Invitation to Debate Property Tax Cuts

Harriburg Radisson July 30, 7PM

Men think they think upon great political questions, and they do; but they think with their party, not independently; they read its literature, but not that of the other side; they arrive at convictions, but they are drawn from a partial view of the matter in hand and are of no particular value.

- Mark Twain, "Corn Pone Opinions"

It is better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a question without debating it.

- Joseph Joubert

In all debates, let truth be thy aim, not victory, or an unjust interest.

― William Penn

Saving Communities

Bringing prosperity through freedom,
equality, local autonomy and respect for the commons.

To Property Tax Opponents:
An Invitation to Debate

Tuesday, July 31, 7 PM
Harrisburg Radisson Inn, Camp Hill, Pennsylvania

Contact: Dan Sullivan, <director@savingcommunities.org> 412-687-5263

Joshua Vincent, director of the Center for the Study of Economics, and Dan Sullivan, director of Saving Communities, invite opponents of Pennsylvania's property tax to debate the question, "Should Pennsylvania reduce its dependence on real estate taxes?"

We invite any and all opponents of property tax to select their two best debaters - their most expert, most articulate and most persuasive, to make the case for reducing or eliminating property taxes.

We have covered the cost of a hotel room which seats 160, and we are asking the Pennsyvania Cable Network PCN and other media to cover the event. We will reserve 80 seats for people invited by opponents.

We agree with the goals of those who would replace property tax with non-real estate taxes [see below], but we are convinced that their proposed measures would not attain these goals. We believe that arguments to this effect are actually rationalizations by people who dislike property tax but do not understand the underlying economics. However, we are open to the idea that someone in Pennsylvania can prove us wrong.

We are sending this invitation to bona fide opponents of property tax as we identify them. If we get multiple responses, we will invite the opponents to choose their best members to represent them in this debate, and to solicit their supporters to attend.

If you think you can make a solid, informed case for reducing or abolishing property taxes in Pennsylvania, or have people in mind who can do so, please let us know as soon as possible.

Points of Agreement

We agree that tax reform should,

  • reduce the burden for ordinary home owners, and especially for those on limited incomes,
  • reduce the number of foreclosures,
  • make housing more affordable,
  • promote a stable, healthy, vibrant economy,
  • give taxpayers more control over their government,
  • reflect the values of the founders of this country and our spirit of independence,
  • provide adequate revenue without encouraging waste
  • put the public interest ahead of special interests

Points of Disagreement

We believe,

  • That a properly assessed real estate tax, with an emphasis on land values, can accomplish all of these objectives, but
  • That shifting away from real estate taxes will not accomplish any of them, but will make matters worse in each category.

Invitations and Responses so far:

David Baldinger and the PA Taxpayer Cyber Coalition:

On April 30, we sent an invitation to the PA Taxpayer Cyber Coalition, and got no response. Dan Sullivan issued a public challenge in the comments section of an article on tax reform, and got the following response by David Baldinger:

Dan, working for this legislation has been my full-time unpaid job for the past eight years, so I'm up for the challenge. Just be prepared to see your "experts" driven into the ground. What we're saying just doesn't SOUND good, it IS good. You need to learn all the facts before commenting. Despite what you imply, we're not just a bunch of ignorant hicks.

David Baldinger, in comments to article in Public Opinion, Chambersberg PA, May 8, 2012

However, Mr. Baldinger did not respond to follow-up invitations on that board, nor to an invitation sent to him on April 30, nor to a challenge on his organization's Facebook page. On May 19, we sent another invitation to his personal facebook account and to his organization's Facebook Page.

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