All Are Equal under the Law, But Some Are More Equal than Others

One of the supposed foundations of the United States governmental system is that all are equal under the law. Anybody who has read about the country’s history knows that this claim is utter bullshit. Even today the various governmental bodies use their power to create laws that directly target subsets of individuals. The government of Seat Pleasant, Maryland is being sued because it decide that not everybody is equal under its tax laws:

The owners of a discount market, a Chinese takeout restaurant and a liquor store say officials violated the city’s charter and state and federal laws when they created an ordinance that sent the property taxes of certain businesses soaring.

Steven Franco, who owns the discount market, said the “special revitalization” tax is a part of an attempt by Seat Pleasant’s leaders to lower the value of the properties so the city can buy the buildings for its own use.

“You can’t attract business like this,” said Franco, whose city property taxes last year jumped from $5,991 to $55,019, dwarfing the $18,269 property tax he pays to Prince George’s County. “It’s backward economic thinking.”

This situation isn’t unique. Municipal governments like to wield their property tax powers to run out business that they find undesirable. Of course they never claim to be doing as much when they’re writing such taxes since that could cause them to appear unfair. But everybody knows that there is an almost infinite number of ways to discriminate without appearing to be overtly discriminating. If, for example, you want to run liquor stores out of town, you simply hit the businesses in their neighborhoods with “revitalization” taxes that you claim to be aimed at “restoring” some parts of the city. This works well because many liquor stores are in poorer parts of town that city officials claim to want revitalized.

It’ll be interesting to see how this lawsuit turns out. I wouldn’t be surprised if the court sides with it’s fellow government employees.