Representation without taxation?
Posted by sanityinjection on April 12, 2010
Doctor Zero examines the question of whether the 47% of American households which pay no income tax should have the right to vote. It’s a politically impossible idea that hearkens back to the days in which only those who owned land had the vote, because they were the ones who had a permanent stake in the proper functioning of government (not to mention being more likely to have had sufficient education to vote intelligently.) The idea is that if you pay nothing toward the cost of government but receive benefits from it, your vote is all too easily bought with more government benefits which cost you nothing.
In discarding the idea, the author notes that it is not benefits for the truly poor and needy that are bankrupting America, but rather entitlements for the middle class who do pay taxes – Social Security, Medicare, and now ObamaCare.
I confess I have long found the idea of restricting the franchise attractive. However, even if it were politically feasible, any such restriction puts in the hands of men the right to establish who deserves to be represented in government and who does not. We might feel we could draw that line in the right place today, but then what would stop future leaders with less foresight and integrity from redrawing it in less wholesome ways? After all, it was not so long ago that poll taxes and literacy tests were used to enforce the disenfranchisement of blacks for no better reason than simple irrational racism. The true value of America’s founding mythos that “all men are created equal” lies less in its truth than in the safeguard it represents against tyranny.