A part of my extended family lives in Sequim, Washington. The name is pronounced ‘skwim’ and not ‘see-kwim’ in spite of the spelling. Kind of like Oregon is not pronounced ‘ore-eh-gone,’ it’s pronounced ‘ore-ee-gun.’ As my (once) fellow Oregonians would say, it hasn’t “gone” anywhere. Of course, that was before the great migration of 1978 when 1/8th the population of zCalifornia moved to Portland. This drove out the Portlanders who moved to Seattle, displacing them. However, a more tenacious group they refused to leave and instead built more and more suburbs which eventually reached south by great distances. Coupled with the Portlanders who simply fled across the Columbia River and built northward, Portland and Seattle will probably drive the golden spike of connection in the next decade, thus creating the city of Portattle. Anyhow, Sequim is a native American name which, as far as I’m concerned, means “land of rising taxes.” It fortunately didn’t suffer the onslaught of southerners, however certain Seattlites, now used to paying ridicuously exhorbinant rates for real estate began to consume the coastal real estate, including Sequim. This caused it to expand from three bars, a church and a gas station to a picturesque town with museums filled with logs end actually cut by hand, a few lobster traps and a broken ships propeller and a ships bell, and a variety of haute cuisine restaurants with menus most longtime Sequim residents can”t read. Which brings me to my point.
Years ago, which is to say the early 1960s, my exptended family members polled their pennies and purchased 10 unimproved acres of old growth forest about two miles from the water. Their finances and lack of work opportunity keeps them solidly below the poverty line. Owning their own property and living in a trailer with few amenities (running water finally installed three years ago and electricity (provided by generator just last year) they lived a pretty tough life. Their property had mega triple doubled and became highly desirable to the new age people who wanted to live in the woods while bringing all elements of technoogical convenience along, which is to say they didn’t really want to live in the woods because the romantic imagery was no match for reality have driven the property values through the roof. What used to be a few hundred dollars of property tax bills has soared to the thousands of dollars annually, although no real improvement has been done to the property or the draft and rusted trailer they make their home in. Their taxes keep them both working hard to pay the tax bill, lest anxious vultures hovering with checkbooks and waiting on a late payment to swoop in and take the property for unpaid tax liabilities successfully displace the poor targets of unfettered greed.
It is definitely turning into a country where those with financial security can not only benefit from the vagaries of impoverished existence, they can also speed aling the deterioration and revel i the success of taking a valuable property for pennies on the dollar. At which time god help the old growth forest and the beauty of the once unspoiled area that was so attractive i the first place. It’s is a conundrum how people buy property because of its rustic nature and isolation only to destrpy those qualities as the first items on their agendas. The rest of the family roots and cheers on the efforts of our Sequim residing family members, but it is doubtful that our moral support will defeat the coming taking of the property for taxes. And, of course, they won’t take the minimum property that pays the owing amount, no, they’ll take it all having slipped appropriate officials promises of vast improvements –and a lot of unrecorded campaign contributions. I remember when that was called bribes, the thanks to Americans for Prosperity and other corporate lacky pseudo orginations, the descriptive expressions have been replaced with benevolent sounding monikers that indicate the csrpetbaggers shuld be cannonized rather than hung, a more appropriate solution.
It seems to me that property taxes should be levied according to the projected or current use of the land and the income levels of the owners. The system is too rigged the favor the more affluent among us –much to the ruin of those who have protected and worked the land for a generation or more and have no interest in stripping it of the resources which so mightily benefit the neighboring communities and cities. But America is a land that brags the best politicians that money can buy, and all that free cash places our elected stooges into the realms of the affluent, and so it’s not too hard to figure out where their loyalties reside.
For all of the talk about state and individual rights for property, our Tea Party rebublicans have seeming charted a most obvious non-survival future. And for people like my extended famoly, that’s just catastrophe wrapped with pretty bows and shiney wrappers.