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Of Families and Fortunes, and Inheritance Vs. Redistribution.
October 02, 2010
Of Families and Fortunes.
Vic Biorseth, Saturday, October 02, 2010
Once upon a time, in a more innocent era, after Western Civilization had acquired that sense of individual liberty that automatically associates with legalized individual rights, a man was free to do as he pleased, so long as it was within the law and the rules of civility and decency.
It became quite popular for young men to set out, in some way, to “make their fortune.” Even those from well-to-do families got this itch, this urge to be free and on their own; to make their own way in the world, and perhaps make a name for themselves while they were at it. They competed with poor men, or men less well-off than them, who were doing the same thing, but in greater numbers. Every young man wanted to “make his fortune” and then live a life of relative ease, as some version of the “propertied gentleman.”
Of course, fortunes were made; fortunes were squandered or lost; some fortunes were solidified and built upon. But most efforts to “make my fortune” resulted in finding a way to make a living, in one way or another, some better than others. Many of the “better off” sojourners eventually returned to the family in a somewhat worse off condition, in the manner of the Prodigal Son.
The family offers stability; going it alone offers reward, but also risk.
Still, the urge to be out on your own is strong in youth, and it often overpowers even common sense. In any society, in any land, all one has to do is look around to see that the best economic progress is made slowly but surely within some group, and the best group for this progress is the family. If an ignorant and illiterate man is free to do so, he will find work or business, however humble, sufficient to support his children, who may join him in his work or business, or start something new, while under his support.
When, or shortly before, the patriarch or matriarch dies, the estate, however grand or humble, is handed on. In Biblical times, the inheritance went to the first born son, unless there was no son. Over time it became a matter of the judgment of the one who made the will. A prudent son or daughter might be chosen over the first born son, in the interest of maintaining the inheritance for the good of the whole family.
Now, in ancient times, all property was owned by men, with one exception, that being women who were widows. When a woman married, all of her property became the property of her husband. When a woman became a widow, she was an exception to almost all rules; she was propertied, she was respected, she had a public voice, she was virtually the equivalent of a man, before the law. However, if she remarried, all of that changed, because all of her property became the property of her new husband. For that reason, many widows did not remarry, and Scripture speaks of highly respected wealthy widows who supported the early Church.
In today’s society, at least in what’s left of Western Civilization, women are pretty much equal to men in all matters before the law. (Heavy sigh.)
It is always easier for members of the family to go out and do work or do business for the profit of themselves, and of the family, when they already are provided with the shelter, clothing and food that is part of the family estate, whether that estate be grand or humble. The rule is just as true in a palace as it is in a hut. For this reason, there is wisdom in sticking by your family and maintaining family ties, all your life. The bigger the family fortune becomes, the more important this rule becomes; but that is not to say that it isn’t important for the kids growing up in some housing project or other poor environment.
That rich kid doesn’t deserve his inheritance, because he didn’t earn it, is the popular gripe from the envious. Well, he doesn’t have to deserve it, and he doesn’t have to earn it. It is freely given by the one who owns it. Why should it have been given to someone else? Did he not have legal possession of it? Was it not his to give to whomever he chose?
An equally bad argument could be made regarding the grace of God that has been given to you. You do not deserve it, because you didn’t earn it. Yet God gave it to you, not because you deserved it, and not because you earned it, but simply because He chose to give it; it was His to give and He gave it to you, so that you may accept it or reject it, of your own free will. In a similar manner, the family fortune is handed on to the rich son by the free will of the parent, and the rich son may accept it, reject it, squander it or protect it and build upon it. That is the gamble the parent takes.
The question the parent needs to ask before passing on the estate is whether the inheritors are to “share and share alike” or the estate is to remain intact, for the benefit of the survivors. It is clear and obvious that share and share alike or otherwise dividing up the estate is destructive of the family fortune. Keeping it all together is the only way for it to grow, but at some risk. Somewhere down the line, some inheritor might somehow loose it all, and the family will be the worse for it. But splitting it apart by legal will is almost certain to destroy it immediately, because each inheritor will simply go his own way with his portion until it is exhausted, and then there will be no remaining family estate to return to.
