Niall Ferguson’s “Civilization: Is the West History?”
A documentary review by Lynn Bergman
This documentary is highly recommended for anyone wishing to make some sense of the world around us. History is artfully employed to teach us how Western Civilization has advanced due to fundamental elements of societal success.
Ferguson’s essential elements of economic success are listed below:
Rule of Law & Property Rights
If we look internally at what is currently happening in North Dakota, we see obvious strength in the areas of competition, science, medicine, rule of law, consumerism, and work ethic. If we have an Achilles heel in North Dakota, it is property rights. I implore the reader to try to formulate a solution as I outline the reasons for my concern in the area of property rights.
During the last decade and especially the last five years, local governments have increased property taxes far in excess of inflation. This has been done in spite of the spirited efforts of taxpayer advocates in the last three legislative sessions to seek limits on those increases. The political power of lobbyists for the League of Cities, Association of Counties, and North Dakota Education Association has repeatedly prevented legislators from summoning the courage to limit the rise of property taxes in any meaningful way.
Legislators preferred, instead, to provide a “bailout of K-12 education” that greatly increased the pay of K-12 administrators and allowed subsequent “backfilling’ of such co-called “tax relief” by the remaining local entities in subsequent years. Without the activist suggested “tax reform”, including several suggestions for limiting local spending, “tax relief” alone failed to fundamentally limit the excessive spending of local elected officials.
Make no mistake… many years of property tax excesses and pending increasingly excessive increases due to the formulas employed are not accidental. Local officials simply have no sympathy for the taxpayer, only for the government employees that they pander to prior to local elections that, by law, never occur in November when significantly more voters show up at the polls.
The fairest tax, the sales tax on consumption, is reaping significantly greater revenues and is expected to be even more lucrative in the months and years to come.
The corporate income tax, 60% of which comes from out-of-state corporations, is an effective way to insure that the fruits of the work of North Dakota residents are not completely lost to out of state interests.
Energy related tax revenues are directly tied to the sustained development of North Dakota’s natural resources and are expected to continue to more than cover development related impacts on local entities where those resources are located. In fact, reduction of the overall oil and gas tax rate of 11 ½% to 9 ½% is advisable during the next session to further insure the development is long term sustainable.
The property tax is a relic of our country’s early history when we were an agrarian economy. The ownership of property has become so complicated as to require over 130 corrections in North Dakota property tax laws over the past century. England and Iceland have discarded their property tax. Many other countries never initiated it in the first place.
If you haven’t already formulated a solution to the property rights abuses and inequities in North Dakota, it’s alright. I’ll offer you the answer: Simply vote Yes on Measure 2 on June 12 to “end the mess”.
If you listen to the lobbyists for around 80 organizations that already enjoy property tax exemptions and vote NO, be prepared for loss of local control of k-12 schools due to 100% state funding, a new across-the-board exemption of only $75,000, or both. You have the solution at your fingertips…don’t be fooled by special interests and their untruthful advertisements on TV, radio, & print media.
They already have their exemptions…it’s time you get yours!
Measure 2: Vote Yes to End the Mess!