Reuters Editor Shrieks: Tax 'Lucky Sperm Club' to Break 'Landed Gentry'

For Chrystia Freeland, the thought of only taxing wealthy estates 35 percent is "destructive to the fabric of America." The Reuters global editor-at-large went on a ear-piercing tear this afternoon on MSNBC's "Dylan Ratigan Show," stoking the flames of class warfare.

"[The wealthy] were just born–it's the lucky sperm club, right?" screeched Freeland. "I don't think American wealth should be determined by that."

Politics Daily contributor Matt Lewis, for his part, tried to maintain a civil discourse, but Freeland repeatedly interrupted him to interject her inflammatory rhetoric.

"I thought the philosophy was against a landed gentry," asserted an indignant Freeland. "I thought the philosophy was against an aristocracy. I thought the American way was you build it yourself and everyone was born equal."

Dylan Ratigan, who anchors the afternoon program, concurred with the acrimonious former Rhodes scholar that there is an entrenched aristocracy in America that needs to be rooted out: "The premise behind this country was, as Chrystia was saying, you need some mechanism to break the landed gentry, the Rothschild dynasty."

When Lewis, a conservative commentator, made the argument that it is unfair for the government to tax people for dying, Freeland snapped back with a truly bizarre claim: "You're not being taxed for dying. Because you're dead actually, so you're not paying the tax."

Instead of addressing the spirit of Lewis's argument, Freeland opted to split hairs and resume admonishing those undeserving trust-fund babies who are "handed a silver spoon."

Throughout the debate, Freeland simply could not comprehend why Republicans think it's immoral to steal one man's inheritance to fund another man's welfare program.

A partial transcript of the segment can be found below:

MSNBC
Dylan Ratigan Show
December 15, 2010

4:18 P.M. EST

DYLAN RATIGAN: Are we wrong to debate this, though, without considering that we're borrowing a trillion dollars to do it? And should the debate be if we're going to borrow another trillion dollars is the best way to spend these tax cuts or should there be some higher output use of a borrowed trillion?

CHRYSTIA FREELAND, Reuters global editor-at-large: No, for sure and it's also where do the cute come from? The thing that I have the most sympathy for in the criticism of this compromise is the estate tax. I just don't understand the logic of the big Republican push for that. Why is it so important that people who are inheriting five million dollars–that's a lot of money–get a real tax break for that?

MATT LEWIS, Politics Daily: The philosophy says if you earned something, you paid taxes on it when you earned it. Now you're paying taxes on it when you die.

FREELAND: I thought the philosophy was against a landed gentry. I thought the philosophy was against an aristocracy. I thought the American way was you build it yourself and everyone was born equal and has a chance to do it.

(Crosstalk )

LEWIS: Instead of having an inheritance tax, if there was an income tax on the person receiving it. I mean this goes to fundamental change.

FREELAND: I suspect the Republicans would not be excited about that idea.

LEWIS: There's just zero chance that I'm going to have a problem with the estate tax. I would need to make five million dollars before it would affect me and I'm still against it as a matter of philosophy.


FREELAND: Why?

LEWIS: Because it's my money, not the government's. If I earned it, I already paid taxes on it once. For them to then tax me for dying.

FREELAND: You're not being taxed for dying. Because you're dead actually, so you're not paying the tax. I don't believe that dead people can pay taxes. I think it's your heirs who pay the taxes. And actually, I don't think that people being handed a silver spoon is something that's good for society to do or actually even for their parents to do. I think it's really really destructive to the fabric of America.

LEWIS: I actually would not leave them a big inheritance. I don't think it's good for them. But that's my decision. That's not up for the government to decide.

RATIGAN: To stay with the estate tax, one of the premises behind the departure from Western Europe of the immigrants was that you had a landed gentry, an aristocracy, where all of the money was with people, four, five, six generations, who had no incentive to invest that money, no incentive to do anything with that money. In fact they may not have any ideas as to what to do with it. The premise behind this country was, as Chrystia was saying, you need some mechanism to break the landed gentry, the Rothschild dynasty that was leading to the extraction in Western Europe. And isn't the premise behind the estate tax not to tax somebody–and again, I'm the last person to say listen let's give the government more money–but if the fundamental of capitalism is based on those principles, doesn't it make sense to not let capital pool up with people who have no incentive to invest it or do anything with it?

FREELAND: And who didn't earn it, actually! They were just born–it's the lucky sperm club, right? I don't think American wealth should be determined by that.

LEWIS: I do think that there are people that have very good intentions who really think that when you have a society with very rich people and very poor people, that's actually dangerous. It's dangerous for everybody, including the rich people. Having said that, America is still the land of opportunity–

FREELAND: But how is an estate tax opportunity? An estate tax is the opposite of opportunity!

--Alex Fitzsimmons is a News Analysis intern at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.