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Your home’s property taxes: “They are called special interests for a reason”

Guest commentary from grass roots activist Ron Boltz, and first published at www.papra.org:

They’re called “special interests” for a reason. Of course I’m referring to the scores of lobby groups in Harrisburg who often fight against good ideas or good legislation, or push for bad ideas and legislation, depending upon how it affects them personally or the relatively small group which they represent. The degree to which a proposal helps or hurts others or our State is often irrelevant to special interests. Following the money is almost always the path to an explanation that might otherwise not make much logical sense, and then the true motivations become clear. It’s the same as it ever was.

While this is nothing new, it’s nonetheless very frustrating when these lobby groups unashamedly flip their talking points when it benefits them to do so, completely contradicting statements they’ve made previously. Such is the case with the PA Chamber of Commerce and the Tax Foundation’s recent proposal to overhaul Pennsylvania’s tax structure.

When lobby groups oppose ideas that are popular with the public, they often conjure up phony “reasons” to justify their opposition rather than openly stating their real objections. We’ve seen this time and time again with The Chamber and their refusal to even consider school property tax elimination. Americans for Prosperity and The Commonwealth Foundation also joined them with disappointingly weak excuses of their own.

For example, The Chamber says things like “we can’t tax diapers!” and “we have to fix the cost drivers first”. AFP had their all-encompassing “we don’t support tax shifts”, and Matt Brouillette loved his dumbed down “left pocket-right pocket” analogy in an attempt to use bumper sticker politics to demonize elimination. For those who haven’t heard it, let me explain so you can understand what we’ve been dealing with.

Matt would say something similar to “it doesn’t matter if you take money out of your left pocket or your right pocket, you’re still paying and it’s still money coming out of the economy”. This was his attempt at bashing SB 76, which is being proposed as a revenue-neutral school property tax elimination plan that would shift the burden to the income tax and the sales tax. He was trying to imply that we would be no better off under such a plan, and everybody would be paying the same regardless. This type of talking point may resonate with some, but it’s easy to blow holes in his analogy.

His own example basically says that he doesn’t believe tax policy matters. According to Matt, if it’s the same amount of money collectively, then it’s irrelevant how the money is taken from us. Of course we do know that tax policy matters, especially when we’re talking about how many “pockets” we’re taking the money from. SB 76 expands the tax base, which is extremely important. It also matters how much money we’re taking out of each pocket.

If we take $1 out of the pocket of someone who has $10, we’ve taken 10% of his or her earnings. If we take the same $1 out of someone who has $100, we’ve only taken 1% of that person’s earnings. This is the nature of the property tax. It applies different rates to everybody, is not based on our income, and it’s also very regressive.

During my travels, I met a single mother in Monroe County who is forced to “contribute” 14% of her income toward her school property taxes. Last week I spoke to a woman in Lancaster County who, since the reassessment that took place there, is now paying a full 25% of her and her husband’s income in property taxes.

This scenario plays out everywhere across the state. The only way to solve this is to completely eliminate the school property tax and replace it with a broader-based method that applies the exact same tax rates to everybody, regardless of where you live. The property tax system cannot be fixed, and it can never be “fair”. Our opposition knows this to be true, but they avoid talking about these things in their defense of the status quo.

Putting all of this aside, if Mr. Brouillette truly believes it doesn’t matter which pocket the money comes from, then why is he fighting against it? If he really believes nobody would be better off, then he also has to be believe that we would also not be any worse off. Of course, my opinion is that Mr. Brouillette doesn’t believe his own talking point. He knows tax policy matters. For the record, I like Matt, and I find some of the data C.F. puts out to be very helpful. But they are wrong on this issue. Matt is no longer with C.F., but others in the organization also oppose school tax elimination.

We’ve always known that The Chamber really doesn’t care about taxing diapers, and we know their supposed opposition to expanding the sales tax base because “it hurts the lower income folks” is just playing politics. Their true opposition to property tax elimination would not earn them many accolades if publicly stated, so they join the PSEA and the PSBA in using emotional scare tactics. But now their new plan points out their own contradictions and makes it very clear that they are willing to make exactly the same opposing arguments if it means benefiting themselves.

As I give a few examples, I want to make it clear that the purpose is to highlight their contradictions and show that they really don’t mean what they say in regards to why they oppose school property tax elimination. I will not opine as to whether or not any of their proposals would be good or bad for Pennsylvania’s economy, and I’m not trying to invoke a class warfare argument. In order to have a productive debate, it’s necessary to talk about how different people will be affected, and it’s also necessary to talk about the relative fairness of our tax systems. That isn’t class warfare. It’s simply honest discussion, which is something in which our opposition has thus far refused to engage.

Included within the Chamber’s proposal is an array of options that include rate changes, tax eliminations, and the levy of new taxes. In other words…a myriad of tax shifts. There is no mention of any type of “cost controls” among their tax shifts plans, so I suppose that critique only applies to things they oppose, and not their own ideas. For the record, SB 76 does include spending controls, and I have long held that we will never get cost controls until we get spending controls. The reason we don’t have real pension reform or prevailing wage law elimination is because the state legislature, who mandates these things, gets to punt the responsibility for paying for them down to the school boards and the homeowners.

There is no accountability in the current system, and therefore no incentive to change it. How these lobby groups, who have been around politics for as long as they have been, cannot recognize this reality is beyond me. Perhaps spending so much time inside the Capitol courting politicians has clouded their vision. Perhaps they don’t know how politics really work after all this time, or maybe they really don’t want to see these problems resolved. I’ll let you ponder that on your own, but their “cost control” philosophy is akin to continuing to hand money to the irresponsible while asking them very nicely to curtail their bad habits, with no consequences when they refuse.

Our philosophy, on the other hand, is to stop asking a group of people who have shown no willingness to control themselves, to please control themselves, and instead just cut off the money in order to force the issue. The property tax makes all of this overspending possible and is how they escape accountability. Eliminate the scapegoat, restore accountability, and watch as these things magically begin to be addressed in a meaningful way. Until then, be prepared to continue to watch the pension problem get far worse, property taxes continue to skyrocket, and the finger-pointing to resume with nothing being done.

Getting back to the Chamber’s proposal – They call for a lowering of the Corporate Net Income Tax from 9.99% to 5.99% or 6.99% (depending on the option), and the elimination of the Gross Receipts Tax on businesses. To pay for this, the plan calls for an expansion of the sales tax base, a new local income tax, and the first ever tax on retirement income. It says that the new retirement tax revenue could be used to “buy down” the PIT (Personal Income Tax) rate to 2.5%, but says that it would be “better used as a pay-for to reduce less competitive tax rates elsewhere.”

In other words, the Chamber wants retired seniors to pay a new tax in order to lower business taxes. But don’t fret, seniors…they’re generous enough to entertain the possibility of using some of the new retirement tax to expand rent and property tax rebate programs for some seniors. But seniors won’t be the only losers in the Chamber’s tax shift. They also propose a local income tax on working families as a way to eliminate the Gross Receipts Tax.

