Of all the lessons history teaches, none is more clear than this. When government punishes good decisions and rewards bad ones, that society is doomed to economic failure.
Happy green-card season to you if you live in Anchorage. This is the time of year when government seeks out a segment of our population to punish them for a certain behavior: buying property.
A property tax punishes those who sacrifice, work hard and make the right decisions in life, allowing them to be in the position to buy a home. Government declares buying a home is worthy of punishment. Why?
Because politicians believe their role is to punish those making good decisions and reward those making bad ones. The left and its allies in the media love to refer to any tax that does not fulfill this mission as regressive.
In 2007 the city of Anchorage took $3,400 from the average Anchorage homeowner. Assuming that the tax remains flat at $3,400 during the course of a mortgage (which it certainly will not; it will go up), the city will punish the average Anchorage homeowner more than $100,000. That's one stiff penalty for just trying to realize the American dream of home ownership.
The problem with the American dream of home ownership: It's not attainable. As least not in Anchorage. As long as the city punishes you for buying a home, you really never own your home.
Ask a senior on fixed income who paid off their mortgage long ago. Ask them if they own their home when the city comes back year after year demanding thousands. Each year wanting more. If the senior doesn't ante up the cash, the city takes the house.
Like the progressive income tax, a property tax is a perfect example of government trying to level the playing field. Trying to make life fair.
But a more unfair tax you will not find. Compare a property tax with a sales tax. With a sales tax everybody pays the same. Since when did everybody paying the same become unfair? It is the very definition of fair.
Of course my friends on the left and their allies in the media will tell you a sales tax unfairly hurts the poor.
To believe this you have to believe the poor are poor because they are victims. I would submit in this country, in most cases -- not all, but in most cases -- the poor are poor because of decisions they make.
Look at the Census Bureau's 2004 Population Survey. Only 10 percent of blacks who live in a two-parent household are poor, and only 13 percent of their under-5-year-olds are poor. But look at black single-family households. Almost 40 percent are poor, and a whopping 58 percent of their under-5-year-olds are poor.
The distinction is the same among whites. Only 6 percent of white two-parent household are poor, and only 10 percent of their under-5-year-olds are poor. But single-parent white households suffer a 26 percent poverty rate, and 52 percent of their under-5-year-olds are poor.
The evidence is overwhelming: When couples decide to split or folks decide to have kids outside of marriage, poverty often follows. An astonishing 85 percent of black children living in poverty in America live in a female-headed household.
So if for the most part poverty is self-inflicted, what business does government have punishing those who make good decisions and rewarding those making bad ones?
A study commissioned by mayoral candidate Dan Sullivan showed an 8 percent Anchorage sales tax with a cap of $100 would raise enough money to completely do away with property taxes.
It is an uphill battle to make this happen. We'll have to change the city charter and end service road areas. It will take bold, effective and strong leadership to rid the city of property taxes.
But it can be done. Let's get it done and make the dream of home ownership in Anchorage a possibility. It is the right thing to do.
Dan Fagan is a radio talk show host on KFQD 750 AM. E-mail, email@example.com.