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  Mark Tapscott is editorial page editor of The Washington Examiner and tracks the internet revolution in media and government. He is a member of the National Freedom of Information Hall of Fame and a member of the Media Bloggers Association board of directors. He is also a founding member and host of NewsTrust.net, as well as a visiting journalism fellow at The Heritage Foundation think tank.

Ballotpedia is web site for 'Citizen-powered Democracy' on the Right

February 2, 12:15 PM

McCain and Romney got all the coverage from the Florida primary but did you know Florida voters also  overwhelmingly voted in favor of a ballot proposition - Florida Amendment One - that makes significant changes in the state's property taxes, changes meant to favor home owners and small businesses?

Florida Amendment One passed with 64 percent of the vote. There will be many more ballot initiatives, some placed on the November ballot by state legislatures, but most put up for voters to decide via initiative and referendum drives. These propositions typically cover just about every issue imaginable and often represent the only tool available for tax payers to fight assaults from advocates of more government regulation and higher taxes.

Ballotpedia is the new Internet site for keeping abreast of all initiative and referendum activity across the country. It's a wiki, like wikipedia, but focused specifically on everything connected with "citizen initiatives, ballot access, petition drives, initiative and referendum for political change, and associated subjects."

Presidential primaries are not the only thing on the ballot for Super Tuesday. Check out Ballotpedia's extensive information on California's Tribal Gaming proposition here and here for info on California's Proposition 93, which would effectively gut the state's precedent-setting term limits law.

This is an important web site and I expect it to become an essential resource for everybody interested in public policy and politics.

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Tom: While this is good to hear, I believe it misses a larger and much more important issue. Property taxes -- along with zoning laws and requirements for government permits before people can build on their property -- are all INTRINSICALLY wrong; that is, the very concept is wrong, in and of itself. Fundamentally, they are an assault on the very concept of private property. In imposing them, government is insisting that, in the truest sense, our property is not really ours. Even if the mortgage is all paid off, Big Brother asserts that he is our permanent landlord, and he will tax us for our use of "his" property. Furthermore, we may only use it for what he allows, and we must have his permission before building or improving upon it.
Many of us were outraged at the Supreme Court's decision in Kelo v. New London, in which the High Court ruled that local governments may seize the property of one private owner, and give it to another who will pay more property tax. However, if we accept the idea that the government is the real owner of the land, the idea makes a perverse kind of sense. If Big Brother is the real owner, why should he not be free to evict one tenant in favor of another who will pay more rent?
Then, too, the vast bulk of property taxes go to pay for our academically and morally rotting public schools. If someone does not have a child in school, not only is that one being forced to pay for the education of other people's children, but quite possibly is also being forced to indoctrinate those children in philosophies with which the property owner strongly disagrees. The reall solution to repeal the property taxes. Then, stop forcing children by law to attend specified schools, and stop funding those schools by taxation. Some parents want their children taught basic skills, to be able to pray, and to have good moral instruction. Let those parents fund the type of a school they want. Other parents want their children taught evolution, moral relativism, and "value free" sex education. Let those parents fund the type of a school they want. Then, instead of communities being torn apart by controversies of what should or should not be in the schools, when parents consider a school, they could simply be told, "This is what we do here. If you don't agree with it, you're perfectly free to enroll your child somewhere else." As for the small amount of remaining services funded by the property tax, they could probably easily be funded by a 1 or 2 percent tax on local retail sales.
February 3, 8:49 PM

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