Thomas Sowell

For most people, a home is their more valuable asset. Selling a house in California can make you instantly "rich" in statistical terms for that particular year. On the other hand, that matters only if you move to some place where you can buy another house much cheaper than in California.

My own income rose dramatically one year when I sold my house. But I bought another house with a bigger mortgage, so there was no real financial improvement. Still, briefly, I was part of the kind of statistics that so alarm liberals, though unfortunately not in the top 400.

As a result of inheritance taxes, many people who are left homes, farms or businesses have huge taxes to pay and not enough money to pay them -- unless they sell those homes, farms or businesses. That makes them "rich" -- for that year.

Moreover, any attempts to stop taxing assets that were already taxed when the original owner was alive are sure to be denounced as "tax cuts for the rich." Ironically, all this demagoguery is about people who in most cases are not rich at all.

Even when you look at people who are genuinely rich, there is still turnover. When Forbes magazine published its first list of the 400 richest Americans in 1982, there were 14 Rockefellers, 23 du Ponts, and 11 Hunts. Twenty years later, there were 3 Rockefellers, one Hunt and no du Ponts.

But facts make no dent on those who are fixated on the sacred trinity of race, class and gender.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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