race and with equal money – or unless we fix the problem where race and money buy opportunity – then we don’t have an equal opportunity society. Unless you are contending that minorities and women are more likely to be born disposed toward a lower IQ and no work ethic, then IQ and work ethic don’t enter into this discussion. If you are contending that, then you are on shaky ground both scientifically, and philosophically. Sure, cultural institutions have an impact on both IQ and work ethic, and cultural institutions are what they are because of history. But a) those impacts are not enough to account for economic disparity taken separate from institutional concerns like quality of available education, etc.. and b) our society as a whole is responsible to a certain degree for fixing cultural institutions that are broken in part because of our society’s recent history.

    Any illegal action can be easily taken care of via a complaint to the NLRB.

    In theory, anyway.

    It is illegal in America for a company to keep a union from being formed, period.

    Maybe, maybe not. If you look at Wal*Mart for example, you’ll find that they have been very successful in preventing unionization of their work-force, and it hasn’t cost them much on bottom line at all. Maybe in some cases they were illegal – and maybe in some cases they got caught & got a slap on the wrist. The fact is they poured enormous efforts into doing it, succeeded, and are not paying enough of a price for it that they are even considering changing their ways.

    Likewise, America doesn’t like a company that steps on its workers, hence the negative reactions to many of Wal-Mart’s practices over the years.

    No, we don’t like such companies. But there’s damn little we can do about it. Unions are about the only effective mechanism for fixing that problem, and – as I’ve pointed out – lawmakers and public relations people have managed to pull the rug out from under unionization efforts in large swaths of this great land. Georgia and Tennessee included.

    [...]

    Well, I do agree that transparency in lobbying and campaign finance is a very desirable state of affairs, though I don’t think that it will solve the problem by itself.

    And that is wrong, IMO. If I purchase a piece of property, be it land or a painting or a vehicle, it’s mine in perpetuity. I legally own it and I can do with it as I please (legally, of course).

    Here we get back to the philsophical question. What do you mean by perpetuity? Do you mean as long as you exist? Or do you mean “until eternity passes away”? If you mean as long as you exist, I’ll go happily along. If you mean – literally – eternally, I am very eager to hear your justification for this view. And let me throw up a couple of obstacles to that justification ahead of time. 1) Pragmatic argument ad absurdum. I steal a thing from you. I then pass it to my child via inheritance. In you will, you also pass it to your child via inheritance (with the provision that it will one day be found). Take this to the fifth generation. In the possession of my ggggrandchild, your ggggrandchild discovers it. The propery rights, extending after death, and being transferred after death, endure – and therefore what my ggggrandchild came into honestly through inheritance rightfully belongs to your ggggrandchild? Now, consider the law as it applies to estates where there is no will. Does you property – by right – then belong to a Cherokee family somewhere, considering that the chain of custody, whether through purchase or through inheritance, was never truly valid, since the original owner’s property rights never expired?

    The second obstacle is not so much an obstacle, but a challenge. It is relatively simple to justify property rights for the living. Those rights can clearly be seen in terms of that person’s stake in the results of possession or dispossession. When dealing with the dead, we can see nothing in terms of that person’s stake, because things no longer affect the person, and the person no longer affects things. In what terms do you justify property rights for the dead?

    That’s the candy coating when all else fails, my friend. Someone can argue pretty much any stance and say “well, it’ll promote the general welfare”. Heck, a freshly minted $50 bill at the end of the work week would do a lot to promote the general welfare, but it’s not the role of the government to give folks $50 a week simply for not getting fired (okay, I’m running nout of analogies).

    On the other hand, promoting the general welfare *is* a function of the government, and I’m not idly saying – “hey, this promotes the general welfare” – I’m doing three things:
    1) Trying to show specific ways in which the estate tax in fact *does* promote the general welfare.
    2) Trying to show that the state does not exceed its authority in doing so, because it does not encroach on anyone’s rights.
    3) Trying to show that the state has no choice but to be involved in how inheritance works, because there can be no binding contract between the living and the dead, and apart from the state there are only cultural institutions for deciding how the wealth of the dead should be assigned. Should the culture become less homogeneous on this point, apart from the law, *all* claims to the property of the dead become very dubious, and the result is an anarchic state wherein people with equally invalid claims to the property of the dead compete for it without standard rules. The culture says, “look at the will” – but there is no underlying reason that everyone should agree to do it this way – just convention – and no good reason anyone should respect that convention over any other one. Given that the government should be involved, and given that the government may well give weight to convention *as a matter of promoting the general welfare*, that still leaves lots of latitude for the government to enhance the general welfare *even further* while discharging its duty to help reassign the property of the dead.

    A. Not for nothing, buddy. Someone died.

    This is why I didn’t want to deal with your *personal* example. I have no wish to be crass. But, the fact is – while someone did die – you and the other inheritors did *not* die. Given two legitimate ways to recieve wealth: 1) be paid it by the person it belongs to, and 2) receive it as a gift from the person it belongs to, I maintain that an inheritor does neither. That’s why I say it is a windfall. It is gathered, figuratively speaking, from where it fell to the earth.

