We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

To me, (Britain) now seems a strange, immoral place. For example, I read articles in The Guardian and The Times this week about the abolition of inherited wealth. The Economist also recently wrote about it. It did not even occur to any of these columnists that they were talking about the property of others. They did not create it. They did not inherit it. They have no just claim to it. Yet they have no moral concerns about proposing its seizure.

‘Tom Paine’

27 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Dom

    I’m really going to miss his blog. He was a great writer and a great thinker.

  • Lee Moore

    The point of this, of course, from the socialist point of view is not to achieve “fairness” or solve “poverty” – it’s to enhance the state’s power. Without independent sources of wealth, any initiative, commercial or otherwise, that requires any kind of capital – even as little as £100,000 – must pass through the political process. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Those inheriting wealth have no greater claim on it than the state – or anyone else – does. But those disposing of the inheritance do, and it is their decision, made while they are still alive, that the state is morally obliged to honor.

    Morality aside, Lee Moore’s point, above, is very well made.

  • CaptDMO

    Well, if you GIVE an “economist” a fish, you feed her for a day.
    All the while complaining that she has to pick it up, and take it home, with her bicycle…instead of a FREE SOCIAL DELIVERY via. electric Rolls Royce, and the denial of “access” to FREE fire to cook it.

  • Jerry

    The state will take EVERYTHING you have if allowed to do so.
    They take a lot of it while you are alive.

    The is NO LIMIT to the hunger government has for YOUR MONEY / WEALTH ( paraphrased but – hat tip to Neal Boortz )

    If ALLOWED to do so, the state will take everything and give you back what they feel you NEED to live on.

  • John Galt

    If they’re serious about this, they should really start at the top … with largest collection of inherited wealth in the nation … the royal family.

    I’m sure that Disney (for example) would be happy to buy Buckingham Palace and turn it into a theme park.

  • Julie near Chicago

    PfP: Re property rights in inheritance: Exactly.

    Of course, once the bequestor has died, the property does become the beneficiary’s, and he is then in the position of being, morally, the owner, with all the rights of the previous owner.

  • Paul Marks

    Well there is an irony in “Tom Paine” writing this – as the real Tom Paine (in “Agrarian Justice”) supported the de facto destruction of large scale property via very high taxes upon it.

    As the third Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court put it “the power to tax is the power to destroy”. As taxation (if pushed high enough) can destroy anything – and Tom Paine’s intention was to destroy the landed estates (i.e. the very people who had pushed the new methods of farming that were the agricultural revolution – which, in turn, produced the food and the wealth, without which the industrial revolution would have been impossible).


    What this “Tom Paine” says is true – and it is important.

    Neither the socialist elite or the “liberal” elite really care about private property rights.

    They owe more to the French Revolution (with its idea that private property was only justified if it could be shown to of benefit to “the people” – making every large scale property owner like a defendant in the dock, having to justify what he or she owned to the envy filed activists) than the American Revolution (John Adams was right to guess that under the warm words about “liberty” Tom Paine was not really a friend of the foundational principles of limited government the United States – even in part two of “The Rights of Man” this was obvious).

    For example Economist magazine writes of “anti trust” or “competition policy” as if violating private property (breaking up the enterprises of OTHER PEOPLE) is not a moral matter.

    The “economics” is publications such as the Economist is nonsense, and their biases (for example against family owned enterprises) only too obvious, however it is their lack of a MORAL sense that is most disturbing.

    This lack of a basic sense of morality hits everything that the socialist and the “liberal” elite come into contact with.

    Steal private property with inheritance taxes (“your father is dead, please accept our condolences – not GIVE US HIS STUFF”) – not a moral matter (to these people), smash up an enterprise with “anti trust” regulations (which do NOT benefit consumers) – fine, wonderful.

    Subsidise the IMF and World Bank? Of course, it is “shameful” not to (according to the Economist magazine) a “dereliction of duty” by the United States Congress to not obey the noble international community in the cause of world governance.

    How about massively subsidise the rich and the expense of the poor?

    The “Cantillon Effect” (named after the Irish economist Richard Cantillon) that monetary expansion tends to benefit the rich at the expense of the poor [the major difference between the economic history of Canada and the United States is actually in monetary policy – although this has changed in recent years, and if the United States carries on with its “cheap money” policy it will end up looking like Brazil) – fine, the Economist has supported this policy for years.

    So there we are – if you inherit large scale wealth then it is boo-hiss. But if you get given large scale wealth by the monetary antics of the state – that is fine (indeed more than fine).

    The establishment (the “liberal” bit as well as the socialist bit) is just so alien to me that they might as well be little green men from Mars

    “That is because you are rich”.

    No I am poor – dirt poor.

    I have always been poor and will always be poor till the day when I am finally dead.

    This is a difference of moral principles – a fundamental one.

    With the Guardian it is obvious – they are collectivists (evil) and do not pretend to be anything else.

    With the “liberals” (the sort of people who can be found in the Times or the Economist) it is less obvious (and, therefore, more dangerous).

    “Liberals” talk in terms of “the free market” and so on – but they mean something fundamentally different by these terms, than we do.

    They use the same words as us – but they use these words to mean different things.

    That is actually worse that dealing with someone who is speaking a different language.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Paul Marks
    March 30, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    As the third Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court put it “the power to tax is the power to destroy”.

    He got it backwards: it’s the power to destroy that is the power to tax, but it’s a little too revealing for the government to put it that way.

