The Myth of the American Dream

What is the American Dream?

Do you believe in the American Dream? What is the American Dream? One aspect is the idea that America is the land of opportunity. Bill Gates did not inherit his position of wealth, he worked for it. Even though it is possible for anyone to achieve such a level of success, most people do not aspire to nor expect to attain to that level. But most do aspire to the dream of having a family, a job that provides for that family and a home they can call their own.

The Anchor

There are few who do not seek this aspect of the American Dream. As children, most assume they will have their own home when they “grow up.” As they enter adulthood, they think about getting married and starting a family, and of when they might be getting their own home. It is seen as an anchor to their life goals. Their thoughts are that no matter what may come, their family will at least have a place of shelter from the elements, a place where they can lay their heads to rest at night. Times might get tough, but owning a home will at least address the fear of having one’s family living out of a car or on the street.

Your right to private property is not absolute.

Are you comforted by such thoughts? The reality is that you should not be. It is founded on the mistaken notion—the myth—that you actually own your home. You may have pursued this goal and thought you had arrived at that dream. You may think you are on your way, working hard, paying your mortgage, with an end in sight. You may already have worked like a slave for 30 or 40 years to pay for it. You may have inherited it . Your name may be on the title. But that means nothing. Unlike any other piece of personal property you have paid for, you do not actually own your home. The government can and will take it from you.

How Can the Government Take Your Home?

How can it be that private property can be taken from someone. Especially in the nation which was founded upon the principle of the right to private property. This is not a reference to the dangers and abuse of eminent domain, even though, as practiced in N.J., it also confirms this point. The reality is that remaining in your home is contingent upon one thing: Paying your property tax. Fail to pay your property taxes and you will forfeit the right to continue to occupy your home. The town will evict you, and sell you home to someone who will pay the rent (tax).

Unlike Any Other Possession

It is only when one becomes a homeowner that they becomes aware that in the eyes of the government your continued occupation (possession) is contingent upon keeping up with your property taxes. This makes it unlike any other possession. You are taxed simply because you own it. Your right (privilege?) to keep it depends on paying that property tax. When you buy a TV, you own it. When you buy a car for cash or complete the loan payments, it is yours. There is nobody who can say they have rights to take it from you after you have paid for it. They are private property. Not so with your home.

More Rude Awakenings

What also comes as a rude awakening is that property taxes are assessed regardless of ability to pay. Get laid off, become disabled, suffer a long term illness, retire, get downsized and take a lower paying job, one’s property tax remains the same and is not adjusted based on one’s lost ability to pay.

How can this be?

One wonders how it is that there is no interest by the government in one’s ability to pay what is the largest single tax for many taxpayers. How many times have you heard of the IRS knocking on someone’s door to collect income taxes based on one’s ability to earn. Or have you ever heard of sales taxes being collected based on one’s potential to spend money? No, this is because all other taxes are based upon one earning something that can be measured and taxed accordingly or which is based upon what one decides to spend. The Property Tax is the only tax based upon the mere fact one owns a particular kind of property.

Reality Sets In

Sometimes it is right away, sometimes it is not until they are approaching retirement, sometimes it is not until after retirement, but sooner or later everyone who is not wealthy realizes that the American Dream is actually an American Nightmare. The largest single source of stability in their lives is only a drop in or loss of income away from being taken away. Taken away simple because one is being assessed a tax not based upon ability to pay but merely upon the fact they own it.

What Can Be Done?

The only way to correct the injustice of such a system is to remove the cause of the injustice. The Property Tax must go. There is no other way. In fact, there is a tacit understanding in our society that taxes ought to be based on one’s ability to pay. This is confirmed by the fact that property tax rebates are based upon one’s income. Make too much money and you do not qualify. Unfortunately, the compensation given in the form of rebates is so inadequate, so far short of compensating for over-taxation, it is cynically laughable.

Therefore, the only way to correct this inequity is to eliminate the Property Tax. There is no way it can be adapted to offset its unfair application. There is no reason to maintain a tax that is not based upon a just reason to assess it. Mere possession is not a just reason. Are we interested a just tax system or not?


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