Fighting City Hall Tax Hikes

The Glenn Heights, Texas, city council is considering an increase in property taxes of about $136 a year on an average home, according to the city. We successfully saved Haltom City residents over $500,000 last week by speaking out. It’s the principle of the thing, I figure. Everyone on the board currently supports one increase or another; nevertheless, I wanted to give the taxpayers some support. Monday was the first of two public hearings on the issue, and this is the speech I delivered. (A lot of cities are thinking of increasing taxes, so feel free to use any or all parts of this for your own town.)

Let me state for the record that I, too, want to live in a clean, safe neighborhood, a neighborhood that is welcoming to all people, and a neighborhood that is safe from violent individuals. After all, that’s why you and I are all here tonight. Although my primary objection is to the means used to collect this money, I do believe that the rates are already too high as well. However, seeing that the discussion tonight is about the tax rates, I will limit my remarks to just that.

If we kept the government to its proper functions, then the city government could be run on a fraction of its current budget.

As the French philosopher and pamphleteer explained, the role of government is the protection of life, liberty and property. And when the government violates those bounds, then individuals must bear the unintended consequences that inevitably follow from that decision. It’s what he called the seen and the unseen. The unseen consequences may be less obvious but none the less relevant. He offered a tremendous insight into why this must be so. For the sake of time, I won’t go into those now.

Take the case before us. I grant you that increasing taxes will generate more revenue, which will provide for more city services. Now, let’s investigate for just one minute what could be the unseen consequences of increasing taxes.

Individuals would have spent that money how they saw fit to improve the lives of their children and their families. We have all dealt firsthand with the increasing burden of consumer prices for gasoline and groceries as the Federal Reserve continues to devalue the dollar with its inflationary policies. Families could have used that money to buy school supplies, to save for the future, or to invest in their business or themselves. Someone may decide to start a new business because the city is seen as more tax friendly, and then new jobs are created. By allowing everyone in the city to improve their lives ever so much, hasn’t the general welfare of the people also improved? They may not have used the money how I saw fit, but the point is that I can never use that money to best improve their lives as they could themselves. Allowing free people to live freely, that is how we have come to enjoy the greatest abundance that the world has ever known. It’s what makes this discussion over how much wealth to take even possible.

I would even go so far to challenge the idea that the quantity of government services is a measure of community’s values. I believe that a government should not be measured by the services it provides, but by the rights it protects.

With freedom comes the responsibility for how we use that freedom. Once we have the courage to accept that, we automatically become part of the solution by honoring our peaceful neighbor’s choices and no longer trying to control them. When you think about it, that really is the good neighbor policy. Thank you.

Two other residents gave testimony opposing a tax increase after me, but they were also commenting on their desire to increase the quality and quantity of various city projects. One individual told me that he appreciated my comments, and we had a quick discussion about Debra Medina’s proposal to end property taxes and the Texas Liberty Campaign. The next meeting is Monday, Aug. 31, when the vote will likely occur.