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Property Tax Accountability

Yesterday a majority of Pennsylvania voters passed a referendum, the first step in amending the Pennsylvania constitution to allow for a much fairer property tax situation.

The current Pennsylvania property tax arrangement is backwards, dating either from the 9th Century or the 1720s, either way fundamentally unfair to home owners.

Perhaps in the 9th Century or the 1720s owning a home or property was a big deal and unusual, indicating great wealth. Taxing the source of that great wealth may have made sense a thousand years ago or three hundred years ago, but today’s America bears no similarity to those bygone worlds.

In fact, one of the great things about America is that our form of capitalism distributes the greatest amount of wealth to the greatest number of people, based on one’s willingness to work hard. This is the heart of American meritocracy, and home ownership in a meritocracy is widespread, not unique. Owning your own home is an American standard, a basic goal of all Americans.

And so punitively taxing the very emblem of meritocracy is an artifact of the feudal society America rejected in 1776.

But Pennsylvania home taxes are now so high that people are essentially renting their homes from the government.

No matter if you buy your home with cash, build it yourself on property that has been in your family, or buy it with a mortgage that you eventually pay off, you still must pay incredibly burdensome property taxes that bear no relationship to the actual costs your home might (or might not) impose on the surrounding community.

Property taxes are now a form of rent. And if you run out of money to pay the government rent, the government can come and steal your home from you and sell it cheap to someone else.

The unpleasant truth is, your home is now a cash cow for others.

Teacher’s unions and their pet career politicians are the primary beneficiaries of the current property tax arrangement, rooted as it is in the government threat to steal your home if you don’t pay their crazy rent. Current property taxes are conveniently off the books, coerced from unwilling serfs, and paid to unaccountable government employees who by all standards are primarily failing.

Most government-run schools are disasters, failing to deliver on the most basic educational results, and yet the tax-paying public is constantly told that we must pay ever yet more money “for the kids.” And here in PA, the teachers automatically must pay the unions, and the unions then dump our own tax money into buying yet more career politicians to work against our interests.

Something has to give.

This is more about making government tax collection accountable to the people who pay the taxes, than it is about total tax reduction. Right now there is zero accountability for property tax expenditures or increases. Greedy unions control almost the entire process.

Unaccountable government schools continue to underperform and yet demand more and more money. The government schools oppose all forms of competition because they are committed more to holding onto their own power than they are to the success of the children they are supposed to educate. The way property taxes support this shameful situation serves everyone involved except the children and the taxpayers.

Something has to change.

The Pennsylvania of the 21st Century cannot continue to live under an ancient feudal arrangement. It is not fair, it is not sustainable, it is not good government.

We all deserve better.

You get what you pay for, and is this what you want

That old adage “You get what you pay for” is universally popular.

While this adage usually applies to private transactions for durable (or not so durable) goods, it applies to American and British cultures, too.

In both nations, taxpayer expenditures on public “education” have hit incredible highs, both in sheer volume and per capita.

While we once thought of education as being basic arithmetic, history, home economics, science, etc., over the past fifty years the process of forming young minds has increasingly deviated to include all kinds of social re-engineering.

This is now open, widespread indoctrination against the established culture, values, mores, boundaries, expectations etc by politically powerful teachers unions.

Day after day we see headlines, news reports, and cell phone footage from the front row of some low grade class, where either a teacher engages in gross personalization of education, or where even the official school body creates policies that openly trample civil and constitutional rights.

Recent examples include lots of hateful ranting against republicans, tea party activists, social conservatives, and political moderate Donald Trump, to the point where year books are being selectively edited and Photoshopped to remove references contrary to liberal\progressive beliefs. Like a young senior’s “Trump” tee-shirt being blacked out in his graduation photo, or Trump quotes being edited out from some senior’s year book text.

Then we get to colleges and we see a whole other level of pure hate being taught. A grades are given for answering in politically correct terms, and Cs or even failing grades are given to students who merely answer with actual facts.

Disparaging Republicans and conservatives is like a competitive sport on college campuses, to the point where college administrations now openly (and illegally) discriminate against student groups that are politically incorrect.

While this tyrannical behavior itself is frightening, because the Nazis could not have demonized their intended victims any better, the consequences of educational radicalization are starting to bear violent fruit for everyone to see.

College professor Eric Clanton wears a mask and, using steel bike locks, he sneakily attacks and badly injures peaceful protestors with whom he disagrees. He is caught on video several times, and despite the mask, he is identified by police. Clanton openly teaches “revolution” on college campus.

