Mary Katharine Ham

You want the perfect argument for the death tax? It’s blonde and sitting in a California jail cell.

After all, had Conrad Hilton been unable to pass down his enormous wealth, the Hilton family line might never have turned so dramatically from driven to dilettante, celebrated entrepreneur to celebrity ennui, famous hotelier to just plain ‘ho. Right?

This is what wealth begets, the Left would say. It should be redistributed, limited, corked like so many bottles of Cristal. And, it is true, Paris has not followed gallantly in the footsteps of one of the great early giants of the American economy—a man who managed to put his own name in lights over every major city’s skyline, starting when he bought the modest Mobley Hotel in dusty Cisco, Texas in 1919.

Some call his great-granddaughter an entrepreneur, but that dog’s so far from hunting its head is sticking out of  Paris’ purse. Yes, Paris has her own TV show and may even open a line of hotels, but she’s famous for being famous—a socialite who’s social life has propelled her into a position from where, by dumb luck, she is actually able to contribute to the economy.

Of course, I’m morally opposed to the death tax, even when wealth begets Paris Hilton. Because Conrad earned the money, he had the right to do with it exactly as he wished, and allow his family to build on it exactly as they pleased.

But, are there American heirs and heiresses whose mere existence does not argue against inheritable earnings? Are there some that--dare I ask?—even reflect well on the stock from which they sprung? Are there Americans of name and money who have more to commend them than just names and money?

It didn’t take much research to find that, no, not all heirs and heiresses are Parises, thank goodness.

The Donald himself, for instance, is the son of a well-known New York real estate magnate whom he eclipsed during his career.

"My father liked that. I've known many fathers who cringe when their son does better," Trump has said of his larger-than-life success and perennial spot on the Forbes list of the world’s richest people.

Sure Donald has his Paris-esque qualities—namely narcissism—but his persona is just part of an empire that employs thousands.

Speaking of Forbes, Steve Forbes of Forbes magazine fame and two presidential runs, is the heir to his father Malcolm Forbes’ fortune. When Warren Buffet calls him and others like him part of the “lucky sperm club,” Forbes says:

Mary Katharine Ham

Mary Katharine Ham is editor-at-large of, a contributor to Townhall Magazine.

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