Being a realist allows one to see human behavior for what it is, which means generally looking at the self-interest behind all that people do, especially when they claim otherwise through altruistic ideology.
When we look at the voters, we see a group of people who are trying to make themselves look good so that they can continue to do what they like doing, usually careers, families, and hobbies. Humans are simple creatures at heart.
This means — not boding well for democracy — that their decisions reflect a desire to increase their personal social status by showing how benevolent and contented they are, not looking hard at the situation before them.
Consider the curious case of the self-bankrupting county:
Belding and the other new county commissioner, Betsy McClure, like him a Republican, have promised to stop using the impact fees to balance the budget each year. So far, they have set aside about $4.5 million to use for such future projects as repaving roads, developing recreation areas, and expanding broadband internet.
That didn’t come easy, Belding said. Not relying on the impact fees meant finding other ways to fill a $5 million hole in the 2021 budget.
“We tried every other opportunity we could, slashing all those expenses,” Belding said. “We just couldn’t get there. So we made the hard decision to increase taxes.”
Counties need to make money so that they can provide such services as mental health support, drug and alcohol programs, and children and youth services — programs that have seen tens of millions of dollars in cuts at the state and federal levels in recent years.
Services like “mental health support, drug and alcohol programs, and children and youth services” are not strictly necessary. They represent a convenient solution for voters, namely “let someone else take care of our problems.”
They also add a huge obligation to a budget that would otherwise be balanced and able to provide necessary things like roads, police, fire, and courts.
On top of this, public schooling consumes vast amounts of money for almost no quality of education, creating a situation where kids with any educational potential need to be homeschooled while the rest are babysat at the public school.
Combined, these taxes drive up the cost of housing:
Affordable homes have already almost vanished in many Texas counties. According to data from the Texas A&M Real Estate Center, of all the houses sold in Collin County, a suburban region of Dallas, in 2019, only 4 percent cost less than $200,000—down from 51 percent as recently as 2011. In the Austin metropolitan area, the average house now costs almost $397,000, up from $200,000 in 2011, according to data collected by Zillow.
The article argues that zoning causes a housing shortage, but this seems unlikely because no-zoning Houston has the same problems.
Local governments depend almost entirely on rapidly increasing property taxes for funding:
According to the state comptroller, local governments raised about $1 in sales taxes for every $7 in property taxes in 2018. And school districts were the biggest dependents, gathering almost 55% of all property taxes collected.
In Texas, property taxes have risen rapidly over the past two decades:
In fact, from 1998 to 2017, property taxes were up 212 percent, which was nearly twice that of the average taxpayer’s ability to pay.
This drives up rents, which in turn drives up housing prices, since as rents get more expensive people turn to home-buying instead, creating a cycle of rising rents and house prices:
As a result, the 2019 appraised values of apartment complexes in Tarrant County have gone up about 20%, compared with an 8% to 10% increase in residential values, Law said.
“Landlords build those astronomical property taxes right into their rent, yet tenants don’t know and don’t realize how much they are paying the tax man,” McCarty wrote.
Texas has one of the highest effective property taxes at 2.18%.
Texans refer to these taxes as a “second mortgage” because over the course of four decades, they end up paying the same amount required to buy the home. Naturally, when it comes time to sell, they factor these costs into the price.
Voters tend to pull the lever when told that “education” will be the beneficiary of higher taxes, and only later come to regret that decision when their rents and housing costs go up. Like goldfish, however, they quickly forget by the next election.
The estimated almost sixty percent of their property tax money which goes to education pays to educate illegal aliens, driving up costs:
Abbott then retweeted the account with the directive, “Google Plyler v. Doe,” which is the landmark 1982 Supreme Court decision that held that states cannot constitutionally deny students a free public education on account of their immigration status.
Relying on the equal protection provisions of the 14th Amendment, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that funding saved by excluding children in the country illegally from public schools would not outweigh the harm and costs imposed on society from denying them an education.
Local school districts across the country are strapped when it comes to resources for K-12 education, especially in poor communities that don’t generate lots of revenue from property taxes, which funds the majority of school budgets. And in states like Texas, where 1 in 5 children live in poverty and 1 in 4 children live with at least one parent who is not a U.S. citizen, the problem is compounded by the Trump administration’s heightened immigration enforcement agenda.
It turns out that Texas is educating quite a few illegals and children of illegals, who tend to be expensive because they have lower English language skills, and comprise 13% of the student body:
Nevada had the biggest percentage of students with parents who were illegal immigrants, followed by California, at 13.2 percent; Texas, at 13.1 percent; and Arizona, at 11 percent.
This assessment however relies on figures from 2012 that estimate a total of eleven million illegals in the country, a number that many of us regard as low by a multiple of at least three.
Conservative estimates place the cost of educating illegals at nearly $7 billion per year:
Given that Texas’ total public school enrollment was 5,299,728 in 2016 (247,389 were enrolled in private charter schools), this means that 11.1% of students in Texas’ public schools are children of illegal immigrants of illegal immigrants themselves.
According to Texas’s state budget, $61 billion is spent on K-12 public schools. This number does not take into account spending on student courts or education services centers.
Given that 11.1% of student are illegals, this means illegals soak up $6.77 billion in educational costs.
Then consider that only 15% of these illegals have been here more than 20 years, which maps exactly to the rise in property taxes.
And yet, silence from the voters. They sleep on.
They have now had four decades to repeal Plyler through legislative action. Courts generally defer to legislative intent and, in the absence thereof, develop Leftist programs based on the Fourteenth Amendment.
The voters slept on.
They have had twenty full years to arrest the property tax snowball, but no one seems interested. They have had nearly sixty years to repeal some of these many useless programs — mental health, childcare, CPS, welfare — that only grow government dependents and taxes.
These taxes leech away the money and time of the productive, who then have fewer children and do less of inspiration with their lives. They die out to pay for the many, since there are always many more have-nots than haves (or “have-it-togethers” as some of us like to say).
Voter response: loud sleep apnea sounds.
What does this tell us? Democracy is doomed because if asked nicely, voters would pull the lever for shooting themselves in the face.
They keep voting for expensive programs, then seem shocked and surprised that these translate into more taxes. It is a comedy, or would be if it were not real.
Then they keep voting for politicians without placing any real demands on them, which means the politicians avoid important issues and pursue symbolic ones, since you can never fail at tackling a non-issue.
Every year, the taxes go up, we get fewer healthy and normal babies, everyone gets more grey and worn down by the jobs treadmill, and more smiling faces come across the border looking for free stuff.
It’s a suicide spiral, and the voters have no one to blame but themselves.