Do you begin to see the wisdom of the original “first born son” rule? Today it might be better for the grantor to discern and judge the most stable, prudent and decent from among the children than simply going with the eldest son. But it may be seen that keeping the family fortune intact will serve to keep the family itself intact. Each family member always has the existing estate to fall back on and to live within the shelter of. The most successful families are the large ones with a long history, and with a gradually building family farm, or business, or fortune of some kind.
That is how Abraham, Isaac and Jacob grew their holdings of flocks and herds, their servants and their clan. Look at the American families of the Vanderbilts, the Rockefellers, the Fords, etc., and try to imagine where those families might be if the estate had been broken up with the end of the founding generation. Now, you can talk all you want to about how the younger Fords didn’t deserve or didn’t earn their position in the company, or their wealth, or whatever – but, if they didn’t deserve it, then who, pray tell, did deserve it? Would it have been better for the original company to flounder or die with the founder? Does the right to private property – the right to own something – still exist, or not?
Karl Marx hated all of that; in fact, he found it revolting. As a deadbeat, he felt the world owed him his rent, and his food, and all that he needed for his own maintenance. Having alienated himself from God and from family, rather than returning to them in his destitution, he sought their destruction through violent revolution. He hated religion, he hated the family, he hated private property, and he sought the forceful, violent, revolutionary elimination of all of them. He said so in the Communist Manifesto. He made his life’s work the incitement of envy, strife and class warfare in order to violently upset the status-quo.
Let us briefly look at the closing words of Marx’s most famous and most widely read work, to gain a little insight into what this thing called Marxism is, exactly.
In short, Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things.
I think you can see by this that Karl Marx was a real whacko. However, his words struck a chord among, of all things, many who belonged to the intellectual elites; the so-called intelligentsia. And I offer this as proof of my long held contention that education and privilege are no guarantee against stupidity. Defending the “wisdom” of Marxism became a parlor fad among the pseudo-sophisticated elites, the last place you would expect such a call to bloody revolution against the whole social order to ever take root. But, stupidity will accommodate anything.
Since publication around 1848, Marx’s notions have taken root in various forms here in America. The biggest one seems to be in a sense of universal “rights” adopted by the elites and, through them, inculcated into the subconscious psyches of the people and their representatives. We seem to have a sense of a Marx-like “right” to some things, such as our house or our rent, our health care, our food, our water, our income, our education, etc., etc., etc. At our national founding, all of these things were our responsibilities; now they are widely held to somehow be human rights. This is nonsense, of course.
Let us take health care as an example. Seeking medicines or medical attention is, quite simply, a personal responsibility – one either accepts that responsibility, or does not, and similarly accepts the results of his own decision. You get the medicine or the medical attention you can afford, just like everything else in life, because it is your responsibility. The fact that you might sicken or even die in the absence of medicine or medical attention you cannot afford to pay for adds nothing to the argument; you have no automatic “right” to the best medicine or the best medical attention.
Food and water may be of more vital and more immediate importance to you than any medicine or medical attention. If you do not eat food, you will soon sicken and die from a condition called starvation. If you do not drink water, you will sicken and die even sooner, from a condition called dehydration. Yet you have no right to food, let alone the best food, or to water, let alone good, or the best, water. It is your first responsibility to acquire adequate food and drink for your own sustenance, just as it is your first responsibility to acquire any needed medicines or medical attention on your own.
It is your responsibility to get the best water you can afford, the best food you can afford, the best health care you can afford, the best car or bicycle or horse you can afford, the best clothes you can afford, etc. You have no automatic right to any of these things. Marxism puts the state on top and the citizen at the bottom; liberty puts the citizen on top, and establishes the government to serve the citizen. The state can provide none of these things for the citizen anywhere near as well as the citizen can provide them for himself.
