The Tax Collector or Karl Marx

Bill Neinast

As Benjamin Franklin said in a letter in 1789, "'In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."

The concept of death probably came first, but taxes were not long in following.

Way back in the very beginning, land and water were in the public domain.  Both were there for everyone and everything to use as needed.

Animals and humans roamed freely wherever and whenever they liked.  The shelter, vegetables, fruit, meat, fish, and other necessities were there for the taking.

Then alpha males began “marking” their territory. They said, “This is for the exclusive use of me and my family.  Enter at your own peril.” Anything or anyone who tried to cross the line would be threatened off or in a fight to the death with the leader and his family.

Members of the families were “taxed” for enjoying their private domain by having to provide food, comfort, and protection for their leaders.

As civilizations progressed, the leaders began building castles and walled compounds for their families.  As before, those enjoying the comforts and protection of the compounds had to pay a tax.  The tax was to keep the leader in food and skins for clothes, and provide soldiers to protect the family.

One of the better examples of this morphing of the public domain is Texas. 

Until the early 1800s, what is now Texas was free and open to everyone.  Indian tribes travelled through it and used it and its largess with the seasons.   Then priests and others began establishing chapels and villages north of the Rio Grande.

The Indians did not like these threats to their open domain, so they began raiding and destroying the encroachments.

After the Mexicans evicted their French and Spanish occupiers, they began looking for a buffer between them and the marauding Indians.  They found the solution with Moses Austin.

The Mexicans agreed to give Austin parts of their public domain north of the Rio Grande, provided he established settlements on the land ceded to him.  In accordance with that agreement, Moses’ son Stephen came in with the so-called original 300, established San Felipe, claimed their grants, and began moving north and west.

That is why the base document in the title of every parcel of land in this area is a Mexican land grant.  My property, for example, is in the Stephen F. and Henry Austin leagues granted to the two cousins by Mexico.

These grants and subsequent divisions into smaller and smaller parcels came with at least an implied condition that the land is still for all to use.  It can be reclaimed by the government for roads, airports, lakes, public buildings and parks, etc.  Also, it should be responsible for its protection by law enforcement personnel, maintenance of public roads that serve the property, schools that educate individuals originating or living on the property, etc.

So saying that land is “owned” by those occupying it, is incorrect.  In reality, they are renting land from the sovereign.  Their rent is called taxes.

So here’s the perspective.

If you hate paying property taxes, think of the alternative.

The most popular alternative to property taxes was dreamed up by Karl Marx.  He called his solution communism under which all the land was “owned” by the sovereign and a select few would be allowed to live and toil on the land for everyone’s benefit.

So who is your best friend?  The tax collector or Karl Marx?


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