The Next Zimbabwe?


Montgomery County, Alabama, just delivered itself a catastrophic and perhaps fatal economic blow on August 19 when the county commission voted to impose a 1.5% occupational tax upon its citizens.  The tax will be imposed upon everybody who works within the county--including people who live outside the county.

The county includes the state's capitol city, Montgomery.

The tax takes effect immediately.  And, of course, it is in addition to the numerous excessive taxes already in place.

It passed by a three to two vote.  Commissioners  Elton Dean and Jiles Williams, along with chairman Bill Joseph voted for this abomination.

Alabama Tax Watch chairman Matthew Givens said, "I know it's unconstitutional."  Numerous others are also proposing challenging the tax on the same grounds.

If it is declared unconstitutional, the Montgomery City Council is proposing to enact a city version of the same tax.

So it's only 1.5%.  That doesn't sound like too much, does it? 

It has already been brought out that practically every working person in Montgomery will have to pay it.  But after all the paperwork and compliance with the nitpicking regulations, that rate could jump to as much as the equivalent of 10%--perhaps even more.

It will be like having a second IRS, except that this one will be right with you at home.  Screw up a little--or worse, be perceived to have screwed up--and the goon squads will come after you and hit you with real or imagined back taxes, interest and penalties, and perhaps even time in the new jail they are proposing to build.

You will be obligated to prove yourself innocent of any charges.  Can't do it?  Can't prove a negative?  Too bad.  You're busted.

And the penalties are heavy--and scary.  Fines up to $10,000 and up to two years in the slammer have been drawn up--just for earning an honest living instead of drawing public assistance.

So what are these Gestapo tactics going to do for Montgomery's economy?  The county commission is looking at the new Hyundai plant that is being subsidized with $250 million tax dollars, some new government-run schools, a new jail already mentioned, more county government offices, a new ball park, riverfront development, and no telling what other white elephants.  Of course, much of the revenue will be used to hire swarms of officers to eat out the people's substance.

If I was thinking about starting a business in Montgomery, I would say, "Hell NO."  I don't want to start a business in a Nazi slave camp.

If I already owned a business there, it would have a "For Sale" sign on it RIGHT NOW.  The sooner I sold it, the better odds I would have to find a sucker who might at least give me a significant percentage of its former market value.  An unwary Korean might be tempted to take it up.

I would take whatever I could get for it and flee to the least "developed" county I could find.

And what about Montgomery's future?  With this horrible occupational tax, it won't have one.

As far as the productive private sector is concerned, it will flee in droves to greener, government-free pastures.  If this occupational tax continues for the next five years, Montgomery could easily lose at least 5,000 jobs.  I say 10,000 to 20,000 or more is a more realistic figure.  So much for the 2,000 new Hyundai jobs--high-paying, yes, but most will go to privileged insiders.

All Montgomery will have will be the Hyundai plant and its 2,000 subsidized workers, the state politicians and employees in their bureaucratic beehives, the King David Bronner "castles," Maxwell and Gunter Air Force Bases, the various city and federal government facilities, and the numerous other politicians, lawyers and lobbyists who thrive on government corruption.

And one more thing--there will be huge slums of government-run public housing full of unemployed, scared to be employed, mass-breeding parasites living off of whatever public funding politicians can steal and throw their way.  These, of course, will be attending the new government-run indoctrination centers--what the political slave-drivers call "education."

Could Montgomery become the next Zimbabwe?  Stay tuned.

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John Martin's picture
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John Martin is a libertarian writer from Alabama.