The other day, Mister Hodgkinson was merely a socialist and Bernie Sanders campaign volunteer. He too has lots of anti- Republican hate, begun on his college campus many years ago, and so he takes a rifle and a handgun and shoots a bunch of Republicans playing baseball.

So the question is, as we are now reaping the results of decades of hate being taught and rewarded in educational institutions from the very beginning grades to the very end of graduate schools, is this what taxpayers want? Is this what you have in mind when you pay your school tax bill, or your child’s college tuition?

If you think that this carefully cultivated hate is not what you what out of our educational system, that it is not what you are paying for, then what are you going to do about it?

 

 

A Father’s Pride

I admit that I am feeling mighty proud this morning. It cannot be helped.

A big milestone in Central Pennsylvania life was achieved last night when my son passed his Hunter & Trapper Safety Education course and received his orange certificate.  He’s now permitted to purchase a hunting license and begin hunting and trapping as his own self-directed person.  Yes, he is young and he must be accompanied by other, older hunters for some years to come, which makes sense.  Nevertheless, he studied hard, attended the classes after school, and passed the exam with a 100% on his first try.

Along with my boy were 70 other students at the Milton Grove Sportsmen’s Club, which is standing room only.  Thank you to the club for providing the venue and thank you to the educators who donate their time to help recruit the next generation of hunters, trappers, and safe gun owners.  Lowell and Tracy Graybill did an especially fine job, which should not be a big surprise given that Lowell is presently president of the PA Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs and the two of them have been a major power couple on conservation and sporting issues for decades.

Honestly, there were a couple of awkward moments in the two nights of training, some opportunities for improvement.  There’s got to be more hands-on and more demonstration of how the different firearms work.  I recall when I was a ten-year-old kid taking the same exam, we all got called up to the front of the room so we could handle the different actions and see for ourselves how they operated.  In a room as big as Milton Grove Sportsmen’s Club’s main meeting room, it must be impossible to see the guns much less imagine how the unfamiliar actions work from the middle and back of the room.

Another awkward time was at the very beginning, when a very nice local Deputy WCO made the opening remarks.  He had a pleasant demeanor and seemed easy to talk with, so he elicited a lot of audience questions and back and forth on the PGC regulations book handed out with all licenses.  He referred to WCOs as “game wardens,” an appellation every WCO I know has tried hard to shed.  He also seemed unfamiliar with basic regulations, like shooting above roadways and public trails.  To his credit, his lack of familiarity seemed to stem from the fact that he appears to pursue charges for serious wildlife crimes and not penny ante, picayune mistakes.

The winner of awkward moments, however, was when one of the educators, Tim, stated that semi-automatic shotguns can only be used for small game and waterfowl hunting, and not for deer hunting.  When it was pointed out by an audience member that semi-auto shotguns can be used for deer in the Special Regulations area around Philadelphia, Tim demurred, openly irritated.  When the audience member tried to hand Tim the regulations book, opened to the page stating that semi-auto shotguns are allowed for deer in that one area, Tim snapped “I don’t care, and I don’t hunt in the Special Regulations area.”

That was in front of the whole class, early on the first night.  It undermined Tim’s credibility and made him look foolish.  He never went back to correct his mistake that night or the second.  It raised the question about qualifications for teaching these courses, not just knowledge, but personality.  Nearly all of the audience members and students were from the southeastern region and quite a few probably do hunt in the Special Regulations area around Philly.  They are entitled to an expectation that they will be provided only accurate information, and that their teachers will have the strength of character to admit when they have mis-spoken or made a mistake.

And no student or audience member should be treated disrespectfully or belittled by a teacher.  It damages the entire purpose of the course.

All that said, it was a wonderful experience for me and my son.  We sat together both nights, and watching him soak up the knowledge was pleasing.  Only forty years have lapsed since I was in his seat….and to me, his rite of passage was much sweeter than my own.

It was also pleasing to see more girls than boys in the student body, as well as many single women and married mothers.  Women are the largest and fastest growing demographic in hunting and firearms ownership.  Now, what would really be exciting would be to see a class like this in downtown Philadelphia, filled with young African American kids and their fellow citizens.  Who will take up that gauntlet, men?

The excitement never ends

So a quiet little Friday morning in sleepy Central Pennsylvania erupts as parent Josh Barry attempts to defend his opposition to being called a “Neo Nazi” in public by a teacher. Said teacher objected to Barry’s inquiries after Barry’s little girl came home with all kinds of left wing propaganda masquerading as education.

Now “teacher” Cydnee Cohen has turned loose the teacher’s union thugs to smear Barry more and make him into the perpetrator and not the victim.

If there is one more example of why teacher’s unions must be illegal, this is it.