Friday, January 18, 2013

Pointless Preamble



Have you ever considered what would happen if you decided not to pay your property taxes?  It’s fairly obvious, the county, state or federal government would seize your land and sell it for what you owed.  Most might say, “You owed the money, you deserve to lose your home or land.”  Others may have sympathy and try to help you raise the money to pay the bill.  But we're forgetting one important fact, do we own the land or not? 

I’m not advocating not paying our taxes, taxes are essential, they pay for our protection, the roads we drive on, well they kind of pay for the roads we drive on, have you driven on the roads lately?   The government maintains our monetary stability…OK maybe not doing too well there either.  But taxes are important so that the government can at least have the money to pretend to be giving us the basic services we need as a society.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Look closely at the words that are capitalized, Order, Union, Tranquility, Welfare, Blessings, Liberty and Posterity.  These are not words that should be capitalized in general but they show us the great importance of these words and we should look at them with greater deference. 

The preamble of the constitution is quite clear and definitive.  1.  Establish justice, which means to establish a rule of law, judgment and defense.  We can all agree on the effectiveness of the overall justice system in this country, not bad so far but there are problems, remember OJ?  Not the breakfast drink.  It’s not a perfect system and it seems to be perverted on a regular basis but it is the best in the world.  It could get a lot better if the warnings by Frédéric Bastiat the author of The Law were heeded more closely.  (you need to read The Law)

“Self-preservation and self-development are common aspirations among all people. And if everyone enjoyed the unrestricted use of his faculties and the free disposition of the fruits of his labor, social progress would be ceaseless, uninterrupted, and unfailing.”

It’s the perversion of these principles that threaten our peace to destroy, when greed and corruption move our motivations from unrestricted use of personal progress to the misuse and advantage by some  “…when they can, they wish to live and prosper at the expense of others.”  This is not justice.

2. Domestic tranquility requires all to live within the law, ensuring a safe haven in the areas we call home and country. Every time I have to pay my property taxes, defined as legal plunder by Frédéric Bastiat, my level of domestic tranquility flies out the window, even if the argument is that my taxes pay for that tranquility.  How much peace of mind can one have if they have to pay for their home every twenty or thirty years, depending on the tax rate?  Where is true property ownership if it can be taken away for not payment of perpetual fees?  

I own my car, I don’t have to drive it, I understand the need to pay some taxes to support the roads (have you seen the size of the potholes, the traffic etc…)and I do so when I pay my registration.  But owning my car is not contingent on my driving my car.  Ownership implies …ownership… not renting or leasing or keeping something in trust, its mine all mine.  I can sell it and keep all the profits, and in the case of my car that’s not much but it is mine.

3.  Provide for the common defense. Military, police, coast guard, crossing guards, I’m not sure how traffic light cameras fall into the common defense but I believe we need to pay taxes for those who protect us and keep our land tranquil and free of enemy incursions.  

4. Promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.  I’m having some issues with this one, not in its blessing or intent but in how it’s been carried out.  The general welfare is commonly defined as the well-being and interest of its citizens.  When coupled together with the rest of the Preamble that general welfare clause can only be interpreted one way:  the country should do no harm to one to benefit another.  

This preamble to the constitution lays out the underlying motivation and spirit of the law and defines the language that all laws should adhere.  I think we’ve gone a little astray from the spirit of those great men, who mostly agreed, but compromised in order to form a more perfect union than had ever been formed before.  The mistake is thinking that this document is antiquated, old, out of touch with the realities of today’s societal complexities.  

The Preamble should be reemphasized in every law we pass, every tax we consider and especially in relation to my property taxes that I must admit are way too high and should be completely illuminated so that all of us can realize that American Dream of true Home Ownership.