During the house hearing on Property Tax on June 3, 2013 there were statements made about HB 76. Statements like “HB 76 does nothing to stop the spending problem” We hear this a lot and I fully agree that there is a spending problem in education. The cost of education is growing at an unsustainable level. Looking at the cost of higher education, outstanding student loans have tripled since 2004 according to Federal Reserve Bank figures. In 2012, public and private student loan levels reached $966 billion. The long term impact of this is going to severely impact these young people when it comes to buying their first home. It just one more symptom of rising education costs.
The problem with these types of statements is that these statements are not focusing on the issue of the bill. HB 76 addresses an antiquated system of taxation that uses real estate to fund education rather than a system of taxation based on product and labor that is supposed to be intended to fund the NECESSARY functions of government. Those necessary functions are laid out in our Constitutions, both Federal and State. This system of property taxation has become so intrusive and constraining that it is a major contributing factor in negatively impacting the housing market with sheriff sales, mortgage foreclosures, reverse mortgages, etc. all on the rise.
HB 76 and its companion legislation SB 76 addresses the moral issue of who really owns our property. To me, this is the central reason for supporting Property Tax Independence….the moral question.
The reluctance of constitutional minded individuals or those seeking to return to our foundational principles in not supporting this measure is something that has always puzzled me and I think it’s part of the larger problem with why we see so little actually being accomplished. Pardon my allusion to American History but we seem to want Yorktown without the struggle of a Lexington, Bunker Hill or a Trenton.
Over the years, through our own apathy, we have lived our lives like the young Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. When asked for his help by Obi Wan Kenobi he says “Look, I can’t get involved. I’ve got work to do. It’s not that I like the Empire; I hate it, but there’s nothing I can do about it right now.” It isn’t until the evil empire personally impacted him in a clearly defined manner that he was willing to actually take a stand to do what was necessary. Embracing the notion that there’s nothing I can do about right now is an enabling of what may come as a result of our inaction at this point in time. To cite a familiar statement ‘If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem!”
No, Property Tax Independence as seen in HB/SB 76 is not the end all, do all legislation that will magically fix our state but it is a very important part of the strategy to win the war against our Individual, Sovereign and inherent freedoms and liberties. And make no mistake about it, the destruction of our property rights is all a part of this war that, thanks to the inaction of many, the elitism of the few are successfully winning. In most cases there isn’t even a battle, we just surrender.
I fully support Privatization of the Liquor stores. I firmly believe that our Government should not be in the business of selling Alcohol. Yet I find it incredibly ironic that so many will blindly get behind any legislation without any real scrutiny of the legislation to fight for their right to buy Alcohol where they want but when it comes to claiming that you are the rightful owner of your property and no government should have any mechanism in place that can tax you out of that home we find the exact opposite. They have riddled this bill with bullets searching for any minutia for complaint, they have made claims that are simply untrue and they have placed expectations on this bill unrelated to the topic and purpose of the bill.
That purpose: when it comes to school property tax, the most egregious and rapidly expanding aspect of Property Tax, so many would rather do nothing at all, than take a stand for our Sovereign and inherent right to own our property. They are often uninterested in even having the conversation.
It is true that this plan does not eliminate all property tax. Yes, County and Municipal property taxes will still be in place. I would remind you. This isn’t Yorktown, this is the first necessary step in securing our right to true ownership of property. It is an insult to many of us when this claim is made as though we will not continue in this war to put an end to all forms of taxation enabling the theft of property through extortion. It’s not simply a step in the right direction it is a leap forward in the war against property rights that is paramount to our own Trenton where a band of weary soldiers took out the Hessians in their own battle to secure the ownership of their own land and country from the abuses of a government that was attempting to regulate through taxation, every aspect of their life. Trenton didn’t win our Independence so was the battle not worth the fight? Is there a historian alive that will not admit that it was a critical part of winning that war? So again, even though it did not win our total Independence, was that battle not worthy of the fight?
A young political writer at the time looked out over the troops in that cold December and hurried off to Philadelphia to publish a pamphlet that contains these immortal words:
THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated. Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to TAX) but “to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER” and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God.
~The Crisis by Thomas Paine
There is much talk about the loss of local control and this must also be addressed. In my opinion most of these claims are both an exaggeration of what local control still exist and a misunderstanding of how the theft of our property through property taxation actually works. To begin, how can any community claim any sense of local control if the individuals in that community have no control over their own property. If one individual in that community can lose their right to property through taxation than no individual in that community has any right to make such a claim of local control.
The institutions of the administrative state in our government love the property tax and this is especially true in our educational system. Through abuses of the local option they have imposed countless failed programs on our children’s education often without legislative control or Constitutional Oversight. They have done so through appointed bodies who have amassed a body of rules and regulations, most of them unfunded, down to our local schools. Through this they control the local school districts and in doing so they control how much we have to pay for their continually failing agendas.
I would remind any defender of freedom and liberty that our State Constitution places the full responsibility of a thorough and efficient form of public education in the hands of our general assembly through an elected body of representatives. This system was not designed to grant them the authority to create a myriad of Departments, Agencies and commissions and grant those appointed bodies any legislative authority. The mere fact that we have granted the local non-governing school districts a taxing authority at all should be an affront to us. If this is a moral use of governmental taxing authority, why have we not done the same for our community hospitals, police departments and more. We know the abuses that would follow and we were foolish to think that such abuses would not exist through our school districts.
