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For the last few years, this columnist has warned about the deterioration of the overall United States infrastructure. The last major activity in the building of highways, bridges, repairing aging dams, oil, and natural gas pipelines, etc. occurred during the Administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. At that time, he was gravely concerned with the possibility of a “two-front war,” at the height of confrontation with the Soviet Union, and Mao’s Communist China.
Since then, a string of U.S. Presidents has ignored this badly-needed upgrading, by getting involved in foreign wars, giving the EPA the power of uncontested regulations, and allowing the nation to sink into ever deeper debt. All this while such potential antagonists as Russia, China, Iran, and even Turkey, are models of infrastructure rebuilding. This neglect has allowed America’s infrastructure to resemble that of a third-rate nation, where dictatorial governments have ignored the urgency of directing available funds into areas that suit their monetary demands.
Acquaintances of mine, who recently visited Russia, China, and even India, report that the U.S.’s railroad tracks, highways, etc. are being far surpassed by what other nations call America’s early 20th-century infrastructure approach.
This neglect, even during the superior Reagan Administration, allowed 55,000 bridges which required repair, to be ignored. During this long time of neglect, American Administrations were finding different ways to spend public money on regulatory nonsense, while letting our national debt exceed $20 trillion, and head even higher. The recent collapse of a major Florida bridge may make enough headlines to force President Trump to focus on bridge repairs before the thousands of potential future incidents cause a national catastrophe.
The U.S. Senate voted in 2009 to spend more than a trillion dollars intended for a significant infrastructure upgrading, President Barack Obama ignored this directive, while simultaneously getting the nation into ever deeper debt. He also allowed America’s export/import trade treaties to generate even higher deficits. One of the most heinous derelictions came about when billions were spent on creating “climatological purity,” while giving the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unlimited authority to throttle America’s industrial development capability.
Whether because of extreme climatological approaches, or a distorted belief system in general, America’s infrastructure may be in a state of near collapse. If public opinion does not wake up Washington, D.C.’s sense of urgency, the current year will end with an intermediate series of increasing crises.
Is Death Tax More Dangerous than Tariff Control?
There is much misunderstanding of the so-called “death tax,” due to its destructive impact on family-owned independent businesses. These key business establishments had once been the crux of America’s embryonic industry, evolving into the world’s most powerful manufacturers, and technologically inventive business structures the world has ever seen.
Going back to World War I, and multiplying in World War II, to raise critical “war-waging” funds the respective governments at the time found individually-owned business as a quick way to secure the necessary funds for guns, ships, and airplanes. Those items were increasingly needed as both wars progressed, to help the U.S. Armed Forces and America’s allies’ shortcomings.
Unfortunately, in typical government fashion, this fundraising was maintained during FDR’s early 1930’s massive infrastructure. Also, the fundraising eventually financed such advanced concepts as nuclear warfare and even the nation’s future space exploration.
This unlimited source of federal funds, needed to fulfill these purposes, found the fast-growing privately-owned businesses as a convenient objective, originally meant to squeeze enormous amounts for monetary necessities.
Since the U.S. commitment to rebuild the destruction of World War II, friends and foe alike, the U.S. Government found it convenient to put the world’s highest taxes on such multi-billion dollar, private businesses. It continued to maintain these huge tax funds; derived from previous 20th-century wars, but added privately-owned taxation into the already exorbitant taxation placed upon the death of the owners, to be paid by the recipients.
The continuation of this unfair squeeze has hit the family inheritors with double taxation since heavy taxes had already been paid during the targeted previous businesses’ life.
While even the 1987 Ronald Reagan/Tip O’Neill tax structure did not choose to end this taxation, once limited to war crises, today’s inheritors are forced to come up with these transfer payments continually.
Although President Trump’s recent tax structure slightly improved the percentages to be deducted, the very size of these massive “independents” has left the inheritors with crushing tax bills, enough to break the future viability of these firms.
This situation has forced many aging ownerships to “sell out” to large international conglomerates to save the “treasury-busting’” taxes, with which the next generation is inheriting. In the case of the current tax program, even President Trump is personally hit financially by such unfair tax implications. But he held back on doing away with the “death tax” totally, so as not to dismantle the current tax bill in the House and Senate.
Perhaps moderation will prevail in the future. In the meantime, many independent businesses find themselves better served by a “sell out” before the Treasury tax collectors continue to chop up the hard-won inheritance, which could mean coming to the ultimate breaking point.