Would these organizations please tell me again their views on redistribution of wealth, tax shifts, and the creation of new “winners and losers”? Pardon me for noticing some contradictions to what they claimed were their opposition to school tax elimination. Let’s examine a few of their talking points, and how they are seemingly no longer a concern when it comes to their own proposal(s).

The creation of winners and losers

They claim school tax elimination would just create new winners and losers. Our response is that the property tax system is responsible for creating winners and losers in the first place, for far too many reasons to list here. Everyone knows this to be true. Our proposal actually fixes this scenario by expanding the tax base from mostly just homeowners to everyone in the state who has an income, and to everyone who buys things (including tourists). In other words, everyone contributes. It also treats every taxpayer exactly the same by applying the same rate to their income, and the same sales tax rate to the same items and services. No more winners and losers paying different rates with enormous disparity an inequities.

While they love to use this talking point to criticize our school tax elimination proposal, they conveniently ignore the winners (businesses) and losers (senior citizens and working families) in their plan. Of course they will tell us that when businesses win, we all win, but I could say the same. When homeowners “win” with more disposable income, then businesses and the economy will also win. Businesses also win by making the entire state a KOZ (Keystone Opportunity zone) rather than the state picking the winners and losers. The Independent Fiscal Office report agrees.

The Stability of the tax

The Chamber, and virtually all of the public school lobby organizations, love to say that property tax revenue is “stable”, while other revenue from other sources is not. Therefore, they say, we cannot eliminate it. We always ask “stable for who?” For the tax collector? I suppose when you can constantly raise the rate, and with the threat of losing one’s home, the tax collector could view the property tax as stable. But what about the taxpayer? Is it stable for them? Absolutely not.

While the Chamber praises the property tax and touts it’s supposed stability, it has contradictory views of other taxes. In one section of their plan, they write about how governments tend to favor the Gross Receipts Tax because it produces large and stable amounts of revenue. It then goes on to say:

“…this revenue stability, however, does not outweigh the tax’s economic harm”.

Why then, does the Chamber love the property for providing the government with large and stable amounts of revenue, but then overlook the harm it does to the homeowner and the economy? Why does the same critique not apply to the property tax?

From the viewpoint of the taxpayer, the sales tax and the income tax are far more stable. Consider that the income tax in Pennsylvania has only been raised one time in the past 26 years. There was a 0.17 percentage point increase in 2004. The change previous to that was actually a lowering of the rate. That sounds pretty stable to this writer.

Even more stable is the sales tax, which has been 6% since 1968, but yet each of these taxes have continued to generate more revenue through natural growth, and they do so without the need for constant rate increases. I think we can all agree that Harrisburg has had no trouble spending more of our tax dollars in nearly every annual budget, and they do so mainly using these two funding sources. The Chamber’s report even touts the stability of the sales tax with this statement :

“Between 1999 and 2017, inflation-adjusted collections only diverged from the overall period’s average by more than 3 percent three times: once, when collections dropped in 2010, and again in 2016 and 2017, when collections comfortably exceeded the average”

While state revenues may decline temporarily during economic downturns, these periods are relatively short-lived, and the time spent in the black far outweighs the time spent in the red. In an Independent Fiscal Office report to Rep. Pashinski on August 16th of this year, there is a chart comparing the income tax growth rate to the property tax growth rate. This is a chart showing growth rate increases and decreases, so when the line goes down on the chart, it doesn’t represent a revenue loss until it goes below zero. Until then it’s still growth, and history shows the overwhelming majority of time is spent above zero. Legislators either don’t understand this, or they purposely try to spin this chart by saying it shows that the income tax is “too volatile” to be used to fund public education, but the opposite is true.

The IFO chart clearly shows that from 2004 to 20018, the property tax grew at a rate of 3.5%, while the income tax revenue (not the tax rate) grew at a rate of 3.4%, virtually the same. Again, this is with no rate increases on the income tax, but literally thousands of property tax millage rate increases during those years across our 500 school districts.

If the State can run their budget using the income and sales taxes as it’s main sources, and manage to grow spending year after year, then why can’t we fund public education this way? If taxpayers and homeowners are expected to manage their money during economic downturns, while they have fixed costs like property taxes and other bills to contend with, why don’t school superintendents and business managers, who are paid six-figure salaries, have the ability to do the same? If they cannot manage money the same way homeowners do, perhaps we should reconsider leaving them in charge of multi-million dollar budgets.

Taxes should be based on Income

One of the biggest problems with the property tax is that it is not based in any way on one’s income. Inaccurate assessments and unequal distribution of state money to our schools, combined with our homes not being a reflection of our wealth, leads to the enormous disparities in what each individual taxpayer must contribute toward the burden of funding public education. We have long condemned the property tax’s gross unfairness, inequities, and regressivity. Our State Constitution reads “All taxes shall be uniform, upon the same class of subjects, within the territorial limits of the authority levying the tax, and shall be levied and collected under general laws.” The property tax falls far short of meeting this mandate.

While the Chamber doesn’t care that the property tax isn’t based on income, their report laments the fact that the Occupational Assessment tax is inequitable and not based on actual income by saying the following:

“All of which is to say that the best measure of income is income, not a tax assessor’s best guess of what that income would be assuming that a given taxpayer hewed to the median for his or her profession.”

If that’s how they feel about the Occupational Assessment tax, then how can they praise the property tax, which is not only not based on income, but it’s not even based on an assessor’s best guest of our income. Rather, it’s based on an assessor’s best guess of the value of our home, and I don’t think I even need to opine about the inaccuracy of assessments, which their own report also acknowledges.

The Pyramid effect of taxation

The Chamber wants businesses to be free of sales taxes on business-to-business transactions, and they want to eliminate the Gross Receipts Tax because this results in multiple levels of taxation that will, in turn, increase the price of the product on the end consumer. This is a valid argument. The report gives an example showing the steps a bottle of beer goes through in order to reach a consumer at a restaurant. It shows the farm, the brewery, the distributor, the restaurant, and finally the customer. Using their own example, it’s obvious that the property tax also results in multiple levels of taxation, but this is not mentioned as a concern.

Not only does the farm, the brewery, the distributor, and the restaurant pay property taxes, but so do the manufacturers and the companies who make the parts to build the farm machinery and tractor trailers, not to mention the companies who build restaurant equipment. This too is passed on to the end consumer.

The Chamber claims that property taxes have a minimal effect on economic decision making

The report reads:

“Property taxes tend to be justified on both economic and practical grounds: economically, as a generally efficient form of taxation which raises revenue with a minimal effect on economic decision-making…”

Property taxes result in sheriff sales, foreclosures, and forced relocation when the burden can no longer bet met by the occupant. Proof of this abounds in page after page of newspaper tax sale listings. It is often said that 10,000 or more homes are sold at sheriff sales annually in Pennsylvania, a statistic that’s rarely challenged.

Escalating property taxes most certainly affect spending habits for both homeowners and businesses alike. As the PA Liberty Alliance goes door to door across the State, we’ve heard hundreds of stories of forced relocation, and how rising property taxes are doing serious damage to the finances of many families. I assure you that stories of senior citizens being forced to choose between medication and paying their property taxes are real. I’ve met these folks.

