"I have to believe in a world outside my own mind. I have to believe that my actions still have meaning, even if I can't remember them. I have to believe that when my eyes are closed, the world's still there. Do I believe the world's still there? Is it still out there?... Yeah. We all need mirrors to remind ourselves who we are. I'm no different."
Leonard Shelby, the film's hero, takes pretty much no utility from his vengeance. He is almost immediately dead to the consequences of his actions. However, he still wishes to do right by those he loves. Whatever we think about his seeking vengeance who would quibble with the idea that when we close our eyes the world is still there?
I don't think it is too much of a leap from what happens to Leonard when he forgets whatever he has done to ourselves when we die. Our eyes have been closed but the world is still there. The interests of the dead continue to exist after they have died and should be respected. Inheritance Tax is not a tax on the unearned wealth of the person inheriting any more than income tax is a tax on unearned wealth if the income is to be spent on providing for children. It is a tax on the dead who earned that wealth while living.
Inheritance Tax is a particularly egregious attack on the interests of those who die because it strikes not only at the financial security they wish to provide for those left behind but also at the home that they all shared. The family home is a crucial part of the stability that many people, when considering their own deaths, would want their family to be able to maintain for as long as they felt it necessary. A tax bill of tens of thousands of pounds that forces them into a hasty sale of their home and the fresh trauma of relocation is an alarming prospect to anyone considering the fate of those they care about.
The idea of a tax on the interests of the dead isn't some abstract, academic ethical argument. I think it underlies massive popular hostility to the Inheritance Tax. It is why the arguments of Labour politicians and many left-wing intellectuals continually fail to move the public on this issue. The same utilitarian minds that conceived of happiness economics cannot reconcile themselves to the idea that people care so much about something that will bring them no personal happiness. This is an issue where conservative principles are much more in touch with the intuitive understanding of ordinary people. They don't think that around half of one percent of government revenue - 16% of which the European Central Bank believe is wasted - is worth the price of their family facing additional hardship when they are first unable to look after them directly. Pretty understandable really.
In the end, even if you don't share the outlook of those who consider the world after they have died so important isn't the instinct still noble? Isn't caring so much about something you'll never see humanity at its best? For so little revenue, so little benefit to those public spending is supposed to help, is it worth taking a swipe at this supreme expression of the familial bond?
I don't think so.