Fair Taxes

Bill Neinast


Every community of two or more unrelated individuals need governance.  This need is for someone or some group to make and enforce rules of conduct.

In the beginning, these groups with rules were called tribes, clans, and maybe even families.  The one making and enforcing the rules was called simply Leader, Head, Chief, Ruler, or any number of other things.  By whatever name, the leader assumed the role by being the strongest, by inheritance, or by any means other than election by a majority of his tribe.

As a tribe’s population grew and it began to build permanent communities, the inhabitants began asking more things of the Chief.  First, they wanted privacy and protection from both their neighbors and marauders.  Then they wanted ways (roads) to communicate with their neighbors.

As the requests and demands began to pile up, the Chief realized that he needed help.  So he called some of the more able subjects into his hut as assistants and advisors and began to call them something like his council.

The council soon realized that if guards (policemen) were to be posted, roads were to be built, monuments erected, etc., all the jobs could not be done by slaves.  Some locals would have to be drafted and compensated in some manner.

The council believed they should not be personally responsible for the compensation.  After a little deliberation, a decision was made.  Make every citizen pay a share because all of this is being done for them.  So, voila!, taxation was born.

That birth was many centuries ago.  In 3 B.C., Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem to comply with the census ordered by Caesar Augustus.  The Emperor had directed that all inhabitants of the Roman Empire be numbered for effecting better taxation.

That bit of Biblical history illustrates that questions of who should be taxed, and how, is almost as old as the human race.

The decisions on who should be taxed, and how, may have been harder to make than the original decision to finance public works with something called taxes.  Each involves an argument over fairness.

Property taxes are considered to be unfair because they place the burden of supporting public works on the backs of property owners only.  Non property owners get a free ride except for a slight increase in their rental rates to offset some of the owner’s assessed taxes.  As the vast bulk of property is not leased or rented, property owners still must pay nearly all of the property taxes from their own pockets.

Income taxes also fail in the fairness game.  Although there are different rates for income levels, with the highest rates levied against the largest incomes, some claim the system is not fair because the high earners still have more money after taxes than they do.  No one, however, offers ideas or suggestions for a rate system that would make the system fair.

Similar arguments are heard against sales taxes.  It is not fair, some claim, to have poor people pay taxes  on things they need.  The rich can afford those taxes that we cannot, and they should be supporting us down here in poverty.

A man of the 19th Century had an answer for all this unfairness of taxation.  Karl Marx believed that if all property was owned by all the people, there would be no need for taxes.  The council, as the government was called by those Chiefs of old, would simply receive all the produce from all the property and distribute it equally among every one.

Russia, China, Cuba, Venezuela, and others have tried and are still trying that altruistic approach.  The results of those grand experiments do not need elaboration here.

So here’s the perspective.

Fortunately, there are only a few types like Bernie Sanders who want to try the Karl Marx plan here.  Obamacare was a first step in that direction, but history has repeated itself and it seems that the single payer system is on the same path with Stalin’s Russia.

That leaves Texas with the “unfair” property and sales taxes.

To become more fair, it may be time to look at what some other states are doing.  These are the states that collect property, income, and sales taxes.  Combining three unfair tax systems might distribute the tax load a little more evenly.

Would that be more fair?

This is not a recommendation.  Just thinking.


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