By now, Americans with a modicum of cerebral alacrity have a sense of the attitude among Washington state Democrats toward the immutable right of the people to keep their earnings. You all witnessed the despicable Jim McDermott’s intimidating verbal assaults, leveled at conservative property owners, during the House committee hearing on the den of iniquity and vice that is the Internal Revenue Service. For what is the seeking of “tax-exempt status” if not a plea, directed at our overlords who art in D.C., to keep more of what is rightfully ours?
What Edmund Burke said about the House of Commons in his day applies in spades to a House packed with the likes of Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash. “Designed as a control for the people,” the House has become a control “upon the people.”
And the trend extends to local governments, gone from which are the old-fashioned county governors, once devoted to low taxes and careful spending.
While trying to be neighborly, I made the mistake of being less than reverential about my property taxes in “The Evergreen State,” and in particular, the 51.4 percent appropriated for “State and Local Schools.”
I was informed in high decibels that my husband and I, hardworking both, ought to thank our lucky stars for this valuable index – thousands paid per year toward “State and Local Schools” – for without it we’d be clueless about … the value of our home. (If anything, taxes distort market prices. But more about the curious fallacy of the benevolent property tax, as a price signal in the housing market, in a follow-up column.)
Yes, siree. The bad tempered diatribe then swerved to the plight of local law enforcement, who, my interlocutor alleged, were powerless to police a squatter camp in the North Bend vicinity, for lack of resources. Some believe that twice did a man from this homeless encampment invade a homestead in the community.
We fork over thousands in property taxes per annum, yet, as was being asserted, the police were without the necessary funds to fulfill the State’s only constitutional duty: protecting the people. Naturally, where the State fails to carry out its sacred duty, as is almost always the case, the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution instantiates the individual’s natural right to do exactly what the heroic homeowners did to safeguard life and property: hastened the intruder’s descent into hell.
Commensurate with the value this Washington-state locality places on limited authority and republican virtues – none at all – law enforcement is not even itemized in the property-tax bill issued.
The truth is that the lion’s share of our property taxes goes toward the ever-rising cost of pension and health-care expenditures for state employees and retirees. In this case, the teachers union locals. Government workers, moreover, are covered by rigid, “prevailing wage” legislation. This precludes the necessary flexibility in wage structure so essential during an economic downturn. According to Manhattan Institute scholar Steven Malanga, writing at RealClearMarkets, “public sector unions … have become the chief lobbyists for higher taxes and more government spending in America.”
Malanga underscores that “public-sector unions especially have become the nation’s most aggressive advocates for higher taxes and spending. They sponsor tax-raising ballot initiatives and pay for advertising and lobbying campaigns to pressure politicians into voting for them. And they mount multimillion dollar campaigns to defeat efforts by governors and taxpayer groups to roll back taxes.”
“In Washington state,” notes Malanga, in a 2005 City Journal essay, “the powerful teachers’ union led a successful 2000 effort to win legislation mandating smaller class sizes, promising that it would cost taxpayers nothing, because surplus revenues could cover the program. This year, the cash-strapped state passed $500 million in new taxes to finance the mandate.”
In a Chronicles Magazine article titled “Memories of a Reporter,” professor Clyde Wilson, that great scholar of the South, described how the coming of the Great Society saw city and county governments across the country “blossoming into large bureaucracies under federal bribes and mandates.” In the process, “prudent and venerable crime-prevention methods” were destroyed.
In place of the old-fashioned, frugal, county governor came the “carpetbagger women” and their liberal, lick-spittle men. These sorts festoon most of the (televised) state and municipal meetings I’ve watched. Their pet projects have nothing to do with the small-government values aforementioned, and everything to do with shaping the locality in politically pleasing ways.
Law enforcement? Forget about it. Invariably do the wish lists of our enlightened technocrats run the gamut of more mobile libraries, free health-care clinics, multicultural and youth outreach centers, and public recreational facilities.
As to the last, for the past year I’ve watched a typically lazy crew of government contractors take seven months longer than promised to complete a make-work scheme on a popular trail, from which all users were barred for the duration. I drove past the sorry sight every other day – en route to my new running grounds – and watched as these “workers” loitered about in packs, laughing and gesticulating at their idiot-pads for hours-on-end.
Fridays were often half-days or holidays. Rainy days meant days off. During the same time, a magnificent private development rose across the road from this government job-creation project. That high-end splendor took perhaps six months to complete, compared to the one year taken by the trailblazers of King County, Wash. This was A Tale of Two Sides of the City: Displayed on one side of the byway were the miracles of private property; on the other the profligacy of the oink sector, bankrolled as it is in perpetuity by taxpayers and subject only to the perverse and inverse incentives of the Bureaucracy.
The hideous make-work scheme, funded in part by the Federal Highway Administration, involved tarring a quaint, perfectly lovely trail (and, indubitably, destroying bird habitat). This wasteful monstrosity is fenced in like a prison and paved over like a highway.
In any event, contrary to my interlocutor’s baseless assertions, the alleged lack of funding for police in a rich tax base that pays through the proverbial nose in property taxes is, of course, a result of the perennial and inescapable misallocation of funds in centrally managed, politically driven systems.