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Say, people can't inherit property or money from their families. Once a person dies and assuming all his dependents are above 18 years old, all his assets go to the government, get re-distributed or monetized, and used for country development.

Does this idea have any loopholes or does it create issues in the economy?

Adding my comments here as part of the question as comments get moved into chat -

  • This is to bring change in people's mindsets so that they don't stack up money for 10 generations and teach their kids values and knowledge instead of making them lazy and attitude with pre-earned money
  • Technically your kids need to earn it..but of course, if ur kids fall below poverty basic needs would be taken care of by the government as they would have enough money from others' re-distribution wealth.
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    $\begingroup$ Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, on Worldbuilding Meta, or in Worldbuilding Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Commented May 19, 2023 at 10:29
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    $\begingroup$ Did you contrast that with what happens IRL with most of the people who go to elderly care, where their assets are devoured by the nursing home instead? $\endgroup$ Commented May 19, 2023 at 13:32
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    $\begingroup$ How would giving the government more power and money reduce corruption? $\endgroup$ Commented May 19, 2023 at 18:09
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    $\begingroup$ so what happens to less soluble wealth like farmland or homes? Can I train my son as a blacksmith and let him take over my smithy or is that not allowed either. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented May 19, 2023 at 20:55
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    $\begingroup$ So we're defining choosing who inherits your assets as corruption for some reason? $\endgroup$
    – Jedediah
    Commented May 19, 2023 at 22:19

18 Answers 18

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Trivial Loophole

Say, People can't inherit property or money to their family. Once a person dies and all his dependents are above 18 years all his assets go to the government which gets re-distributed or monetized and used for country development.

A parent who wants their child to "inherit" starts giving lavish cash or property gifts to the child once the parent reaches their senior years. As much as their tax system allows; possibly more for off-book objets d'art and similar things.

By the time the parent dies, they are (on paper) penniless and being supported by their child, who has received their parent's entire fortune in gifts over a decade or more.

This law, as proposed, is far too simple to do anything to negate corruption. Money could be held in trust for the child. The money could go into a corporation whose management changes hands from parent to child, and then exorbitant dividends/salary turn the corporate assets into assets of the management and sole employee.

I will go further: this law, as proposed, is mostly loophole.

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    $\begingroup$ Better yet, the already rich have the time and know-how to do this. It's the rising to wealth who have less. This helps ensconce the rich by confiscating their competitors $\endgroup$
    – Mary
    Commented May 18, 2023 at 12:26
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    $\begingroup$ People do this now so that their children inherited more by avoiding existing inheritance taxes. $\endgroup$
    – hszmv
    Commented May 18, 2023 at 13:45
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    $\begingroup$ Unless drafted by complete idiot's, such trivial loopholes are easily avoided $\endgroup$ Commented May 19, 2023 at 8:44
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    $\begingroup$ @JackAidley: "Such trivial loopholes are easily avoided": Not really, at least not without abolishing private property. You see, the Truely Really Rich do not have all that much actual money lying around, and they surely do not give actual money to their children. What they have is an investment portfolio. And such an investment portfolio consists of securities which can be transferred; there is nothing to tax, because nobody realized any actual income. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented May 19, 2023 at 12:11
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    $\begingroup$ This is actually part of the advice that estate planners will give for non-cash assets. If you want a specific relative to inherit something when you die, put them down on paper as the co-owner. Then when you pass the property reverts immediately to them. $\endgroup$
    – EvilSnack
    Commented May 19, 2023 at 17:10
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This is massively easy to corrupt.

There are several major assumptions in this setup, but the primary issue is assuming that the government isn't corrupt. How do you define "redistributed"? or "monetized"? or "country development"?

I could easily take all my daughter's cookies, give her one, and keep the rest as "redistribution". Maybe I'll split them with the wife so she has nobody else to turn to. Redistribution done.

Monetizing could be anything from selling to the highest bidder to converting into a government owned business. The first just makes it incentive for murder; if you want to buy someone's company, but they won't sell, just kill them and wait for the government to give it to you. The second runs the risk of steadily turning the government into a business, which by definition is designed to consolidate power and money.

"Country development" is basically just a different way of saying investing money in stuff. What is considered a good investment and who gets to decide what is a good investment are the basis for every economic debate in history.

That is just the assumptions on government too.

You stipulated that all a persons dependents must be over 18 for the assets to be seized. Then men will at least keep having kids until they die, not even necessarily with a spouse. Anyone could just as likely "adopt" a newborn at the ripe old age of 72, thus ceding the wealth to the child's guardian.

This could also increase the prevalence of large age gaps in marriages, if the spouse still maintains assets until their own death. I could build my millions and then when I die my wife could find a new, much younger spouse. After her passing, they could then continue the same process. Even if the wealth is still tied to dependents under 18, it just requires that each pairing have a child.

Honestly, these are just a few ideas scratching the surface of how this wouldn't even come close to working.

