Perpetuating Inequality by Taxing Wealth
24 Pages Posted: 14 May 2016 Last revised: 16 Sep 2016
Date Written: May 1, 2016
Proposals to “fix” the estate tax by making it both more far-reaching and meaningful are plentiful. While these suggested improvements are reasonable, and even modest, they have failed to confront an important part of Graetz and Shapiro’s book, Death by a Thousand Cuts: stories trump science. This Article attempts to correct this shortcoming in the progressive argument by returning narrative to its central place in the estate tax debate. Drawing on psychological insights, I hope to underscore the difficulty of the effort to preserve progressive taxation and combat wealth inequality. I argue that the proposals have not confronted the underlying narratives that estate tax abolitionists have advanced. I use System Justification Theory to explain the entrenched and persistent nature of these narratives.
Keywords: estate tax, inequality, wealth, system justification theory, wealth inequality
JEL Classification: K34
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation