I recall the response of Richard Timberlake, the noted PhD economist, when someone asked him if he was an Austrian economist, a monetary economist or a Keynesian economist. He responded that there is bad economics and good economics.
Good economics looks for the unseen effects of policies that politicians too often miss or just refuse to see. But if there is one aspect of economics that almost any school believes in- it is that incentives matter.
Politicians have pushed for a higher tax on wealthy, particularly the estate tax, as an attempt at fairness. But there is a gap between the intention and the results.
Many would find that frugality and saving for the future is a virtue, and that conspicuous consumption is not. Yet the estate tax encourages the latter at the expense of the former.
If I forgo consumption for investment, my money will likely go into stocks that support business investment, economic growth and job creation, even if the result is that it increases my net worth (if I invest wisely). But if I follow that path I will have to give up a significant portion of my wealth when I die to estate taxes. My family will not benefit from my frugality or my delayed gratification.
If instead I spent that money on expensive vacations, mansions, a fleet of cars, a boat, expensive wines, overpriced dinners, and other such luxuries I will have enjoyed that money when I was alive but I would not have to give up a portion of it to the government when I died. I have lived better and the result to my family is the same.
Yes, my conspicuous consumption would have stimulated the economy to some degree, but it would not have had the long term benefit that investing in growing businesses would have had.
Those who advocate a higher tax on the estates of the wealthy think they are taxing the unfair advantage and benefit that has accrued to the upper class.
What they are taxing are the virtues that created the wealth they now covet.