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    $\begingroup$ You monster, take my money, okay, but my cookies?! $\endgroup$
    – DonQuiKong
    Commented May 19, 2023 at 6:14
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    $\begingroup$ The problem you raise could apply to any money the government handles, so it's not so much an issue with this proposal specifically as it is an issue with the running of governments in general. $\endgroup$
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented May 19, 2023 at 12:22
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    $\begingroup$ @NotThatGuy Agreed, but that was my point. A plan built on assuming there isn't pre-existing corruption in the system is just naive. $\endgroup$ Commented May 19, 2023 at 13:46
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    $\begingroup$ @user253751 I have some experience with government entities vs private entities, and you are not correct. Say there is a private project that costs 300k to deploy and takes 3 months. Turn it into a government project and it costs 10 million, takes 10 years, and doesn't work. But none of it is wasted or goes to corruption. There is a line item for every single one of the expenditures.. Its just the government project had 1001 different boxes to mark, and box required a substantial amount of work. All to do the same thing that the private project did. $\endgroup$
    – Questor
    Commented May 19, 2023 at 21:26
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    $\begingroup$ A business is incentivized to increase it's operating efficiency, to reduce costs, and increase quality or a competitor will come around that does better on one of those three axis and put them out of business. A government entity acts as a monopoly and the only incentive it experiences is to grow larger so that the 'boss' has more people under them and thus more power. $\endgroup$
    – Questor
    Commented May 19, 2023 at 21:28
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It increases corruption

The only outcome that method has, is that people will sign all their possessions over to any next of kin while they are still alive so that they can inherit the goods. If such a contract is missing, people are, by the fear of loss of everything, incentivized to fake such a document, which is corruption.

On the counterpoint, it also incentivizes officials to make sure such contracts are found invalid or destroy evidence of them, even if they would be valid. On the other hand, the power to void such documents also incentivizes officials to take a bribe not to do so, or to look the other way on shoddily faked documents.

As a result, the law will only lead to massive institutionalized corruption.

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    $\begingroup$ More likely, people will bribe government officials to fake the documents or overlook a lack of such documents. The incentive for the official there is much greater, unless the government is already so corrupt that some portion of the "redistributed" money would go directly into the pocket of the official. $\endgroup$
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented May 19, 2023 at 12:22
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It will affect corruption (but not by much) by making some aspects of it unnecessary. Why cheat when you could simply gift your assets to your children while you are still alive, and preserve your family's generational wealth this way?

You could even be smart and sell your assets to your own children, who would then lease these same assets back to you. This way you would be able to use all your assets as long as you stay alive, and they will no longer be yours and therefore not at risk of being taken over by the government. Of course your children would need to pay you for buying your assets and you would need to pay your children for leasing them back, but can't we just agree that their monthly payment is equal to your monthly payment? ;)

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    $\begingroup$ I think I read this in a money magazine, that seniors with a paid-off house could sell it to their adult children and rent it back. The children have the advantage of home ownership, and the parents don't have to worry about putting the house in their will. $\endgroup$ Commented May 18, 2023 at 21:53
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    $\begingroup$ @ShawnV.Wilson Another option that I've seen in estate planning is to give assets to a trust with parents and children as beneficiaries. While the parents are alive, they act as trustees and when they both die, the trust passes to the children and they distribute the assets according to the will. Ofc, in a world with the proposed law, both of these ideas (and a lot of others on this page) are illegal "asset structuring". $\endgroup$
    – Cadence
    Commented May 19, 2023 at 1:23
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    $\begingroup$ The Usufruct is a mechanism that prevents the kids from then selling the house from under the parents. $\endgroup$
    – KalleMP
    Commented May 20, 2023 at 8:33
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    $\begingroup$ @KalleMP, thank you. That's the word I was missing without even realising. $\endgroup$
    – ihaveideas
    Commented May 20, 2023 at 16:38
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    $\begingroup$ in most developed countries, gift, or attempt to disguise inheritance, are already taxed $\endgroup$
    – njzk2
    Commented May 21, 2023 at 12:05
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It will increase corruption because the thing you suggest is, itself, corruption.

You are proposing a scheme that presupposes that the government owns the citizens and all of their property and assets. Every time such schemes have been set up, the result has been massive horror.

