Back when Americans were arguing over whether they should trade the Articles of Confederation for the newly drafted Constitution, the people called Antifederalists (the real Federalists, that is) warned that a complicated centralized political structure would obscure what the government does and expose the people's liberties to usurpation. Simplicity and transparency, they said, were bulwarks of freedom.See the rest of my TGIF column at the Foundation for Economic Education website.
I was reminded of that when I read this Washington Post article last Tuesday by business columnist Allan Sloan. The upshot of his column is that among people who expect to inherit property, those he calls the "small rich" would be worse off if the estate tax were repealed permanently in 2010 than if the 2009 tax rules remained in effect. The tax rules are so opaque that only someone intimately familiar with the labyrinthine code could say if any given person would benefit or suffer from the repeal of a particular tax. Here, in what Mencken called the "land of the theoretically free," this is outrageous.
Cross-posted at Liberty & Power.