We also talk to small business owners who are struggling to compete, and who cannot expand due to the inability to pass on their skyrocketing property taxes to their customers the way a large business can. The Chamber claims to represent small businesses, but in our discussions we often hear these owners refer to the organization as “The Chamber of Big Business”. This seems to be a growing consensus in the small business community. A look at where the majority of The Chamber’s funding comes from might give clues as to why they so strongly oppose property tax elimination, and why many small business owners feel left behind.

The Chamber calls the property tax “efficient” and “practical”

In the previous section, I only included part of the quote. Here is the rest of the statement:

“Property taxes tend to be justified on both economic and practical grounds: economically, as a generally efficient form of taxation which raises revenue with a minimal effect on economic decision-making and consistent with widely accepted principles of taxation, and practically, as a well-established source of funding that is both familiar and not easily replaced.”

There is so much wrong with just this one sentence that it makes me wonder if we’re both talking about the same property tax. How anyone could call the property tax “efficient” is beyond comprehension for this writer.

Having to establish assessed values for every property in the entire state alone should make it obvious that this is the most INEFFICIENT tax we have. We need to hire appraisers, county assessors, and tax collectors to administer the tax. School districts must chase down delinquent taxes, and then go through the process of seizing the property when the homeowner doesn’t pay. Then we need to burden the county sheriff’s office with the duty of evicting the occupants, and then of course we need to go through the tax sale process.

Countywide reassessments cost taxpayers multiple millions of dollars each time, and always result in years of appeals that must be heard and dealt with. Maintaining the property tax system costs taxpayers enormous amounts of money. On the other hand, the sales tax is usually collected at the point of sale, and most people have their income taxes automatically deducted from their paychecks. I’m not suggesting there is no expense for businesses and taxpayers to comply with income and sales taxes policies, but modern technology has made it much easier and more efficient.

I don’t know what the Chamber considers to be “accepted principles of taxation”, and the report doesn’t elaborate, but it’s hard to imagine any standard in which complete inequity, inefficiency, unfairness, regressivity, and skyrocketing rates would be considered good principles. How can any tax that isn’t based on income, which the Chamber itself says is the best measure of taxation, be considered a tax with good principles?

The line about the property tax being “well established” and “familiar” sounds very reminiscent of the old “this is the way we’ve always done it, so it must be right” type of thinking. Are things that are “well established” and “familiar” always good? Of course not, but what the Chamber means by this is that businesses have adopted to the property tax and can pass on the cost, unlike a homeowner who cannot. Businesses have also mastered the appeals process and can have their assessments lowered if they become less profitable. Homeowners, on the other hand, cannot have their assessments lowered when their income goes down. They either have to pay up, sell their house, or don’t pay and the government takes their home, and usually most or all of their equity as well. This is devastating, unjust, and unthinkable in America where we are supposed to value property rights.

The Chamber’s Love/Hate relationship with the Income Tax

While The Chamber wants to shift the Gross Receipts tax to working families by instituting a new local income tax in its stead, the report also speaks of how the income tax “discourages investment and labor”. They claim that local income taxes encourage out-migration, particularly if it is not necessary to move far. They cite this as a reason that property taxes are better, suggesting the property tax doesn’t force anyone to move, or that it doesn’t play a role when deciding where to purchase a home or establish a business. I know plenty of people who moved due to large property taxes, but I don’t know a single person who told me they moved because of a local income tax. I also know some entrepreneurs who would have preferred to establish themselves in certain locations but the property taxes were prohibitive.

The report then says “…local income taxes are sustainable at modest rates, but create competitive disadvantages at higher rates, particularly those seen in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh” The local income tax in the overwhelming majority of the state is 1%, while the report says Philadelphia’s rate is 3.9%. So we can conclude that the Chamber considers a 3.9% local income tax to be a problem, but the 1% tax is sustainable. Let’s compare this to the property tax, which the Chamber props up and doesn’t believe to be a problem.

Most people pay far more than 1% of their income toward their school property tax, and as mentioned earlier, I’ve met one woman who pays 14% and another who pays 25%. Unless you have a money tree in your back yard, the property tax is still paid with our income, but it’s not actually based on our income. So if the Chamber sees a 3.9% local income tax as being a problem (as do I), then how can they possibly not see the property tax as being a much bigger problem? Does it no longer matter if we’re talking about homeowners rather than businesses?

Senate Bill 76 proposes a 1.88% income tax and an expanded sales tax, which the Chamber also calls for, in order to eliminate the school property tax. This would result in an overall tax cut for the majority of homeowners, backed up by multiple Independent Fiscal Office reports.

The question remains as to why the Chamber considers it good policy to institute a local income tax to pay for the elimination of business taxes, but it’s not O.K. to use an income tax to eliminate the school property tax? At the same time, how do they call a 3.9% local income tax a problem, but not a local property tax that levies a different rate on everyone, as high as 25% or more on some? These are rhetorical questions, as I believe the answer is apparent. They are a special interest group, and the well-being of the homeowner is not of their concern.

The Chamber opposes SUT expansion for property tax elimination, but call for it in their plan

After the property tax elimination effort got some traction in 2015, the opposition groups suddenly began to take the issue more seriously. The grassroots groups they previously laughed off were now making their voices heard. Since it’s very difficult to defend a tax that’s as despised by so many people as the property tax, they needed to come up with some new talking points.

This is when the refrain became “we can’t tax diapers!” Being led by The Chamber, lobby groups and politicians alike were singing off the same sheet of music. This was the new talking point that was designed to invoke emotion, while bypassing logic. Of course, we see this all the time in politics, and in this case, The Chamber now appointed itself as the champion of single mothers and their children. Imagine how heartless the property tax elimination crowd must be to propose a diaper tax!

Thankfully, the public didn’t buy it. At a town hall in Monroe County, a single mother who was struggling with her property taxes easily recognized that she would be far better off paying a relatively small sales tax on diapers than she would be paying property taxes, especially considering the property tax burden would be there for the rest of her life, or at least as long as she “owned” a home. We constantly hear about the supposed “regressivity” of the sales tax, but by definition the flat rate sales tax is not regressive. The property tax, on the other hand, actually is regressive when viewed as a percentage of income. In this case, the single mother didn’t even earn enough money to be a financial “loser” under the SB 76 proposal. She could have spent every dime she earned on the newly taxed items and still wouldn’t even come close to paying the same in sales taxes that she currently pays in property tax, even factoring in the PIT portion.

After all of their opposition to expanding the sales tax, I find it quite the contradiction to now propose exactly that. I can only assume that The Chamber doesn’t believe it’s own rhetoric as long as business taxes are reduced and eliminated rather than the school property tax. While they don’t suggest a sales tax on diapers, they do propose options that include taxing gasoline and motor fuels, even while acknowledging that we already pay the highest fuel taxes in the country. Imagine the impact of that tax alone on working families and commuters.