The Black Book of Communism details, with documentation, the horrors involved with communism. The reason these horrors are necessarily attached to all forms of collectivism is that individual rights are explicitly annulled. When people are explicitly labeled as indistinguishable tribal material, the result is they are treated as herd beasts.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't follow your presupposition. By the same logic, you could say that a whoever a person names in their will actually "owns that person and all their property and assets", merely because they stand to inherit from them. Why does the government being someone's heir imply that they "own" that person or their things? $\endgroup$ Commented May 19, 2023 at 16:17
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    $\begingroup$ @NuclearHoagie Because currently I am free to change my heir at will. IF I want to give all my money to the great marshmallow in the sky. Or have it set on fire on my burial longboat (jk there) then I can, it is my choice to do with my stuff what I want. The suggestion here removes my right, my true ownership of my stuff. $\endgroup$
    – Questor
    Commented May 19, 2023 at 21:33
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    $\begingroup$ @Questor actually your rights there are pretty limited , the dead do not have rights, your will is only a weak guideline to who inherits your assets, unless you contract with an independent living person to handle your assets. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented May 20, 2023 at 13:46
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    $\begingroup$ @Questor There is no marshmallow, but there is a spaghetti monster. With the FSM all things are pasta bowl, so I could be wrong. $\endgroup$
    – user458
    Commented May 20, 2023 at 15:57
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    $\begingroup$ the hypothetical in the OP's question has nothing to do with communism $\endgroup$
    – njzk2
    Commented May 21, 2023 at 12:03
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Corruption? Or inequality?

What I think of when I hear "corruption" is someone not doing their duty for some consideration, or doing their duty only for non-lawful consideration. Say a cop not writing a traffic ticket for money, or a municipal clerk processing a building permit only after receiving a lavish dinner, or a supervisor promoting a worker because of a sexual relation.

Many corrupt people are corrupt mostly for their own benefit, and only indirectly for the benefit of their family. Tinkering with inheritance taxes does little to reduce this. But there could be cascading effects:

  • Removing large, inherited fortunes may bring a more equal distribution of wealth, and this may limit the ability to give very large bribes, e.g. for government contracts. But then somebody who benefits from getting that contract would control over-average amounts of money.
  • Removing the multi-generational accumulation of wealth might hinder overall economic development. That could then increase the incentive of underpaid public servants to have their palms greased.
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    $\begingroup$ Good point on clarifying the definition of corruption. $\endgroup$ Commented May 18, 2023 at 10:33
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    $\begingroup$ "Removing the multi-generational accumulation of wealth might hinder overall economic development." most definitely not. The accumulation of wealth is a hinder to economic (and, also, social) development. $\endgroup$
    – njzk2
    Commented May 21, 2023 at 12:06
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    $\begingroup$ @njzk2, depends on when you start, and what the alternative is. Kings and nobles did do worse than industrialists. $\endgroup$
    – o.m.
    Commented May 21, 2023 at 13:16
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    $\begingroup$ @o.m. all other things being equal, a system where money is re-distributed rather than accumulated encourages education, which is the single largest factor for economic development $\endgroup$
    – njzk2
    Commented May 21, 2023 at 16:05
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    $\begingroup$ @njzk2, do you have studies that this did apply in the 19th century, and not just the 20th? $\endgroup$
    – o.m.
    Commented May 21, 2023 at 16:17
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How to work out the loopholes

Lot of good points so far about loopholes, but let's assume your society has figured out how to work out the loopholes. The best way to eliminate the loop holes is to seize all of the family's wealth, not just the person who died. The problem of course is then that if you are a business owner and your father is a janitor, then when he dies, the government can take not just the \$100 he has left in his checking account, but they could also seize your entire multi-million dollar business... this is very bad for the economy, and will likely lead you down a fast path to 3rd world status for your nation and/or into an extreme form of socialism.

So, in order to mitigate the harmful effects, you'd need to have the Bureau of Social Equity send an accountant out to assess how much of a successor's wealth and assets should be seized from children based on how successful the parent was, and how much they did in thier life to pass on wealth and opportunities to thier children. So, if a parent was wealthy, then the children stand to lose a lot more when they die than if the parents were poor.

But does it encourage corruption?

Everything about this system encourages horrible corruption at every level of government.

Let's start with the BSE accountants. If your billionaire father dies, and an accountant comes up with unilateral control over how much of his wealth you get to keep, you have a perfect recipe for both bribery and extortion. The children could bribe the accountant into ignoring certain assets, or claiming that certain assets were "self-earned". Likewise, the accountant could extort money from the children by threatening to seize self-earned assets if they don't pay up.

Then there is control over the BSE itself. If you have wealth or influence, then inserting cronies in the BSE is the best way to make sure that you and your allies retain thier generational wealth while your political opponents lose as much as possible. Running for office? Have your nephew in the BSE reopen your opponent's inheritance file and "prove" that none of his assets are self-earned. Good luck staying in the race once you're suddenly homeless and unemployed.

At the higher levels of government, it would be in thier best interest to kill off any citizens who acquire too much wealth and power. We saw similar issues in the medieval period. If a person was guilty of conspiracy, treason, heresy, or witchcraft, it was common and lawful for thier lord to execute them and seize thier assets and thier family's assets preventing their family line from inheriting the wealth. However, this lead to huge problems whenever a subject became more wealthy or powerful than his lord, or when a master simply got greedy. Kings would often trump up false allegations against powerful lords and organizations and execute them specifically to seize thier assists. For a more modern context: Remember the time Mark Zuckerberg got called before Congress for making a social media platform that can be used by foreign powers to influence elections? If voters know that a guilty verdict would kill off MZ and redistribute Facebook's wealth or could be used to cut taxes next year, then NOT finding him guilty and putting him to death would be political suicide.

