Taxpayers in Revolt: 1990

In the U. S., with most Republicans and Democrats united in bipartisan scamship against the taxpayers, only one thing gets the politicians attention: tax revolt. And – despite little national publicity – local rebellions are scaring the wallets off our rulers from Massachusetts to California.

Michigan voters have dumped Democratic Gov. Jim Blanchard’s new education taxes. And the Massachusetts legislature ditched Democratic Gov. Michael Dukakis’s swansong call for $1 billion in new taxes.

In Detroit, for the first time ever, the people turned down demands for more school taxes. In New Jersey, voters are rejecting school taxes at an historic rate. And in Houston, city councilmen face ouster in the next election because of their pro-tax stand.

More and more Americans are fuming about taxes. And who could blame them? The phrase “government services” has become a joke.

Commentators call the District of Columbia “third world.” Residents wish it were that good. The streets are a network of pot holes held together by an occasional strip of asphalt; the police play dice and cards while criminals run free; the teachers are barely literate; the ambulance drivers can’t read maps; and the DMV makes motorists dream of car bombs.

The late 1970s tax revolt passed the District by, but today’s zooming taxes have angered property owners. One group is tying the bureaucracy in knots with mass appeals on new assessments. Another is urging class-action suits against city tax assessors.

In Chicago, the tax revolt is fed by fury not only at higher taxes, but at lush government salaries. For example, the head of what is probably the worst public school system in America makes $250,000 in pay and perks.

Although New Hampshire’s total tax burden is the lowest in America, its per capita property taxes are almost double the national average.

To fight this, taxpayers are trying to roll back the boom in education spending. In Manchester, one anti-tax group ran a full- page ad about school boondoggles and bureaucrats, and afterwards, more than 4,000 furious citizens crowded into a local high school for a budget hearing. The result: massive layoffs in the school loafocracy.

“We’re probably going to be the first generation to leave our kids worse off than our parents left us,” whined the head of the New Hampshire Municipal Association, forgetting that one of the benefits for previous generations was lower government school spending and interference. The head of the New Hampshire teachers union complained that low taxes have become “a matter of theology.” Damn right, and taxpayers don’t want to be sent to Hell in a government handbasket.

As the chairman of the Board of Selectmen in Dover put it, “The attitude of people is, ‘Government is bad, government is not efficient, and the only way to control government is to cut down on expenses.'” In neighboring Massachusetts, the head of the big Taxpayers Association in ultra-liberal Newton said tax proponents are “insatiable. ” We must focus, he said, on all the government “extravagance.”

In Fairfax, Virginia, where property taxes have increased up to 50% this year, Citizens on Sensible Taxation has collected enough signatures for a referendum to change Fairfax’s form of government. The goal: to throw out the entire Board of Supervisors. The government has tried every trick to derail the anti-tax plan, but this has only increased public anger. And a sob story in The Washington Post on “embattled but brave” Fairfax tax collectors had the same effect.

Much of the trouble in Fairfax is caused by higher property-tax assessments, which are tax hikes incognito. But regardless of the assessment, the tax itself is wrong. If the government can seize your house because you don’t pay its extortions, then you don’t really own your home.

As these revolts spread, watch for taxpayers to become more and more confrontational. If everyone from animal rightsers to the “homeless” can milk billions from the taxpayers with these tactics, then the people who pay the bills are bound to try the same thing.

Government is supposed to rest upon the consent of the governed, but the legions of tax eaters have made this a joke. We have no choice but to put them on a starvation diet.