Tuesday, September 07, 2010

What a strange attitude

I just happened to see this on our media roundup email this morning, a letter in The Australian about the Green's policy of seeking reintroduction of Death Duties:
AS the parent of two sons whom I love dearly, I can tell Judith Brown (Letters, 4-5/9) why I voted Green and why I support the reintroduction of death duties. I believe that we all should make our own way in the world and not expect anything for nothing - and that includes an inheritance.

Handouts like this are an insult to those who receive them. It's much better to spend one's money whilst alive supporting worthwhile causes and I hope that the government can utilise anything I have left when I die on the environment and meeting social needs.

Trevor Caldwell, Eagle Point, Vic
I don't know about you, but I find that a very strange attitude. When parents pass on an inheritance to their children, it is not a "handout". It seems to me to be a very individualistic attitude towards one's wealth. What belongs to me belongs to my children; while I am alive I manage it, but when I die (or before if I choose), it passes into their hands. This is more literally a "hand down" than a "handout". Of course I have full freedom while I'm alive to use this wealth in a way that seems best for my family and of course the society as a whole, and if I choose to use it (for instance) to serve "the environment and meeting social needs", then I am free to do that as well – but not at the expense of my children's welfare. To suggest that in any way I should trust some nameless bureaucracy to do "what is best" with the wealth that belongs to my household when I die just seems ludicrous.

I can usually see some rationale in the expression of most points of view, even those with which I violently disagree. It is rare that I come across an expression of ideas which are simply beyond my comprehension, but this is certainly such a case. What do you think?

17 Comments:

At Tuesday, September 07, 2010 4:17:00 am , Anonymous Matthias said...

Here we have a man who obviously is spending his kid's inheritance ,or who has no kids and is thus making this statement from a position of arrogance and ignorance.
I can tell you that my inheritance paid off part of my mortgage and also purchase a new car to replace an ageing old Holden Commodore.
Judging by this letter I ' say we have a traditonal labour voter ,who realises that the greens are really the Left wing of the ALP.

 
At Tuesday, September 07, 2010 4:20:00 am , Anonymous Alexander said...

If I have five kids and $50,000 when I die, the most my kids can get (assuming equal distribution) is $10,000: Not even a deposit for a house if I understand the pricing correctly. If you have two kids and $5m, then they get $2.5m each.

So the poor me well might support a death tax: what my kids lose compared to what your kids lose will be negligible. Even in absolute terms, the 10 grand my kids get will barely be enough for a holiday; its hardly going to change their life.

I don't agree with this point of view, this is just the logic I see in it. Remember: the left thinks we have to do everything we can to make sure everyone is born equivalent, not just equal before the law. In reality, I think it hurts rich kids much less than this explains, and probably less than it hurts poor kids: If I have $5m I can easily distribute a large chunk of that to my children. Also, I've never heard of these death taxes amounting to so much that they really would "equalise" the kids of poor and rich parents, and I think that by the time your parents die, you've already got the benefit of their money—a good attitude, a good network and a good education.

 
At Tuesday, September 07, 2010 4:58:00 am , Anonymous Schütz said...

He says he is the "parent of two sons". I wonder how they feel about this letter?

 
At Tuesday, September 07, 2010 5:01:00 am , Anonymous Schütz said...

the left thinks we have to do everything we can to make sure everyone is born equivalent, not just equal before the law

Perhaps you are right. This might indeed be the "rationale" behind the letter-writer's thinking. Even so, it shows to me an attitude toward one's own children that would better befit the savagery of the French Revolution than modern Australia.

 
At Tuesday, September 07, 2010 5:10:00 am , Anonymous Fr John Fleming said...

The irrationality of T Caldwell is that he is against inheritance because he thinks that "we all should make our own way in the world and not expect anything for nothing - and that includes an inheritance" and yet has no trouble in accepting the material, social, religious, and political inheritance that he like all of us receives from previous generations. In any case, he can will his own stuff to "the environment" if he wants. Nothing is stopping him make that choice. But the Greens should not be allowed to stymie other people's free choices to care for their own.

 
At Tuesday, September 07, 2010 5:13:00 am , Anonymous Fr John Fleming said...

Peregrinus, we should not be persuaded by "keeping up with the Joneses" arguments. It matters not one whit that we are lower taxed than some other countries. That we are lower taxed that some does not necessarily mean we have a "low" rate of taxes. It might mean the others are being too highly taxed!

 
At Tuesday, September 07, 2010 10:14:00 am , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

That seems a little extreme!

You're a Christian, David. Surely you agree that material wealth is not a pearl of great price? It's important to pass on to your children faith, values, truth. It's important to love them, to spend time with them, to help them as best you can to grow into the people that God is calling them to be. It's important to show them what love is, and how it is lived. It's important to teach them, among other things, that material possessions are not going to make them happy, and that they should not attach excessive importance to the acquisition and retention of money.

It's not important, when you die, to leave enough money so that your 55-year old children can buy a new car, redecorate the house or invest in that boat they always wanted. And it's certainly not right to teach them, by word or by deed, that this is important.

