Wednesday, June 8, 2016

100 years of double taxation

In 1914 when George W. Fuller wrote his paper
Elements to be considered in Fixing Water 
Rates his thesis was already old news in
government circles. By 1876 The Board of Water
Commissioners of Detroit had already been sued
by E. Huff Jones for charging him when water
mains,to which Jones was not connected in any
way, were installed in front of his property.

Actually, the property value on his home had
already been increased to pay in taxes for the
new waterworks that became available to him.
That's how and where such essential
government services that are provided to the
general public are paid for. But since most
people really don't pay attention to government,
simply paying taxes without a second thought,
governments have always schemed to increase
their income. After all, more government
income, higher wages for politicians.

Fuller, in 1914, urged that "readiness to serve"
was an important element of the water bill
because it cost just as much when allocating
costs to a vacant house as it did for an occupied
home that is actually consuming water. He has
a point, the same point as befits a sidewalk on
a dead end street at the edge of town that no
one ever uses. Similarly, that bit of sidewalk
cannot be charged as a user fee to the owners
of property in that block. All the sidewalks are
paid for by everyone in the town. And of
course Fuller ignored the fact that property
taxes are the same whether a house is
occupied or not.

Little by little, for the past 100+ years, the
Michigan judiciary has managed to illegally
redefine the "readiness to serve" charge into a
fee for service when what it is paying for is also
being paid for in property taxes. Let's not forget
that this charge is for a publicly owned resource
that is shared equally by everyone in town, as
well as all visitors to town who actually may
contribute nothing to the tax base, let alone any
"readiness to serve" charges that are imposed.

With the passage of Michigan's "Headlee
Amendment" to the state constitution, limiting
taxes, it has fallen to the courts, as the last
resort, to ignore this problem on behalf of
local governments, thus allowing this double

So in their "wisdom" the  Michigan Supreme
Court created a court rule allowing the
unfettered dismissal of lawsuits that challenge
the fee vs tax paradigm.

Having been subject to that particular
miscarriage of justice, I have instituted a federal
lawsuit. You can find a copy of my complaint at:

The cheating that goes on with this double
taxation exists in slightly different forms all
over the United States. I attribute the water
problems in Flint Michigan to government
looking at providing essential services as a
revenue source rather than looking at it as a
public service, that forms the underlying
need for governments in the first place.

I think we need to revisit the very basis for
having governments in the first place before
we can actually make realistic progress in
resolving many of our modern day issues.
So many of our governing bodies, and state
judicial departments, have wandered away
from their essential functions, looking after
their private interests rather than the public
good they were created to assure.

Bill Vajk

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