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Abigail Disney speaks out on the Estate Tax, she’s for it

Last week Abigail Disney, Walt’s grandniece, published an opinion piece in the USA Today. The subject was the status of the Estate Tax, she’s for it.

…the estate tax is an expression of our deepest American values: that we live in a meritocracy, not an aristocracy; that every generation is a fresh start; and that we choose to build a society in which wealth and opportunity do not accrue to people simply for being born wealthy.

Walt and Roy embody those values: They started without two cents to rub together and made a million wishes come true.

Disney has not taken the hand the birthright lottery dealt her for granted. Her work as anti-poverty, social justice, Women’s rights philanthropist, and as a documentary filmmaker has made a mark of her own on the world. When someone like her speaks on this issue, I tend to listen.

Previously: Abigail Disney profiled by Forbes.

12 thoughts on “Abigail Disney speaks out on the Estate Tax, she’s for it”

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  2. I have to disagree with Ms. Disney.

    When the government sucks money out of the private economy, that means there is less money to invest, less money to hire people, less new wealth created. We need to pay for our government, but confiscatory taxation is a jobs killer. Our economy needs an infusion of lower taxes (and lower government spend and borrowing) to unleash the private economy and reach full employment. John F. Kennedy understood this, just take a look at his economic policies — they are far different than what we have today.

    The current president’s transfer of private wealth to government spending has been a failure. The adding of huge debt over the past 10 years by both parties is killing our economy and jeopardizing our future prosperity.

  3. Whenever I hear the word “Social Justice” I cringe. Long the mantra of the American Communist Party (Check out their website to verify this), Social Justice advocates the redistribution of wealth at a granular level. Not just taking money from the super rich and redistributing it to the lower classes, this position advocates redistribution at all levels. Middle Class society is look upon as undeserving of their style of living as well. Instead of encouraging the economic prosperity of the poor, “Social Justice” advocates all to be equal in all things, regardless of inititave, hard work, and personal sacrifice. I dissagree with Ms Disney. “Social Justice” is Un-American.

  4. Doug and Dave are just offering knee jerk reactions to the horrors of taxation. Communist Dave, really? Both of them have offered typical conservative repulsion to taxes in general without even addressing Disney’s point that the inheritance tax has unique characteristics. Here’s a more balanced summation from a Political Scientist (me) that actually discusses this SPECIFIC tax, and it’s merits or failings. ;)

    Americans, who still believe (rightly) in the “American Dream” are remarkably comfortable with inequality in their society– but they demand an equal chance to become unequal. Disney’s point is that if you are born fantastically wealthy, then you don’t have an equal chance success in the American meritocracy, you just are from the moment of conception- like royalty- and that really is un-American.

    The estate tax has always been, and should remain, targeted to the very wealthy. This is not meant to burden family farms or small business owners. But the few hundred thousand wealthiest Americans should not necessarily have billionaire grandchildren while others cannot afford a college education.

    There is no form of taxation more American and more just than the estate tax. Bravo to Abigail Disney.

  5. I also have to disagree with her, although I think our entire tax structure need a complete overhaul (flat sales tax of no more than 10% total)…..but that’s another story, bottom line is the government should not be entitled to a single penny of money when a person dies, that money has already been taxed, at least once in most cases, it should not be taxed again.

  6. “That money has already been taxed.” Untrue. Well, no more so than in the sense that ALL money has been taxed at some point before arriving in your bank account. To the person paying the tax this is absolutely “new” money. The person paying the tax did NOT pay federal income tax on the money, as they did not even earn it, and will only pay an estate tax if they amounts are very large.

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  8. Arguments for “social justice” and taxing the wealthy sound very nice in a vacuum. The problem with these arguments is reality. Social justice is really the most unjust to the poorest because “spreading the wealth around” means less capital for job creation and fewer jobs for hard working people, plain and simple. Hard working entrepreneurs who are successful deserve the fruits of their labor and the risks they take to succeed. In the process they employee people who can support their families, donate to the poor, and enjoy life. That is real social justice.

  9. I certainly commend Ms. Disney and all who voluntarily give their money away to charity. This is not the same thing as using the force of government to send the money of OTHER people to charitable causes.

    I can understand both sides of the estate tax issue.

    The children did not earn the parent’s money, and if we’re going to tax anything, why not tax when the person who earned the money isn’t around to spend it?

    But children inherit other things from their parents, too, both good and bad, including genes. That’s life. If we could have a gene “tax” to level the playing field in that respect, would that be a good thing to do? Perhaps one reason a person strives to create wealth is for the very fact that they can pass it along to their offspring.

    This is a Disney-focused blog, not a political blog, so I’ll wrap it up by again commending Ms. Disney and everyone else associated with the Disney name through the years, from executives to front line cast members, for their monetary, time, and skill donations to charitable causes. Nobody has to wait for the IRS to tell them to help someone else. Everyone is free to do it TODAY. And we should.

  10. Given Walt’s clear conservative slant and absolute belief in the American dream I’m not sure he would be so proud of Abigail. As a parent I would say that if I wish to preserve that feeling of accomplishment and success in my children, I want that to be my choice and not a government mandate.

    I want my children to work hard and accomplish a lot because there is nothing that beats the feeling of success. If I’m wealthy (which I’m not) then I would make the decision to let them succeed on their own by withholding that wealth or diverting it of my own accord. After they have learned the meaning of success and understand how to work hard to succeed there is little harm in safeguarding their futures by providing resources for them to work with.

    I know people who are wealthy by the standards of the “average” person and they are planning on leaving a large part of their wealth to charities specifically to avoid complacency in their children. I’d rather see that wealth go to worthwhile charities than the government. I’ve seen amazing things accomplished by some very well run charities. I can’t say the same for the government of any nation.

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