“Been There, Done That” or “Reflections on the Estate Tax”

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1 Response

  1. ohwilleke says:

    One of the best ways to put drama into an otherwise evergreen story is to give it an impending deadline.

    Modern Bride is a far more interesting magazine when it is your wedding that is coming up and you have just three more months to plan it, then it is on the grocery store shelf on your fourteenth anniversary when you know no one who has a wedding coming up. Who knew there were so many ways to drop several thousand dollars on a plain white dress?

    The drama in the estate tax story comes from the fact that Congress is playing chicken with a self-imposed deadline that will repeal the law in 2010, and then reinstate it with a vengence in 2011. The estate tax bill is the mother of all extender bills. It is also class warfare at its most raw.

    This creates massive uncertainty, which the latest zag in the Senate greatly compounds after many observers had thought that Democratic control of Congress and an Obama Presidency had made Obama’s proposal a done deal. Now, we are back to playing a multi-billion dollar game of chicken again.

    The only way the story could be made more interesting would be to find the heir of a billionare who is terminally ill and likely to die in 2010 (ideally with dramatic episodes of dialog between the would be heir and key members of Congress) to personalize the drama.

    Also, the estate tax story is more courtly romance than Modern Bride. While the core plot may be as old as time, the tension is all in the tease — will he or won’t he get the girl? — as they try over and over again but never quite seal the deal. Like courtly romance, the deal never seems to be done as strong intentions are twarted by obstacles at every turn.

    Perhaps not surprisingly, Japan’s best selling romance manga of all time, Boys Over Flowers (54 million copies sold, thirty-nine volumes doled out over a decade in semi-monthly installments, and five movie adaptations and a TV series completed with another movie planned, etc.), involves (1) courtly romance, (2) the heir to the nation’s greatest fortune, and in the concluding portions (3) a seriously ill patriarch. What more could a T&E professor ask for?