Thursday, February 22, 2007

Column for Feb. 22, 2007

The abomination that is the income tax

Having just done my income taxes this year, I again contemplate the abomination of income taxes. Personally, I believe that income taxes violate the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution. Also, I firmly believe that we should repeal the 16th Amendment.

The North Carolina income tax is based upon the federal income tax system. Basically, it starts where the federal system leaves off, makes some additions and adjustments, and assesses a liability. It is unethical based just upon the idea that it is forced taxation upon one's labor. Non-compliance results in loss of property, legal action, and even prison time. In my opinion, it is forced labor to benefit others and akin to slavery. It is more insidious when you consider the idea that many do not pay their share of a tax burden and live to suckle off the labor of others by the government forcibly taking money from law abiding, tax paying, productive citizens and giving it to those who do nothing to receive their governmental milk from a fat teat.

Wednesday, I did our state and federal tax returns. Here is the part that is totally evil about the North Carolina income tax system. Did you know that if you got a refund from last year's taxes that the amount of your refund is considered income for the following tax year and therefore subject to income tax? If in tax year 2005 you got a refund of $500 (to make up a figure) from the state in 2006, you are supposed to claim an extra $500 of income for tax year 2006.

That is pure evil and double taxation. I pay my taxes with taxed dollars. The state takes and holds my money without any interest or consideration. When the taxes collected exceed the amount actually owed, I am due back the overage. Again, this is money paid above and beyond what I would owe. The state treasury holds this money for a year and does not pay interest on it. Then, I am supposed to be grateful to get a refund of my own money. That already taxed money is then considered income a second time and I have to pay taxes on it yet again. That is just plain unethical.

North Carolina has one of the highest tax burdens in the Southeast. We are getting as bad as some states in the Northeast, notorious for high taxes. I read some statistic that showed that Massachusetts has a similar burden percentage wise as we pay here, after all taxes are figured.

Where does it stop? The Beatles' song “Tax Man” is not all that far off. We pay the highest gasoline tax in the Southeast. We pay taxes on our income. If we invest that taxed money to make more money, we get taxed on the profit. If we buy retail goods with our taxed money, we are taxed yet again. If we save that taxed money, we get taxed on the interest. If we buy automobiles with our taxed money, we pay sales tax, a yearly property tax, and a yearly registration tax. If we buy property with that taxed money, we get taxed on the property. If you think you own that property, just stop paying tax on it for a few years. If you pass along your already taxed money and taxed property to an heir, it is taxed yet again.

We pay federal income tax, state income tax, sales tax, property tax, excise taxes, and the list goes on. North Carolina is more brutal in income tax enforcement and collection than the federal IRS. To top it all off, the state graciously taxes us on "income" that has already been taxed.

This is why I love the Fair Tax Plan. Information on that plan is available on the internet at There are a few things perhaps not taken into account in that plan, but it is still far more fair than income tax. I would even be in favor of a flat tax, provided that ALL people pay it, regardless of income level.

I understand the need for taxes. What politicians don't seem to understand is the need for fairness.

Friday, February 16, 2007

I didn't know that I am in the Wilson's Mills paper, too.

A couple of weeks ago, I was at a local restaurant here in Selma and one of the employees recognized my name on my credit card. She told me that she has been reading my column in "The Wilson's Mills News". I didn't know that my column was being published in that paper, too. I knew it was in "The Selma News", but I didn't know that the column was being carried in both papers. Today I picked up a copy of "The Wilson's Mills News" and there I was. Cool. Thanks, Rick.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Column for Feb. 15, 2007

Involuntary Annexation Issues

After reading and writing lately about the subject of annexation, I decided that perhaps I should include this topic in the Rants column. I wrote about this topic on the internet, I have been reading about the annexation public hearings in Selma, and wanted to address the subject.

I am a big supporter of private property rights. That means I have a hard time with government taking property, over regulating property use, and over taxation of property (with property taxation at all, for that matter). One problem I see going on a lot is involuntary annexation of property by municipalities.