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    $\begingroup$ Yes, if the government is disagreeing with a particular corporation then all they need to do is set up a terrorist attack on the next annual general meeting. Whoops, looks like all the major shareholders are dead, how sad, the government has now inherited a controlling interest in the company and has effectively nationalised it. (With the secondary consequence that no one with serious money would ever do business in a country with laws like this.) $\endgroup$ Commented May 18, 2023 at 22:53
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    $\begingroup$ @KerrAvon2055 I am told that China is facing more or less this issue right now. In the past couple of years, CEOs getting too much wealth have started getting disappeared by the government and it's been driving entrepreneurship out of the country pretty hard... but does not stop them from doing it. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Commented May 19, 2023 at 13:14
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    $\begingroup$ @Nosajimiki Do not forget that powerful people not in the government may pose a threat. $\endgroup$
    – Mary
    Commented May 19, 2023 at 22:11
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    $\begingroup$ @Mary Yes, of course if this system were added on top of a fully functioning, late stage capitalist or feudal society, then trying to strip a powerful families of thier influence could instead trigger a civil war... but this is less of an issue for a civilization built from the ground up this way because it becomes much harder to gain power, wealth, and loyalty comparable to the central government in a single generation. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Commented May 23, 2023 at 14:32
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    $\begingroup$ If you don't have a fully functioning late-stage capitalism, you will never have the resources to pull this off. Central governments could not do this without the information and resources that could only be built up with it. $\endgroup$
    – Mary
    Commented May 23, 2023 at 22:16
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Inheritance taxes tend to be a very inefficient tax because people have decades to find loopholes and so people spend a lot of money on lawyers to evade them, and the inheritance taxes don't collect a lot.

The normal ways to evade them involve corruption, including corrupt charities and businesses, and it's hard to stop those because then your society doesn't have businesses or charities. Family corporations are notoriously corrupt, and they're much easier to set up for the mega rich.

Corruption also mostly doesn't need inheritance to function. It works where government and business interests are aligned due to friendship networks and they give each other favours and perks that avoid or ignore the rules.

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    $\begingroup$ The last paragraph is key. Corruption isn't the kids of rich people being rich. Corruption is regulatory bureaucrats being soft on companies because they know that in five years they'll be working there. Corruption is politicians owning stock in companies relevant to their committees. Massive wealth hoarding via inheritance might be a problem, but corruption isn't necessarily the right word. $\endgroup$ Commented May 18, 2023 at 15:40
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    $\begingroup$ @aherocalledFrog also most wealth disappears from a family in 100 years. The parent make it, the kids squander it, and the grandkids get nothing. $\endgroup$
    – Questor
    Commented May 19, 2023 at 21:35
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    $\begingroup$ @Questor Families are always rising and falling in America. $\endgroup$
    – user458
    Commented May 20, 2023 at 15:59
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The idea is corruption itself.

Eliminating property inheritance in families negates two important sacrosanct rights:

  1. Property rights (nothing about dying says that a person's will or family is no longer important)
  2. The right and responsibility of parents to provide for their children and for each other, even if they are "of age".

Putting the funds into a government moneypot is a surefire way to promote corruption by abetting unearned and unaccountable funds for bureaucratic pet projects, all while robbing people blind of their ability to provide for themselves and their families.

You would also be incentivizing children below 18 to commit patricide so that they don't "miss out" on their inheritance. You're also talking about a HUGE burden on the spouse. Being provided for for 50 years and then suddenly being destitute at the age of 84 or at any age is no way to promote the greater good.

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    $\begingroup$ a very patriarcal vision of society, where a single spouse provides for the whole family, and where the other spouse has to depend on the good will of that person for the rest of their life. (In your example, nothing says that the dead one is leaving anything to the remaining one) $\endgroup$
    – njzk2
    Commented May 21, 2023 at 16:23
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    $\begingroup$ @njzk2 The above pattern applies regardless of family structure. Imagine for example a dual-income household: When either spouse dies, not only is the income of the second spouse dried up, but his or her assets are entirely confiscated. This would be devastating to anyone: You had two retirements, now you have one. When the second spouse dies, same story. People are disincentivized from saving. Material assets are best preserved in families. Every government that tries to interfere with this natural pattern will find itself consigned irretrievably to the junk heap of history. $\endgroup$
    – pygosceles
    Commented May 22, 2023 at 14:07
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    $\begingroup$ this is a natural pattern? most people didn't own their home for most of history. $\endgroup$
    – njzk2
    Commented May 22, 2023 at 21:36
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    $\begingroup$ @njzk2 And here we are. The natural pattern of living and the natural tendencies of governments have often been divergent. Serfdom and slavery, though common to almost every nation and empire ever to exist, are not only not ideal, they aren't even right. $\endgroup$
    – pygosceles
    Commented May 23, 2023 at 4:14
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    $\begingroup$ @njzk2 Oh, I am aware that killing people is illegal. But nearly all people who murder for the sake of gain do it because they think they can get away with it. You are still ignoring the nontrivial incentive this places upon people because the untimely death of a provider is the only way that a dependent has a chance of getting an inheritance under the OP's proposal. $\endgroup$
    – pygosceles
    Commented May 25, 2023 at 20:28
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Frame Challenge: Your Law Won’t Reduce Corruption

