How Evangelicals through the Christian Coalition helped liberalize America through the property tax deduction.
How Evangelicals put the Ends of getting to more Productive Society above the Means to get there by breaking the Bible Rules for Property Rights.
Let me start by explaining how the Republican Party shifted from Goldwater to Reagan to set the proper context for this article. Barry Goldwater was the true founder of Reagan conservatism but he couldn’t win at the time he ran. Groups like the Moral Majority helped add in a social right wing voter value piece to the Republican Party so they could win elections and it worked. Much of the funding for the Moral Majority did not come from Evangelicals but from donors interested in the Republicans winning for economic advantages. The true thrust of the Republican Party was never moving the country to the right socially.
In 1973 Goldwater wrote a Bill that allowed for taxpayers to deduct property taxes paid on their Federal Tax return. He called it a Property Tax Relief Bill. He claimed it would relieve taxpayers of some of the burden of paying Property Taxes by giving them a break on their Federal returns. The bill passed. As it turned out the bill ended up encouraging using property taxes to fund more things like education. Richer communities could build up their own neighborhood schools, streets, sidewalks, parks, libraries, and park districts while state sales and state income taxes where divided among the entire state.
The cost of living increased in these nice suburbs along with the price of housing because they were now in nicer neighborhoods. Professionals and people connected with strong unions like teachers and police saw there salaries increasing often times even more that the rate the cost of living was increasing. It is important to note the some professions that tend to vote for different parties saw their real income increase so the changes could get political support. Many lower income workers who were not connected did not see increases in salaries while the cost of living went up. This has helped lead to the incredible number of people who rely on food stamps today. It has also caused a strain on the family. Many people who started families young had a very tough time and financial problems are the greatest cause of divorce. We see many more struggling single mothers than ever before. People began to put off starting families until they could afford them, a time period that stretched out longer and longer through the 80s and 90s. But the economy flourished and the rich continued to get richer and the upper middle class grew and benefited too. Big corporations grew and more people were institutionalized in them having to work harder to keep up with the higher cost of living and conform to corporate politics.
The Christian Coalition that basically replaced the Moral Majority gave A+ ratings to politicians who were for giving federal tax breaks for property taxes. These Politicians were not marked done on their scorecards at all they should have gotten an F. Lev 25:23 says, ”The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants.” The land belongs to God and he gave it to the people not the government. God even allowed all families to return to their land every forty years. This is redistribution of the land to the people through the government what America is doing is the other way around. The government is renting the land to the people.
I must point out that in 1973 Blacks were only beginning to get a real piece of the pie in America. The Civil Rights Movement that protected the voting rights of Blacks in the South would end up benefiting the Upper Middle Class and Rich by dividing the country. Whites in the South hated Unions. This is mostly driven by the fact a Black man would get the same pay as a White man and it would not be based on performance. As a result President Ronald Reagan was able to crush the power of inefficient labor unions back in the 1980s allowing for capital to move into more efficient ventures. Over in Europe it was just the opposite strong labor forced capital to stay in inefficient ventures. This allowed for lots of economic growth for America as seen in the 1990s. As a result of the racial situation America and South Africa were the only Western countries without Universal Healthcare. Entitling people to a better overall standard of living would benefit Blacks the most so America did not spend that way. Property taxes allowed the haves to build up their neighborhoods so they could avoid the racial tensions that lower income people sometimes faced. Their neighborhoods continued to go up in value while neighborhoods that didn’t have a strong property tax base often times saw their home values declining.
Allow me to use Illinois as an example of how property taxes help to liberalize the nation. In 1973 when abortion was legalized.
