OF PROPERTY TAXES
By: Selwyn Duke
When North Dakotans went to
the polls on Tuesday, they had a chance to strike a blow for freedom and make their state
the first in the nation to ban all property
taxes. Unfortunately, though, the referendum
was defeated soundly. With such levies having
become a fixture on the American landscape, the proposal was seen as just being too
radical. But was it, really?
say it is property taxes themselves that are radical.
always objected to property taxes because they do violence to the concept of property
ownership. After all, what am I describing
when saying the following: I have to pay a fee on a regular basis to stay in a home or
apartment, and if I dont I will be evicted from it?
is the status of a renternot a landowner.
which way you slice it, property tax is rent you pay to the government. Sure, we dont call it that. But if the effect is the same, whats the
difference? And government, with its
surcharges and assessments, is infamous for conjuring up
euphemisms for its excessive and unjust taxes.
that in my fourth-paragraph question I wrote, I have to pay a fee on a regular basis
to stay in a home or apartment
a good reason why I didnt write my
home or apartment. After all, if I can
be evicted for not paying rent-by-another name, do I truly own it?
reality, our property-tax system smacks of Old World Manorialism, which became
patroonship in colonial New York and New Jerseyonly Big Brother is now
the Lord of the Manor. And woe betide the
peasant who cant pay his rent.
consider the plight of a responsible American family that, due to illness, our poor
economy or the death of a breadwinner, can no longer afford to pay rent to the Big Brother
of the Manor. Their home may be paid off; they
may have lived in it for 20 years. But none of
that matters when you dont really own it
but are just a renter. Theyll be out of
luck and perhaps out on the streets, joining the ranks of the homeless.
all this, many find it unfathomable that we should end our modern-day manorial system. As The New
York Times wrote
prior to the vote on the ND proposal:
An unusual coalition of forces, including the North Dakota
Chamber of Commerce and the states largest public employees unions, vehemently
oppose the idea, arguing that such a ban would upend this quiet capital [Bismarck]. Some big unanswered questions, the opponents say,
include precisely how lawmakers would make up some $812 million in annual property tax
revenue; what effect the change would have on hundreds of other state laws and regulations
that allude to the more than century-old property tax; and what decisions would be left
for North Dakotas cities, counties and other governing boards if, say, they wanted
to build a new school, hire more police, open a new park.
the old where will the government get the money? line. Frankly, I dont worry about such things
because that should never be the first question when pondering tax issues. It should be: where will the people get the money? It is, after all, theirs, and isnt this
supposed to be a government of, by and for the people?