Everything you do that matters for your children you will have done before you die. If you haven't taught them to love, to hope, to believe and to look after their relationships, they'll have problems that won't be solved by inheriting your money when you die without paying tax. And, if you have, they'll be happy, even if they do have to pay inheritance tax.

Don't stress about whether the post-death inheritance of material possessions will be taxed or not. It doesn't matter.

 
At Tuesday, September 07, 2010 10:17:00 am , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

He's not being irrational. He makes the point that inheriting material possessions is unimporant. In a letter about death duties, nothing he says leads me to think that he is talking about anything else, or that his comments apply to culture, values, belief, knowledge, none of which is subject to inheritance tax.

As I've argued to David above, I think his views are quite consistent with Christian thinking. There are one or two parable from the gospels that I could quote at this point, but I'm sure I don't have to.

 
At Tuesday, September 07, 2010 10:28:00 am , Anonymous Cherub said...

Well he is being irrational. If the argument is that we should only have what we ourselves have earned then is is nonsense. We inherit everything. If he has a better argument let him mount it and I will listen to it. His argument is clear and doesn't need a gloss on it it to make it acceptable. Anyone can leave his or her money to whomever they wish. And that includes one's own family. And to provide for your family is a good and not to be taken from people on the basis of socialist presuppositions of others who want to impose heavy death duties on the basis that the state knows better. The state rarely knows better. It may have different priorities but that is a far cry from "knowing better" in some objective sense.

 
At Tuesday, September 07, 2010 10:29:00 am , Anonymous Fr John Fleming said...

I agree with Cherub.

 
At Tuesday, September 07, 2010 10:32:00 am , Anonymous Fr John Fleming said...

Well it does matter Peregrinus. It might not matter to you, but others of us take the view that the choices we make while still alive are important features of who we are and on which we will be judged along with all our other choices.

 
At Wednesday, September 08, 2010 10:37:00 am , Anonymous Schütz said...

It’s not important, when you die, to leave enough money so that your 55-year old children can buy a new car, redecorate the house or invest in that boat they always wanted. And it’s certainly not right to teach them, by word or by deed, that this is important.

You are quite right in suggesting that passing on one's material possessions is "not important" in comparison to passing on all those other virtues you mention.

However, you make the mistake - perhaps natural for one of your own vintage - of assuming that the average 55 year old is like yourself. Believe me, Perry, by the time that I am 55 years old, my currently 20 year old car will be 30 years old, and I will not be seeking to redecorate my house but to finally be able to afford to put a deposit on one, and that rather than paying for the dream boat, I will be trying to support my own children through their university course.

The world is changing. Tomorrow's 55-year olds will not be the same as the complacent, wealthy baby boomers of today.

I do not begrudge my parents spending their money while they are alive - God knows that they deserve it after all their hard work - but I will not deny that any inheritance (even as little as $10,000 as Alexander suggests) would be of great benefit. I am sure that my own parents would be horrified at the suggestion that the Government should get another go at their money, given that they have already paid their taxes when they earned it in the first place.

It is my belief that death duties on inheritances are im-pious in the strict meaning of the word.

 
At Wednesday, September 08, 2010 10:41:00 am , Anonymous Schütz said...

He makes the point that inheriting material possessions is unimportant

Which IS an irrational argument IF the passing on of one's material possessions to one's children is an act of pious charity.

You could just as well argue that giving any material sustenance to anyone else is "unimportant" - but we know that this is not the case. We are urged to give to those in need. The problem with your assumption, Perry, is that you assume that my children do not need what they stand to inherit from their parents. On what basis do you make this assumption? If indeed they DO need it, would it not be im-pious of the Government to take it away from them?

 
At Wednesday, September 08, 2010 10:44:00 am , Anonymous Schütz said...

Well, I think a lot of us will be "intellectually challenged" in the strict sense as we scramble to gather together our rather confused thoughts on a range of issues and make the rationality of our arguments against the Greens "policies" as clear as we possibly can - otherwise those who do not allow any matter to "challenge them intellectually" will just say "Yeah, man, that sounds great, let's do it!"

 
At Thursday, September 09, 2010 4:26:00 am , Anonymous Schütz said...

Yeah, I know that. I was extending the expression to a different context.

 
At Thursday, September 09, 2010 8:26:00 am , Anonymous Louise said...

It is my belief that death duties on inheritances are im-pious in the strict meaning of the word.

Totally agree 100%.

And yes spiritual goods are far more important than temporal/material ones, but these are still goods. And I personally think it's important to hand on to posterity even the little one has. $10,000 off our mortgage would be a help. And it's better paying off our debt than going to the guvvermint which will only piss it up the wall (on Gay Pride marches and crappy modern art) anyhow.

My parents could die at any time (they are around 70 yo) and I'm 41, with a mortgage and 6 children - one of whom is a newborn. So, not exactly a 55yo empty-nester who's rolling in it!

the idea of just *consuming* what ought to be the children's inheritance is anathema to me. I hate it with a passion.

 
At Thursday, September 09, 2010 8:29:00 am , Anonymous Louise said...

and yet has no trouble in accepting the material, social, religious, and political inheritance that he like all of us receives from previous generations

and which he has probably squandered

 

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