DEATH DUTIES FOLLY
SIR,—As Mr. P. E. Roberts rightly suggests, the policy of expropriating hereditary landowners by means of taxation—a policy which has been long in operation and is now reaching its climax and (?) successful conclusion in Mr. Dalton's further increase in the already completely crippling Death Duties—involves the passing of a great tradition and the sacrifice of certain things which, by reason of their cultural value, are of national importance. This sacrifice, moreover, is quite unessential to the removal of ancient abuses based on privilege, which undoubtedly have no place in a just and progressive social order. It is, however, a strange and perhaps rather grim fact that the chief sufferers under the policy of confiscation by taxation are themselves so largely to blame for their fate. In earlier days they were too lacking in imagination, and at times, I am afraid, too heartless ; also too mentally indolent and defi- cient in political wisdom to seek for, and put into effective operation, policies whereby the grievous burdens of many of the weekly wage- earning class could have been adequately lightened without the sacrifice of things which, on the condition of a right stewardship, they might legitimately have been allowed to retain.
With singular blindness they gave their support to political parties so dominated in financial matters by orthodox ideas that they were incapable of helping the poor without robbing the rich ; with the result that, even when in office, they did nothing to lighten taxation-burdens imposed by previous governments of a different school of political thought. Even at the present time, the advocacy of new financial methods which would not help one class at the expense of another, but instead would help all classes, is received by those who have lost so much either with bored indifference or with an unreasoned suspicion and hostility, never by any chance defended by any attempt at weighty argument. Thus it comes about that those who can neither defend their own interests nor concern themselves, as they should, with the interests of others, become the unresisting prey of politicians of the Left—too uncultured to realise the value of what they are destroying ; too ambitious and petty-minded to forgo the chance of a vote-catching appeal, based on the desire for class revenge ; and themselves too enslaved by orthodox ideas on monetary policy to be able to conceive of any method whereby Paul can, or should, be helped without robbing Peter, and blind to the possibility of there being any major source of Government revenue other than that provided by the taxpayer.—Yours very truly, BEDFORD. Crowholt, Woburn, Bletchley, Bucks.