But they don’t stop there. Among many other items, they list clothing, shoes, prescription and nonprescription drugs, college and vocational school tuition, health and social assistance, veterinary services and food. SB 76 still exempts clothing under $50 per item, prescription drugs, heating oil, all food items that a W.I.C. check could purchase, medical procedures and other things. Missing from the Chamber’s list are services that only wealthy people would use, like airplane services. It seems to me that the Chamber’s proposal would be more harmful to the middle and lower class than would be the expansion under SB 76. But hey, at least they don’t tax diapers…

The Chamber claims school tax elimination would harm young, low income families and renters

The President of the PA Chamber has repeatedly said that SB 76 would be bad for his young son and his family, who he says shouldn’t be paying a higher income tax to eliminate school taxes for seniors. I’ve often wondered, but never asked, if his son owns a home, or ever plans to. While these same critics talk about the new “winners and losers” after SB 76 is passed, they never acknowledge that the current system is where the “winners and losers” are created, nor do they recognize the fact that their own defense of the status quo is nothing more than them trying to pick the winners and losers themselves.

The reality is, this legislation would help new families, the lower income, and the middle class homeowners. Most of these folks are paying far more than 1.88% of their income toward their property taxes, and even the additional sales taxes will not make them financial “losers”. This is backed up by an Independent Fiscal Office report issued to Rep. Frank Ryan on November 6, 2017.

According to the IFO, the median school property tax paid on a Homestead (which does not include commercial, vacation, or rental properties) is $1,972. The average is higher at $2,291. The report says that the median PIT impact of SB 76 would be $1,008, and the sales tax impact on the median income range would be $200-$400.

The report goes on to say that even the PIT impact is over-stated, as it’s calculated on the median household income of $53,599, which includes retirement and social security income that would not be subject to the income tax under SB 76. This figure also excludes Pennsylvania’s PIT Forgiveness programs for the low income, which completely excludes from taxation income up to $51,000/year for a family with four children, $41,500 for three children, $32,000 for two children, and lower incentives for one and no children.

With this data, the math is easy. Under SB 76, the worst case scenario for a PA family earning the median (not average) household income would be a new income tax impact of $1,008 and a sales tax impact of $400 for a total of $1,408. Since the median school property tax on a home is $1,972, this means that in a worst case scenario, which won’t even happen due to the overstated situation mentioned above, the savings for a family earning the median income and paying the median school property tax would be $564. The real world savings would likely be significantly higher.

Despite their best efforts to convince us otherwise, the special interest opposition is wrong. The wealthy are the most likely to end up paying more under SB 76, not the middle and low income homeowners. They wealthy are, after all, the people who may have a high enough salary, and who may spend enough money on the newly taxed items to result in a higher tax burden. I know quite a few wealthy people who contribute much less than 1.88% if their income toward school taxes. I don’t believe any of my middle or low income friends who own homes can say the same. Most are above 3%, many far higher, and as mentioned earlier, I now know someone who pays a 25% effective rate.

Renters also pay property taxes indirectly through their rent payments, as landlords must pass this cost on to their tenants at some point. We have U.S. Census bureau data that shows rents increasing at nearly the same rates as property taxes. This is not a coincidence. During our interactions with legislators, we often hear landlords being demonized as greedy and heartless, and we’re told that landlords would never lower their rents if SB 76 were passed. I find this to be yet another attempt at politics of emotion, and not logic. SB 76 would at a minimum stabilize rent costs. Some landlords would lower their rents on their own, and others would be forced to as the market adjusts and more people purchase their first home. Does the Chamber no longer believe in free market principles?

If these legislators are truly concerned about the impact to renters, the best thing to do for those folks would be to make homeownership easier for them to achieve. This bill certainly does that by removing a large part of the property tax burden. Part of the regressivity of the property tax is that millage rates tend to be the highest in our 3rd Class cities, where incomes are often lowest. In fact, in a study done by Joel Sears, a fellow Pennsylvania Property Rights Association consultant, he shows that a $30,000 home in Upper Darby has a monthly property tax payment over TWICE that of a normal mortgage payment in this price range. No wonder so many people are trapped into a lifetime of renting and being denied the pride of owning a home of their own, and becoming a lasting part of their community.

The problem with all of their arguments are that they are only based on a snapshot in time. It’s likely that immediately following the passage of SB 76, a family who rents may not benefit. It’s also true that seniors will likely benefit the most. But we don’t live in a snapshot in time. Young families and renters will buy homes of their own, go through the decades of their working lives, and hopefully make it to retirement in their senior years, meaning today’s renters will also benefit. The alternative is to do nothing and watch property taxes and rents continue to skyrocket, further damaging our economy and sending working families and businesses out of the state.

We always hear the talking point “if we want more of something, subsidize it, and if we want less of something, tax it”. Why then, does the Chamber support the current system that taxes homeownership every year, in an ever-increasing fashion, while we subsidize non-homeownership with rent rebate programs? The only logical answer is, once again, the Chamber doesn’t view homeownership as a benefit, or perhaps not even as a necessity, especially considering they seemingly have no issue with the government seizing homes as a result of this tax.

The Chamber’s plan for the property tax problem

While The Chamber praises the property tax, they do acknowledge it’s flaws in multiple pages of their report. They even cite a study by The Council on State Taxation which compares the uniformity and efficiency of property taxes in the 50 states. It gave Pennsylvania a grade of a D, and ranked us dead last.

So what is The Chamber’s solution? More frequent countywide reassessments. That’s their big “solution”. They also call for consolidated property tax bills, so we can pay one bill to the county, who can, in turn, distribute the money to the schools and local municipalities, rather than paying separate bills. There’s not even a new reduction scheme in their plan, which would only end up being a tax increase anyway so I’m really not complaining. Their answer is actually a tax increase, and as mentioned earlier, these reassessments are very expensive and time consuming.

Thanks to Joel Sears, we have data which shows that even countywide reassessments don’t fix all of the problems inherent in the property tax. He did a real life evaluation in Lancaster County which compared actual sales prices of homes that sold in the same timeframe as their recent reassessment, and compared them to the assessed values both before and after. He found that the same level of inequities exist even after these reassessments, and in some cases, they got even worse. That’s what taxpayers get for their multiple millions of dollars spent in an effort to make the current system more uniform.

Conclusion

Proof abounds that the property tax system is broken. It cannot be fixed. It cannot be made to be fair. Any reduction scheme will just be a tax increase as the property tax continues to skyrocket. Elimination is the only answer.

This absolutely can be achieved, and we can fund public education in a way that treats all taxpayers the same, eliminating the current winners and losers scheme. The Independent Fiscal Office confirms that homeowners would have more disposable income, home values would increase by an average of 10%, and the state would be more attractive to businesses. But apparently these benefits aren’t good enough for the Chamber, Americans for Prosperity, the PSEA (teachers’ union), or the PSBA (school board association).

These folks all view themselves as “winners” under the current system, and they don’t want to lose their stranglehold on the homeowner. They’re happy with us continuing to be the “losers”, and they spend millions lobbying in Harrisburg to keep it that way.

