Recently, U.S. Congressman Anthony Weiner was questioned by Fox News interviewer Megan Kelly about the moral basis for not only high-rate estate taxation by—i.e., the taxation of an estate upon an individual’s death—but for any estate taxation. Kelly brought up the common gripe that this amounts to taxing income that has already been taxed, which means double taxation. In defense, Weiner declared that: You will not be double taxed by an estate tax “because you’ll be dead” (noting that the opposition in fact often refers to the estate tax as “the death tax”). He followed up with the argument that: Those who inherit an estate are not only taxed just once, but are taxed on income they have not earned. Hence, the implication is that a higher-than-normal rate can be justified for estates. Indeed, some might argue that this justifies their value’s complete return to society at large via government apparatus.
What Really Matters
Both arguments may sound reasonable until one considers the evolutionary perspective. For here we find that the estate tax defies the very essence of biological existence: the perpetuation of the bloodline. That is, individuals are not “in it” for themselves; they are in it for the families they are a part of and, more specifically, for the genes they share and collectively project into future generations. Hence, from the gene-centered perspective, the estate tax not only stands as double taxation, it stands as compounded redistribution that punishes successful lines and rewards unsuccessful lines. Noting that many see this as the whole point, we are left with what is perhaps the most important question of our time: What exactly are societies for?
The Ultimate Performance Enhancer
While advocates of redistribution see societies as mechanisms by which to create outcome fairness for their members, the evolutionary basis for societies—i.e., the actual reason they exist—is that they are mechanisms that allow individuals and the bloodlines they are a part of to boost survivability via the benefits of cooperation. For societies bound by kinship, including bands and tribes, there is an inherent cooperative element that is amplified by a functional element, as those who help others are automatically helping themselves in a genetic sense. But for those not bound by kinship the entire cooperative yield must be functional—i.e., it must stem from mutualism and/or reciprocity as these relate to economic and/or combat function. In short, associations that are win/win are cooperative, via either direct or indirect interaction. In the case of the latter, those who act in ways that improve a group’s chances for survival also provide a fractional benefit for all others within the group as competition with other groups ensues. The greater the average win-win yield the stronger a society will become to the benefit of all within. The greater the number of win-win interactions the stronger a nation will become to the benefit of all within. So in addition to the win-win dynamic defining cooperative behavior, it also defines meritorious behavior—i.e., that which in some way contributes to a group’s survivability, and therefore the individual survivability of the bloodlines and individuals that comprise it.
The Ultimate Parasitism Enhancer
In contrast, interactions that produce win-lose associations either directly or indirectly, such that one or more individuals benefit at the expense of one or more others, will automatically take away from a society’s economic and/or combat performance. That is, instead of one’s production adding to a society’s mass and energy, it is merely absorbed by another as part of a transfer, with the latter existing as a parasite to some degree—a parasite that can prove very helpful to those in the government. For, as the facilitators of redistribution, government officials can enrich themselves, their bloodlines, and their friends’ bloodlines—through skimming off resources, creating or improving positions for family and friends, and/or using the proceeds to purchase campaign contributions and/or votes. Between socialistic ideologues that see outcome equalization as a moral imperative, government officials who can acquire considerable wealth by becoming or pretending to be socialistic ideologues, and those who are keen to make a living as socialistic redistribution recipients, there is always a latent inertia driving societies toward socialism. The only question is how to justify it for those who wish to, while declaring redistribution “the right thing to do.”
America’s March Towards Socialism
How Much of your paycheck should the Government control?
In difficult times redistribution is easily promoted as the suffering of fellow citizens plays upon a deep-seated instinctive compassionate feelings related to the dynamics of mutualism and reciprocity (built upon the win-win ethic, once again). Yet in good times redistribution is just as easily promoted as those who prosper more than others are declared to be “greedy,” which also plays upon deep-seated emotions, especially guilt, related to the dynamics of mutualism and reciprocity. Yet to promote redistribution more universally and comprehensively, new principles and models that create a broader mandate would have to be conceived and institutionalized. One would be the hypothesis, as proposed by Karl Marx, that outcome equality within society will produce a stronger society—as competition is minimized and cooperation is maximized, with the two purported to be mutually exclusive. Another would be the hypothesis, forwarded by modern relativists, that the characteristics people possess cannot be judged as better or worse, only different, thereby abolishing the concept of merit, which in turn means that those who possess more do not deserve it, as they can only have acquired it through fortuitous circumstance or, more likely, ill-gotten means—with this premise increasingly giving rise to the concept of “social justice.” The notion of social justice has been particularly powerful in promoting socialistic redistribution at every level of society, nationally and internationally, based on both current and historical events that have created outcome disparities. The latter has given rise to the promotion of “reparations.”
A Death Tax of a Different Kind
As Western nations have increasingly succumbed to the calls for domestic and international redistribution based on the fictional ideas described above, they have effectively embarked on a project of taxing themselves into extinction. That is, not only in remarkable but unprecedented fashion—i.e., as it relates to the history of species at large—Western nations are voluntarily giving up their economic and combat superiority that will decide their survivability over time. Indeed, not only does merit exist, it is the only quality natural selection is capable of recognizing, by definition. And the reason the West was so competitive before it began to unilaterally disarm economically and militarily is that it embraced the standard of merit like no civilization before it—as this is specifically what constitutionally protected free-market capitalism maximizes within a society.
The good news is, the West is not dead yet, and could in fact revitalize itself rather quickly with a reinstatement of meritocratic policies, as most of the infrastructure that led to its meteoric rise during the seventeen- and eighteen-hundreds is still in place. The bad news time is indeed running out, as both global Marxist and global Islamic rivals are pushing hard to destroy Western civilization from within and without, very much using the West’s new-age politically correct, anti-meritocratic values against it. The next couple of decades will tell the tale. For now all that is sure is that as the next dominant civilization rises through the embrace (or re-embrace) of meritocratic principles it will not be so eager to give them up once on top, learning from the mistakes of those who have preceded them. And eventually, it will be fully acknowledged that to stay on top one must never stray from what it took to get on top—in conjunction with the dawn of the new age of neo-Darwinian Enlightenment.