The City of Fayetteville had a big involuntary annexation fight a while back. An entire region was annexed against the will of the residents, who at the time, lived in the unincorporated area of the county. They received no city services or benefits of being incorporated. However, they ended up paying the price of taxation simply to be called Fayetteville residents.

The town on Selma is looking to annex a bunch of acreage into the city limits. I have absolutely no problem with annexation that is agreeable to the affected property owners. When it is done under protest, I have a big problem with it. Don't get me wrong, I am all for “enlarging our tent” so to speak, but there are ethical constraints in doing so. I am never for extorting money from property owners who do not wish to have their property voluntarily annexed into a municipality.

There is one instance in which I do support involuntary annexation, however. If the property or properties in question are surrounded by annexed property and the properties are deriving benefits from the town. By that I mean if they property owners benefit from improved water, sewer, garbage removal, utilities, property value, streets, etc. as a result of being contiguous to the town limits, then I find it appropriate to annex such a property into the town. Selma recently had such a case here in town on Ricks Road. There are some properties for which it just make sense to be a part of the town limits.

The entire idea behind annexation of additional properties into the corporate limits of a town is for growth and planning control, but more importantly, the property tax revenue. Building the tax base is a popular reason, probably the only real reason, for involuntary annexation. It is all about the money.

I fully support building up our tax base. I want to share the load for the tax burden in town, myself. I want more people paying taxes here. The more people who share the burden, the smaller my burden should be. Of course, that never works in reality. Spending will increase, fiscal responsibility often is disregarded when more revenue comes in, and we end up paying the same or more in taxes, anyway. Only through fiscal restraint will this be overcome. Do we have the resolve to do so? Do we elect men and women with that resolve? Think about these things this November.

For these reasons, House Bill 39 has been introduced in the North Carolina General Assembly to stop involuntary annexation action by municipalities. The bill is on the NC General Assembly web site. The bill unfortunately creates more bureaucracy in the form of a new commission to work on the topic. That is just what we don't need...more governmental red tape and expenditure.

What the bill does do is to suspend all involuntary annexations that are in process and to prohibit future such annexations. For any such annexations to proceed, the new bureaucracy must give approval and recommendations.

One local representative, James Langdon, is a co-sponsor of the bill. I applaud the effort of lawmakers here in North Carolina to protect the property rights of citizens. Like I said, I am fully in support of protection of rights. I am also in favor of a town's autonomy. Town governments, however, often step over their proper place, as evidenced by the U.S. Supreme Court's Kelo Decision. Though the Kelo Decision deals with eminent domain rather than annexation, the principle is the same.

I encourage you to contact your state representatives with your support or dissent on a bill that will strongly affect your own town.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Reader feedback left today on my feedback line

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Column for Feb. 8, 2007

Think about Iraq before drawing conclusions

Who hasn't heard all the chatter about President Bush's decision to put more troops in Iraq? If you have not heard it yet, I figure that you must live in a cave and your only news source is this small town newspaper you are currently reading. There are critics that support such an action, there are many who do not. The loudest voices, or at least those that get press coverage, seem to be those opposed to the so called "troop surge" deployment.

Here is the problem. The majority of those who are in opposition to the troop deployment are not ideologically opposed to warfare. They are merely opposed to anything that a conservative will do while in office, if you can actually categorize George W. Bush as a conservative. I personally have a hard time with that label for him, but he is still an improvement over the alternatives we could have had. Many of the same men and women in Congress who approved The Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002.

I personally opposed the war in Iraq on one primary basis. There was no declaration of war. If we are going to declare war, then let us follow Article 1 Section 8 of the United States Constitution which vests this authority in Congress and nobody else. They do not have the authority to grant the use of military force against another nation, only to declare war upon it. Yet Congress did so anyway. Thus, our entire action in Iraq, not to mention Vietnam and Korea is illegitimate.

I take issue, however, with those who advocate our withdrawal from Iraq on that basis. The fact is that no matter how improper it is that we entered Iraq, we are indeed there and our leaving would throw Iraq into even more chaos. After victory over Japan, we set up military leaders to be governors. We need to do much the same in the Middle East.