In addition to all of the contradictions listed in these pages, The Chamber also condemns the Corporate Net Income Tax because it doesn’t allow for cyclical profitability cycles, and they speak of how some businesses are hurt during periods of low profitability. At the same time, they praise the “stability” of the property tax for the tax collector, while ignoring that the tax always increases even if the home owners’ paycheck decreases, or goes away completely. Yet another double standard on their part.

Homeowners cannot pass their property taxes on to someone else, as businesses can. The buck stops with us. At the same time, our homes do not generate income, as commercial properties do. The current system is completely upside down and backwards, especially considering our homes have absolutely nothing to do with education. We haven’t always funded education this way, as the school property tax was only instituted in the mid 1960’s. Even our State Constitution lays the responsibility at the feet of the legislature, where it belongs, and not with homeowners.

No tax should ever have the power to leave one homeless, and our fundamental right to acquire and own property needs to be restored. If all of the other problems with the property tax aren’t reason enough to abolish it, these few reasons certainly are.

They’re called “special interests” for a reason.

Ron Boltz, President – PA Liberty Alliance

Consultant – Pennsylvania Property Rights Association

 

Christine Blasey Ford sets back Women’s Rights a Hundred Years

Forget her calculated, meek, timid, teeny tiny baby girl voice, clearly cultivated and trained for this one moment in front of the cameras. Oh, so vulnerable, the poor thing!

Forget that from 1983 until just a few years ago, Christine B. Ford could easily have intervened in any one of several big, public career moves by Judge Kavanaugh as he went from confirmation hearing to confirmation hearing. But she did not.

Forget that Ms. Ford did not say anything to anyone about Kavanaugh until he was about to be confirmed to the US Supreme Court, and then My! What amazing timing she has!

Forget that Ms. Ford cannot recall the day, the date, or even the YEAR, for God’s sake, that her supposed encounter with Kavanaugh happened, nor any of the people around, nor can any of the people who were around their high school at that time recall Kavanaugh being involved. But brother, is she sure certain it was him.

Forget that Ms. Ford is a hard core leftist political activist, as is her “counselor,” both of whom would probably lie about Kavanaugh just because they both dislike him and his damned conservative values. Yes, forget that Ms. Ford impeached her own credibility today in a blaze of partisan glory.

What is really momentous about today’s Christine Blasey Ford hearing is that she has blown up women’s rights for the next thousand years. By blatantly and so obviously lying about a supposed sexual encounter in her teenaged years, and trying to use this memory to sabotage the confirmation of someone innocent she politically opposes, Ford has created a huge cloud of mistrust and skepticism around any other similar claim or allegation.

Ford has now raised the bar for women who are truly and actually abused, not lowered it.

Ironically, Ford has raised peoples’ consciousness about how vulnerable good men are to being falsely accused by lying political activists, who see nothing wrong or immoral about lying to achieve political ends.

Ladies, as a man who has himself directly intervened in an attempted rape, and who lusted for bloody revenge against the perpetrator after he literally escaped my grasping fingers and dove into his truck and drove off (and the victim lay on the ground a complete mess), I can tell you that most men feel a sense of protection for women. We want you to be safe, secure, confident, and happy. But we feel equally repulsed by a woman like Ms. Ford, and we are angry at women who would use her or anyone else as a tool to attack men in general and impugn a good person like Kavanaugh.

Ms. Ford and her political supporters calculated badly here. They just may get the weak Republicans to back off of this nomination, only because the Republicans are mostly namby pamby silk stocking fancy princesses in love with their own careers more than they love America’s success.

But to the rest of us men, and to a lot of women who we are married to and who we work with, Ford and her crones have made a huge mistake. They have proven that nothing is sacred to them, and that they will exploit anything, and lie about anything, to get ahead politically.

This hard fact hurts all women, equally and badly.

Way to go, Ms. Ford, way to go. You fool.

Fragile cry-bullies

While visiting friends the other day, one of their 20-something-year-old kids gave me and the other adults an earful on the Kavanaugh hearings.

“I am insulted that you will not believe a woman who claims she was drugged and raped by Kavanaugh,” she said.

Her mother said “Well, now wait, I do not recall hearing anything about drugs and rape.”

And I said “Ford has zero credibility, and in fact she has done more damage to women’s rights with her obviously false and politically motivated accusation than all the supposedly sexist anti-female men out there could ever do. Ford has set back real future women victims, who will now be greeted with skepticism as a result of all this crying wolf business with Kavanaugh.”

To which the kind-of-young person responded “Well, I, I, I, I don’t like this conversation,” and upstairs she went.

Backtrack a few weeks and I was listening to NPR on one of my regular road trips. On this particular NPR propaganda show, the subject being interviewed was a professor at NYU. He is writing a book about how emotionally and intellectually “fragile” the younger generation has become. How they are unable to confront dissent and disagreement with logic and reason, and how if they cannot bully an opponent into submission, and if they cannot cry an opponent into submission, then they give up and go off and suck their thumb.

This is a bit of a shortened summation, but what I write here is pretty close to what the professor said.

And he said it as a proud and politically active liberal. He is not criticizing young crybully leftists because he disagrees with them. Rather, he is afraid that they cannot persuade people in arguments, and that if they cannot shame or force people to agree with them, then they have nothing left and they then cede the field to the opponent.

My own recent experience with my dear friends’ kid reinforced the professor’s observations.

And even more to the point, when a young crybully takes a willful and wild leap from two 17-year-olds fooling around in high school or college to one being drugged and raped (no one has said that about Kavanaugh), and how dare anyone question it, then much more is at stake than the ability to argue reasonably.

What is at stake is the ability to be truthful, to be honest, and to concede when one’s own ideas are proven wrong.

What is driving a great deal of the current Democrat warmongering against poor Mister Kavanaugh is that the Democrats cannot persuade people with ideas. So they must destroy people, instead.

This ain’t the democratic way, folks.

College professors teaching kids to be crybullies who shame and punch their way into winning arguments is not going to succeed.

Are conservative voters really gullible naifs?

Yesterday I had the wonderful experience of spending most of my day with central Pennsylvanians in a remote corner of our rural region. These are salt-of-the-earth people. Hard working, religious, family-oriented, earnest. The best. My kind of people. We were conducting business together, and of course we naturally discussed current events and related subjects.

One of the things emerging from my day with these genuine people weighed on my mind as I drove home in the rain.

“Are religious conservatives really clueless and naive about politics?,” I wondered.

These are decent people, good people, and the idea that someone would seek to destroy the character of someone they simply disagree with is totally foreign to them. They seem so completely unable to grasp just how evil and conniving their political opponents are.

Once someone says something negative about someone else in their world, why then, they think there might be a smidgeon of truth. It is enough to impeach the person’s credibility. Because of a naive belief that someone would only make such an accusation if it were possibly true.

In politics this naivete results in just enough votes lost or time delayed to get the Left a win.

It is this naivete among America’s best people that Leftists play upon and exploit.

As with last year’s impossible US senate defeat of Judge Roy Moore in conservative Alabama, by a far-left Democrat, today we face a typical fake leftist attack on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to the US supreme court.

