Thesis Number: #2 (Page 6 of 8)

Risk-free Cheating

Few of us are saints. Most people can be tempted to cheat. We resist for fear of being caught. But the cheating that concerns us is the kind that most people celebrate. When house prices rise, we rejoice, rarely considering the bad fortune of the renting families who subsidise the owners of residential property. The inter-generational effects are again illustrated by the culture of entitlements.

In Britain, the cradle-to-grave entitlements provided by the Welfare State are ring-fenced so as not to prejudice one’s capital gains from a lifetime of accumulating the wealth created by others. Take the case of the tax-funded care of elderly people. Those who are capital rich are theoretically supposed to liquidate their residential homes (which they no longer occupy), to defray part of the costs of living in a care home. Outrageous! Didn’t I work all my life to accumulate that wealth? (No, actually, most of it came from appropriating wealth created by others.) Am I not entitled to bequeath that capital gain to my children? (Yes, under the law: which co-opts children into the culture of cheating, such that the virus is transmitted through the generations.)

Home-owners who seek care home assistance have found a way to protect their property wealth. They are transferring it to their children before they request support from the state. By claiming to have a small sum in the bank, taxpayers will be required to fund the whole cost of their care. Meanwhile, their children walk away with the full value of the asset that could have paid part of the cost of supporting their parents (Dunn 2013).

Home-owners who trick taxpayers into paying for their care do not view themselves as cheats. After all, their motives are sanctioned by politicians such as Britain’s deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg. He says that people who “work hard” all their lives should not be forced to sell their homes to pay for their care in old age (Clegg 2013). The statecraft of greed does not censure tactics such as these. Indeed, the fiscal system is expected to enhance the value of land-based assets, even if it is at the expense of those who pay taxes and rent their homes (Box 2).

And so, to divert attention from the privileges of those who stash unearned fortunes away in their land banks, a propaganda war is waged against “scroungers”. One think-tank, the Institute of Economic Affairs, even urges the UK government to “publish the names of every benefits claimant – and how much we pay them” (Littlewood 2013).
Meanwhile, the incomes pocketed by lords of the land are conveniently ignored.

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