    Let me take a break here and speak a little bit to the mechanics of it. I personally agree with and sympathize with the view that in many and most cases, the state *should not* jeopardize inheritances. There are plenty of good reasons why your grandmother’s handsewn quilts should stay right there where she wanted them to: in the family. After all, the family has an emotional investment in them that no one else has. Of course, unless she was related to Andy Warhol, her hand-sewn quilts were probably never in any jeopardy of being taxed or auctioned, but I think it goes farther than that. I think the laws should be better than they were when you inherited – I agree that a $60,000 house on an acre & a half should not come close to the auction block. I think the laws should be better than theyh are now, too. Even on estates that meet the value threshhold such that they are beyond what anyone could *need* and represent pure luxury, there should not be forced liquidation in *any* case. If the inheritor cannot pay the taxes without liquidation, then the government should arrange a method of payment that will allow them to liquidate equity over time to make the payments, so that the physical assets are never in danger of the auction block. There are a number of ways that society can hedge itself with a cut of the erstwhile legacy of the aristocracy that can be done creatively enough to leave physical assets in no danger.

    On another tangent. You are an engineer. You know how algorithms work. If you think of inheritance as an algorithm that allocates resources from generation to generation, without even taking the political dynamics into the equation, it should become obvious what can happen after several iterations of the inheritance algorithm. Wealth flows in one direction. Assuming no loss from generation to generation (though there will be some now and again), and assuming no *gain* from generation to generation (in real life you will *often* have this, if for no other reason than compound interest), you find that one successful entrepreneur can create the possibility of many generations of useless parasites. If you take into account the likelihood of gains on interest and investment, you will see that wealth will flow steadily in one direction over time: toward the elite families. It will also be replinished to a degree over time, so that the wealthy families do not suck everyone else completely dry, but it does mean that oodles of wealth are removed each generation from the population at large, and concentrated in the hands of a few. How this is not a negative result for society, I don’t know. We have to rely on the benevolence of the aristocracy – that they will behave philanthropically, or that they will at least spend some of their wealth on assets equal to less than their buying price, in order to have any hope of countering the effect.

    (me): and remembering that the rich person will still get more than the poor person

    (you) A. No one’s business. Especially not Bush’s or Pelosi’s. Pretend it’s a womb, if you must, but this is the USA & not Cuba.
    B. Interesting that the equality discussed above goes out the window….which is why I typed “equal outcome”.

    A. It must be somebody’s business – you brought it up. If it’s no one’s business, then please don’t complain.
    B. I don’t see how that goes out the window. If what you are striving for, above all else, is equality then the natural solution is to take *all* estates and divide them up equally between all citizens. You suggested that the inheritors of the rich got a bum deal because they were taxed and the inheritors of the poor were not. But, looked at another way, the inheritors of the rich get 50% of a very large sum and the inheritors of the poor get 100% of a very small sum., while both have earned 0% of any sum. 50% of a large sum is greater than 100% of less than half that sum so the person who has an unequal outcome is the poor person. And yet, you object on behalf of the rich person. The logic is flawed. To see how, look at it this way. We have an (anti-egalitarian) law that gives each person a lottery ticket upon birth. A certain number of people will receive a prize from that ticket worth $1,000. A certain number of those winners will receive an additional prize worth $2,000. This is all fine & dandy (except that it adds another anti-egalitarian facet to an already flawed society). Now make a law. Winners of the extra prize have to pay three fourths of it back to the lottery board. Now – show me the inequality. Everyone who wins $1000 gets to keep it all. No injustice there. Everyone who wins $1000 + $2000 gets to keep $1500. No injustice there. Where is the inequality? If you cannot show the inequality, then you must show me how this is different from an estate tax with a threshhold. If you cannot show me either, then I think you must admit there is no inequality except that which comes from the lottery ticket system.

    Respect for inheritances is rather equivalent to the lottery at birth except that it has many redeeming qualities that the lottery system does not have:
    1) It honors a tradition
    2) It honors sentimental attachments
    3) It avoids the threat that people will have uncontolled controversies over who collects the wealth left behind by the dead.
    4) It provides continuity for businesses and similar endeavors that are oriented around a family who is familiar with them.
    5) In the hands of a smaller group of people who may have certain needs, a certain amount of property will do greater good than if it is equally distributed among 300,000,000 people.

    I do love google maps. I saw the intersection of 411 & 53 from the satellite view & saw a couple of houses on the right (as you travel north on 411), and some other types of structures on the right. I don’t know which one it is, but I think I can honestly say – “yeah, I’ve seen that house!”

  • RW

    smijer,
    A. I take nothing personally. You are a great guy and I read every word with enthusiasm as I seek greater knowledge & in this case finding out about ‘the opposing view’ is what I seek.
    B. I knew when I typed the first letter in my first comment that the end result would be “agree to disagree”. Just trying to provide you with my POV.
    C. I’ll give a quick overview in a subsequent reply & then leave things at that because, yes, this could go on forever. And, no, I don’t plan on any of it being of the ‘confrontational rebuttal’ type of reply, but the “oh, here’s why I typed this” sort. Well, at least that’s the plan. Of course, I plan on dropping 5% body-fat, too. :)

  • RW

    Eh, after much deliberation, we know where each other stands, so no sense my pounding the table any more…..’agree to disagree’ sounds fine to me.

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