Kinsley puts only one item on the registry - cash:
The biggest peril Americans now face isn’t Islamo-fascism. It’s our own inability to live within our means. It would be nice to give our country the wisdom and self-discipline to stop running up the credit card. And we should try. But it’s unlikely that we can remake the national character (including our own) in 19 years. What we can do is offer a lecture and a fresh start. We should pass on to the next generation an America that’s free from debt. Instead of ignoring it, or arguing endlessly about whose fault it is and who should pay for it, Boomers as an age cohort should just grab the check and say, “This one’s on us.”
Fair? Of course it’s not fair. That’s the point. If it was fair, the gesture would be meaningless. Boomers are not primarily responsible for America’s debt crisis. Blame goes mostly to the World War II generation, which in this regard was not so Great. They’re the ones who notoriously want to “Stop the Government from messing around with our Medicare,” and Boomers are the ones who have been paying to support the last vestige of old-fashioned fee-for-service medicinefor the old folks. The Boomers themselves and their children are more likely to go to an HMO.
But that’s okay. You won World War II, so we are going to take care of your debts, cover your extravagances, and go along with your little pretense that you paid for it and are entitled to it.
Kinsley wants a new estate tax, one that "reaches far more people - essentially anyone who inherits any significant amount of money - but at a much lower rate." Bruce Bartlett has another idea: have "governments to act like universities and actively solicit private funds to pay for public works and programs":
I think there are lots of Americans who chafe at the burden of taxation who would nevertheless be happy, at death, to leave something to the governments that served them during their lives. They already leave vast sums to public universities, so why not extend the principle to other public institutions? I think it's really only a matter of making it possible for people to do so and encouraging them through recognition and honor for their gifts just the way universities and other public charities do now. It's not rocket science; there are already thousands of people working in the philanthropy field who know exactly how to do it.
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