Despite being a good man with an old-time (and odd) interest in younger women (not illegally-aged girls), Moore was defeated in a swarm of obviously false accusations designed to destroy his character. Just enough doubt about him as a good person was cast upon him that he lost just enough votes among good people to lose the race in a state he should have won overwhelmingly.

Despite sharing Moore’s values and policy views, a narrow majority of religious, conservative Alabamians were fooled into voting for the communist Democrat who will do everything possible to undermine those same voters and their values.

Today we have an obviously lying lady who has the most bizarre, dis-believable, 11th hour claim against Judge Kavanaugh. This discredited professor lady is already every kind of long-time kook-Left activist possible. She has a long public history of outlandish claims and bizarre behavior. Her students write that she is psychologically unbalanced, and “scary.”

Zero evidence backs up her accusation, which flies in the face of every other piece of evidence and testimony about Kavanaugh.

If at all remotely true, her accusation against Kavanaugh would be decades old, having nothing to do with his judicial views. But we know she is lying, and that her last-minute accusation is false, and that it is simply designed to derail the confirmation of a judge the Left disagrees with. This lady is simply the sacrificial goat used to achieve that goal.

Her attack on Kavanaugh is just one more attempted character assassination on someone the Left does not like because of his Constitutional views.

And all these false attacks are enabled by good Americans who think “Well, no one would really deliberately lie like this. No one would really be that indecent, that corrupt. There might be some shred of truth to it…” and so good people like Moore and Kavanaugh get damaged, and the Left advances its anti-democratic agenda to control government the voters would not ever cede to it.

Folks, if you are a religious person, a kind person, a good person, a decent, law-abiding, honest and fair-minded person, then that is great. You are my kind of person. You are all-American, and I hope you never change your values. But do not make the mistake of assuming that everyone else is like you. Do not make the mistake of listening to the lies of Big Media. The media is not news, or truth; it is the propaganda arm of one political party, and not the political party you would usually vote for.

Don’t be naive. Don’t be gullible. Don’t let yourself be manipulated by your political enemies so that your vote or your voice are wasted. Stay strong, be skeptical, and stay focused on what you know is good for your community and your country.

Senator Bob Casey: As useless as tits on a boar hog

US senator Bob Casey is nothing like his dad, Casey Senior, but he rides his father’s well-earned reputation and milks it for all he can get from it.

Senior Casey was a man of principle. A Blue Dog Democrat who was union because he was from hard working coal country, and who also recognized the corrosive effect abortion on demand had on the small, close-knit communities that make up northeastern Pennsylvania.

When he ran for governor, Casey Senior spoke with authority and sincerity. He persuaded Pennsylvanians of all walks of life to vote for him. For good reason. He was an impressive leader.

Contrast him to his son, Casey Junior.

Has Bob Casey, Jr., presently a US senator, done a single good thing or actually accomplished anything while occupying public office his entire career?

The long and short answer is No, this Casey has done absolutely ZERO his whole career. He has achieved absolutely nothing.

And the thing is, his whole career has been spent in elected jobs. Sucking at the taxpayer tit. He has gotten those elected jobs because of his father’s reputation. Casey Junior has no real reputation, except that he is here, or there, occupying space in some political job or another.

Whenever there is a government job, there has been Casey Junior.

Casey has not earned a single day in elected office. He has not achieved anything, he has nothing to show for his time in office. Only his family name has gotten him where he is.

Bob Casey, Jr. is as useless as tits on a boar hog. It is time to vote Casey out of office this November.

I would vote for just about anyone to replace Bob Casey and move him into the private sector, where he can finally learn what it takes to earn a living by one’s wits and hard work. And no, Bob, putting on a suit and tying your shoes does not qualify as hard work, or any work.

Bob Casey has gotten away with political murder for only one reason, and that is family connections, the Casey family dynasty. And in case you think I am being partisan and tough on Casey because he is a Democrat, look at www.jakethesnake.us, the website I maintain to call attention to the Republican version of Bob Casey, Jr., Jake Corman. Corman is another utterly useless, spoiled beneficiary of nepotism. He just happens to be a Republican. I would gladly welcome a change in that state senate seat, as well.

If Casey were of the other political party, I would probably be even tougher on him. I am a bi-partisan opponent of any and all nepotism and political dynasties in America.

Lou Barletta is Casey’s opponent for this one US senate seat. Barletta is a good guy, even if his teeth are so artificially white they blind everyone in the audience. For years, he has been his own person in office and in the private sector, independent minded, self-made, a risk-taker, and that is what I look for: Someone who is very much their own person.

Barletta is the complete opposite of Bob Casey, Jr. It is time for a change in that senate seat, and a change in the Casey family’s dreams of do-nothing political dynasty at the expense of Pennsylvania taxpayers.

Vote for Barletta. Vote for America. Vote for something. Voting for Bob Casey, Jr., is voting for nothing and doing even less.

John Arway gone away, but not forgotten

Beyond nailing down and putting the finishing touches on some epic large land conservation transactions, my summer and Fall of 2003 were spent politicking and angling for the executive director position at the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission. After ten years, the last ED had recently left as most EDs leave these posts – everyone involved all too happy to not see one another again.

The door was wide open for a fresh newcomer, someone not from within the agency, for the first time in as long as anyone could recall. I knew I had a shot, and so did my supporters. I was excited.

As I met with elected officials and conservation leaders, presenting my own “impressive” credentials and qualifications for the job, and trying to amass my support from people who mattered, a single name kept coming up: John Arway.

Who was this faceless John Arway guy, who so many of the active conservationists mentioned? I had never seen him at a meeting, or at a land dedication ceremony, nor had we testified at the same legislative hearing. But many in-the-know conservationists knew him, or of him, and they were quietly supporting him for the ED job, increasingly so as we got closer to the interview process in December.

Many other ED candidates were emerging, some really impressive, and some less so. My own self-promotion continued up to the beginning of deer season, and then I sat back for the following couple of weeks to see how it would all play out.

I was granted an interview with the PFBC board of commissioners, and in fact I ended up being the very last one interviewed out of six candidates. But as soon as the interview process began the back channel scuttlebutt was that the real contest was already well under way, the board split evenly between wanting Arway, or the agency’s long-time legal counsel, Dennis Guise, as the alternative.

Raging through and beneath the calm surface of the rote, officially procedural, professional interview process, the two main candidates fought each other tooth and nail, each calling up bigger, better, more powerful allies. In the end, it was not a question of qualifications, but of ….well, one of those simple things guys fall back on when measuring up an opponent. “Size.”

So to say. Because both guys were equally competent, just  each differently endowed with important skills the agency needed. It was an impossible choice between the two of them.

This battle royale ended the day before I was interviewed, with the board hopelessly deadlocked between the policy weenie Arway, and lawyer Guise. With the two accomplished men set aside, the board was now looking for a “dark horse” candidate without war baggage, who could salvage the situation and bring peace and unity unto the bruised agency’s divided ranks and leadership factions.

In the end, Doug Austen, PhD, was selected over me to run the agency. The chairman and several of my advocates on the board took me aside and explained that Doug had beaten me by 3/100’s of a point, and that the ED decision had come down to that: How many points did the next best candidate have. It was a very close decision, as close as any decision could ever be.

