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The North Dakota Petri Dish for Recovery

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: We're gonna start in Soldotna, Alaska.  This is Terry.  Welcome to the EIB Network.  Hi.

CALLER:  Hi, Rush.  I am so happy to talk to you.  Basically my point is, and maybe I'm just a simpleton here, but to me if the private sector is fine, then the public sector would be fine just based purely on the tax revenue coming in from the private sector to fund these services.  I don't understand why this is confusing.

RUSH:  What you're saying is the public sector doesn't have any money until taxes are collected.

CALLER:  Well, yeah, exactly.  And I'm not talking about, you know, the government infusing these through the federal government funds.  I'm just saying basically, you know, for small cities and municipalities and things. I mean, to me, if your private sector is doing well then you have the money to provide --

RUSH:  Well, exactly.  The petri dish for this is North Dakota.  A booming state.  As I said yesterday, you know what's on the ballot?  You know what they're voting on in North Dakota today is whether or not to pass a constitutional amendment to eliminate property taxes.  And do you know why?  It's because they are so flush with tax revenue. There is an oil boom in North Dakota.  There's an oil boom in Utah.  There's an oil boom in Montana.  There are little laboratories in this country that show exactly what the road to recovery is, and it is a burgeoning, growing private sector.  Innovation, brand-new ways of extracting oil previously unavailable to us, and it's created a boom. 

Sales tax revenue in the state of North Dakota, according to the Wall Street Journal yesterday, sales tax revenue is up 83%, and they didn't increase the rate.  They didn't raise taxes.  They just have that much more commerce going on.  They are so flush with money that they can afford to eliminate the property tax, and the proponents of this have a really good slogan.  Now, the polling data says it's gonna go down to defeat three to one, if you can believe that.  People are afraid to eliminate the property tax because they know it funds education and all that, and they're afraid that if the boom wipes out or that if Obama goes in and says the boom's basically illegal and orders it to shut down -- imagine thinking that's possible in this country, that your president would go in and shut down a boom economy.  But they do, they have the fear.  Then they fear that the state wouldn't have necessary funds to operate without the property tax. 

But here's the great line.  And I'm paraphrasing.  A woman is quoted as saying, "I don't believe that a tax should have the power to make you homeless."  Meaning, it's just not right that failure to pay your property tax results in you losing your house.  Come up with some other penalty, but the idea that you can lose your house because of a tax, this is one of the rallying points that the proponents of this are using.  A couple of stories on this today.  One's in the New York Times, another one USA Today.  And they're both pretty good stories.  But nothing's changed.  The polling on this is that residents three to one are opposed to eliminate the property tax. 

Now, I'm just gonna tell you, if somebody came along here in Florida and asked me to join the effort to eliminate property taxes, I'm right in there.  Who wouldn't?  And particularly on the basis, yeah, why should you lose -- you know, I don't know if I can get this story in 50 seconds.  Some years ago, my property tax bill did not get sent to me.  It was sent to one of the multiple addresses of my financial guy, adviser.  And it got lost.  Nobody did anything about it, and I didn't think about it, and the day before my house was to go up for auction on the courthouse steps, I got a call from somebody who was not even in the assessor's office, because people in the office he told me were hoping I wouldn't make the payment so I'd lose my house.  And he happened to know one of the people.  I was one day from having the house go up for sale.  This was ten years ago, maybe a little bit longer than that.  Anyway that's how they're selling this, that you shouldn't lose your house, a tax shouldn't have that kind of power. 

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH:  No, no.  Folks, it really happened.  And, in fact, it was somebody in the assessor's office who confirmed it for me later on. They said they weren't allowed to reach out.  But, yeah, the bill got lost, or wherever it went, somebody didn't know what it was, didn't think to inform me.  It was shortly after I moved here and I was trying to keep my actual address secret.  So bills would be sent to a different address, but with property tax, it has to go to the address of the property, or it did.  It was all convoluted.  I didn't get the bill.  And the bills come in November, and you've got until April or May to pay it.  You can pay it all off in November.  If you don't pay it in November, it goes up a little bit in December and so forth, like yours does. 

So one day I'm sitting in the studio and the phone rings. This is back when I could hear, could use the phone, and there's some guy on the phone, very nervous, telling me that I might want to look into getting my property tax paid.  I said, "Okay, why?"  I didn't know any of this about it had to be paid by April. 

"Well, you just better."

"Can I send you a check?" 

"No, I'm not from the assessor's office." 

I said, "Well, who you are?"

"I just heard that your house is gonna go up for sale tomorrow on the courthouse steps. It's gonna be auctioned off because you..."

This was very close to the show starting, so I start panicking and I started trying to find out what happened. And, lo and behold, everything he said was true, and I had to go run out and get a certified check and hand deliver it and so forth, and I later found out there were people in the assessor's office who were hoping, just because of political differences, that I wouldn't pay the bill and I'd lose the house.  Ever since then, I pay the bill in November.  I made sure I get the bill.  I made sure that it went to the right address, which I thought had been done in the first place. 

Anyway, so if somebody came along and said, "You know what, we're gonna make a move to eliminate property tax in Florida," which is not necessary, I'm up, I'm in there.  I have not been corrupted by this notion that government can't get along without me and my taxes and so forth.  Let me rephrase that.  The best way to illustrate what I really mean is North Dakota, here you've got a state that is running a surplus, I forget the number, maybe the surplus is close to $900 billion, and that's a lot in a small state.  I mean it's a lot of commerce, and the sales tax revenue is up 83%, and the state does not need all of the money it's collecting via taxes.  It just doesn't need it.  And some people said, "Look, the state, granted, it needs to be funded for certain functions, and we all agree to this as a civil and ordered citizenry and society.  But beyond that, the state shouldn't take more than it needs." 

This is a fundamental argument that orients us every day here.  And yet you have some people who are so concerned what might happen to the state if they ever do run short of money, don't want to get rid of the property tax.  Now, what they're really afraid of is what will happen to them if the state runs out of money somewhere.  But if the state has hundreds of millions of dollars that it doesn't need, what's it gonna do?  It's gonna spend it.  That's what happens.  So I don't know how the vote's gonna come out.  The pre-polling showed that one out of three were supportive of this, that the opposition was winning huge, the opposition to eliminating the property tax in North Dakota.  We shall see. 

END TRANSCRIPT

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