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Piketty and a minimal inheritance for all

Summary:
From Thomas Piketty in Le Monde The Covid crisis is forcing us to rethink the tools of redistribution and solidarity. Proposals are springing up everywhere . . . . The idea that we just have to wait for wealth to spread doesn’t make much sense: if that were the case, we would have seen it long ago. The simplest solution is a redistribution of inheritance allowing the whole population to receive a minimal inheritance, which, to fix ideas, could be of the order of 120,000 Euros (i.e. 60% of the average wealth per adult). Paid to all at 25 years of age, it would be financed by a mix of progressive wealth and inheritance taxes yielding 5% of national income (a significant amount but one that could be considered in the long term). Those who currently inherit nothing would receive 120,000

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from Thomas Piketty in Le Monde

The Covid crisis is forcing us to rethink the tools of redistribution and solidarity. Proposals are springing up everywhere . . . .

The idea that we just have to wait for wealth to spread doesn’t make much sense: if that were the case, we would have seen it long ago.

The simplest solution is a redistribution of inheritance allowing the whole population to receive a minimal inheritance, which, to fix ideas, could be of the order of 120,000 Euros (i.e. 60% of the average wealth per adult). Paid to all at 25 years of age, it would be financed by a mix of progressive wealth and inheritance taxes yielding 5% of national income (a significant amount but one that could be considered in the long term). Those who currently inherit nothing would receive 120,000 euros, while those who inherit a million euros would receive 600,000 Euros after taxation and endowment. We are therefore still far from equality of opportunity, a principle often defended at a theoretical level, but which immediately puts the privileged classes on their guard whenever one envisages a beginning of concrete application. Some will want to put constraints on its use; why not, provided they apply to all inheritances.

Inheritance for all aims to increase the bargaining power of those who have nothing, to enable them to refuse certain jobs, to acquire housing or to embark on a personal project. This freedom is frightening for employers and property owners, as it would make workers less docile, but liberating for all others. We are only just emerging from a long period of enforced confinement. All the more reason to start thinking and hoping again.

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