Illinois passed a measure that said if abortion was ever turned back to the states it would become automatically illegal in Illinois. The state did not want abortion to be legal at that time. When Abortion was overturned back to the states for a brief time Illinois had a statewide election in 1990. The whole country was electing Republican Attorney Generals because crack and gang violence was getting so out of hand in the black communities. Even Cook County, the county Chicago resides in, had a Republican Attorney General named Jack O’Malley and it seemed like all white people liked him. In the 1990 Illinois Attorney General’s race an African American named Roland Burris ran as a prochoice Democrat and barely beat a prolife Republican. Being prochoice was the main reason Roland Burris won. With the anti crime sentiment sweeping the whole country one would have thought the Republican was a shoe in since the Attorney General cannot outlaw abortion anyway. That same Republican would win easily in 1994 after Bill Clinton was in office and the prolife threat was over. Woman in Illinois during that period rallied against anyone who was prolife but after this period a prolife stance was very popular in Illinois. In fact there has been a prolife politician from liberal Illinois in the US Senate and Governer’s Office in this century. The reason why Illinois became so prochoice in 17 years was because the cost of living increased more here than in other states. When people thought of young women getting pregnant they worried of how hard it would be for them compared to the generation before. What prochoice Goldwater had done was taken away the right for women to opt out of an abortion. There were now young women having abortions when in the past they might have been starting a family. I read that in the 1800s many women were already pregnant during their weddings. Women having fewer children later in life have been a boost to the economy in the short run. The safety net was huge but many seeing how people lived who survived off of it would rather work harder and wait longer to have kids than to fall into it. This helped the economy even more.
What I noticed happening in American in the early 1990s is that conservative democrats who were not very pro property taxes or big corporations had to switch to being pro choice from pro life to keep their seats. My state congressman while studying at NIU in DeKalb was one of those who had to switch. He won reelection the first time do to the strong pro choice support and name recognition but lost in the next election because Bill Clinton was President and Republicans seized on the small town prolife views to elect Republicans where they had not held office for a long time. Our state probably would have gone liberal less quickly if they had kept the conservative Democrat in office even if he had to reluctantly move to the left on abortion. Christian priorities should be the economy first before social issues. If the economy moves in the direction of high property taxes, more corporate influence and a higher cost of living it will move to the left on almost all social issues eventually.
Black families had the most destruction due to the system. I always hate how people blame the destruction of the black family on the liberals for welfare. In a high cost of living environment if welfare and food stamps were taken away the condition of the poor and working class would be even worse. Republicans act like they hate all welfare including food stamps. Then why did they not try and do away with the safety net under George W when they had all the power? It is because they want a safety net while continuing to talk about less government and free markets. They pride themselves in conservative values while they really just care about taking care of the people who have and make good money. Conservatives are deceptive and would never get rid of the safety net. Without it they couldn’t keep the cost of living so high that forces Americans to work harder helping to grow the economy. Blacks suffer from the high cost of living that causes the country to demand a safety net that destroys the black family the most. When blacks didn’t work in the Old South they suffered in deeper poverty than those who worked. Why are Blacks not working to abolish property taxes and to limit corporate power?
There is another reason from the Bible that could be destroying the Black family that I will only touch on because it should be part of a different discussion. In the past Black husbands in the South had more control over property like their homes than their wives did. When these Bible based laws were removed this also hurt relations among husbands and wives. Rich White men always seem to find ways to get around gender based political changes with Psych wards and prenuptials.
Not all states had the ability the way Illinois did to raise Property taxes over the last 4 decades. We had a large city and have attracted many companies into the state that pay high salaries. In Middle America voters cannot not just vote for a politician that wants to make their state look more like Illinois and start to raise the cost of living because they do not have the property tax base to do it. People start families earlier in the South and it is less expensive to do so than in the North. Southern states often times do not allow property taxes to pay for education. This is based on Biblical principals and it protects Middle America from becoming more like Illinois or New York. The problem is that Middle America did not try not attempt to end the Federal Deduction for property taxes when electing United States Congressional leaders. So the nation as a whole has been moving in the direction that Illinois and New York are moving and that is towards a higher cost of living. Places like the South have been changing much slower and they seem to be proud of that. The Christian Coalition gave politicians 100% ratings that supported a Federal Property tax deduction. They have missed the Elephant in the room. It appears that Middle America avoided being liberalized in the short term by electing Ronald Reagan. They were given more independence. The catch was the country as a whole would be liberalized and would slowing draw in Middle America. Let’s face it the South has always been moving in the same direction as the North never the other way around with the exception of some gun laws. It is not hard to understand how America has become the liberal country it is today. It in my mind was guaranteed.
