To take from one because it is thought that his own industry and that of his father’s has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have, not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association—the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.

—Thomas Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson, Note in Tracy’s Political Economy, 1816.

Inheritance taxes, widely known as death taxes, are a rupture of the social contract, like a riot or a pogrom. Out of bitterness and envy, a wealthy person’s property, often the fruit of a lifetime of hard work, is seized by the mob. There is no moral distinction between seizing a wealthy man’s mansion after he dies and turning his children out, or doing the same thing while he is alive.

This article is an extract from the book ‘Principles of Good Government’ by Matthew Bransgrove