You’re assuming that by distributing people’s wealth to the government, this will reduce corruption, but I would argue that such a system will do exactly the opposite. Wealthy people can be corrupt, but often don’t have real power, or their power is very limited. Government bureaucrats, however, do have power, and since government bureaucrats are involved in making the rules, they will use this wealth influx to increase their power, by buying favors, etc. This is human nature unchecked. Now maybe your system tries to put in place checks and balances against this, but checks and balances aren’t always perfect and often have loopholes (look at existing world governments as an example). Passing down an inheritance to the next generation doesn’t necessitate corruption, but I’d argue that taking someone’s hard earned resources and giving it to the government is corrupt.

Another issue you would run into with such a system is economic. If everything someone earns can’t be passed down to their children and grandchildren, this will disincentivize people from trying to earn for their future, they won’t have much incentive to make wise long-term investments, and these things will directly affect the economy of your society.

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    $\begingroup$ The second paragraph is a bit unrealistic. I know lots of people who have no intention of having children, and they are not in the habit of throwing away money or not buying blue-chip stocks. I would honestly be very surprised if people were mostly working to build a dynasty. $\endgroup$
    – jdunlop
    Commented May 18, 2023 at 18:13
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    $\begingroup$ @jdunlop Farmers.... Farmers, most farmers that I know opperate on the dynasty idea... Also most farmers parents were farmers, grandparents were farmers, great-great grandparents were farmers $\endgroup$
    – Questor
    Commented May 18, 2023 at 21:18
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    $\begingroup$ @Questor Yes, that’s a good point. 👍🏻. That’s an example of the type of “long term investment” I was talking about. Many businesses are multi-generational, and these kinds of small, multi-generational businesses wouldn’t exist, which would hurt the economy. $\endgroup$
    – Kal Madda
    Commented May 18, 2023 at 21:44
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    $\begingroup$ @KalMadda I disagree with your conclusion that the law will not reduce corruption. I think it will. Stringing up politicians from trees and/or shooting them tends to cause a reduction in corruption. People have been and still are killed over water right issues, a misplaced fencepost, or a rebranded cow. Farmers/Ranchers will not react kindly to a proposal to steal all of their families land on the event of their death. $\endgroup$
    – Questor
    Commented May 18, 2023 at 21:50
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    $\begingroup$ @Questor Well, you actually disprove your point by saying people are likely to fight against this policy. $\endgroup$ Commented May 22, 2023 at 7:52
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Yes, it could reduce corruption

Though not in the way you think it will.

This idea sounds like a very good way to enact a change of government or population control.

The vast majority of farmers in the developed world (and the world in general) are nth generation farmers. Their parents were farmers, their grandparents were farmers, their great-grandparents were farmers...

Your idea will is to take all of that hard sweat, tear, and blood earned work from generation after generation of farmers and allocate it to someone else instead of the farmers own flesh and blood?

People have been killed over water rights. You think that farmers won't cry bloody murder and start stringing up those idiotic money grubbing politicians on every available tree?

What will happen is:

A) the farmers win and a new government is now in charge without this "genius" law. This new government will be less corrupt because it is not willing to steal money from its people because they died.

B) the farmers lose, in which case food becomes a scarce commodity and people starve to death. See what happened in Zimbabwe--once a food exporter, now a food importer--after they got rid of all of the white farmers in the name of "racial reparation". Last I checked they were begging the white farmers they had expelled from their country to come back. It is not easy to replace the generational know how/ work ethic of farmers. The starvation will lead to political instability and eventually a regime change. The regime might not be significantly less corrupt. But it will be less corrupt in that it will know not to pass laws to steal money from it's citizens because when they die.

TLDR: This could reduce corruption because it will lead to a new government which might be less corrupt then the current government (its corruption evidenced by the fact that it was passed this law). That being said it is a bad idea because our food supply comes from generational wealth/knowledge. And it will take multiple generations to recover from the damage caused by such a law.