Republicans were able to appeal to states with lower property taxes and cost of housing. This helped George W. Bush win the White House in 2000. The George W. Bush win came from the states with lower property taxes and lower cost of housing. Utah supported Bush and had low property taxes and a high median home price making it an outlier. When you compare the states that voted for Bush to New York, New Jersey and Illinois you can see they are more conservative on social issues and have a lower cost of living. This strategy won again for Bush in 2004. Bush ran heavily on an Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment even though the country as a whole had continued to move to the left on gay issues. Now the country has shifted further making the same strategy impossible. As I said Barry Goldwater was the true father of Modern Day American Conservatism the Moral Majority just added social values to win elections only. Bush’s message appealed to the states that he won and other Republican leaders went along with it for a while and then dumped it.
Bush gave tax cuts to everyone including families that made $40,000.00 or less so that they now paid no Federal Taxes. This appealed to Middle America. A white couple in Middle America might do the same type of work as a white couple in Chicagoland, both vote from their pocket books and end up supporting different parties. That is because unions are not very strong in Middle America and the cost of living is low. So when families voted for Bush in Middle America they were voting in favor of their own finances. Voting on the conservative side on social issues might make a person feel good. While the county elected Reagan/Bush for president 20 out of 28 years the country never really moved to the right on social issues. On top of that George W Bush increased the size of government and the national debt while being criticized by the majority of his own supporters. Most who voted for him identified as small government types and still do today. They need a reality check. We have gone around this a million times but people are set in their ways of thinking that they are all about personal responsibility and pulling yourself up. If we ever want to lower the number of entitlements we need to first deal with the cost of living and that would mean getting rid of property taxes.
What we are left with is Upper Middle Class voters taking pride that when they vote Republican they are still paying more than their fair share in Federal taxes. After all over half the country pays no or very little Federal taxes. So rather than seeing themselves as connected and making more than they should off of an unfair institutional high cost of living system they look at who is paying the taxes. They just look at taxes paid ignoring the context. Remember Mitt Romney’s 47% comment to appeal to them that backfired? Republicans in Middle America who paid no or very little taxes often times pride themselves that they do not receive food stamps or welfare nor are they voting to expand those programs so they can receive them. While this may be true they are still voting themselves a tax cut in parts of the country that do not have the option of raising property taxes through the roof. The Upper Middle Class Republicans take pride in that they are pulling more of their fair share than the Middle America Republicans while the Middle American Republicans take pride they are not on public assistance even though they don’t pay very much if anything in Federal Taxes. Pretty funny and the Republicans have been very successful promoting this mentality and winning.
To recap a few points as a result of property taxes we have never dealt with race. Many well off have been shielded from many of the racial problems. The amount spent on education varies greatly. If conservatives are so conservative then why don’t they vote for less money to be used out of property taxes to fund education out of their own taxes and pay for additional tutors out of their own pockets? Again the Pro-Life movement has ignored that the higher cost of living in America has helped put banning abortion out of reach because more Americas think without the choice the country would be a greater mess than it would have been in 1973. They avoid this reality because many pro-life voters have helped drive up the cost of living by voting Republican.
When I was in my twenties before I discovered the negative effects property taxes have on a society’s economic justice for the family I focused on controlling big corporations(an anti corporatist) I figured the Bible set up 3 institutions the family, state and church and that our society gave most of the power to individuals and corporations. I am a Christian anti-corporatist who believes in capitalism. For example I do not believe large corporations should be allowed to hire all the electricians and plumbers giving them control of the market. I would limit the number of electricians or plumbers that could be hired by each company to support small businesses that are independent of large companies(except for large projects). This is just one example of hundreds that I would suggest. If someone accused me of not believing in free markets I would say that corporations are a man made legal institution and if you want freedom so badly then get rid of them. Of course freedom of capitalism is not their goal it is more money and power. The religious right believes there should be corporations and for the government to restrict them is not what God set the government up to do. True but it needs to be examined in the context that corporations now exist and were not in the Bible. I am an anti-corporatist but have not focused on this in the article because many people attack big corporations and not property taxes so I focused on the latter.