Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Taxpayers in Revolt, Chapter 3

Taxpayers in Revolt, David T Beito
Blog: Chapter 3, part 3

When the Wave Motion Gun tactic didn't work, Cermak and his cronies (or was he their crony?) went to DC to beg for a bailout (we are truly living on a perverse Möbius Strip). No small-time hack, he swung for the fences by demanding "money now or militia later." The main difference between than and now is that he went home empty handed. Our empathetic modern congressweasels would have sent him back with promises of billions, and the means with which to subdue any further dissent. Hopefully the real militia would be ready to meet them.

Soon after that, the Illionis Supreme Court overruled an important case on the tax issue, which took ARET's trump card away. Beito says, "The ruling underscored a problem that dogged ARET to no end. When forced to choose between literal enforcement of the uniformity article or protecting the power of government, the courts invariably opted for the power of government." But how can we expect anything more of the courts, which are just another tentacle of the state?

Taxpayers in Revolt, Chapter 3

Taxpayers in Revolt, David T Beito
Blog: Chapter 3, part 2

In the face of increasing tax delinquency, politicians (and their minions and masters, the newspapers and banks) predictably groveled, begged, and threatened the public to pay their taxes. One particular ARET pamphlet urging non-payment asked, "Shall I pay a tax which by general admission is unfair and illegal and which by court order is fraudulent and void and which is more than double the amount that would result from a fair, reasonable, legal assessment of the taxable wealth of Cook County?" The answer to that seems obvious. It was obvious to the residents of Cook County as well—a group with a membership of 35 at the beginning of 1931 grew to 8,000 by October, and by June 1932 passed 20,000. Those numbers must have struck a glorious fear in the hearts of the elected pillagers.

But the pillagers still had the newspapers to rely on. While denying ad space (paid ad space) to ARET, the papers regularly donated full page ads to the city government's "Pay Your Taxes" campaign. Donald Duck was on board at the national level.

In their desperation for tax money, some of the propaganda posters asked people to "Pay What You Think Is A Fair Tax." This capitulatory request was met with scorn by Mauritz Hallgren of the Nation magazine. "He sensed in this slogan dangerous evidence of civic impotence, or worse, anarchy." Oh no, the peasants might catch on! Hallgren continued: "This is not only a tax strike, it is open revolt against government. One must consider the present state of affairs little short of anarchy when civic societies feel impelled to flood the town with posters calling upon the residents to 'Pay What You Think Is A Fair Tax! Pay Now! Keep You Schools Open!'" A little short of anarchy actually sounds good to me. The alternative is made quite clear by Hallgren, although maybe not purposely. The opposite of paying a voluntary amount to the city government is paying the amount they say, when they say to pay it, and there had better not be any grumbling or else! At least the mafia works for their extorted income.

So tax protesters are anarchists. What other slanderous label can be applied to them? Irvin Wilson of the Chicago Principals' Club (a club? Were girls allowed? Did they have a secret password?) predicted a Bush tactic when he said the tax strike was the "most dangerous form of terrorism and public disorder." Terrorists! You're either with us or against us, and if you're against us, you're with the terrorists, but if you're not actually with the terrorists, but you're against us, then you're really with the terrorists, so pay your taxes. Why doesn't it surprise me that Dubya didn't come up with the terrorists slam on his own?

So with tax money trickling in and credit with the banks drying up, what could possibly be done? Members of ARTE's board had an idea. Cut spending! Novel. One of the board saw the tax strike as "the best way to guarantee a reduction in costs and force politicians to 'relinquish the powers they have built up through governmental machinery and the allotment of jobs… which have no natural part of government. The only time the politician understands the people mean business is when the money is shut off. So shut the money off!'" I don't think it could be any clearer.

Up against unassailable reasoning like that, and losing ground, the city and it's various appendages decided to pull out the big guns—The Children. You can never argue with The Children. The city began to indirectly threaten to close the schools as a cost-cutting measure, but only as a means to strike a blow to ARET and similar groups, not as a way of actually cutting costs. That would be a little too much to ask. "Prominent educator" George Strayer authored a study that recommended closing schools "as a device to shock the public into realizing they could no longer "emasculate" the school system." I think public education is good enough at emasculation without any help from tax payers or non-taxpayers.

It would have been historical if they had done it though. What would public school be like today if a major city like Chicago had a debilitated—or even extinct—school system? The emperor would have no clothes. Alas, they were smart enough to realize that closing the public schools would have accentuated the fact that there was competition. Some teachers feared that "closure might result in a massive and permanent switch of allegiance away from the public schools." Oh dear, our propaganda mills and brain washing centers are empty! What shall we do? One teacher observed, "There are plenty of other schools in the city for all the children to go to if we do [close the schools] and they will go. There are private schools, there are Lutheran parochial schools and there are Catholic parochial schools." Nicely said Teacher, but observing and verbalizing your own obsolescence and desuetude must have been painful.

