Appeal today if you think there’s more to land (or business) and woods and fields and streams than money, unlike the Tax Assessors, whose revaluation would drive development into agricultural areas of the county where it doesn’t belong, while avoiding populated areas such as the south side of Valdosta. We can expect pipeline companies and utilities from other states to think nothing of pillaging our lands for their profit. We shouldn’t expect that of our neighbors whom we elected Tax Asssessors. If you have affection for your land, your county, your neighborhood, today’s the deadline to appeal your valuation. And there will be an election later.
As Wendell Berry said,
Are the Tax Assessors boomers? Are you a sticker? Wendell Berry explains:
Boomers, he said, are “those who pillage and run,” who want “to make a killing and end up on Easy Street,” whereas stickers are “those who settle, and love the life they have made and the place they have made it in.”2
“Boomer” names a kind of person and a kind of ambition that is the major theme, so far, of the history of the European races in our country. “Sticker” names a kind of person and also a desire that is, so far, a minor theme of that history, but a theme persistent enough to remain significant and to offer, still, a significant hope.
Who caused Berry to care about the land he has conserved all his life?
The economic hardship of my family and of many others, a century ago, was caused by a monopoly, the American Tobacco Company, which had eliminated all competitors and thus was able to reduce as it pleased the prices it paid to farmers. The American Tobacco Company was the work of James B. Duke of Durham, North Carolina, and New York City, who, disregarding any other consideration, followed a capitalist logic to absolute control of his industry and, incidentally, of the economic fate of thousands of families such as my own.
The same James B. Duke founded Duke Energy Company, which recently bought a 7.5% stake in the proposed Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline after already being advertised by the original owners, Spectra Energy of Houston, Texas, and NextEra Energy of Juno Beach, Florida, as one of the main supposed customers in Florida of that pipeline.
It’s not surprising that a utility from North Carolina would join a pipeline company from Texas and a utility from Florida in trying to gouge through our lands in Georgia. You can still help fight that, by calling Governor Deal, commenting to FERC and GA-EDP, and helping WWALS oppose FL-DEP’s proposed permit for Sabal Trail. Or come to tomorrow evening’s County Commission Regular Session and ask your local elected officials to ask Gov. Deal and to do more themselves.
Wendell Berry warned about exactly what the Tax Assessors did in favoring Bill Gates’ recent corporate agricultural land purchases:
It is necessary to append to this argument the further fact that by now, owing largely to corporate influence, land ownership implies the right to destroy the land-community entirely, as in surface mining, and to impose, as a consequence, the dangers of flooding, water pollution, and disease upon communities downstream.
It should be surprising that our own elected Tax Assessors act just like greedy boomers, with this revaluation that takes no account of the land communities, and thereby also threatens everybody downstream, such as Valdosta with its already-chronic flooding problems.
To think I voted for those Tax Commisisoners, and you probably did, too. At the Farm Bureau meeting about rural land revaluation, Tax Assessors Mike Hill repeatedly said he might be a one-term Assessor. Maybe we should grant his wish for those who voted for that arbitrary revaluation that favors Bill Gates over local landowners, and city developers over farms, fields, and streams.
Are you just a negligible detail?
James B. Duke came from a rural family in the tobacco country of North Carolina. In his early life he would have known men such as my grandfather. But after he began his rise as an industrialist, the life of a small tobacco grower would have been to him a negligible detail incidental to an opportunity for large profits. In the minds of the “captains of industry,” then and now, the people of the land economies have been reduced to statistical numerals. Power deals “efficiently” with quantities that affection cannot recognize.
“But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid” —Micah 4:4
If you consider your land more than negligible, the Chamber has provided a handy list of how to appeal your valuation. Today’s the deadline.