Some of the arguments of the last few days have strengthened my support for inheritance tax. Here's what I mean.
1. The communitarian argument: sharing our historical legacy. Calls for the UK to apologize for the slave trade rest upon the idea that we have significant links with our ancestors, by virtue of our shared membership of society. Some who oppose such calls claim variously: that slavery did not leave such a bad legacy; that the UK spent a fortune restricting the slave trade after 1807; that some Africans were slave masters or traders themselves; and that there were countless other historic injustices - enclosures, highland clearances, child labour, exploitation, state-sanctioned monopolies and price-rigging.
What both sides here agree upon is that wealth and poverty today are the result of history.
For me, this gives us an argument for inheritance tax. It's wrong that some should benefit today because of past injustices. And the principle of insufficient reason suggests that, as we can't identify precise winners and losers, we should tax inherited wealth and redistribute it equally.
It's a way of acknowledging that we are a society which is shaped by the past.
2. The atomistic argument; people are independent of history. Others who oppose apologizing for slavery do so on individualistic grounds; it's just dishonest to apologize for things we personally have not done.
This too suggests a case for taxing inheritances. After all, if you've no connection with your forebears, how can you complain when you don't get their money? Longrider, who's expressed the individualist argument well says: "I plan to keep what I’ve earned."
But don't think you can keep what others have earned.
3. "You can't blame people for their past." The Conservative Party Reptile and Mary Ann Sieghart agree that we shouldn't hold it against David Cameron that he comes from a privileged background. Mary Ann says:
Since nobody chooses their parents, it is as unfair to tease someone about their class as it is to pick on them for being black or ginger-haired.
But why is the above statement correct but the following one wrong:?
Since nobody chooses their parents, it is as unfair to allow someone to be wealthy because of their class as it is to allow them to be poor because they are black or ginger-haired.
If we shouldn't impose costs upon people because of something they are not responsible for, why should we tolerate them getting benefits? Again, there's an argument for inheritance tax.