Wealth as a fixed pie is the vision that Marx foisted upon his stupid elitist fans. The notion that wealth is fixed forever, and that some of us unfairly have a larger portion than others of us, is just plain stupid on its face. The whole idea of Marxism revolves round the notion of one getting his so-called fair share of the pie. History proves that the advance of Marxism destroys the whole pie, and produces no new pie. In other words, as Marxism advances, everyone becomes poorer. In truth, Marxism secretly seeks dictatorship, and dictators are rarely poor. Search long and hard through history and you will find no Socialist dictator who was poor, or whose subjects were not poor. Most of Marxism’s Useful Idiots are totally unaware of the fact that the real secret goal of Marxism is pure dictatorship.
This unhealthy fixation on wealth as a fixed pie feeds the equally stupid notion that anyone who owns anything automatically owns it at the expense of someone else who does not own as much. These owners of stuff are demonized by Marxism as the expropriators, and as the hated bourgeois. If you own something, you are guilty. If someone else doesn’t own as much, you owe him something. It just doesn’t get any dumber than this. Lots – perhaps a majority – of teachers, university professors, journalists and celebrities actually believe this crap. And they teach it, and pass it on.
It explains why you will frequently hear someone who has been successful at something, almost anything, speaking about doing some charitable act, not as simple charity, but using words like “giving something back” to the community. As if being successful was somehow sinful and detracting from the community. If you buy something or earn something or win something, you have taken nothing from anyone, and there is nothing for you to “give back.” You are called to charity – we all are – but that is not the paying of any debt; it is the simple act of giving out of a sense of charity.
The call ”Workers (of whatever) Unite!” and the organization of workers into unions is inspired right straight out of the Communist Manifesto. Unions today do little more than set workers against their own employers, to the absolute detriment of the very business that pays them to do their work. Today our Marxist-leaning government supports unions and opposes business to the degree that it is becoming unprofitable to even do business in America. Consider the long term affects of union demands on the business, increased taxes on the business and increased restrictive government regulation on the business: how, exactly, do these things work in the long term interest of the worker who depends on the business for his livelihood? Workers and the businesses they work for should not operate at cross purposes. The real goal of Marxism is to absolutely control if not own all business, or to destroy business, all at the expense of the hated bourgeoisie.
And the hated bourgeoisie, of course, in all likelihood started out as just another family business, and did nothing to anyone, and is guilty of nothing.
Today the death tax seeks to destroy inheritance and eliminate the “advantage” of the family business or farm or fortune of any kind. Marx was a real fruit-cake, in that he despised the family and God so much that he hoped his “revolution” would eliminate them and purge them altogether from human society. His impossible, idiotic idea of the state producing and controlling perfect, happy workers to produce wealth to be equally distributed actually was, and is, believed, by educated and otherwise intelligent people. Go figure. After January 1, 2011, the death tax will be, I believe, 55% of whatever you leave to your heirs. So much for the family farm. So much for the family bakery shop. So much for the family whatever.
If you don’t recognize anything else, dear reader, recognize the sheer stupidity of Marxist notions, and the impending peril posed by the real Marxists, i.e., the ones who intend to turn this nation into a dictatorship pure and simple. For them, Marxism is merely a tool, as is Islam. See the The Last Barbarians for a further explanation of these two tools of the would-be dictator who intends to seize power during some crisis or other.
It might be that our only hope of getting back on Constitutional track rests in passage of The Fair Tax, which will outlaw all other forms of taxation, including the inheritance tax. Unfortunately, even that possibility might depend entirely upon winning really, really big in November, and then successful impeachments as described in the grounds for impeachment article. If something along those lines is not successful, then America as founded may be lost forever.
Don’t let that happen.
Reconcile with your family if you have been estranged for some reason. Call them if you haven’t spoken in awhile. Instill a sense of family pride in your children and grandchildren. Re-establish the old traditions of the family and of the common purpose of family support. Whatever you acquire in this life, leave to your most trusted heir, for the safekeeping and building of a family fortune, to the greater benefit of all members of the family.
Call your dad and your mom; say a prayer to them if they are gone to their reward. Write some loving thoughts to your siblings and your extended family. Show your children your love for them. Disregard the rantings of the Marxians as the common blithering of idiots.
May you please God, and may you live forever.
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