ARET called the School Closing Crisis bluff. Peter Foote, head of an ARET branch office, welcomed the money-saving idea of school closure. "Let them learn to sew on buttons and other sensible things for a while." And he was no bystander—he had ten kids (although I would be curious to know what his wife thought of the idea). Others were of a similar opinion. Another Chicago parent said, "If closing the schools for six months or a year is the price we have to pay for the abolition of corrupt, incompetent and extravagant government, I should say without hesitation, let us close the schools." So you get rid of corrupt and incompetent government, and as a bonus your kids don't get the collectivist mind-meld for six hours every day? Sign me up! (You may or may not be interested to know what my wife has to say on that matter.)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Taxpayers in Revolt, Chapter 3

Taxpayers in Revolt, David T Beito
Blog: Chapter 3, part 1

From Portrait of a Tax Racket to Taxpayers on Strike in Chicago. Interesting stuff right off the bat. The crash of 1929 sparked the nation's interest in tax rebellion, but Chicago's revolt had been brewing for years already. According to Beito, the "breakdown of the tax-appeals system provided the immediate spark." So many people were appealing their assessments that the aforementioned insufficient appeals system required an alternative. "In one day alone, 29 November 1930, 4,000 taxpayers jammed into the board's offices to file protest. When the board's members turned a deaf ear to the mountain of pending appeals, aggrieved taxpayers resorted to the only avenues of protest left open to them. In Chicago, this meant court litigation and/or nonpayment of taxes." Avenues of protest—what an important concept, eh? What an important reality too. Do we have any? Before you get all Glenn Beck-y and start talking about changing the system by working in the system, let me ask you if you really think the system would agree to change itself. OK, here goes: do you think the system would agree to change itslef? Well, we have the court system, right? But who appoints judges? Sure, some are elected, but those ones are just peons. The big guns what have the final word are appointed. What is the source of funding for the court system? Taxes. Elected officials who have the power to tax have the ability to fund or defund the court system. How do you think the court will find? For their employers or against? You don't have to raise your hand, just answer it in your mind.

Chicago and Cook county had suspended real estate tax collections for two years following a court battle over assessment issues. Some favored renewed collection ASAP. "Many defenders of renewed collections feared permanent damage to the psychology of orderly taxpaying." Orderly taxpaying! Images of orderly Jews shuffling into trains and showers and ovens comes immediately to mind. I suppose Spartacus drowning a cook in the soup damaged the psychology of orderly slaves, right?

The new mayor, Anton Cermak (if he saw the road named after him he'd be embarassed), got elected on a "limited government" platform (we've heard that before, haven't we? Ahem, Reagan, Bush, etc) but proceeded to demonize proponents of lower taxes. What a surprise. Cermak was supported in his falsities by the press, of course. Beito says, "All five of Chicago's daily newspapers closed ranks against the strike." Taxpayer groups and the like were called undesirable citizens, racketeers, and who knows what else. I guess things haven't changed all that much. The media (or at least media outlets with large audiences) were shills for state (or city) power then, and they are now. I think that may be a little generous. Maybe I should say the (collective) mainstream media is a tentacle of the state. Or city.

And speaking of tentacles, I'll go ahead and say the state is a tentacle as well. I know, you're on the edge of your seat wondering who or what this tentacle is attached to. Well, the big rush to resume taxing everyone everywhere was due to the "need" for the city and county to maintain lines of credit. The banks were becoming impatient. They had bonds and notes from the city that were contingent on future tax receipts, and they wanted the dough. But some reforms (or deforms, more appropriately, supported by "leading bankers") were in order. Instead of an elected board of assessors, they wanted to "substitute a single appointed assessor." And who, pray tell, do you think would be appointed? And who do you think would do the appointing? So the tentacles are all attached to banks. That's the big, fat, disgusting, slimy body. And it smells like Little Timmy Geithner. So the banks pay for their man to get elected, their man regurgitates the required instructions to the media (owned by guess who), and the media get everyone behind policy that supports, of course, the banks. Or maybe I'm mistaken. Or maybe I'm not.

Remember the Socialidiot mayor of Milwaukee and his fear of the lack of government programs? The specter of tax resistance caused the newspapers' knees to quiver. While the papers were running front page editorials (front page!) urging passage of bankster bills and reforms proposed by the banks, the Chicago Daily News was warning that "the danger of violence, fire and disease is so imminent as to warrant immediate preparation of possible invocation of martial law, under which civil rights in a normal community are automatically suspended." (How can you tell that fire is imminent? Shouldn't that person be working for the fire department?) The Chicago Evening Post claimed that "refusal to pay taxes strikes at the very root of government as effectively as an armed revolt." Yes, but that's a good thing. I seem to recall some of our Congressweasels being threatened with the ol' martial law ploy during the recent hand-over-trillions-of-dollars-or-else debacle. My, how things don't change. Lucky for them people don't change much either. "Oh please mastah gubmint, save us from the horrible things like unemployment, recession, global climate in crisis, sickness, death, killer asteroids, black holes, spiders, cold wind, British comedy, and the Oort cloud." Look to God and live. Look to government and die.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Taxpayers in Revolt, Chapter 2

