Friday, April 8, 2011

Abolish Property Tax Now!

Thames Tow Boat Company, New London, CT, 1975. Source: Wikimedia, public domain.

Imagine you are a rancher, on 10,000 acres, about what is needed to have a profitable Cattle ranch. You and your fathers have lived on this land for many generations, essentially since there were Europeans in the area. You don't have any debt, and you wake up every morning to a Montana sunrise against the rockies before a hard day of work.

Unfortunately, a bunch of wealthy Los Angelinos find out about these beautiful Montana sunrises, and move in to megahouses just next door. Your property values go through the roof. The government forces you to sell, as otherwise you can't pay your taxes. You never really owned the land to begin with.

Then we cry and scream about poor people who can take out loans that they can never pay off, but if those poor peoples property values ever went up, they would be driven off their land anyways, and at least they KNOW how much the bank will charge them (or think they know.) But why should they have a balanced checkbook? What benefit do they get? Why should they work hard and save when nothing truly qualifies you as an owner.

And then there are city councils that limit what you can do with your land, telling you you can't raise chickens, you can't raise horses, you can only have two dogs. People next to you decide that because they want high property values, they can tell you what to do with YOUR land. I think if George Washington saw modern suburbia, he would be perfectly ashamed.

And no, I'm not a property owner myself. I live in a 15 by 15 foot room that I rent, and I am offended and ashamed that my country, which call itself the "land of the free, home of the brave" destroys freedom and cowardly avoids productive activity in the name of land values. This is cowardice, and slavery, both.

These behaviors finally culminated in the Kelo decision. The city of New London, a long eclipsed New England city that was once a powerhouse of industry, decided it was going to make "hard choices" to improve its economy. Naturally, these choices were made with other peoples land. They took, by eminent domain, land from many owners, including Kelo, who challenged the constitutionality of this decision. By a narrow majority, the Supreme Court ruled that it was constitutional for the "public use" of reselling to a developer who will make "better purpose" of the land. In a twist of irony, the taken lands are now unused and fenced off, a decaying brownsfield, and I cannot help but think that the wrath of God is at work.

But then there's practicality. Supporters will argue that property taxes are neccesary for the funding of city coffers, but in reality property taxes are a very unreliable source of revenue that have impoverished far more cities then they have made wealthy. The desolation of the inner cities in the 1950's occurred because of wealthy whites fleeing the city, causing land values to fall rapidly. The city then raised property taxes, driving out business, and impoverishing it further. And it is not high property values that define a city. Rather, a city is defined by being the best place for business, a place to buy and sell, manufacture, import and export, a distribution center is the essence of a city, so why not tax THAT? The overall tax burden need not increase, in fact a thorough review of city budgets in the current political climate will likely lead to cuts.

In reality, property taxes serve no one but the wealthy attempting to eliminate the "riff raff" of their town, and those with a vested interest in delegitimizing the right to property. It violates the natural and legitimate right of property, harms the poor by providing subpar, underfunded city services, and encourages a mentality that can lead only to tyranny.


Watrewoman said...

BRAVO! I live in Greeneville, TN. If your property is deemed needed by the county for the greater good of the community, it can be taken whether you want to sell or not!

Jeremy Janson said...

Yes I've heard about that. A lot of states passed laws against the Kelo ruling, a total of 42 either passed or already had such laws on the books, but 8 didn't. It's sad how little people care about freedom now.

n2woods said...

Like Montana, in Florida elderly people find their home values increasing beyond their ability to pay. Florida attempted to keep that from happening too quickly by ensuring property taxes cannot increase beyond 3 or 5% per year. Still, many people loose the home, ranch or farm that they owned for generations or all their life for no other reason than property values increased.

Direct taxation was against is against the constitution and if you look into it, the income tax amendment was never ratified by the states, therefore it is not officially an amendment to the constitution *but why let technicalities get in the way.

The Spirit of the Law written around 1748 is a large volume with such an exhaustive understanding of history and knowledge that our modern day professors could scarcely compare to the author's expertise. Considering what pains it took for those living in the American colonies to obtain and read books from Europe, our founding fathers did more than their due diligence in obtaining the knowledge necessary to invent our constitutional republic since they read that book and many others on Roman history, the Bible and many political theory tombs.

Why we think we can do better still astounds me.

Acworth GA