Austen went on to run PFBC for about four years, and as he has a PhD in fisheries biology, he eventually begged off for less political drama and more biology and went on to his next neat job with the US Fish & Widlife Service. Today Doug happily runs the American Fisheries Society, I happily run my own small conservation-driven small business, and boy, did John Arway end up running PFBC.

When Austen left PFBC, Arway was better positioned to take the helm, and immediately take it by storm did he ever. From deep within the agency’s rubber-meets-the-road programs, Arway brought to light and into implementation long simmering policy addressing natural gas fracking, combined sewage overflows from too much rain overrunning sewage plants, trout stocking, non-native invasive plants and fish, the sustainable economics of fishing, and many many more big and important policy questions that had sat dormant for way too long.

Arway’s personal style is easy, smiling, genuine, with a natural affability that helps him slide the medicine in. The medicine being those long-put-off policies that no one had the balls to deal with, and which John knew to be too important to ignore any longer.

Fact is, the Pennsylvania legislature is full of career politicians who refuse to make difficult decisions, for fear of upsetting the voters and possibly losing their artificially cushy jobs. And so Arway made those tough and necessary decisions for them.

The legislature did not like that.

True to form, the careerist politicians wanted to both hinder Arway and second-guess him, without ever providing alternative decisions that would save or protect our state’s incredible natural resources. At the end of all this bad government on full display to we taxpayers who underwrite it, Arway was ironically held up by the dithering careerist politicians as an example of a careerist bureaucrat long past his own use-by date. And so the legislature began to ever increasingly squeeze PFBC, financially, politically.

John Arway fought as only the honestly passionate can fight, with everything he had, without regard for his own personal longevity. Like Neo, the hero in The Matrix movie, John magically dodged every bullet fired at him, every knife stabbed at his back, and every rug pulled out from under his feet. And through it all he maintained that affable personality and firm determination to “do the right thing.”

If you didn’t know John Arway before he became PFBC ED, you knew soon after that he was one of the last of the conservation warriors cut from an old die that has long corroded and may now be broken and long lost. It is tough to imagine that any Pennsylvania resource agency will find and also choose again a tough leader and fearless resource advocate like Arway.

John recently retired from PFBC. Though he had every right to do so, he did not whine, he did not take shots at his enemies or opponents, he did not complain. Rather, ever the real pro, he listed the many natural resource conservation achievements he wished he had time to win and which he hopes the next generation will pick up and carry over the goal line.

The board was loathe to let him go. His many, many supporters are sad to see him step down. If you like to fish or drink clean water, you are sad to see John go. Both Austen and I talk about what might have happened had Arway simply been selected as ED back in 2003 and gotten his conservation agenda under way earlier. I do not always agree with John Arway on policy, but I will always agree that John Arway should be in the policy driver’s seat.

We will miss you, John. Thank you for your service and for being the champion for the voiceless fish and the splashing mountain streams whose language we hear but do not understand.

 

Who has the national Democrat Party NOT declared war on?

Is there any thing or anyone in America whom the national Democrat Party has not declared war on?

Nationally (not to be construed with what always happens at the local or state level, which is often less radical), the Democrat Party has gone after the First Amendment free speech rights of everyone who does not agree with their politically correct radical base voters.

The Democrat Party has gone after the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens, while opposing prosecutions of actual criminals who illegally use guns.

The Democrat Party has aggressively championed the elimination of the Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights of the US president and everyone around him, which means they will try to strip you, too, of your presumption of innocence and due process rights if you, too, oppose them politically.

The Democrat Party openly sides with people illegally invading America, who break our long established laws on their way over our borders, and who then commit outrageous  crimes against and impose tremendous costs on our citizen taxpayers, all the while demanding taxpayer-funded (your money, my money) welfare, universal education and health care. The Democrat Party calls these criminals “victims,” and has abandoned the citizen, the taxpayer, the people who pay for America to run and work every day.

The Democrat Party has declared war on the rule of law by creating “sanctuary cities” that are so obviously contrary to our laws for such obviously necessary reasons. But the Democrat Party wants a huge wave of illegal aliens as new voters to put the Democrat Party into permanent political power. The Democrat Party is even now extending voting rights to illegal aliens, even though they are obviously not entitled to vote for dog catcher or anyone else running for office.

Naturally in all of this Democrat Party warmongering, police officers everywhere are targeted for demonization and vilification at the very least, and usually police officers are targets of violence and deadly ambush justified by totally fake complaints of widespread racist police brutality. Failed NFL Democrat icon activist Colin Kaepernick and his endorser Nike Shoes have done more to damage the standing and safety of police officers and the rule of law they safeguard than any other individual or company. Think long and hard about how this junk impacts your own personal safety before voting for a Democrat in a national election.

If you are enjoying the shared prosperity of a powerfully productive economy, record low unemployment (especially among Blacks), and an American president pushing back against the unfair trade war waged against America over the past fifty years, then do not count on the Democrat Party to join you. I cannot tell you how many Democrats I know personally, beyond those prominent elected Democrat officials saying things in public, who are wringing their hands over how good the economy is, how well it is doing, how much more money American taxpayers are putting in their pockets. When I point out that the economy is doing GREAT!, they respond that either it is not nearly as good as I think, or that it will come to end any minute now, or that it is the result of the previous administration’s policies. The Democrat Party would rather see the American economy destroyed and poor-mouthed into failure than to give credit to the current president.

The Democrat Party is literally making war against the American economy.

The Democrat Party is openly, brazenly, laying siege to America, coming at us from dozens of directions, trying to destroy and tear our nation down from the top and at the foundation.

The last time the Democrat Party did this, they controlled the South and started “the war between the states” in 1861.

These many disgraceful actions make the Democrat Party a seditious criminal enterprise that is illegally and openly at war with the American people, your laws, and our form of government.

Is it time to outlaw the outlaw Democrat Party?

 

A culture of protest, a culture of animosity

If you desire to see the raw underbelly of an overly tolerant democracy, then watch or listen to today’s US Senate hearings on Judge Kavanaugh.

Kavanaugh is a smart, friendly, humble, kind of nerdy, bookish federal judge who had the audacity to be nominated to the US Supreme Court.

Why audacity? Because he is not super liberal. Because he does not walk in lock-step with the media arm of the Democrat Party. Because he has a judicial philosophy that is directly connected to how America was founded. He does not run around making legal judgments that are contrary to the US Constitution.

All this makes him audacious in the eyes of people who would use the US Supreme Court to achieve de facto legislative results they cannot get in the US Congress. Kavanaugh is audacious in some people’s eyes because he dares to fill a vacant seat on the Court, and play a constructive role in administering US law and jurisprudence.

To me, it looks like the most boring job in the world. Though at one time, in the heat of my youth, I aspired to be a constitutional scholar and actually studied a lot of constitutional law at Penn State and in graduate school (Vanderbilt) in preparation for it. My uncle has argued twice in front of the US Supreme Court, and on his second trip I was honored to help draft an Amicus brief and sit in the audience while the justices grilled both sides.

