North Dakota's Tax Revolution

Ryan James Girdusky

6/11/2012 11:53:00 AM - Ryan James Girdusky

Conservatives have made huge strides in advancing their political beliefs in certain niches of public policy at the state level, such as promoting school choice, limiting abortion access, and 2nd Amendment rights in respect to right to carry laws. Albeit in no other area has the right-wing philosophy been the most legislatively progressive than in the field of taxes. In 1980, when Ronald Reagan became President the top marginal income tax rate was 70% and it has been between 28% and 39% since the Gipper left the Oval office. Even in President Obama’s first term when the Democratic Party also enjoyed a super majority in both houses, such ideas for returning back to the Pre-Reagan years on income tax were never even discussed in hypothetical terms. “No new taxes” has been a generally bipartisan consensus with an exception on the call for the top 1% of wage earners to return to pre-W. Bush rates.

Conservatives and Libertarians are mounting a Herculean effort now to take tax reform to a new level in the state of North Dakota. They hope to accomplish their agenda through the passage of Measure 2; a statewide ballot initiative will be taken for a vote on June 12 to eliminate property tax throughout the state. All lost revenue due to the measure will be replaced “locations of various state-level taxes and other revenues”. Regardless of how the revenue will be replaced, Measure 2 would be groundbreaking reform for the nation, as it would make North Dakota the first state to ban property taxes outright.

To many on the right the passage of Measure 2 would be the best of both worlds, philosophically this would be the furthest advancement of property rights in America thus far and a net benefit to North Dakota’s economy. According to the Grand Folks Herald, the benefits of Measure 2 include the increase of $980 million in private investment, a $1,430 rise in private disposal income per capita, as well as the creation of 13,000 new jobs. While 13,000 jobs may not seem like much, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics it represents 3% of North Dakota’s labor force, which currently suffers from 3% joblessness. In other words, the measure would decrease unemployment in the state to 0%; North Dakota would literally see a massive increase in need of demand for labor, which would result in higher wages for workers due to the shortage. Likely outcomes of a labor shortage would be more migration into the state, which could help kick-start new developments in housing.

So who could possibly be against Measure 2, which would enhance human freedom, private property as well as create jobs and spur private capital investment? Answer: liberals.

A liberal political action committee, Keep It Local North Dakota PAC has dumped nearly $600,000 in an effort to defeat Measure 2, outspending supporters of the measure by nearly 27 to 1. It’s funny that liberals don’t seem to rattle against money in politics when it works in their favor.

Their opposition stems from their belief that it will hurt the poor, single mothers, and children. This would seem counterintuitive because as property ownership would trigger more freedom and more job growth; something I always thought helps the poor and working class. Judging from the donations to the PAC opposing Measure 2, it seems it will hurt the National Association of Realtors who donated more than $100,000, the; National Education Association based in Washington D.C. which also gave $100,000; North Dakota Chamber of Commerce which donated $81,000; and the North Dakota Education Association contributed $75,000.

Other large donors included the North Dakota Public Employee Association, North Dakota Farmers Union, AARP, and Great River Energy and Basin Electric.

Obviously energy companies, the Chamber of Commerce, public employee unions and education associations are in it for the poor. After all if it wasn’t for obscene taxes on private property, surely anarchy would breakout in the streets; the zombie invasion has already started after all. It is a well-known fact to liberals that only property taxes that fund the police stand between everyday citizens and our faces being eaten by the zombies. It’s the model of states such as California that all others must follow in ensuring we find every possible area to tax in order to fund public institutions.

Liberals time and again have proven that they care about the poor as they do the unborn. The passage of Measure 2 should be as important to conservatives as was the recall of Governor Scott Walker. The measures would take a long-standing liberty argument and advance into the next great policy debate the way right to carry and parental consent were throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s. It is a winning issue for conservatives that should be more actively fought for. As former Texas gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina, who ran on the issue of abolishing property taxes said in a debate, “It is a freedom issue, the funny thing about freedom is it marches hand and hand with prosperity.”