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THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA
Published weekly by' 'the
University of North Carolina
for its Bureau of Extension. !
CHAPEL HILL, N. G.
VOL VI, NO. 38
orial Board i B. C. Branson, L. K. Wilson, E. W. Knight, D. D. Carroll, J.B. Bullitt.
Entered as second-class matter November 14, 1914, at the Postofflee at Chapel Hill, N* C., under the act of August 24, 1912.
PAYING TAXES IN CAROLINA
le second session of the State and
nty Council, which was marked up
the state department heads and
university authorities to occur at
University on August 17-19, has
n called off for the present. This
Brmination was reached on yester-
at a conference in the Governor’s
,s originally planned the Council ses-
1 was to follow the extra Legislative
sion. But as it happens, the Legis-
ve and the Council dates are in un-
eseen conflict, and the Council ses-
1 is therefore postponed. Definite
louncements will be made later.
‘The mind of the state is preoccupied
;h the great problems the legislature
lonsidering”, said Professor Branson
the University committee. “The
vernor and the state department
ids find it well-nigh impossible to be
ay from their offices at the capitol
•ing the sitting of the legislature,
1 their minds are set upon a great
uncil session at a later date, during
! fall or winter. The federation of
i public service agencies of the com-
nwealth, state and county, is a vital
a that merits, they think, the undi
ed attention of all the public welfare
icials and the civic-minded people of
turies of history!
The averages ranged from $183 in
Dare and $189 in Yancey, our two poor
est counties, to $634 in New Hanover
and $804 in Durham, our two richest
Only 25 counties were above the state
average of $391.
Sixty-five counties were below the
state average, with ten counties omitted
for lack of authoritative population
figures — Avery, Caldwell, Chatham,
Cumberland, Hoke, Lee, Mitchell, Wa
tauga, Moore, and Robeson.
No wonder 33 counties of the state
are deficit, dependent counties, getting
more money out of the state treasury
in confederate pensions and public school
moneys than they pay into it!
Thirty of these 33 dependent coun
ties paid taxes on listed properties
ranging from $183 to $391 per inhabi
An Honor Roll
Only three of the 17 mountain coun
ties were above the state average of
$391 in taxables per inhabitant—Swain,
Transylvania, and Buncombe.
Of the foothill counties, only Gaston,
Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, Rowan, David
son, Forsyth, Orange, Durham, Vance,
Wake, Richmond, Wayne, Wilson,
Halifax, aud Northampton stood above
Meantime the School, of Public Wei-! dead line.
•e at the University goes on until
ptember 3. And it is the first time
the South that any institution has
ered full college-quarter courses and
idits in social science and social en
fhe Summer School crowd goes this
ek, but the Red Cross secretaries
ger on to complete their courses for
id service and administrative posi-
Phe field agents of the State Com-
inity Service Bureau and others in-
■ested in community problems hold a
i-day school at the University Aug.
20, under the direction of Prof. W.
Crosby, with a staff of specialists,
id on August 16-17 Miss Elizabeth
;lly, who heads the state bureau that
battling with Adult Illiteracy, calls
r field agents into session at the Uni-
rsity> for special instruction in her
>rk and to share in the program of
B Community Service School.
People in general who are interested
this and other community problems
e free to attend. They can secure
>m and board on the campus at $2.00
lay by writing at once to Dr. H. W.
lum. Chapel Hill, N. C.
the Tidewater, only New
Onslow, Craven, Hyde, and
Suppose we had in every county in
North Carolina a body of closely in
tegrated social servants composed of
(1) the school board with its super
intendent and supervisors, (2) an
agricultural board with its home and
farm extension agents, (3) a public
health board' with its whole-time
health officer, its public health nurses,
its clinics and dispensaries, (4) a pub
lic welfare board and its secretary
charged with specific social concerns,
and (6) a ministerial board composed
of all the preachers of all the churches
busy stamping every common effort
with the ultimate values of life and
destiny, time and eternity—suppose,
I say, the civic and social mind of
North Carolina were organized and
federated in this way!
If only it could be so, and it can,
then what an era of democratic
wholesomeness and effectiveness we
should enter upon, and how rapidly
our beloved state would move to the
fore in the new social order that is
even now breaking upon the world. —
E. C. Branson, an address before
N. C. Social Work Conference.
lYING TAXES IN CAROLINA
In 1860 the taxable wealth of North
irolina averaged $361 per inhabitant.
d twenty-eight states made a better
In 1912, or some fifty years later, our
timated true wealth in taxables was
94 per inhabitant, and forty-seven
ites made a better showing. The
insus Bureau wrote us down at that
ne as the poorest state in the Union!
