Recently I was reading The Guardian, a UK paper. The topic was inequality. In part the article said:
“Baby boomers have unprecedented stashes of wealth tied up in their properties, yet their children and grandchildren are paying sky-high rents from squeezed incomes, and struggle to raise a deposit for a flat.
Families also face a social care lottery that could wipe out an inheritance if a parent or grandparent cannot look after themselves.
This month the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development proposed inheritance tax as a way to reduce wealth inequality and redistribute between the generations.”
The words “struggle” and “redistribute” caught my attention.
Like many others, perhaps you, I grew up in the 1940s and 50s. I graduated high school in 1961.
I cannot recall when my parents did not live from pay-check-to pay-check. In fact, as a car salesman my father often had to take an advance on his pay because if he didn’t sell a car, there was no paycheck that week.
When I graduated high school in June it took me until November to find an entry level job at minimum wage. I had no skills and was prepared to do little, so little I started as a mail boy. It took until 1978 to earn a BS degree at night having spent two stints in the army in the interim, neither voluntary. I lived at home until I was married at age 25.
Speaking of married, I was married while in the army. We couldn’t afford to have my wife give up her job so she stayed home and struggled to pay her rent and other expenses. I sent home what money I could. When I finally got out of the army we saved her pay for a year so we could buy a house, a $29,000 eighty year old house in dire need of repair and with a mortgage rate of 9-3/4%. My wife’s priority was our four children; she did not work outside the home, but devoted a great deal of time to various school activities. I think it’s fair to say we lived pay-check to pay-check in those days because there was no money leftover and there was no money for vacations.
Now, after fifty years of working I no longer struggle, I don’t live pay-check to pay-check and I have accumulated some wealth. I want what wealth is left when I go to be 100% inherited by my children and grandchildren. I want to help them with their retirements and college. I don’t want what I worked for and paid taxes on to be redistributed to anyone but my family’s next generation and I especially don’t want it all filtered through government.
Is that wrong or selfish? I don’t think so at all. I didn’t steal or cheat anyone to get where I am today. I didn’t block opportunity from anyone else. I didn’t start off with a nice nest egg from my parents.
The very notion of reducing so-called inequality by government confiscation and redistribution of money with no measure of success or assurance it will change anything, especially human behavior is mind boggling.
The opposite of inequality is equality. Is that what we seek, across the board mediocrity? Sooner or later removing inequality will result is there being no one to confiscate wealth from and with the entire population dependent on redistribution of a shrinking pot.
What we must assure is equality of opportunity and all that goes with that. You don’t need to take more money from any American to do that.