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 Post subject: Re: Why do Property Taxes still exist?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 5:37 am 

Joined: Tue Mar 11, 2008 12:19 pm
Posts: 1683
Location: Ottawa, Canada
beforewisdom wrote:
Why do property taxes still exist?


To pay for municipal services.

beforewisdom wrote:
It is my understanding that nobody likes them.


LOL! Nobody likes income taxes either - maybe we should get rid of those, too? Next up - sales tax. Yays? Nays? The nays have it.

Wow, that was easy. No more taxes. Everybody's happy.

beforewisdom wrote:
People work hard for most of their lives to buy a home and then when they retire they slowly lose their home through reverse mortgages to pay their property taxes.


Why don't they downsize to a smaller home and use the profits to pay the property taxes for the rest of their lives? Why don't they move to a region with lower property taxes? Why didn't they save enough money during their careers to cover the expense of property taxes in retirement? Why have you started 2 different threads hating on home ownership?

beforewisdom wrote:
Why not fund schools at the State or Federal level, taxing only those people with school age children?


Now that is an excellent question. As a DINK, it really burns me that I'm required to pay for schools I'll never send kids through, while parents who opt to send their kids to private schools are entitled to reclaim the portion of their own property taxes allocated to the public school system.

Unfortunately, people with kids vote, and politicians would never risk alienating such a large voting block. It would be too much of a financial shock to suddenly slough the cost of educating children onto those actually creating the children, so it will never happen.

Plus, families are a political "fuzzy bear," to be universally praised regardless of how many children a couple has, or how financially unviable the family's circumstances are. You must never say anything bad about "families" in Western culture. Having children is always a good idea, and only selfish heartless grinches would ever try to discourage a couple from having a baby. Babies = good.


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 Post subject: Re: Why do Property Taxes still exist?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 6:48 am 
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I agree with Kombat. I have no kids. Why should I pay to educate other peoples' kids?

Yes, I understand the concept of increasing the human capital of the area and all that other theoretical stuff. But I pay about $1500 a year for services I never will use. Why not charge people to send their kids to public schools? Not only would we get people to stop overpopulating the planet, people would actually have to pay their own way if they choose to have kids.


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 Post subject: Re: Why do Property Taxes still exist?
PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2010 3:46 am 

Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2009 7:45 pm
Posts: 38
I completely agree with kombat and DoingHomework. Even if my wife and I ever have kids (and if we do, we would only have one, unless of course we'd end of with twins), we would certainly not educate them in the US public school system. I doubt I'd even trust most private schools in the US, coming from a European country with much higher educational standards. We've seriously considered that'd we'd move to Europe for 10-15 years just so our child wouldn't have to suffer through the US school system. That being said, I don't mind at all with paying my own way for anything, but that's the problem really, isn't it, society as a whole minds a lot. Having children is a privilege for those that can afford to have them, yet we treat it as an unalienable right for everyone.


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 Post subject: Re: Why do Property Taxes still exist?
PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2010 8:53 am 

Joined: Fri Sep 12, 2008 12:29 pm
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Location: Seattle, WA
Of course no one likes taxes (except extreme communists, er I mean Democrats. j/k).

Since this discussion has morphed into "should everyone pay for public schools." Perhaps I am biased, having recently had a child, but it seems to me there are two arguments for everyone paying for public schools:
1) We are all better off if everyone has a minimum amount of education.
2) Our country is supposed to be a meritocracy, rather than an aristocracy. If parents have to pay for their children's education, poor parents will have uneducated children who will also be poor. (Counterargument: even today rich people pay for private schools for their children and other educational opportunities.)


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 Post subject: Re: Why do Property Taxes still exist?
PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2010 9:34 am 

Joined: Tue Mar 11, 2008 12:19 pm
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Location: Ottawa, Canada
stannius wrote:
1) We are all better off if everyone has a minimum amount of education.
2) Our country is supposed to be a meritocracy, rather than an aristocracy.


Stannius, I apologize for taking this a little off-track, but your comments really struck me. Isn't it true that those exact same arguments also apply to health care?

Isn't society as a whole better off if everyone has access to a basic level of health care?

Isn't society harmed if we provide better health care to rich people, while we let poor people wither and die?

I don't know where you stand on the issue of public health care - it's possible we already agree on this. I just thought it was an interesting jumping off point for another discussion.

Why do we agree that everyone has a right to an education, but not everyone has the right to be healthy? Isn't that hypocritical?


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 Post subject: Re: Why do Property Taxes still exist?
PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2010 11:11 am 
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beforewisdom wrote:
I also think the burden can be less heavy by distributing the costs at a state level rather than at the level of a municipality.

Poorer areas would get better education. I can see parents complaining "why should MY tax money go to pay for OTHER people's kids education?". However, I, as a person without children could say the same thing. I would also be just as wrong if I valued having a country that would be moving away from poverty and the other results of poor education.