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    $\begingroup$ Look at 100 year farms and their history often shows the first generation living quite poorly, sod house, etc. Over the generations, by reinvesting in the farm, the accumulated wealth becomes nicer homes, indoor plumbing, modern farm equipment and better farming practices. People will farm the same land for generations and pass down the knowledge of what the land will do. That accumulated knowledge is quite valuable. $\endgroup$
    – David R
    Commented May 19, 2023 at 14:31
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidR yup, my grandfather was a farmer. And I have uncles who are farmers now. The amount of knowledge that is required to farm successfully is staggeringly large. It is not "throw some seeds into dirt and let them grow." $\endgroup$
    – Questor
    Commented May 19, 2023 at 16:13
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    $\begingroup$ @KrišjānisLiepiņš Yes, there are schools teaching such. However, no amount of teaching can compare to a lifetime of working with the land. The best is a combination of research and living with the land. Part of this is the difference in time scales. Most agricultural research has a time scale of a few years - the time for a graduate student to do the research and write a thesis. While knowledge of which crops go where and how to mix them sometimes need several generations of experience. $\endgroup$
    – David R
    Commented May 22, 2023 at 14:13
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    $\begingroup$ @KrišjānisLiepiņš ... Yeah, yeah we do. My point still stands (PS, my grandpa/uncles all have a BS in agricultural sciences... But they learned more about farming from the family then they did from the BS degree). 4 years isn't long enough to learn the things that really matter, like how to sleep through a storm. $\endgroup$
    – Questor
    Commented May 22, 2023 at 15:09
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    $\begingroup$ I meant to emphasise the point you both make that agriculture requires a lot of knowledge, not to contradict it. $\endgroup$ Commented May 22, 2023 at 16:23
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Here is my 2¢ from the point of view of evolutionary biology.

The desire to support the offspring is present not only in humans but also in many other animals. This drive is fundamental and has evolved as a means to ensure the survival of own genes. Trying to mess with this will not go unpunished.

Passing on the inheritance is a form of supporting the offspring and increasing their chances of survival and reproduction. A society which blocks this mechanism will inevitably experience a number of effects:

  1. The members of the society will be less motivated to achieve anything in their life. Many people strive to be someone or something so that they could pass the benefits of those achievements to their children. If there is no way to pass those benefits - there is less incentive to working hard. This results in a loss of productivity.

  2. People will be passing their wealth and influence to their children long before they die. This will starve the most productive the adults of the resources they could have amplified while they are still alive. This also results in a loss of productivity.

  3. Children will likely get access to resources with no strings attached, long before they are mature and responsible people. Also, the trivial trick "act like an adult and hope that your parent will leave you a bigger share of inheritance" won't work anymore. Again, this leads to less motivation and productivity.

  4. Finally, far from reducing the corruption, the measure will increase it as some adults would go above and beyond to ensure that their children do inherit their wealth. So official inheritance is illegal? Well, then there will be a new kind of crime specialising on illegal inheritance mechanisms. Shooting from the hip, it may look like this: an individual signs a contract which makes him/her indebted to an intermediary on condition of his/her death. Similarly, the children are receiving bonds which are paid out by the same intermediary only when the parent dies. This does not have to be strictly speaking official and recognised by law in order to function.

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    $\begingroup$ "Fighting a basic urge". Good take. $\endgroup$
    – user458
    Commented May 20, 2023 at 16:11
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    $\begingroup$ there are numerous studies that show that "passing something to your heirs" is far down in the list of motivation. In fast the vast majority of people don't inherit anything significant, not leave anything to their heirs. $\endgroup$
    – njzk2
    Commented May 21, 2023 at 12:08
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    $\begingroup$ also, on average, when people die, nowadays, their children are in the fifties, or older. Getting stuff earlier (like it would have been when people died before 50) helps younger generations get started in life. $\endgroup$
    – njzk2
    Commented May 21, 2023 at 12:09
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    $\begingroup$ It would be great to see those studies and how they show that passing something to heirs is far down the list of motivation. Firstly, that would be against evolutionary adaptations we have evolved. Secondly, it is interesting to know what could be at the top of the list. And thirdly, I wonder who were the people who participated in that research. Often, the devil lies in the details. $\endgroup$ Commented May 21, 2023 at 18:03
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    $\begingroup$ Well... I bought my house so that my children and I could live in it, with focus on the children. In all likelihood neither of us will retire in it. However, had I accidentally died, the house or the proceeds from its sale would eventually end up with my family (including children), which is what I like. $\endgroup$ Commented May 23, 2023 at 7:18
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Yes, this idea has several big loopholes.

  1. People will transfer all their assets to their children as soon as they reach legal age. Something close to that, transferring assets to one's offspring while still alive, is already happening to avoid inheritance-related taxes and stamp duties.

  2. People will keep producing offspring as long as necessary to have at least one underage child when they die. This would undermine women's rights as rich men would divorce their old wives when they could not give more children and marry young and fertile girls.

  3. There will be opportunities to hide assets so that government will not find them, and everyone with enough motivation will find those. Ever heard of Panama Papers illuminating offshores where rich people and corrupt government officials hide their wealth? Any limitation to economic freedom widens the black market and shadow economy and thus breeds corruption.