  • Nick BTF! Gray

    This is the very same point made by Dave Hannah in his newest book about freedom. I forget the title, but it has just been released, and he makes the point that European notions of inheritance and last wills are very different to the traditional British approach. they have always been more tribal and social than occurred in Britain. In fact, Britain has always been different in this regard.
    Until now. Could European attitudes be swamping Britain?

  • Nick BTF! Gray

    The book is ‘how we invented freedom and why it matters’, by Daniel Hannan, but I’m sure you knew that!

  • Mr Ed

    Nick, there is no ‘traditonal British approach’ to inheritance. Scots law on inheritance Is based on the ‘European’ model of the estate being apportioned in fixed proportions for certain asset classes. I know a solicitor who told me of a Scottish client who wished to disinherit his son, the best advice was to move to Berwick and renounce Scottish domicile.

  • David Moore

    I saw a post recently in the Guardian complaining about ‘robber barons’ followed by something like if we take X off them, and divide it among ‘us’, we would each get Y amount. Not a hint of irony either.

  • Lee Moore

    Neither irony, nor the tiniest smidgeon of economic understanding. For if you take X off “them”, and divide it between “us”, you will find that by the time it arrives at “us” it is only worth a small fraction of X. 90% of the value will have been destroyed by the act of confiscation itself.

    Incidentally, while we’re on the theme of Britain going to the collectivist dogs, I used to have a business acquaintance who did M&A in the power company field. He was explaining valuations, and the obvious fact that you did the cash flows. but discounted for political risk. Even ten years ago, he was giving UK power company cashflows a higher political risk discount than Pakistani ones.

  • Dom

    If there is a high inheritance tax, people find a way to pass money along to their children during their life times.

  • Ljh

    It’s only the accumulated wealth they are trying to prevent me from handing down to the next generation, next it’s removing me from my offspring for demonstrating insufficient love perhaps because I want them to await my death before it becomes their discretionary spending, and when we’re all locked up and the state has possesssion of our children, it will tackle the “unfairness” of genetic inheritance. I thought Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron was satire not a guide book.

  • Mr Ed

    It’s not just hatred of property (termed ‘wealth’), it’s an oppressive state. Maduro might even blush at this police action in Manchester.

  • Tom

    Thanks for the kind words in the comments here and for the honour of words from my final post being a Samizdata quote of the day. As to the differences in my views from the original Tom Paine’s, I am well aware of my hubris in using his name. An incidental delight has been the irritation it caused Leftists who see him as one of their own. I agree with much of what he wrote. I even understand why he was so keen on taxing land at a time when it represented a more important kind of wealth than it does today. But that wasn’t why I stole his clothes for blogging nine years ago. His pamphlet, Common Sense, was the nearest equivalent to a blog post in his day and was hugely influential. By a kind of sympathetic magic, I hoped my own “e-pamphlets” might be influential too. If my writing style had been half as good as his, I could perhaps have usurped his title that I really envied – “the most dangerous man alive”. As it is, it’s still up for grabs. I don’t have the skill to make the British establishment hate and fear me as much as it did him. Being hated and feared by the most obnoxiously self-righteous political class on Earth is a true test of virtue. To any reading this who think they are hard enough, I say go for it and good luck. Samizdata is one of the few political sites I have not deleted from my RSS feed on the occasion of my retirement from blogging, so I will be lurking here for the foreseeable future. Keep up the good work.

  • Mr Ed

    Cheer up folks, there comes a point when British fascism starts to eat itself. An Ethiopian farmer is suing the UK government (with UK legal aid i.e. taxpayers’ money) over the funding of the Ethiopian regime with foreign aid, he wants it stopped, not more.


  • staghounds

    ” Wealthy people already pass on a lot of advantages to their children; they can afford better education, and a better environment at home (more books, quiet places to study etc).”

    Because there is no moral choice, no free will. People learn because books are in a quiet room.

    Everything comes down to stuff that can be bought with money.

  • Pat

    So have I got this right, the Guardian wants the entire Scott trust handed over to government? How will they survive?
    Perhaps Mr. Murdoch has left all his worldly possessions to the government (presumably the US one as he is a US citizen) but I have my doubts.
    These people are just bullshitting because they can’t imagine it applies to them.

  • Rich Rostrom

    To be modestly fair to Tom Paine and his ilk – they saw the wealth and landholdings of the old aristocracy as the proceeds of political exploitation.

    Which is arguably a fair cop. For hundreds of years of self-appointed ruling elites used state power to acquire property. It seems a bit much to say that the property so acquired is now private and morally untouchable by the state. And inherited wealth is persistent, so a generation or two doesn’t launder it.

  • Nick BTF! Gray

    And it’s unfair for good-looking people to be allowed to exploit their looks, which might have come down to exploitive ancestors marrying good-looking people, thus creating a genetic heritage of good genes, so beauty should be equalised (somehow). I imagine that if ‘utopia’ had been a real place, everyone would have been given plastic surgery so as to look completely average and alike.
    The fault with this line of argument is that there is no natural stopping point. You either enforce total equality, or accept that inequalities will occur.

  • Mr Ed


    So have I got this right, the Guardian wants the entire Scott trust handed over to government?

    I think that the plan is the other way around, the entire Givernment (typo, but I like it) is handed over to the Scott Trust.

    And in any event, Trusts do not die so no inheritance tax arises.

    But if every time a University Chancellor left post that were treated as a ‘death’ for inheritance tax purposes of the University’s assets, and likewise for the Primate of All England and the C of E, the squealing would be loud and long.