Biased articles by Bloomberg News's in-house ideologue, Journo-lister Ryan Donmoyer, are becoming so frequent (see here, here, and here) that I hesitate to point them out, but every once in a while one comes along that is so egregious that it demands notice. Today's example is an article under the headline "Return of Estate Tax Looms as Final Impediment to Extending Bush Tax Cuts."
Here is Mr. Donmoyer attempting to summarize the argument: "Opponents criticize the estate tax as an unfair levy that destroys family businesses while proponents of the tax, who include billionaires Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, view it as essential to preserving meritocracy in U.S. society." The opponents get no names, while the proponents are associated with two rich and generally popular famous people.
Lower down in the article, the opponents of the estate tax do get named:
What we would very much like to see is an extension of death taxes where they are right now, see an extension of the zero rate," said Dick Patten, president of the group founded by Alabama lawyer Harold Apolinsky and funded heavily by investment banker Raymond Harbert, the son of a billionaire heiress.
This is almost funny, unintentionally, unless you are Raymond Harbert. The article would have readers think that Raymond Harbert was the product of some sort of immaculate conception: the son of "a billionaire heiress," but with no father worth mentioning. How, one wonders, did his mother become a heiress? Well, her husband, John M. Harbert III, who founded and built a billion-dollar company from scratch, died in 1995. It would have been just as accurate for the Bloomberg article to describe Raymond Harbert as the son of an entrepreneur. But the goal of the article doesn't seem to be accuracy; the goal seems to be mocking opponents of the estate tax. It's outrageous. But it's actually fundamental to the argument of the estate tax proponents, or of higher taxes in general; their argument is rooted in a world view that sees wealth as essentially a matter of luck — "son of a billionaire heiress" — rather than as a matter of a lifetime, or generations, of hard work, risk-taking, and value creation. Never mind that Raymond Harbert has created plenty of value in his own right.
I'm not saying there aren't some lucky multimillionaires out there. The estate tax would hit lottery winners as well as entrepreneurs and their descendants, and plenty of people work hard, take risks, and create value and aren't lucky enough to become multimillionaires. But the treatment of Mr. Harbert in the Bloomberg article is a caricature.