The only way to reduce corruption is to strengthen incentives to choose decisions benefiting the common good, reduce incentives to act for the benefit of personal good at the expense of the common good, and assure people their rights would be protected. Eliminating inheritance is neither, as people have the right to own property and manage it as they see fit, including transferring it to their offspring. Obtaining property involves quite a lot of work, and managing it also involves quite a lot of work and expenditure. Infringement on the right of inheritance will upset people and be perceived as unjust, and rightly so.

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  • $\begingroup$ several countries count gift to children as part of a sort of life-long inheritance, which gets taxed overall $\endgroup$
    – njzk2
    Commented May 21, 2023 at 12:09
  • $\begingroup$ @njzk2 Maybe, but it doesn't make it right. Private ownership implicitly includes freedom of inheritance, and it's wrong to tax or hinder it in any way. Also, in feudal systems, at least in the beginning, all land belonged to the king and was rented to nobles without the right to inherit. That it later changed to include the right to inherit (and, ultimately, to own it) just shows which way is right. $\endgroup$ Commented May 21, 2023 at 16:37
  • $\begingroup$ "Private ownership implicitly includes freedom of inheritance". I disagree. Inheritance is one of the biggest contributors to the increase in inequalities, which I find is much more wrong. Most people don't inherit anything, and inheritance only favors the already very wealthy. Making sure your kids are going to be OK is a noble idea, but it has nothing to do with them inheriting millions when they are already in their 60's. $\endgroup$
    – njzk2
    Commented May 21, 2023 at 19:30
  • $\begingroup$ On the other hand, equal redistribution of the inheritance, at a more appropriate (and predictable) moment of one's life will be seen as much more just: instead of inheriting, if you're in good terms with your parent, and don't die before them, a random amount of money that is typically directly correlated with how wealthy you already are, a society could give an equal grant to everyone when they reach 18, giving them financial independence, the opportunity to study if they choose, and more equal chances in life. More than 90% of the people would receive more under such a system. $\endgroup$
    – njzk2
    Commented May 21, 2023 at 19:33
  • $\begingroup$ @njzk2 You have a point, theoretically. In reality, it wouldn't work for reasons I explained in my answer. Particularly because of rich people hiding their wealth in offshores or other hideouts the government has no idea of. $\endgroup$ Commented May 22, 2023 at 7:46
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I think that was the system during at last part of the existence of the Ottoman state. "Nobody" (depending on how "nobody" was defined) could leave their property to their children and it reverted to the state.

In the early Ottoman period administration was supposedly very fair and honest, and in the latter Ottoman period administration was supposedly very corrupt.

And so naturally I wonder how long the practice of the state inheriting "every" person's wealth and property lasted, and whether it was during the allegedly uncorrupt or the allegedly corrupt phases of Ottoman rule, or maybe both.

Perhaps experts of Ottoman history could say how well that system worked in reducing corruption.

Islamic inheritance law required splitting the deceased's assets among the broad extended family. This affected inter-generational wealth accumulation and is one of the factors hypothesized to have disadvantaged economic development in Islamic communities. Though other researchers have found this argument to be less compelling. See: https://sites.duke.edu/timurkuran/files/2016/10/kuran-islamic-commercial-crisis.original.pdf and https://academic.oup.com/ereh/article/15/2/255/489425?login=false

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If it isn't bypassed then it creates enormous hardship in cases of early death.

Imagine a breadwinner parent dies to accident and there's no life insurance.

Anything that fixes this problem becomes a mechanism for inheritance.

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    $\begingroup$ that's a false dichotomy. It's only valid in a small number of cases for wealthy families (most people don't leave anything to their heirs, especially not if they die young), and it's possible to have a social safety net without inheritance $\endgroup$
    – njzk2
    Commented May 21, 2023 at 12:12
  • $\begingroup$ An actual social safety net breaks this. But anything with a quantity under control of the individual does. So instead of inheriting you could be the beneficiary of an enormous life insurance policy, or a trust, or maybe a prepaid set of club memberships. The point is that it's easy to manufacture inheritance-by-proxy with other tools that all might have valid reasons to exist. $\endgroup$
    – davolfman
    Commented May 22, 2023 at 14:56
  • $\begingroup$ another false dichotomy: the choice is not to either have something that's easily by-passable, or nothing at all. There can be mechanism to limit the opportunities to cheat the system. A trust is an inheritance, so is a valuable membership (see what I did here? you can value it, so you can tax it). $\endgroup$
    – njzk2
    Commented May 22, 2023 at 21:31
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The greatest corruption of all is the inevitable death and decay of our bodies. The government wants to overcome this corruption. In order to build up the country, the government collects the fittest almost-but-not-quite-yet legal adults and gently kills them. They are not yet adults, so they do not have any dependents. The government redistributes their healthy body parts amongst the decrepit leaders. Now the leaders are de-decrepit and can relive their 20s while further developing the country and reducing corruption.

