The inheritance tax is often framed as a mechanism to reduce inequality and is therefore seen as a good thing. John Burn-Murdoch, a columnist for the Financial Times, has written a Twitter thread that purports to make conservative-sounding arguments in favor of taxing inheritance. He focuses on the idea of equality of opportunity and meritocracy to make the case that it is unjust that some people get massive inheritances while most people get nothing.
What he misses, as Iain Murray points out, is any consideration of property rights. The equality concerns are fundamentally secondary to the property-rights concerns that the inheritance tax presents.
Individuals accumulate wealth over their lives. As they accumulate it, they also distribute it. They invest in businesses, donate to charity, give gifts to their friends and family, etc.
Then, one day, they die. What happens with their wealth now? People write wills that say what happens with their wealth when they die (and there are other legal processes for people who don’t have wills). The will is basically a way of saying, “Now that I’m not here anymore to decide how the wealth I accumulated is distributed, here’s who I want to have it.”
I suppose a person could say in their will, “Give it to the government.” But they don’t, generally speaking. They believe their wealth is put to better use by giving it to their families, charities, etc.
Who are politicians to say they are wrong in that judgment? They didn’t accumulate the wealth. They didn’t develop the individual’s personal and business relationships. They don’t know what a specific community might benefit from, or what a family business might need.
The federal government is celebrating the ESA’s 50th anniversary with proclamation’s of the Act’s success. Yet the celebration is unwarranted. After fifty years, it has become painfully clear that the law does very little to recover species from the brink of extinction, particularly on private land. The law’s failure on private land is particularly important because a majority of species rely upon privately owned habitat. Not only does the ESA do little to conserve species on such land, a wealth of empirical evidence has shown the law can do much the opposite. The Act’s punitive regulations can actually discourage private land habitat conservation.
I survey the Act’s “success” in this forthcoming article, “Tarnished Gold: The Endangered Species Act at 50.”
Wall Street Journal columnist James Freeman reports that at least some climate alarmists are so alarmed by evidence of the costliness of their schemes that they act to suppress this evidence. A slice:
Once the policy impact was clear here in 2023, one might have hoped that the person responsible would have accepted responsibility and tried to undo the damage. But Gov. Inslee opted for another approach, holding a press conference last summer to attack business and claim that “the heart” of the problem was “greed” among oil companies.
Even now it seems his staff is still working hard to evade responsibility.
As Dean of the College, Gay terminated Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr. as Faculty Dean of the Winthrop House. Professor Sullivan, Jr., a graduate of Morehouse College and Harvard Law School, was the first Black faculty dean of a house in the history of Harvard College.
What was Professor Sullivan’s offense? Sullivan deigned to represent the disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein—an act of moral conscience, since all are entitled to legal representation in our legal system. Yet legal conscience mattered not to Claudine Gay, who terminated a race pioneer for doing his civic duty.
You may excuse this heartless termination as a one-off. You would be wrong. Economics Professor Roland G. Fryer, Jr. was next in the sights of Dean Gay. Fryer was a top Black professor at Harvard. After having overcome all sorts of hardship and childhood deprivation, Professor Fryer joined the faculty at Harvard to become the second-youngest professor ever to be awarded tenure at Harvard, and went on to blaze a trail of distinction, including winning the MacArthur Fellowship and the John Bates Clark Medal.
Yet when Fryer undertook research into the killings of unarmed Black men in Houston, Fryer’s research found no racial disparities. He made the mistake of undercutting the racial narrative that the Left has adopted, and as a result, Gay did her best to remove all of his academic privileges, coordinating a witch hunt against him. Fryer survived Gay’s crusade of discharge but Fryer’s lab was shut down, his reputation tarnished.
No one in good faith should defend President Gay because she is the first Black president of Harvard. Even if you don’t agree with me that our racial struggle is in our past, someone who has targeted Black male professors has waived any benefit of the “first Black” defense.
The embattled new president, only six months into the job, has failed. If she were a student, she’d be expelled. Plagiarism is not OK for students. Why should it be OK for the president? Supposedly, she is going to revise her past scholarly work — plagiarism not only infects her dissertation but her other writings — an answer that would simply not do if she were a student. She was, her defenders claim, only messy and sloppy, not someone who appropriated the ideas of others as her own. As if that is good enough. It isn’t. Her record as a scholar who has never written a book, and who has been messy and sloppy in what she has written, is simply inadequate to qualify her to lead a great university. And her ability to serve as a moral leader is utterly lacking. That lack of leadership was on painful display in the Congressional hearing, where she admits herself that she failed in not responding to a question about whether advocating the genocide — that is, the mass murder — of Jews would violate the university’s rules. It depends on the “context,” she said, as if any context would justify genocide.
Indeed, the real question is why she is still president.
The painfully obvious answer is because she is a Black woman, and that answer, if it isn’t enough to fire her, is why she should resign. Her continued presence at the helm only reenforces all the wrong reasons for her presence.
Francis Collins, the former of the National Institutes of Health during the pandemic and current science adviser to President Biden, noted that he and his colleagues demonstrated an “unfortunate” narrow-mindedness.
This is a welcome, if belated, confession.
Not too long ago, anyone who said that epidemiologists might be overly focused on disease prevention to the exclusion of other concerns — you know, like jobs, mental health and schooling — were dismissed as reckless nihilists who didn’t care if their fellow citizens died en masse.
Now, Francis Collins has weighed in to tell us that many of the people considered close-minded and anti-science during COVID were advancing an appropriately balanced view of the trade-offs inherent in the pandemic response.