But a work ethic is precisely what the rich have difficulty passing on to their children. The reason the Forbes list of the richest 400 Americans shifts each year has nothing to do with a government money grab, but with the truth that in a highly competitive market, only the hardest-driving highest performers will stay on top for long. I may occasionally envy the wealthy their wealth, but I do not envy the so-called advantage of inherited wealth. More than enough to provide a middle-class life and a decent education does not seem to this mother any advantage to children.
"Will you tell me how to prevent riches from producing luxury? Will you tell me how to prevent luxury from producing effeminacy, intoxication, extravagance, vice and folly?" John Adams asked Thomas Jefferson. Today he might well ask the Kennedys.
Never fear, Warren, the reason there are few rich men's sons among the heads of major corporations or founders of vast new techno-enterprises has nothing to do with the death tax and everything to do with the reality that in order to obtain such a position you have to work hard and perform well. The team is safe.
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.