:e the bulletin on Wealth, Debt, and
ixation, p. 20.
In 1917, our actual taxable wealth
:r inhabitant averaged $391. Which
less than half our per capita taxable
ealth, as estimated five years earlier,
id actually only $30 greater than it
as some sixty years ago! An increase
' less than 10 percent in more than a
Something is wrong of course.
And the explanation lies in our in-
jterate repu^ahee to paying taxes
• North Carolina.
Meantime we pay into the federal
•easury 163 millions of taxes, and less
lan 26 millions into our town, county,
nd state treasuries, for all tax pur-
oses whatsoever. We fatten the treas-
ry in Washington and starve our treas-
ries at home.
In order to look into our tax situation
V detail under the old order of things
ihen everybody listed his properties
or much or little or nothing at all, just
■s he pleased, and so laid upon the
tate unbearable inequities and iniqui-
ies, Mr. P. P. Purrington of Scotland
leek, a student at the University of
forth Carolina, has worked out a table
ankinglthe counties of the state ac-
ording to per capita taxable wealth in
917. See his table in another column
f this issue.
Above and Below the Line
Our average of taxables per inhabi-
ant in 1917 was only $391.
Only^391, after two and a half cen-
Here’s an honor roll—not so much in
wealth as in tax willingness.
Twenty-three counties of North Caro
lina confessed a taxable wealth of less
than $300 per inhabitant. Think of
counties like Pamlico, Wilkes, Ashe,
Alleghany, Rutherford, Person, Burke,
Union, Sampson, and Bertie being in
this list of tail-enders.
Five of these counties, after several
centuries of civilization, were worth
around $200 per inhabitant—on the tax
books. Two of them, less than $200
Forsyth has long led the state in the
annual value of manufactured products.
It leads the United States in the out
put of tobacco products and men’s un
derwear; but in per capita wealth on
the taxbooks Forsyth lags behind Dur
ham, New Hanover, and Buncombe,
which rank first, second, and third, in
the order named.
Durham county, which leads in the
production of hosiery, also leads in per
capita property on the taxbooks, and it
has had this eminent distinction year
by year since 1916. Mecklenburg, the
center of the hydro-electric power areas
and the textile mill supply business of
the south, stands six places below Dur
ham; Gaston, the best developed tex
tile center in the south, stands ten
places below; and Guilford, which leads
in denim mills and furniture factories,
23 places below. Transylvania stands
above Mecklenburg, and Martin just
Orange, with her three cotton mill
concerns, stands two places above Gas
ton ,with her hundred mills, four places
above Wake, and fourteen places above
Guilford. Only seven counties in the
state are richer in per capita taxables.
Even Swain outranks Wake in per
capita taxable wealth, and it stands
far above Richmond, Guilford, David
son, Rowan, and Rockingham, all of
which are well developed manufactur
ing counties. Even Northampton stands
And Graham, a little mountain county
set in the clefts of the Smoky Moun
tains, stands above Pasquotank, the
leading county in the Albemarle country,
and also above Johnston, the second
richest agricultural county in the state.
Among the 17 mountain counties, the
leaders are Buncombe, Transylvania,
Swain, and Graham; and the laggards
are Macon, Alleghany, Ashe, and
Yancey, with per capita taxable wealth
ranging from $264 to $189 in the order
COUNTRY HOME CONVENIENCES
LETTER SERIES No. 22
Electric Farm Power from Central Sfeitidns—I
Ten years ago in North Carolina the
number of farm homes that enjoyed the
benefits of electricity could almost liter
ally be counted on the fingers of one
hand. Today it is another story. To
the one pioneer, who in 1910 owned his
small generator driven by a balky, un
certain gas engine, there are now a
hundred up-to-date North Carolina
farmers who are enjoying the comforts
of a well lighted home, and a plentiful
supply of freely running water while
their wives do the washing, ironing,
sweeping and churning as well as their
talking by wire.
A Child Can Operate It
This change has been brought about
by the enterprising manufacturers who
have developed the farm-lighting set to
its present state of perfection. Practi
cally every farm lighting set we have
seen is so simple that literally a child
can operate it. A plant has even been
built which will start itself as well as
stop itself, so that practically the only
instructions furnished by the manufac
turer are “give it gaisJiftie and Tet Tt
The success of these fliie lititle 'plant's
has opened the eyes of the ma;nagers of
the central stations throtighout the
country. They have always thought
that farm line customers are riot profit
able customers and some of them are
still living in a fool’s paradise.
