Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Save the trees?

Longtime readers might remember that when my mom passed, my sister and I inherited a piece of property that has been in our family for about 100 years. It's way up Michigan country. There's nothing on it except a little woods, a rolling field and a little rock quarry. My mom had paid the property taxes on it for years.

What sis and I just found out was that back in 1994 or so, the voters in the state of Michigan voted to put a cap on their property taxes. That meant that property owners could continue to pay pretty much the same property taxes on their property as long as they owned it. So when sis and I looked at mom's property tax bills they were not overwhelming. $90 something in the summer and around $500 in the winter. That was doable between the two of us. We could keep the property and maybe even do something with it.

What we discovered is that when we inherited the property, the taxes were uncapped and our tax bill for the year is over $2000! An itemization of the tax bill shows that the money goes for a lot of social programs- transportation for the handicapped, some elderly programs, the schools, and some other things. And I'm sure that in the blue state of Michigan, voters voted those things in as well.

But here's the irony. Most liberal agendas include saving the earth - protecting the forest. But since sis and I are NOT rich and since this tax bill will present a hardship to our families if we chose to keep the property, we are opting to harvest the trees. I just signed a contract with a forester to take down 150 big trees. The forester said that our woods is beautiful, almost virgin forest - and in a better market would have made us quite a bit of money. But now we're taking what we can get, (which is about half of what it would have fetched two years ago) and putting it into an account to cover the property taxes.

So this is the paradox - liberal agendas to provide social programs are causing the harvesting of an old forest to continue providing the tax dollars to keep funding those programs. That probably wasn't their intent but that's the reality. Of course, it could be that middle to lower middle class people aren't supposed to be holding property like this - which is also ironic since liberalism is supposed to be advocating for the little guy - unless the little guy owns property I guess.



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