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Representation Without Taxation

Posted on April 12 2010 5:57 am
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by Doctor Zero

A correspondent recently raised the question of reforming the American electoral system so that only those who pay income tax are allowed to vote.  It’s a provocative notion, even though it Ain’t Gonna Happen… at least, not on this side of a systemic breakdown that puts everything on the table.

Let’s explore the idea as a thought experiment.  If taxation without representation was an outrage that sparked the Revolution, why is representation without taxation acceptable?   It’s logical to suggest that only those who pay for government benefits should have a vote in selecting our representatives.  Allowing net tax consumers to vote seems like an inherently dangerous practice, given their numbers – we’ve reached the point where 47% of American households pay no income tax – and their strong motivation to support politicians who promise endlessly increasing benefits.  When politicians loaded with vast public funds to purchase votes meet up with a population eager to sell its votes for benefits, a grim marketplace will inevitably develop.

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