Thursday, October 21, 2010


 Our local newspaper published an article today touting the exciting revelation that the Carolina Thread Trail recently awarded $564,795.00 worth of grants to 13 community projects.  The Carolina Thread Trail is part of a network of non-profit organizations related to the Lands Conservancy and Land Trust organizations.  While the writer of the article was obviously excited about this announcement, I wonder if anyone reading the article would be interested to know where the money comes from.  If you are one person asking that question, here is the answer.  It is money from tax deductible donations (giving tax breaks to some) and tax money from all levels of government, making us all pay.  Can we afford to take land out of the hands of private ownership and place that land onto the public sector dole?  If we wish to continue to use taxes to undermine private property rights, why do it the slow way?  Why don't we just declare the entire country is a publicly held green zone and no one has a right to use their own land any more?

The premise of the Lands Conservancy groups is a scam.  First it is based on the lies of anthropologically (man-made) caused climate change.  And secondly, but worse, it is anti-private property rights.  In case you are not aware of it, the United States Federal government already owns thirty percent of all the land in the country.  (Should the U.S. default on its debts, our land could be "snatched up" by whoever holds those debts.  Speak Chinese anyone?)  That is just the Federal government.  Millions and millions of acres of land are currently being bought out at fire sale prices, using tax incentives by the Land Trusts and Land Conservancy non-profits in the country.   The confiscation of land by government supported Lands Conservancies and Land Trusts is using your / our tax dollars to take land out of reach for any private citizens' use whatsoever for all eternity.  Donations to these organizations are tax deductible also, so not only is the property tax on these lands lost, but the donation tax breaks are lost to the government.  Why?  All for the prospect of keeping land out of the control of private ownership, putting land out of reach for private purposes, and wearing silly green hats and badges for "green" causes.

"Oh," you say, "but what about the "feel good" opportunity to save our environment from those dastardly developers who wreck the landscape?"  Well, you can "feel good" all you want, but government grants coming out of your taxes means you are paying for property that will forever not be owned and controlled by private citizens.  The Carolina Thread Trail is just another avenue for taking private property out of the hands of citizens and using taxes to do it.  

Today's local newspaper article written by Amanda Memrick states it this way: "Scenic land that might otherwise be snatched up by developers and turned into subdivisions or shopping centers is being conserved, thanks to low land prices brought on by the soured real estate market."

Note the word, "SNATCHED."  The higher property taxes and other taxes become, more of these non-profit groups use tax dollars to "snatch" up privately owned land.  The higher property and estate taxes become, the private ownership of land becomes near impossible.  The worse the economy, the more opportunity for government to put "developers" out of business.  Who do you think is making themselves "feel good" about that?  The big government, anti-private property groups, Lands Conservancy groups, and the Carolina Thread Trail.  Mind you, government, non-profits, Lands Conservancies, and the Carolina Thread Trail do not pay taxes on the property they confiscate.  Instead, they use your money by force to support their agendas.  So, who would you say is doing the "snatching?"

The newspaper article also cites Randi Gates, Carolina Thread Trail community coordinator saying: "We see a rise in property values that are adjacent to trails."  

However,  to show you how manipulations of tax laws create a self-fulfilling prophecy, here is a quote from Land Trust   "An easement may confer federal and state income tax advantages. If property appreciates greatly heirs may not be able to pay the taxes. A conservation easement on land may reduce a property's value and thus reduce estate taxes allowing heirs to keep the property." 

First, I might ask, keep the property for what?  The Land Conservancies' uses are restricted.  And which is it?  Rise or fall of property values regarding Land Trusts and Conservancies?  I guess it depends on which side of the fence you are on. Tax payer or tax taker.  The taxes for heirs on property they inherit is reduced or eliminated, but the land sits there with no possibility of any control by the heirs. Maybe they somehow technically "own" the land, but they take tax deductions in trade for regulations and restrictions on what they can do with that land.  What is the point of holding the land?  You could sell it outright for someone to actually make a living off of that land, or you can sit there and get tax deductions for letting the land go to some public use that is no longer under your control.  As the government makes policies pushing land holding farm families out of business, the heirs have two choices: turn the land over to the land trusts and conservancies and get tax deductions for life, or sell the land to someone else who can use it for capital production.  Again, tax policies will punish you if you sell and make a profit or if you inherit the land.  Government policies are manipulating the outcome.  Which would socialists have you do?  Make a living off of the land?  Or sit on your butt and get tax deductions for doing nothing?  And who is paying for that?  As Margaret Thatcher wisely stated, "Socialism is just great, but sooner or later you run out of other people's money." But I digress.

Another assertion by Randi Gates was that the Thread Trail easements and greenways benefits include: "alternative transportation, environmental benefits of getting cars off the road and the health benefits of getting people to walk, run or pedal down a greenway.  She says, "this helps economic development." 

Excuse me, how does increasing taxes to pay for greenways help economic development? When was the last time lots of people took the greenway to work or to the grocery store?  When does taking a walk on a greenway replace cars on the road?  Yes, it's nice to have a place to walk, run, or bike, but is this the best use of tax money when the country is nearly 14 trillion dollars in debt?  We can take a walk in our own neighborhoods for a lot less money.  If you don't live exactly adjacent to the greenway, you have to drive to get there anyway.  How much sense does this make? 

A bad economic climate hurts privately owned business as well as residential property owners.  Government policies create our economic climate.  Government policies and taxes can keep otherwise expendable, and recreational, income out of the hands of the population, not to mention income for necessities.  So when government confiscates more and more income from citizens, privately owned businesses suffer.  When privately owned businesses collapse from these policies, unemployment goes up, property values do down, and higher taxes ensue so government will attempt to make up for the lost tax base.  And the whole thing becomes a downward spiral of declining abilities to thrive.  While some take advantage of tax deductions for purposes of Land Conservancies and Trusts, the rest of the population has to pay increased taxes to make up the difference.  We end up with lots of  regulations, plus parks and greenways maintained by public tax money, but the tax base is diminished.  Meanwhile the land is no longer considered privately owned property.   

All of this becomes an open opportunity for land confiscation by the non-profit environmental groups.  The legal creativity of the trust and easement agreements is wide ranging and covers all kinds of land use circumstances.  In this way, they have all of the bases covered.   They can "snatch" up property at undervalued prices.  They can hand out more tax deductions to those wealthy enough to donate and those who are struggling to pay the higher property taxes.  They can let someone live on the land with severe restrictions for the rest of their life and then the land falls into government hands.  And, here is the cutest part, the Trusts and Conservancies can market themselves as the "feel good" green cause du jour!"

Just remember this:  When you play this game of chasing down tax deductions for anti-private property rights initiatives, you are hitting your fellow Americans in the gut three ways.  First, while you ease your personal burden of tax debt you are placing that burden of tax debt on everyone else.  Second, increasing America's debt burden puts the entire country at risk.  Third, you are undermining the essential market principles of legitimate private ownership on which the country is founded. When government colludes with non-profits to "snatch" land rights using tax money to subsidize these land deals, we are all suffering the consequences from it.

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