Marriage (How the heck did we get here? Was RE: Did Ed Snowden do the right thing?)

Daniel Fussell dfussell at byu.edu
Mon Jun 24 13:18:20 MDT 2013


On 06/10/2013 03:56 PM, Lonnie Olson wrote:
> On Mon, Jun 10, 2013 at 3:13 PM, Daniel C. <dcrookston at gmail.com> wrote:
>> They already have the strictly legal options of powers of attorney and
>> all of that.  It's not a power of attorney that they want - it's the
>> label of "marriage" that they want.
> Not completely accurate.  There are some legal rights and privileges
> that are still prevented even through things like Power of Attorney.
> The biggest example currently is that of United States vs. Edith
> Windsor.  Current case in the Supreme Court against DOMA.  This couple
> had power of attorney, and lots of other legal mumbo jumbo, but the
> Federal Estate Tax still discriminated against them.
>
> But you are mostly right, there are many states that grant equivalent
> rights under a new name (brand).  Hence the brand withholding is the
> largest part of the discrimination.
>
<rant>
It seems to me that the real issue here is primarily one of taxes, 
especially with regard to transfer of wealth at death.  Yes, the 
marriage benefit of joint tenant in common allows transfer of wealth to 
surviving spouse without passing through probate, lawyers, wills, 
trusts, etc.  This avoids the death taxes that can be in excess of 
50%[*], which really hits the estates of anyone not fitting the marriage 
definition pretty hard.  So perhaps the real discussion here should not 
be "I have the lifestyle, and now I want the label too.  Equal rights, 
damit," to the real issue of, "The federal government is just too big, 
doing too many things it should not, and is taxing the country through 
the nose to pay for it all."

Right now, the two opposing groups are fighting over the definition of 
marriage, and the government sits on the sidelines doing anything 
necessary to keep the fight going.  Why?  Because as long as the fight 
keeps going, nobody will wise up to the common problem both groups have 
of a financially burdensome government sucking the life out of both the 
living and the dead.

I'll admit that it's probably much easier to get a federal mandate 
changing the definition of marriage than it is to cut the federal 
government off at the knees and return the wealth to the people and 
their local states and municipalities (disclaimer: I believe it's easier 
to slap a local politician, than a distant conglomerate of 
"representatives" and executives).  If the fight ever does come to some 
future conclusion, I can only see two possible outcomes:

     1) Marriage remains as is.  Alternative lifestyle's estates 
continue being taxed at around 50% each time a partner dies; essentially 
killing 75% or more of the estate before transfer to the named 
beneficiaries.  A lot of people are upset with the decision, and bad 
blood generally remains between the two groups.

     2) Marriage is redefined.  Alternative lifestyles generally get the 
same tax benefits as everyone else.  Tax revenues drop leading to either 
raising the tax rates for everyone, or eliminating any and all tax 
benefits of marriage.  This includes, but is not limited to losing joint 
tenant in common estate transfer, married filing jointly tax breaks, 
child tax credits, and probably a number of tax shelters like family 
trusts and life insurance proceeds as well).  A lot of people are upset 
with the decision, and bad blood generally remains between the two groups.

In either assumed eventuality, both groups spend a lot of time and money 
on the definition of marriage argument.  When the real problems of 
overreaching government and burdensome taxes becomes painfully apparent 
to everyone, it will be too late to do anything about it.  No one will 
have the time, money, or desire left to start the bigger fight.  
Furthermore, the bigger fight would require cooperation from almost 
everyone (a "We the People" thing), but bad blood between the two groups 
will prevent the cooperation and mutual trust necessary.  And since most 
everyone has picked a side, no neutral group will be big enough to start 
the bigger fight either. Any hope of saving for a future fight will be 
easily circumvented by the increased taxes for everyone, across the 
board.  Essentially, this would be one step from a massive, government 
enslavement of the people, regardless of orientation (now THAT is equal 
treatment for you).

It would be far better if both groups would just shake hands now, set 
the definition aside for a while, and go after the real fight before 
it's too late.  Assuming it's not too late already.  If the excessive 
tax burden goes away, perhaps the definition argument would too.  
Alternative lifestyles might feel content, and not unequally treated.  
And traditional marriages might not feel attacked over something they 
hold dear.  Any remaining issues could be addressed from a position of 
mutual trust and respect.  Other smaller cited issues might actually 
turn out to be the same regardless of orientation.  As an example, I 
present the ability of a partner to decide to pull-the-plug on a 
life-support-dependent person; regardless of orientation, the parents 
and siblings of the individual are the people most likely to be upset 
with such a decision.
</rant>

That was much longer than I intended.  But now that I got it out, I'm 
feeling much better.  In fact, I think I'll go for a walk.

Grazie,
Daniel Fussell

[*] Death taxes are the highest of all taxes because dead people don't 
generally complain; even so, records suggest they have been known to 
vote on occasion.  I've also heard rumor of a study that suggests people 
will tolerate up to 76% total tax of all incomes/expenditures before 
revolting, and that the current tax is generally around 50%-60% when you 
total up all property taxes, sales taxes, income taxes, and so on.  
We've come a long way in terms of subservience from the relatively small 
Stamp Tax and Tea Tax of the past.


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