Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Reich Stuff

Chuck Schumer and John Boehner want to impose a capital gains tax on people who leave this country. Guess who else passed such a tax?

The Reichsfluchsteuer, or Reich flight tax, that the Nazis imposed on Jews trying to flee in the 1930s was 25 percent; Mr. Schumer and his Senate colleague Bob Casey, Democrat of Pennsylvania, want 30 percent. Give Mr. Schumer some credit for creativity, Mr. Norquist; the New Yorker did not just translate, he also raised the rate.Whoa? What's with the Nazi reference? Do we really need to go there?

Yes. It wasn't the Nazis who started the  Reichsfluchsteuer:

Mr. Schumer would surely bridle at having his exit-tax policy compared to that of the Nazis, as would Mr. Boehner, so let me be clear: The Reichsfluchsteuer was originally imposed not by the Nazis, but, rather, on December 8, 1931, by the pre-Hitler, centrist government of Heinrich Brüning, who had a doctoral degree in economics.

As Howard Ellis wrote in Exchange Control In Central Europe, published in 1941 by Harvard University Press, “it is worth remarking that the National Socialists inherited it from Social Democrat supported coalition governments after nearly two years of elaboration.”
Others have observed that it is not the only parallel that can be drawn between today’s era and the Weimar Republic, which featured high unemployment, deficits, and the threat of inflation.
Ellis writes that the exchange control policy remained in place “because it was an instrument par excellence of political power,” and concludes, “the political predecessors of Hitler nurtured an institution which paved the way for totalitarianism.”
It doesn't take a regime as evil as the Nazis to come up with a tax like the Reichsfluchsteuer. It springs from government greed, and often from class envy. And it rejects a principle of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: It says, “Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own” and “No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.” What meaning does a right to leave have if the government is going to help itself to 30 percent of the migrant’s property on the way out?

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