Taxpayers in Revolt, David T Beito
Blog: Chapter 1, part 1
The first chapter starts out with a whole lot of numbers, I suppose to provide some historical perspective on the tax resistance movements. I was surprised to learn that state and local governments increased taxes more than the federal government did.
One stat that really caught my attention was real estate related: the value of new residential building fell 92% from 1929 to 1933. This is significant not only because it resonates with what is going on now, and not only because that meant a lot of people in related industries were out of work, but because the real estate tax was the major revenue source at that time. Journalist Anne O'Hare McCormick wrote in 1932 about tax protest meetings, "For the first time in a generation taxpayers are wrought up to the point of willingness to give up public services." Uh-oh. An editorial in The New Republic from November 1932 stated, "Farmers are in fact revolting against this burden in many parts of the country. They are doing so by direct action—they are not paying their taxes. The authorities are, in many of these cases, not trying to collect. That is why armed resistance has not followed." While some viewed this as an opportunity for Marxist thought to take root with the farmers (have these Marxist idiots always been around, and will they never go away?), it was observed by the one observant leftist that the farmers were revolting in order to save private property, not abolish it. Still, it was revolutionary in one respect. Beito writes, "…from the perspective of local and state governments, the rural tax protest may have merited greater animus because, unlike a challenge to capitalism, it posed a direct danger to the state apparatus."
Sounds good to me. I mean, who doesn't want to pose a direct danger to the state apparatus? I know I do. For those of you who may be wondering, that was not a sarcastic statement. But more on that later.