EditorialsKevin King

The illusion of owning property


By Kevin King –
Managing Editor

Founding principles of the United States are stated by Thomas Jefferson as the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These derive from political philosopher John Locke. He stated natural rights as life, liberty, and property. Thanks to the hot-button issue of slavery, property was changed to pursuit of happiness by Jefferson. Nonetheless, the right to property should have been, and is, a core right of American citizens. Or at least it’s supposed to be.

What is property though? The immediate thought is that of physical land. The ability to be a landowner. This is absolutely true, but property goes much further. Property extends to what you earn, and especially your person.

These aspects are covered extensively throughout the Constitution by such things as intellectual property law, due process, equal levying of taxes, etc. Tyranny was a true concern of our founders and they made every attempt to protect the individual and their property.

Somewhere down the line things changed though. It’s hard to put them all into a short space, but there have been many. A progressive income tax targets individual’s property based on quantity thereof, not a standard of equality. “Death” taxes take inheritance property away that was saved after being taxed once already. New Executive Orders give the President the ability to bypass due process. Property seems to be slipping away.

In Buncombe County, property taxes and zoning have slowly taken away the right to physical land. You may work hard to buy a piece of land and build a house for you and your family to live in, for your children to grow up in, and for your grandchildren to play in the yard. You can buy everything and pay it off, and you think you own it. Miss your property tax payments and see what happens. While you may have worked your whole life to own something, the county can step right in and take it away from you. The land, the house, the yard, it’s not actually yours, that’s an illusion.

Insert zoning. Perhaps you bought land, paid your taxes, and leave it to your grandchildren. One day the County Commissioners pass zoning and your land use availability changes. Perhaps they zone it R1 and it’s only an acre so your two grandchildren cannot both build a house on it. Maybe all your grandchildren can afford is a mobile home, but it is zoned where mobile homes are now not allowed. That property that you thought you owned, that you worked hard so your grandchildren can have a better life than you did, is not actually yours. It’s just another illusion.

Perhaps that is why today’s generation doesn’t work as hard as the one before. Maybe they know that it is a grand illusion. The harder you work, the more taxes, exponentially, you pay. If you take money, after those higher taxes and buy something with it, it is not actually yours. Property taxes apply to land, cars, and recreational vehicles. The more you think you own, the less you actually do.

America used to be heralded as a land of opportunity. Where someone can start from nothing and make someone of themselves. Now it is simply a place where those who start with nothing get penalized for making something of themselves. It is now viewed as evil to make money and work hard. That is surely the downfall of this great nation. Ambition is being replaced by apathy.

Can the latest generation be blamed though? They are paying into Social Security knowing it will be bankrupt decades before they are eligible. They know that working hard is demonized. Nobody likes the evil rich. The more money you make, you pay a higher tax rate. Owning land and property? Well it’s not really yours after all, so why bother? Why not rent, make low wages, barely get by? Isn’t that the new standard?

America will continue to decline as long as this is the nature of the system. It won’t be easy, but there has to be a drastic change to return to the days of prosperity. Social Security must be fixed. A fair, flat tax rate must replace the Marxist progressive tax system. Property must once again belong to the individual.

This can all start on a local level. The North Carolina General Assembly is looking at removing the state income tax like many other prosperous states including Texas. Folks across Western North Carolina can demand the repeal of zoning and move from a property tax to a consumption tax. Only then will the American dream begin to move forward once again.

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