Iniquitous Theft

I was watching some stupid BBC-TV show about how a titled earl’s mansion was saved from ruin only by royal intervention (Prince Charles and his Prince’s Trust), and how the place was restored to its former glory and was now in essence a museum (said earl having relinquished title to the property many decades ago).

Which house and which earl is not important.  What was not said was why the place had to be abandoned in the first place, which can be summed up in just two words:  inheritance taxes.

Of all instances of government bastardy — and there are thousands — this is the one which gets my goat, because there are two major principles in play, and neither of them is good.

1)  The State decides that your property doesn’t really belong to you, so the gummint takes part of it it away from you (or more properly, from your heirs) after your death and puts it into their coffers.  It’s nothing less than fucking theft, pure and simple.

2)  The principle that “unearned income” — i.e. that your wealth gets passed on to your heirs, who didn’t work for it and therefore it should be treated as a windfall — is a bad thing because it simply perpetuates the wealth inequality of society.  The underlying Marxist lie that underpins this idea is self-explanatory:  that wealth is a finite quantity, and that keeping it in the family prevents others in society from benefiting from it.  (Never mind that history shows that almost all  great fortunes are dissipated within four — and usually three — generations because of multiple heirs, wastage, poor judgement and so on.)

What we also know is that inheritance taxes do not affect the very wealthy much, if at all, because they protect their property by a multitude of (perfectly-legal) tax avoidance schemes.  Instead, the taxes hit the middle classes (and especially family business owners and farmers) hardest of all.

So it’s all very well for HRH the Prince of Wales to come riding in on his faerie chariot and save some great house from ruin, when in fact it was the policies of his (and his forerunners’) government that was the principle cause of that ruin in the first place.

Just so we know the extent of the villainy:  the family was going to be forced to sell off the household effects to help pay the bills.  Which sounds trivial except that the earl was the owner of the largest collection of Chippendale furniture in the world (simply because the fifth earl had seen the first-ever catalog of the Chippendale Brothers furniture company in the 1750s, liked what he saw and bought hundreds of pieces of the stuff for his new country home, and all of which had stayed in the house ever since).  To give you an idea of its worth:  just one large glass-fronted bookcase — now being used to house some of the family’s equally-valuable china — would have fetched at auction around £20 million, and each of the hundreds of Chippendale chairs around £50,000… yes, each.

All the household goods had been packed up in an eighteen-wheeler, and were actually halfway to the auction house in London when the truck was intercepted and turned back to the house.  All very heroic stuff — and all completely unnecessary.

What’s interesting is that here in Murka, where we don’t even have titles and such, the popular antipathy towards inheritance taxes is profound — something like 80% of people polled hate the very idea of it, even though the vast majority of people are unlikely ever to be affected by inheritance taxes.

That’s because we’re not stupid, and we can recognize theft when we see it.  It’s the principle of the matter, and as this nation was founded upon principle, we can recognize its villainy where other countries’ inhabitants might not.

By the way, here’s the Wikipedia entry for Dumfries House.


  1. If gov’t theft is legal ALL theft is legal.
    Not right. Legal.
    In any instance of immoral or illegal behavior by anyone there can be no claim of immorality or illegality toward anyone else that attempts to thwart said behavior.
    IOW, stealing from the thief is not only a responsibility but a duty.

  2. Well there’s the flip side of that too, Kim. Back in the day, the eeeeevil govt were the guys that built and lived in that palace, and they did it while the peasants that worked for them … starved. The upper classes in Britain earned their contempt from the underclass fair and square. Those guys were so bad, they had to invent America for people that didn’t want to be subservient to them anymore. I get what you’re saying and I agree. But inherited wealth has its issues too. In America think of Teddy Kennedy.

    1. Don’t care. The Kennedy wealth will be gone in two generations’ time anyway. Sure, it was put to ill use by Swimmer Ted, but in the grand scheme of things it’s irrelevant. Note too that Old Joe Kennedy protected his family from inheritance taxes by putting all his dough into various trust funds before he died — which is what rich folk do anyway.

      1. Yup. As you mentioned, ALL modern “soak the rich” schemes don’t touch the rich. It’s the upper middle class – professionals, skilled craftsmen, and small businessmen – who get raked over the coals.

        Which I suspect is the intent. To keep the upwardly mobile people (like me) from climbing up the ladder and kicking some of those twits who inherited place and power OUT of power.

  3. Here we don’t call it inheritance tax – we call it county and city property tax.

    The land isn’t ours, it’s “theirs” and they graciously allow us to live on it while they raise the school and county taxes every year.

    It’s always been a surprise to me that even Texas will take your home for back taxes.

  4. Taxes is theft is the best line I ever heard. Hard to believe at one time there was not an income tax at all. government made do then.

    1. Yep, survived, sorta, on excise. You’d better have lots of kids because without the extra hands you were screwed.

      And national defense? Good thing we caught England overextended both times and besides our own selves our main enemies in the 19th century were indigenous tribes that couldn’t figure out how to unite and give us a run for our money.

      Oh, and no safety net for you, boyo. There’s a balance point somewhere twixt both extremes that we still haven’t quite got the measure of.

  5. Haven’t cared much for the HRH’s since Geo III though I’ll grant QEII makes a nice figurehead if one needs such. She at least knew how not to embarrass the orb, crown and scepter. Woe be to empire when Bonnie Prince Charhammad ascends the throne (is there any way they could skip him and move on to Prince William? call it a royal do-over). But these days I don’t believe the HRH’s have f’all to do with tax policy. Apparently from your tale they seem to be more victimized by it. Parliament, that’s the proper target.

  6. I’m not a fan of the royals, (nor am I a republican), but they haven’t ruled the British Isles since before Napoleon’s time. That was when we saw the rise of the faceless Civil Servant, our Real Masters. Who live the easy life of enormous comfort and privilege, without any accountability or responsibility whatsoever, whilst vampirishly sucking our blood. Parliament doesn’t rule us, (and as we have seen with the Brexit fiasco the will of the people counts for nothing), Permanent Under-Secretaries make our laws as they see fit and retire with very nice pensions and titles, (and privilege). I am strongly minded that the situation here is just like France before they had that revolution, and we know how that turned out. (I didn’t say what form of government I would prefer, probably, rule by a Council of Eleven, chosen by a combination of lot and proven competence. It would be a bonus if they all wore full face hoods with tuning forks fixed to their foreheads – I don’t suppose they could be any worse but it would, at the very least, amuse me for a bit).

  7. There is other part of involvement by the government agents in inheritance.

    Inherited debt.

    Somebody borrowed money from bankers decades before I was born, and the bankers expect me to make the payments. Hmmm…

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