With Common Core the appointed body of the State Board of Education actually has the audacity to boast of the 15% wiggle room allotted to the local school district and then many are actually fooled and ridiculously thankful that the state appointed body has granted them the privilege of 15% to wiggle. If they own 85% of the control, they control you. We might wiggle in that 15% but I guarantee we’ll squirm in that 85%.
Common Core was implemented without oversight by the General Assembly and most of them were oblivious to its existence. So were the people who were being duped into paying for it. We realized immediately the we couldn’t stop it at the local level because inherently we realized that we have no control of this at the local level. We instinctively knew we needed to turn to our elected and representative body at the state level for legislative intervention. Yet even with that knowledge we still embrace this notion that somehow we have local control.
Stopping Common Core will not put an end to the overall problem of the abuses of the State Board of Education and their endless regulations and mandates through Title 22 of the Pennsylvania Code so should we not engage in this battle? It doesn’t address the real problem of education spending, so is it not worth the fight? I would hope to hear a resounding claim that the battle is most assuredly worth the fight.
HB/SB 76 is related to the Common Core battle. For decades the State Board of Education has been able to implement unfunded mandates without legislative (elected) representation. The school property tax is necessary for them to continue to do so. As revealed in the Senate Education committee hearings on Common Core, the funding mechanism they were going to rely on was the “local option” …. your school property tax. A shift to a tax on product and labor disbursed to each district based on their current funding will force any major mandates to go before our legislative body for appropriation of funds where we, as a people, will be more easily alerted to abuse. We could have stopped Common Core in 2010 when it was being planned and imposed rather than wait to learn about it in 2013 after millions in our tax dollars had already been spent in its implementation. It is a battle we most likely would not have to be fighting right now, but of necessity, must fight because there is a school property tax that allowed it to fall into place to fund it without our foreknowledge or control.
Likewise, there is the Pension Crisis. From its inception, any funding short falls were to be paid through the “local option” …again, your school property taxes. Without such an option there most certainly would have been more legislative resistance and concern. Even when reforming Act 1, the local option for Pension funding is still an exemption from our supposed local control through referendum when school districts wish to exceed the limits to their taxing authorities. Without the local option available to them the creation of this lucrative Pension might have played out very differently. Our unwillingness to stand then is forcing us to stand now but even in standing now, will do nothing to resolve the massive debt already incurred. The elimination of the school property tax through HB/SB 76 would kill the need for Act 1 while forcing all new renovations and local school projects to go before the people for referendum restoring elements of real control to the people. It will no longer be the will and whim of 9 people but the control, through voter referendum of the individuals.
The real question of local control comes down to this simple equation. The true protections of the rights of any group is dependent upon the protections of the rights of the individuals in that group. This is true whether it be a community group or a body assembled through representative government. If you have no real control over your own property than the collective community can have no real control over any property; such control must be relinquished, surrendered, to a higher governing authority who decides who will and who will not be entitled to property ownership. This is neither republican government nor is it a democracy; it is an Oligarchy where an elite few make all the decision for everyone. With such power without Constitutional limitations or oversight, which is the true purpose of a republican form of government, our Sovereign and inherent rights become irrelevant.
There is the moral principle that we have no individual authority to grant appointed bodies or our legislative bodies for that matter, to engage in theft and extortion through taxation. The Oligarchy that is created might be empowered through a democratic process but that is merely the majority surrendering the protections of the rights of individual to a higher authority and this is usurpation through mob decisions. Your individual control, your individual rightsbecome irrelevant. When this happens, as has already happened, there is no longer any such creature as local control.
When this happens local control merely means controlling the locals like sheep in a coral who are deluded to think that their ability to move in that coral is freedom as they ignore the fences and boundaries or the inevitable fate of the sheep in that coral. Unfortunately too many sheep in that coral think that so long as the wolf doesn’t individually attack them, then there isn’t a problem. Even more disturbing is the notion under this type of rule is an acceptance that somehow, the sheep now gone from the fold in this coral deserved to be taken as though we have rights but their rights should be ignored.
Isn’t the real reason Obamacare offends so many of us is that its endgame is to remove our choices, our control over our healthcare? Isn’t the real reason so many of us support Privatization because we don’t think the government should control those decisions? Isn’t the real reason so many of us support right to work because we don’t believe the government or any other organization should have the right to control those choices? Isn’t the real reason we have taken a stand on Common Core because we believe that the Federal Government should not be controlling the content of our education?
Why is it then, when it comes to our ownership and control of our property, we see so little real support?
Property Tax Independence will not win the war to restore complete local control to the people but it is a necessary battle in this war and the longer we ignore or attempt to push this down the road, the more battles we will have to fight in the process. It is a necessary step in tying the hands of those who, for the past 50 years, have treated our property like their own personal bank accounts to fund whatever pipe dream they could imagine. It is most assuredly a necessary step in untying our hands and getting us out of the coral and into much greener pastures of true freedom and liberty.