But now, look at how even Kavanaugh, The Most Boring Man In The World, is attacked and dragged through the mud by opponents of a lawful society. A shameless howling mob greeted him and the entire world today in one of the world’s most hallowed democratic chambers, the US Senate. To watch and listen to Kavanaugh’s opponents today in The People’s chamber, you would not know that we live in the most civilized nation.

From the 1960s to present, a culture of protest has developed to the point where the ends justify the means. That is, if someone opposes a political issue or a political person, they can go batshit crazy in front of everyone and put on the most foolish antics, with the craziest accusations, and the most violent and destructive behavior, because they are simply protesting.

And because they are protesting, they must be correct, is how they think. And if people oppose them, or have a majority in a legislative chamber or on a court, then every possible brick must be thrown in order to stop them…is how they think.

Where protest has its healthy roots in the First Amendment’s guarantee of peaceable assembly and petitioning the government, today’s protests are anything but constitutional. They are violent and hate filled, lawless and vile, cruel and destructive of people and property.

A very real culture of animosity has resulted out of the 1960s, and it is a bad thing, a toxic thing, corrosive and uncivilized. Its practitioners do not wish to live and let live; they desire control above all, and the use of angry mobs and threats to intimidate their opponents into acquiescence.

In the 1930s and 1940s, Hungary fell the same way. Slowly but surely the Communists there used a combination of violent mobs and corrupted police and courts to eliminate their political opponents. The Hungarian Communists used democratic processes and institutions to achieve non-democratic, tyrannical ends. Hungary went from one of Europe’s great nations to completely oppressed under the Communist boot. Only through uprising and great sacrifice were the Hungarian people freed once again, long after many horrible repressive crimes had been committed.

That same thing is now happening today with the national Democrat Party, whose hatred for the common person, the working person, the taxpayer and citizen, America’s “normal” and boring people, like Judge Kavanaugh, is so overwhelming that it can no longer be controlled.

If you love America, if you enjoy your simple pleasures and the basic freedoms we have here, then tell your US senators you support Kavanaugh, and do not vote for Democrats. The national Democrats do not have your interests at heart. Democrats care much more for illegal aliens (purported “victims”) who murder and rape our children than they care for you or me, taxpaying citizens who have worked hard to build this nation.

A good, decent man, a Justice Kavanaugh will restore some semblance of lawful and constitutional behavior to America, and the howling mob opposes that. Don’t let them win. They are not “protestors,” they are angry, lawless destroyers who pretend they are under the protection of the First Amendment.

You are damn right I still support President Trump

Despite a howling mob’s best effort to obfuscate, harangue, punish, slow down and hamstring the president of the United States, I still strongly support him.

What broken third-world country do we live in where otherwise normal everyday Americans boast about being in “the resistance” against their own president?! Are they running a guerilla civil war against the country?

Can you imagine if these were conservative militia members saying this about a president in the other political party? The uproar that would follow!

This shameful notion that liberal activists as well as average Democrats have about “resisting” a legally elected president of their own nation is incredibly harmful to our nation. All the foolish talk about our electoral system being compromised by “Russia” hurts the integrity of our electoral system, because it undermines people’s trust in it.

And yet none of these liberals wants voter ID, none want the local voter rolls to be purged and verified. Oh no no no, that would remove too many fake voters from the rolls!

One of the reasons I support President Trump is that, by and large, I agree with his choices and policies. Certainly not all of them, but definitely the preponderance. There are some policies and actions I think his administration could do better, like in the environmental and resource conservation fields. More nuance, more refined distinctions, more sophisticated analysis. But like with any other elected official, you learn to take the good with the bad, and with this particular elected official I believe we have much more good than bad. This president is running a net Positive. America is booming!

Another reason I support President Trump is that he is standing strong amid a withering personal crusade against him, his children, his grandchildren, his wife, his in-laws, his friends, his business associates, his business partners, his employees, his friends, his neighbors, and everyone else who has any sort of association with him. It is meant to punish him and everyone he cares about. Just for him being him.

This ridiculous attack is way outside the normal scope of American politics. It is unprecedented. It is unfair. It is evil and disgusting. If it were Obama, or Clinton getting this same treatment, you couldn’t get away with it for ten seconds.

For me and I think a lot of Americans like me, this very personal and destructive assault on President Trump is an attack on basic American decency and on our system of government. No one in public service should be subjected to this. Certainly that is what some people argued about president Bill Clinton, when he was caught having sex with women in the White House and then lying to cover it up.

People who win elections should get to carry on with their work. That is the way our system works. Is supposed to work.

That the media have been corrupted into this crusade only cements my view that this treatment of our American President is simply unjustified and wrong, enabled by the corruption of the First Amendment.

That Hollywood actors feel free to use the most vulgar language against the person who was elected to represent our country means that they, the Hollywood people, are that low vulgar quality. It does not mean anything about the person they are aiming at. Hollywood and its actors are really in the smelly gutter. Makes you wonder why you went to see their stupid movies in the past. Why should we enable such infantile jerks?

All of this mistreatment has only hardened my resolve for President Trump to stay in office and succeed.

So when people ask me “Josh, do you still support President Trump?,” I say “You are damned right I support President Trump!”

To Hell and back.

Time to regulate the social media utilities

Social media companies like FakeBook, Twitter, Google, InstaGram, etc. have become the modern day information equivalents of the first power and public service utilities.

Instead of water molecules, gas, sewer, or electrons (electricity) entering and exiting your home to keep your life running, today’s digital social media companies transmit photons and ones and zeros to your laptop and handheld device. The net result for the end user is that all these things are all one and the same utility service, and they serve the same function.

Just like the power company, say PPL, and the gas company, and the water company cannot discriminate against users of their services, so the same applies to the digital information companies above.

For example, you do not come home at night, flick the light switch on your wall, and remain in darkness because you got a call earlier in the day from PPL saying “Sorry, Jane, we have turned off your electricity, because we have determined that your political views are contrary to our arbitrary and vague terms of service and our company’s values.”

PPL and other utilities must provide their services and products equally to all who pay for them.

It is time to hold digital utility service providers to the same exact standard. No discrimination against users.

Presently, Google so obviously fakes its search results to favor political candidates and campaigns the owners of Google favor. Google’s politicization of search results on every subject and person is egregious.

Like Google, FakeBook also obviously discriminates against conservatives, engaging in shadowbanning and hiding messages its liberal owners do not want the public to see. Worse, Fakebook has made a lucrative business charging its users for advertising, but the person who pays for that service never knows just how far their investment went, because FakeBook deliberately withholds information about its actual efforts.  It is a blind item, exactly the opposite of what it should be: Open and transparent.

Twitter’s legendary war against non-liberals is the most public form of censorship. As illiberal as this censorship is, liberals still cheer.

These companies and the many other liberal book-burners in the digital media business have declared war on ideas and people they simply disagree with. It is time to end this assault on the First Amendment rights of American citizens who have entrusted these companies to abide by universal free speech standards.

It is time to regulate these companies like the public utilities they have become, to prevent them from illegally discriminating against people who merely disagree with their owners.

Treat us all the same legally.