Thursday, November 30, 2006

Puzzling over Labels

[posted by Callimachus]

I would love to live in a land where nobody inherited so much money from anyone than he or she never had to work.

This is both a conservative and a liberal belief -- really, a great many things are. It's a statement of what kind of people I wish we were. America would be better if everyone had to work for his own wealth, where the power of money, like knowledge or physical fitness, could not be passed on but had to be attained in each generation. It's a capitalist idea, a socialist idea, a virtuous idea, an individualist stance.

But I would not strong-arm us into being such a people by using the coercive power of the government to limit personal inheritance to, say $100,000. Never. Not even if it would work to change people -- and it wouldn't.

I wish instead we were the kind of people where that outcome would seem so naturally right that it was written into the constitution, with little debate, from the start and never questioned. With any excess money going to boost the pensions and medical payments of old soldiers, or something.

But we're not. So we live without it and do the best we can. And I choose not to run around saying, "This country sucks" because it's not as perfect as I wish it was. Is that what makes me "right-wing?" Which is how I'm often identified on other blogs.