Scott Sumner has an interesting post about tax reform that’s worthy of your attention. The post also could serve as a sort of Socratic dialogue on which is worse, avarice or gluttony? Sadly, he combines the two but, as any good scholar of medieval philosophy could tell you, they’re different.
I think they’re both bad but that’s a subject for another post.
I did learn something that I did not know from the post. He quotes The Economist:
TO UNDERSTAND one of the gulfs separating the Anglo-Saxon world from continental Europe, consider Warren Buffett’s children. Omaha’s sage investor long ago said he would leave most of his fortune to charity, with more modest sums to his offspring. For Mr Buffett, leaving vast wealth to his children would be “anti-social” in a society that “aspires to be a meritocracy.”
In 26 out of 27 European Union countries, Mr Buffett’s plans would not just be shocking, but illegal. The exception is Britain, or rather England and Wales (Scotland has its own, centuries-old legal system, with a strong continental flavour). In continental Europe a big part of an estate (often around half) is reserved for the surviving children of the deceased and must be equally divided between them.
I wonder how many people will recognize the implications of that? Americans and Continental Europeans have very different assumptions about wealth, assumptions they themselves may not recognize, and, consequently, we need to consider European pronouncements on wealth as seen through that filter.
What’s true in France may not be true here and vice versa.