Government as a broker in pillage | Letter

Only consummated sales between willing buyers and willing sellers establish property values. Realtors and assessors value properties through comparable sales and listings. In cookie-cutter sub-developments of Los Angles, comparable values may have relevance. On the island, comparable values are little more than lures since ever property differs by size, age, location, and amenities.

The fantasies and intentions of the lures are blatant. Realtors rapidly encourage sellers to lower prices for quick sales and quick commissions. Assessors rapidly raise assessment and property values for secure employment and for dubious new public works. The semicircle that masquerades as a traffic circle at Mullis and Spring is a classic example of poor engineering that rivals that of the Tacoma Narrows bridge.

In describing government, H.L. Mencken accurately describes the San Juan County Assessors Office: “The state — or, to make matters more concrete, the government — consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can’t get, and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time it is made good by looting ‘A’ to satisfy ‘B’. In other words, the government is a broker in pillage, and every election is a sort of advanced auction on stolen goods.”

All property owners who feel their recent assessments stolen goods should organize at some convenient place such as the fairground, write a common bill of grievance, deliver that bill at the next city council meeting, and individually express their opposition to higher assessments. Nothing troubles and influences city council members more than discord threatening reelection. Reprimanding an employee is easier than winning a voter. With a recent Gallup Poll indicating only 28% of the US approving democracy, continued apathy among the aggrieved only encourages further municipal depredation. If the aggrieved do nothing, they will earn Eli Wallach’s judgment in “The Magnificent Seven:” “God would not have made them sheep if he did not want them sheared.”

John Drake,

Friday Harbor