Friable Thoughts

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Asbestos Trust Fund: A Taxable Taking?

If the trust fund does pass, it appears it will do so over considerable opposition from the insurance companies and some of the manufacturers. The interesting constitutional issue is whether Congress can force them to pay into the fund.

Proponents of the fund analogize the fund as another tax. Opponents claim forcing them to pay into the fund would constitute an impermissible taking. Now, it is true that democratic governments impose taxes on certain segments of society to pay for alleged ills done to others. However, the fund would require quite a bit of money up front and participants would be required to contribute specific amounts.

So, does that mean that there is a constitutional limit on how much you can tax someone? And, can you preemptively set someone's tax liability to bypass any finding of liability? If so, what's to prevent the government from nationalizing parts of the private sector? Heck, why don't they just "tax" the tobacco companies based on their entire market caps? Sounds a lot like socialism.

U.S. asbestos bill gains another sponsor


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