There has been much pressure to allow Iraq to have a "democracy" and run their own show. How can you explain to someone who has never tasted pizza what pizza tastes like? Or someone who was born blind what the color orange looks like? It is no different in the Middle East and self governance. People who have never had the freedom to choose their own leaders don't yet comprehend the freedom, lifestyle, nor responsibility that accompanies that form of government. As long as I am on the topic, we all need to stop using the word democracy as a synonym for the word republic. The two are vastly different. We do not live in a democracy in this nation. The Pledge of Allegiance has it correct when it says, "and to the republic for which it stands", not "and to the democracy".

Last May, my wife and I got a dog that was abused and neglected. Some of you may have seen her story on television. She did not readily and fully adjust to the idea of freedom from abuse, plentiful food, or the ability to play and frolic. She apparently had been abused by a male at some time and was terrified of me. All the dogs that were rescued at the same time were the same way, we found out. It took time for her to realize that she had the freedom, love, and comforts available to her that she did. Likewise, it will take time for an entire culture to adjust. Furthermore, when a large part of the culture is ideologically and religiously opposed to such freedom, there will be great instability and strife. Make no mistake that the predominantly Islamic culture will not take to the idea of freedom of the masses readily. We have already experienced this, otherwise our troops would not be dying there.

The bottom line is that when forming your opinions on the topic, do so according to facts and logic, not according to emotion or what is politically expedient. I want to say more, but I have run out of room in this week's column.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Column for February 1, 2007

We need to return to Constitutional ideals

Did anyone actually watch The State of the Union Address this year? In years past, I would sit and listen to the long speech made even longer by endless applause and ovations. I have a hard time with all of that political grandstanding by both sides of the aisle. I did not watch the State of the Union speech this year. Instead, I watched the recorded episodes of this season's "American Idol" program. I would rather read the speech in its full text later.

If you have read my columns for any length of time, you know I am a strong conservative/neo-libertarian. I believe in actual adherence to our Constitution, otherwise it is just a nice, old piece of paper with ink on it.

Just once, I would love to see a true State of the Union address given. Article II Section 3 of the US Constitution says: "He [the President] shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them".

Note that it does not say that the State of the Union is to be once per year, nor does it say that it is to be a speech before both houses of Congress. For that matter, it does not even specify that it shall be a speech at all. The speeches rarely actually contain "information of the state of the union". Recommendations to Congress of "such measures he shall judge necessary and expedient" have been replaced with grand plans of expansion of the government and personal agenda items. This happens regardless of the party affiliation of the President.

President Bush made the statement, "America's prosperity requires restraining the spending appetite of the federal government." HELLO? Under the GOP control of both houses of Congress and The White House, Republicans have spent more than the Democrats ever did. Government expanded at a nearly unprecedented rate of growth.

Another mind boggler from the speech was "My budget substantially reduces or eliminates more than 150 government programs that are not getting results, or duplicate current efforts, or do not fulfill essential priorities. The principle here is clear: A taxpayer dollar must be spent wisely, or not at all." I truly wish he meant that statement.

What is lacking? How about content such as our annual revenue and expenditure figures? How about annual debt figures? I would love to see an honest assessment of our national strengths and weaknesses. Sure, the speech has things such as "we are facing (insert problem here) in our (insert program name here)" generic things, but nothing concrete that actually states what our union status presently is.

Here is one blatant lie in the speech. "The United States has no right, no desire and no intention to impose our form of government on anyone else." My rebuttal is but one word...Iraq.

President Bush then went on to talk about "democracies" in the Middle East, Ukraine, Afghanistan, etc. First and foremost, STOP USING THE TERM DEMOCRACY! We are NOT a democracy. We never have been and hopefully never will be. I didn't see the term "republic" used in the speech. Article IV, section 4 of the US Constitution states "The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government". This should be a guarantee that a republic will be our form of federal government to be modeled for individual states to follow.

What needs to happen is that each new Congressman, Senator, President, judge, and federal employee needs to have a civics lesson prior to taking office or employment. After all, the President's oath of office is, "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." If only that were true and all unconstitutional legislation was eliminated or at least vetoed. I wish we had at least a president who would see things that way. It is easier to have one man than 535 to think clearly, one would think. Maybe I am wrong.