While I agree with you, this is done in many areas, perhaps most. Keeping school taxes too local has been found to be illegally discriminatory. In many states, perhaps most, the amount of funding is determined at the state level by a formula. Counties must provide funding at that level and not above. It is nondiscretionary money. They have to cut other services first if they do not have enough to cover education at teh prescribed level.


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 Post subject: Re: Why do Property Taxes still exist?
PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2010 2:36 pm 

Joined: Fri Sep 12, 2008 12:29 pm
Posts: 1558
Location: Seattle, WA
kombat wrote:
stannius wrote:
Stannius, I apologize for taking this a little off-track, but your comments really struck me. Isn't it true that those exact same arguments also apply to health care?


Yes, the same arguments could be applied to health care. Though, noone is proposing that universal health care be funded by property taxes.


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 Post subject: Re: Why do Property Taxes still exist?
PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2010 3:42 pm 
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kombat wrote:
Why do we agree that everyone has a right to an education, but not everyone has the right to be healthy? Isn't that hypocritical?


I think everyone should have a right to education and I think everyone should have a right to basic health care. But rights should also care responsibilities.

The right to vote should carry the responsibility to be informed about the issues and the candidates you are voting on.

The right to an education should carry the responsibility to not be a discipline problem and to work hard to achieve. If you or your kid screw up, they are no longer entitled to the right.

The right to health care ought to carry the responsibility to eat right, exercise, and not smoke, abuse alcohol and drugs, etc.

Why is it that people seem forget about the responsibilities. Maybe we need to adbot a Bill of Responsibilities to go along with the Bill of Rights.


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 Post subject: Re: Why do Property Taxes still exist?
PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2010 4:04 pm 
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beforewisdom wrote:
It was/is my impression, that at least in some areas, paying for education drives the lion's share of the need for property taxes.

I don't know if that is true. Most people end up being parents, so if only parents are taxed for education there should be enough funds. Especially if the funds are redistributed at a state or federal level.


The reality is that in many areas there is a serious "scam" being perpetrated by elected officials. Both the Ds and Rs do it. Personally I am fiscally conservative but socially liberal EXCEPT I expect people to work for their handouts. No one on the public dole should be allowed to sit around being lazy or whatever. If you get welfare you ought to be required to work for it. There is plenty to be done - picking up trash, scrubbing sidewalks, and all sorts of stuff. Sending people a check without accountability is a travesty. With health care, let's have random drug, alcohol, nicotine and triglyceride/blood glucose tests for people with medicaid-paid service.

The scam is that most states have a constitutional limit on the total property tax levy allowed and on the amount a municipality can tax/spend. The property tax levy is theoretically supposed to pay for all sorts of services - infrastructure, local roads building and maintenance, schools, police, fire, trash collection, etc. But what has happened is that counties and cities have evaded the laws by introducing user fees and all sorts of other surcharges for everything so that property taxes pay almost exclusively for schools and police/fire. They have figured out a way to charge extra "property taxes" by calling it something different.

I paid somewhere around $50,000 in taxes last year NOT counting gasoline taxes, airport taxes, and various user fees like that. I worked for that money. I worked several MONTHS for free to pay that. A few thousand of my money goes to national security, which I am fine with, and some goes to law and order. But a huge amount goes to paying to keep some lazy, unmotivated people healthy and fed. I find that pathetic! It's fine to be compassionate, and I am, but FAR too many people just take advantage of government handouts and do not work for what they get.

So, this turned into a bit of a rant. But I hope you see the point. Property taxes exist to pay for government services that support a relatively few people or highly inefficient institutions.


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 Post subject: Re: Why do Property Taxes still exist?
PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 8:23 am 
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Posts: 636
treousa wrote:
we would certainly not educate them in the US public school system. I doubt I'd even trust most private schools in the US, coming from a European country with much higher educational standards. We've seriously considered that'd we'd move to Europe for 10-15 years just so our child wouldn't have to suffer through the US school system.


This caught my attention... What have you been reading, and to whom have you been listening? Exactly how bad do you think the US schools are?

I don't think our system is perfect, and I admit that I have no experience with the European system, but you make it sound as if we achieve basic levels of literacy despite our schooling (and against long odds).

From age 5 through 13, I attended public school in a small (10k people), solidly middle-class town (median family income of $68k). Then I went to a public high school in a nearby city (100k people, median income of $50k). I'm sure we could have used more supplies, smaller class sizes, better teachers, etc. But things were fine, really.

Those of us from the wealthier towns/neighborhoods who had more involved parents, were doing calculus, physics, and two years of chemistry taught by PhD's. Lots of us went on to study at universities, with scholarships, normally regarded as more prestigious than those in Europe.

Those kids who came from the poorer, inner-city, broken families often did not do so well. The dropout rate at my high school was roughly 35%. But even some of the kids from less advantageous backgrounds found success.

I think the results of standardized tests of American vs. European kids do not tell this story. The problem is not teachers or money or school systems. It seems to me that it's about parents being involved, holding their kids accountable, exercising discipline, and fostering ambition or pride. For some reason or another, Europeans seem to do a better job of that. It's the same reason, I guess, that Switzerland has far fewer gun deaths than the United States despite a similar rate of gun ownership. The problem isn't the guns, it's the culture.