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    $\begingroup$ Organ transplants don't work that way, and even if they did, there doesn't seem to be any relationship between this scheme and the proposed law. $\endgroup$
    – Cadence
    Commented May 19, 2023 at 0:57
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    $\begingroup$ If you don't respect property rights, then who owns you? $\endgroup$
    – bobflux
    Commented May 19, 2023 at 8:43
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    $\begingroup$ The de-decrepitization process is facilitated by consciousness transplantation, not organ transplantation. This explains how the leaders stay in power in democratic societies: they look hip enough to win young voters, but they can also relate to voters who have had a hip replacement. Or do you mean to say that I'm not allowed to perform consciousness transplantation in my fictional world? $\endgroup$
    – skeep
    Commented May 19, 2023 at 11:56
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To achieve your purpose, you need to go further.

Eliminate money.

Permanently storable, freely transferable wealth makes inheritance or lack thereof moot. You can simply give the money to whomever you want.

To protect against inheritance circumvention, you need to make the legal tender inherently time-limited. Weekly credits, not permanent eurobucks.

Eliminate assets.

Remove the concept of assets from your legal system. Make it so that a person is unable to own an object of value, only to rent it.

This will work easily for real estate and vehicles. It won't work for works of art or small personal property. Still, it will make it much harder to exchange these items for others.

Introduce social ratings.

To make sure that people who get whatever replaces money have earned it, you have to keep track of their activities. Are they captaining a Starfleet vessel, or singing bad karaoke in dive bars?

Evaluate, assess, and sell first class tickets only to those truly useful to the society.

Eternal glory to the Communist Party of the Universe, Comrade!

enter image description here

</sarcasm>
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If you can have a system where money is tracked like bitcoin then people could own billions but can't put billions onto their children... you could have an inheritance tax which dissuades people from inheriting dozens of millions.

People will try and hide their wealth in diamonds and gold and all that sort of thing underground and everywhere.

Billionaire children would be found for fraud if they were hiding billions from the parents... And that would prevent a 99% of wealth in the 1% of people type wealth distribution.

It would be very difficult to enforce, but it would redress mechanized inequality without helping corruption a lot.

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    $\begingroup$ This answer ignores the fact that money is a means to an end, specifically for obtaining food and resources. Even if you convert all money in the world into traceable bitcoins the only thing i need to do is buy a lot of a stable resource (copper bars are always needed), put it somewhere out of sight, offer a few to any official that comes to check on me, and resell at a later date. Corruption exists because everybody wants to be in a better situation for himself/his offspring and a chance to earn extra wealth for a "small favor" has appeared before them; bitcoin won't do anything about that $\endgroup$
    – KiraraVS
    Commented May 21, 2023 at 0:24
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    $\begingroup$ If a billionaire family gives 200 million or 5 billion to a child who should only have 2 million inheritance, at best, then copper bars and properties and diamonds can all be tracked. Money is what is perverting the material basis of life on earth, so if you force the wealth to become material, 200 million of properties and diamonds and copper bars would be a very risky thing for a family of inheritors to hide from the law, they risk losing more, besides, incentives to truth and wisdom are not prohibited. $\endgroup$ Commented May 21, 2023 at 8:46
  • $\begingroup$ a lot of stuff isn't tracked and is easily hiddeable, like gold chains and decorative diamonds/emeralds, and they fit pretty well in a ziploc bag inside a wall; you just need to make several small purchases and "loose" them over the years. Money isn't perverting anything, people are, and they will keep doing it with money, bitcoin or even material trade; so as long that there's greed no "truth incentive" will ever overcome a nice secret bribe earned by just not doing anything and looking the other way $\endgroup$
    – KiraraVS
    Commented May 23, 2023 at 21:49
  • $\begingroup$ Money is not messing up anything in the entire planet ?lobbying isn't about money, it's about people¿food quality, clothes quality, folk would conspire to sell bad products even if they made a loss on the fact? Politics and pop music arent money centric? People don't even want money right? So, Elon musk crashes and leaves 180 billion to his family... Someone is going to sell his stocks, buy diamonds, hide them in walls, all 100 billion of them? Against the OPs laws? What about land and properties? $\endgroup$ Commented May 25, 2023 at 22:34
  • $\begingroup$ again, money isn't the problem, it's people greed. money is just a paper we assign value but holds none. in a survival situation the first thing that gets forgotten is money because is useless. if you know that you have to pass your entire fortune before you die as soon as you get your first child you start giving it to him, maybe with gifts, maybe you buy things in his name, it doesn't matter, you have a lot of time, 18 years actually. We already do this stuff now with the small inheritance tax of 10-30%, with a tax of 100% you can be sure people will find better ways $\endgroup$
    – KiraraVS
    Commented May 27, 2023 at 4:58

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