Inheritance

The dead have no rights and all agreements they are a party to become null and void at the time of death. The accumulated assets of an unmarried individual shall revert to The People. Gifts to individuals must be less than $10K USD per person per year.

Family-based inheritance is the single largest source of inequality in modern civilization. How could it possibly be fair that the children of wealthy families not only receive benefits in education and experience over their entire development that are unavailable to children from poor families, but also are simply given large sums of money and property as a guaranteed side effect of the randomness of where they happened to be born? This custom would never survive a Veil of Ignorance experiment: At some round in the experiment the player with the most money receives a bonus equal to that amount and everyone else has to pay (as taxes) a fixed proportion of their own wealth to enable this transfer!

According to Piketty’s 2014 Capital in the Twenty First Century approximately 50% of all capital in the world passes through inheritance, with an average turnover interval of approximately 30 years. This is equal to a substantial fraction of government revenue in most countries, and may even be sufficient to entirely finance a government of an optimum size in some Localities.

Instead of inheritance and inheritance taxes (often called an “estate tax” or even a “death tax”), it must be presumed that an individual’s assets will revert at death to The People, who will auction them off and use the revenue to reduce other taxes on The People. It is not a “tax”, but merely a reimbursement for the value that individual received from the infrastructure provided to them by The People. That a wealthy individual was able to leverage this asset more efficiently than others does not absolve them of the obligation they incurred: They benefited, as all of us do, from all sorts of infrastructure from roads and bridges to clean air and water to an educated workforce. The time of death would be the best time to compensate The People for this. Rather than a tax, maybe call it the Infrastructure Reimbursement Payment (IRP).

The IRP would be collected via auctions where all non-liquid assets of the deceased will be sold as a lot (the final value may actually be negative if, for example, the deceased was underwater in a mortgage or auto loan). The auction winner would gain not only all the assets, but legal authority over the deceased’s financial records and obligations. This will enable them to investigate and undo any asset hiding and perform any services required to execute a will (subject to the per person limit, of course). This of course means that things like trusts and living wills would not be legally enforceable.

Collecting payment at death is not only the most inherently fair and moral method (according to our Clinations, as demonstrated in the various veil of ignorance experiments), it is also the most economically efficient. Unlike income taxes and the wealth tax as proposed by Piketty and others, the IRP takes into account the value of individuals with those skills necessary to generate capital and encourages them to utilize this skill to the greatest extent possible. This is maximally efficient because capital generation skill benefits not just that individual, but all of The People who have their standard of living and quality of life improved by the availability of the products or services the wealthy individual was able to provide (modulo any gaming of the system, as discussed in the section on Competition, Corporations, and Monopolies, of course). Rather than having the wealthy invest their time in attempts at hiding their income or wealth or discouraging them from continuing to produce additional capital (which are the ultimate effect of high income tax rates), they must be allowed to utilize the tool that is capital to the best of their ability, only being taxed for their actual consumption.

Abolishing inheritance also brings competition to bear on the need to preserve any infrastructure that was used to produce that wealth and ensure that The People continue to benefit from it. As was described in Children and Families, just as there should be no presumption that a biological relationship provides the best environment for children, the same applies to capital. Indeed even the ancient Chinese were aware of the inherent design flaw in a inheritance-based system (the folk expression is “Wealth does not pass three generations”, the first acquires it, the second utilizes it (but does not grow it), and the third simply squanders it). Selling these assets at auction will ensure that they will be utilized most efficiently because of the incentive that investing capital in them will provide. Waste and inefficiency is the primary enemy of capital and of The People, and eliminating it by ensuring that all assets are properly valued and utilized should therefore be a high priority.

At first many individuals would object to the idea of just transferring their assets into the government’s general fund, so it should be possible to earmark their assets to go to particular projects via a will. Even so, charitable and religious organizations will become much more powerful under Matchism because of this influx of money. As such, it will be necessary to regulate transparency in the financial statements of these organizations to ensure that the money is being spent as the donors intended. The net result in most cases will be a reduction in the need for government expenditures in the domains these non-profits serve, which in turn will provide the required reduction in tax rates for the rest of The People.

These rules must be applied to religious organizations because they will continue to receive assets from SDAPs and other conservatives for the foreseeable future. In fact, given that the Authoritarian instincts are to support their relatives to the almost total exclusion of any “outsiders” (i.e., you can’t get any more ingroup than a nuclear family), the only viable substitute for many of them will be the option to donate their assets to a religious organization. This will therefore be a requirement of the initial Matchist implementation to prevent rebellion. Many of these religious organizations will soon have more money than they know what to do with. No worries: Although some will spend that windfall on lavish buildings and other frivolity, at least revenue from that construction will flow back to the local economy and increase land values (and the resulting land-lease rates). With poverty having been wiped out via other features of Matchism, most of them will not find sufficient charity work to be done locally and will have to expand their focus to improving conditions in the Third World. Which of course is common-cause with Matchism.

The prohibition on inheritance necessarily rules out using life insurance to skirt these rules. It is necessary, however, that we ensure that the deceased’s children and surviving spouse will be cared for until the children are financially self-supporting. Therefore:

As a natural monopoly with no potential for competition to decrease costs, The People should provide support for any children of the deceased, via a monthly payment of half the Standard Income per child, until the child achieves the Standard Adult Set of Credentials. This amount will be offset by any other available source of support (other insurance, wrongful death suit, etc.).

Note that this clause also means that Matchism makes no accommodation for those who believe that they have a right to the land based on their ancestry. Leases for land in “Reservations” or other accommodations for past injustices, along with any outstanding funds due, will be transferred to individuals or corporations as the affected individuals prefer, the reservation established initially as a separate Locality, then turned over to be run by The People as any other Locality would be.

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