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Politics // Coffee Break
Jerry Coffee

Representation Without Taxation

We all recall the reason for the Boston Tea Party, right? Ol’ King George and his Massachusetts governor decided to tighten the screws on us pesky colonists here in the new world by imposing a tax on the tea imported from England, and then refused to return the tea after we refused to pay the tax.

So, in an act of fed up rebellion, a team of colonists – some badly disguised as local indians – boarded the ship tied up in Boston Harbor and dumped the tea overboard into the water. Since we colonists had no representatives in the British Parliament, the protest was actually against “taxation without representation.”

Ironically, we are faced today with an issue of “representation without taxation.”

As a result of our president’s effort to “spread the wealth around” and to “level the playing field,” nearly half of all Americans currently pay no federal income tax.

Their “representation” is paid for by the other half.

In this case, “representation” includes the long laundry list of federal benefits from national security to interstate highways to food stamps.

There are at least a couple of problems with this.

First of all, it undermines the concept of a fair progressive taxation system i.e., the higher the income the higher the tax rate.

Taxpayers with income at or below the poverty level do not pay any income tax.

I believe they should, even if only $1. Every American with any income should go through the same process of paying their taxes, no matter the amount.

Nevertheless, this is the system.

Second, in the long term it will lead to class resentment. I mean, how long will the 50 percent of Americans who pay the bills for the other 50 percent be content to do so? And we all know it’s only the top few percent of that upper 50 percent that pay the bulk of all federal taxes.

Third, it undermines the electoral system by which our political leadership is selected. For the most part – to their unquestionable political benefit – the president and Democratic Party have imposed the policies that have led to this situation. It will take an extraordinarily enlightened electorate to vote to change a status quo that guarantees no federal tax obligation, regardless of other governmental policies – economic, security, social – which may or may not be in our national best interest.

Finally – and perhaps most importantly – it alienates, if not downright disenfranchises, those voters who pay no federal taxes and then lose interest in the process simply because they no longer have any “skin in the game.”

Our electoral apathy is bad enough as it is, and as this is seen more and more as a “pocketbook” issue – as is inevitably likely – the participation rate of the nonpaying half will just get worse.

The kind of country we are striving to retrieve in this next election is the one where every citizen does in fact pay his or her fair share of federal taxes, even if one’s annual tax bill is one George Washington bill, and a country where every citizen can be proud to pay that annual April bill with the assurance that their dollars will not be spent irresponsibly, that the next generation will not be deeper in debt, and that our hard-earned tax dollars will be spent to make America stronger and more secure.

The bottom line is, American citizenship should never be free.

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