Quoting Confucius: "When words lose their meaning, people will lose their liberty":

9 December 2010
Editor, Los Angeles Times

Dear Editor:

You write that "Washington's compromise on estate taxes provides an unnecessary handout to a few thousand wealthy families" ("The state of estates," Dec. 9).

Whatever are the merits, or lack thereof, of a tax on estates, you are deceptively wrong to call a decision not to raise that tax a "handout." Because taxes are paid from resources created and earned by private citizens, resources that are not taxed are not "handed out" to the people who created or earned them; these people already rightfully own these resources.

It makes no more sense to describe government's (non-)act of not raising taxes as a "handout" than it does to describe my (non-)act of not stealing your purse as a "handout." Failure to understand this fact creates the mirage that government is the source and original owner of all wealth. Not only is such a notion of the state utterly false empirically, it is also - because it is a close cousin of the notion of the divine right of kings– the seed of tyranny.

Sincerely, Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030


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