Small Property Versus Big Government: Social Origins of the Property Tax Revolt

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University of California Press, Jan 1, 1990 - Social Science - 269 pages
Tax reformers, take note. Clarence Lo's investigation of California's Proposition 13 and other tax reduction bills is both a tribute and a warning to people who get "mad as hell" and try to do something about being pushed around by government. Homeowners in California, faced with impossible property tax bills in the 1970s, got mad and pushed back, starting an avalanche that swept tax limitation measures into state after state. What we learn is that, although the property tax was slashed, two-thirds of the benefits went to business owners rather than homeowners.
How did a crusade launched by homeowning consumers seeking tax relief end up as a pro-business, supply-side political program? To trace the transformation, Lo uses the firsthand recollections of 120 activists in the movement, going back to the 1950s. He shows how their protests were ignored, until a suburban alliance of upper-middle-class property owners and business owners took charge. It was the program of that latter group, not the plight of the moderate-income homeowner, which inspired tax revolts across the nation and shaped the economic policies of the Reagan administration. Tax reformers, take note. Clarence Lo's investigation of California's Proposition 13 and other tax reduction bills is both a tribute and a warning to people who get "mad as hell" and try to do something about being pushed around by government. Homeowners in California, faced with impossible property tax bills in the 1970s, got mad and pushed back, starting an avalanche that swept tax limitation measures into state after state. What we learn is that, although the property tax was slashed, two-thirds of the benefits went to business owners rather than homeowners.
How did a crusade launched by homeowning consumers seeking tax relief end up as a pro-business, supply-side political program? To trace the transformation, Lo uses the firsthand recollections of 120 activists in the movement, going back to the 1950s. He shows how their protests were ignored, until a suburban alliance of upper-middle-class property owners and business owners took charge. It was the program of that latter group, not the plight of the moderate-income homeowner, which inspired tax revolts across the nation and shaped the economic policies of the Reagan administration.
 

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Contents

From Populists to Limousine
2
Theories of Inequality and an Interactive
27
Probusiness Leaders and Consumers
47
Middle Americans and Generalized
70
MiddleIncome Communities in Search
92
Half the Way with Jarvis Today
100
Bounded Power
111
Community Business Leaders as Movement
121
Advantages for Naught
151
UpperMiddleClass
157
The Peoples Campaign
169
The Politics of Probusiness Tax Limitation
177
Postcorporatist Protests and
194
Research Methods for Studying Social
201
Bibliography
247
Index
261

Call the United Organizations of Taxpayers
129
Frustrated Advantage in UpperMiddleClass
143

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About the author (1990)

Clarence Y. H. Lo is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Missouri.

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