Everybody’s Doin^ It
Most of the central stations want the
farmer’s business. For economic rea
sons, however, they cannot serve farm
ers on exactly the same basis that
they can folks in cities and towns.
One reason for this is that the cost of
the pole lines is very high compared to
the number of customers reached. An
other reason is that it is more difficult
to maintain service on these farm line
extensions, and central-stations consid
er that they sell service quite as much
as they do electricity. Two methods
are in general use for furnishing elec
tricity from central stations to country
communities. These will be explained
in our next letter.—P. H. D.
But perhaps the greatest surprise of
all is Pitt, the greatest tobacco pro
ducing and marketing area in the state.
Thirty counties make a better showing
in per capita taxable wealth. Either
tobacco does not enrich a people, or it
develops a tight-fisted taxpaying con
science. Not only does Wilson stand
ahead of Pitt, but Onslow and Hyde
bear heavier tax burdens per inhabi
tant. Jones has never been considered
a rich county, but it stands next to Pitt
in taxpaying willingness.
However, look at the table. It pro
vokes endless comparisons.
Two things are plainer than print: (1)
As a rule under the old order of things,
the tax burden falls heaviest on the in
dustrial and commercial counties, not
on the agricultural counties, and (2)
the grossest inequalities of all lie among
the farm counties—as, for instance,
Martin with $491 of taxable property
per inhabitant, in contrast with Cas
well, Alleghany, Ashe, Yadkin, Wilkes,
Pamlico, Yancey, and Dare, each with
less than half of Martin’s per capita
taxable wealth. And these are farm
counties all. Dare alone excepted.
If our farmers wipe out inequalities
in tax values among themselves in 60
dominantly rural counties, we shall go
a long way toward getting upon a right
eous basis of taxation. For instance,
six of these counties listed their farm
lands in 1917 at an average value of $12
or more per acre, while thirteen far
better farm counties paid taxes on an
average basis of less than $6 per acre;
five of these on an average basis of less
than $5 an acre.
The farm counties are laying burdens
of tax inequity upon themselves far
heavier than the industrial and com
mercial counties have ever done.
A clear conclusion is that our farmers
have everything to gain and nothing to
lose by getting taxable properties put
upon a righteous basis—that is to say,
honest farmers. And if this can he
done, they will pay an even smaller
fraction of the total taxes, both state
The County Tax List
The man who does not know this does
not know the county tax list—any tax
list in any county of the state. And if
he does not know a county tax list in
detail, he does not seem to us to be a
competent authority on taxation in
And here we call attention once more
to A Township Tax-List Study in the
North Carolina Club Year-Book for
1917-18 on County Government and
County Affairs. A copy will be sent
free upon application, or so as long as
the small edition lasts.
As for exempting a homestead of
$1,000 in real estate and $6,000 in per
sonal property, as proposed, the 1918
tax list of a mid-state county shows
only 136 private taxpayers with more
than $6,000 each on the tax books. An
exemption law of this sort would free
5,013 taxpayers in this county from
paying any taxes on private property.
Which is to say, the entire tax burden
would fall on three of every one hun
dred people who now pay taxes on pri
vate properties, and on the domestic
and public service corporations owning
physical properties in the county. It
practically frees private taxpayers from
paying taxes altogether. Ninety-seven
taxpayers in every 100 would go scot-
The only country we know of in which
private citizens pay no taxes for the
benefits of organized government is
Dahomey—in Africa. It is a proposi
tion to class Carolina with Dahomey.
But it looks lovely uritll you examine a
county tax book, and then’the rank un
democracy of it becomes apparent. ■
With 97 in every 100 property owners
freed from taxes and also from the le
gal obligations of debt paying, we should
soon be a paradise of moral irresponsi
bility—which is Bolshevism.
TAXABLE WEALTH IN NORTH CAROLINA
PER INHABITANT IN 1917
Based on the 1918 Report of the State Corporation Commission and the Cen
sus Bureau Estimates of Population.
P. P. Purrington, Scotland Neck, Halifax County
Rural Social Science Department, University of North Carolina
State Average $391
Montgomery .. ^.
Ten counties omitted for lack of au
thoritative population figures due to the
formation of new counties since 1908; as follows Avery, Caldwell, Chatham,
Cumberland, Hoke, Lee, Mitchell, Moore, Robeson, and Watauga.
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