Taxpayers in Revolt, David T Beito
Blog: Chapter 2, part 3

Finishing up chapter two, one statement struck me as odd. "ARET's [Association of Real Estate Taxpayers, a Chicago group formed to support real estate owners, obviously] leaders resorted to something resembling a benefit theory of government as their theoretical starting point. The benefit theory, in contrast to the ability-to-pay theory, held that taxes should be levied in proportion to the services that an individual received from government."

The logical question to ask (according to my own personal logic, which may be different from yours) is why do taxes need to be levied just to get the money back? If you get back the same proportion you paid, why pay at all? I say if you're going to redistribute wealth, at least be straightforward about it and say that's what you're going to do. If tax money were distributed "fairly," it would only serve to reveal the nonsensical nature of the tax in the first place. So then the logical conclusion has to be that taxes must be redistributed unfairly to keep the tax—and by extension, and perhaps more importantly, those who levy and collect the tax—from revealing itself as obsolete.

Semi-related writing from Lew Rockwell.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Taxpayers in Revolt, Chapter 2

Taxpayers in Revolt, David T Beito
Blog: Chapter 2, part 2

So the Chicago Tax Racket continues. Operating costs for real estate owners (remember, they "provided" 80% of the tax revenue) increased, about 2% between 1927 and 1932. Not bad, but income fell 70% for the same time period. That's a problem, in case you didn't go to business school.

With that dilemma in mind, here's a shocking revelation from the book. A 1933 study of apartment buildings in Chicago found that "taxes made up the single largest portion of all operating expenses, including heat, repairs, water, light, and management." Think about that for a minute. What would happen if taxes were taken out of the equation? Either the greedy capitalist landlord would raise the rent in order to make even more profit, or he would leave it as is and have more money to spend on other budget items (better paint, nicer carpet, energy efficient windows?), or he could decrease rent to compete with other building owners who decreased their rent due to their lower costs. So who loses? Gubmint. Who wins? Everyone else.

I think a tax that constitutes the largest portion of a budget could be labeled as grievous. Hey Mormons, remember King Noah? The big gripe against him was his wickedness, and in order to support that wickedness he set up a tax (part of which his henchmen/priests got to keep, kind of like a bribe) that was so grievous that the people had to "labor exceedingly to support iniquity." What would we describe as a grievous tax today? I mean, besides people like me who think any is too much. I'm talking about reasonable people, like Bill O'Reilly (sarcasm alert). Remember his big interview when he made friends with Obama (go to about 6:30)? They dickered about the capital gains tax for a minute and came up with 20% as an OK number. Taxes are neighborly! Huzzah! O-ba-ma! O-ba-ma! How much did Noah tax the people to the point that they had to "labor exceedingly?" Verse 3 says "he laid a tax of one fifth part of all they possessed, a fifth part of their gold and of their silver, and a fifth part of their ziff, and of their copper, and of their brass and their iron; and a fifth part of their fatlings; and also a fifth part of all their grain." Again, non-business school people should be aware that a fifth is the same as 20%. So if 20% was so terrible then, where are we at now?

This might be a good time to break out That Which Is Seen and That Which Is Unseen. What would you do with the money that gets taken from you? The list is as endless and varied as the people who make the list, which gets at the reason to keep what is yours—you know what you would like done with it. What if your employer didn't have to pay half of your Social Insecurity taxes, or payroll taxes, or whatever-else-there-is-in-the-world taxes? Would "rich" people buy more stuff if they kept more of their money? Keep thinking about how that moves down the line, and where you fit in, because I'm going to sleep. But here's one last thought: would you rather have your money confiscated to buy things you didn't choose to buy (big guns, new helicopters, salaries for Congress-weasels, abortions for Africa, new buildings for bureacrats, fuel to make corn into fuel, a nose job for Joan Rivers, etc etc ad infinitum), or would you rather keep it and spend it (or not) how you decide?

Read This

I like Bill Buppert.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

More of Less

Still no blog for the rest of chapter two. I had to take some time off to win the chili contest thing. In the meantime, if you're looking for something to read that will make you want to punch someone, try this article on the Law of the Sea treaty, brought to us by our good friends at the UN and promoted by the fabulous and darling CFR.

I am greatly embarrassed by our senators from Washington. Seriously, which state has a more shameful duo? Maine's have been acting up lately, and there's always California and Massachusetts near the top of this list. So we have to be in the top five, right? I just know those two insensate bunglers would vote for this in a heartbeat. I wish they would come around here and give speeches or something so I could make a big sign with a picture of a pitchfork on it. That would show 'em.