In any case, if you are a decent parent I think your child will do perfectly fine in the American public school system - and in life.

Tim


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 Post subject: Re: Why do Property Taxes still exist?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 4:00 pm 
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timwalsh300 wrote:
What have you been reading, and to whom have you been listening? Exactly how bad do you think the US schools are?


Trust me Tim, public schools in many states are pathetically bad. The situation is bad enough that major corporations have become interested because of the strategic issues of not having enough skilled workers available 10-20 years out. Why build a factory in a place with bad schools when you know you will have difficulty attracting qualified workers in a few years. And something like 80% of college freshman nationwide do not qualify for college level math (college algebra or above). Writing skills are also substandard. I used to work for an international company. Most of the American employees had poorer writing skills than their foreign counterparts - in English, even if it was not their first language. This was true from entry level through executives!

timwalsh300 wrote:
I think the results of standardized tests of American vs. European kids do not tell this story. The problem is not teachers or money or school systems. It seems to me that it's about parents being involved, holding their kids accountable, exercising discipline, and fostering ambition or pride. For some reason or another, Europeans seem to do a better job of that. It's the same reason, I guess, that Switzerland has far fewer gun deaths than the United States despite a similar rate of gun ownership. The problem isn't the guns, it's the culture.

I agree with most of that. I definitely put most of the blame on parents who do not hold their kids accountable and only seek to interfere, second guess teachers, and defend their kids at every chance. All we have to do is look at DoD schools to see how it can be done better!


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 Post subject: Re: Why do Property Taxes still exist?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 6:34 pm 
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I don't disagree that the products coming out of US public schools are often inferior to those coming out of private schools or perhaps European schools. I just don't place any blame on the school system itself. It's a matter of "garbage in, garbage out." Take those kids who are going to private schools (with their families and socioeconomic backgrounds) and put them through public schools, and I think they'd do just as well.

When people criticize the public school system, I just don't understand exactly what they think should change. Like I said, more money for buildings and supplies could help. And I would love to see the teachers' unions broken up so that schools could have the flexibility to recruit/retain younger, more enthusiastic, more talented teachers, especially in certain areas. But, that said, my teachers were always good enough. Those of us who wanted to learn did so.

Unless people actually want public schools to turn into something akin to basic training (living in barracks, disciplined by drill sergeants) to compensate for bad parenting as you suggest, then nothing will really change.

Tim


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 Post subject: Re: Why do Property Taxes still exist?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 7:28 pm 
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timwalsh300 wrote:
Take those kids who are going to private schools (with their families and socioeconomic backgrounds) and put them through public schools, and I think they'd do just as well.


I don't know. We help raise a relative. She went to a private school starting in kindergarten and is now starting high school. We participated as parents in the school events, and everything else. We also got to know the parents. The school costs around $10000 a year (less in K, more now) yet most parents are not rich or snobs. They just care about their kids education and they contributed and participated. The kids' math, reading, and writing skills by the end of 8th grade are better than most kids (even the smart ones) coming out of the public schools here. (And I'm in a position to know because I see the skills of incoming college freshmen from all types of schools).

It is certainly true that some kids can get a great education out of some public schools. But no one should have to play roulette with their education! If you are in the east you probably have better schools that in the west and southwest. But there are good schools here, you just have to find them.

Incidentally, home-schooled kids are also very interesting. They are typically very knowledgeable and smart yet they often lack the discipline and study habits to succeed initially in college. They don't necessarily know how to learn in the classroom style where they don't get individual instruction. But the do have parents who care. Of course there is a spectrum but that has been my observation.

And incidentally, that private school my relative goes to...it spends far less per child than public schools, the classrooms are nothing special, and the teachers are paid less than the public school teachers around here. They like working there though because they get respect from the kids, parents, and administrators. There are rarely discipline problems, not because punishment it harsh but because the types of kids whose parents care about getting them in a good school apparently teach them to behave well toward their classmates.


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 Post subject: Re: Why do Property Taxes still exist?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2010 12:46 pm 
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off topic but

It may be that public schools are bad, but I went some of the worst in the US (GA was 49th at the time, and I was in Atlanta. However, somehow I managed to get into the "gifted" program, excel, go to a great public university, and am currently over halfway through a PhD and a practicing economist to boot. Public schools didnt fail me. And a neighbor who went to private school wound up settling in a mediocre management track.

I dont think "public school" should get 100% of the blame. Sure, its rough in many places, but I think its used as an excuse by poor parents. Takes both, and a willing kid

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 Post subject: Re: Why do Property Taxes still exist?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2010 3:55 pm 
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JerichoHill wrote:
(GA was 49th at the time...

I dont think "public school" should get 100% of the blame. Sure, its rough in many places, but I think its used as an excuse by poor parents. Takes both, and a willing kid

Arizona is darn near 49th now as are many western states. They can't all be 49 and 50 but they are trying!

For the record, I put much of the blame on parents but that does not tell the full story.


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