Sowell: Which one is more greedy? The private sector or the federal govt?

Asked and answered by one of the most brilliant players in the game:

Those who are always accusing people in the private sector of “greed” almost never level that charge against the government, no matter what it does. Indeed, the question of whether the government is greedy almost never comes up, so most of us probably never think about it.

The first time I was forced to think about it was some years ago, when a bank notified me that the government was about to seize a bank account of mine unless I took action. Since I didn’t owe the government any money, and was not accused of any crime, I was baffled.

What had happened was that I had received a private grant to help finance international travel in connection with my research into racial and cultural issues in countries around the world. Since the money was not for my personal use, I opened a separate bank account to hold that money until I was ready to go overseas.

Such a trip would obviously take a lot of time, so I had to get my other work and commitments cleared up before I could take off for a few months. That was easier said than done, so the bank account with the travel money just sat there, with nothing being added to it or taken from it.

There are escheat laws, under which the government can seize the assets of someone who has died and whose heirs have not claimed those assets after some period of time. The theory is that there is no reason why banks should get that money. On the other hand, there is no reason why politicians should get it either, but the politicians write the laws.

[…]

Escheat laws are just one of the ways governments seize money. Income-tax rates have been as high as 90 percent in the top brackets. Even after you have paid the taxes on your income and saved or invested part of what is left, the government comes back to take more of that same money, after you die, with estate taxes.

Perhaps one of the most unconscionable acts of greed by government is confiscating people’s homes, in order to turn this property over to other people, who are expected to build things that will pay more taxes.

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