Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Taxation With Representation
California leads the nation in job creation because it is the world center for both entertainment and technology. Even foreign corporations, like Samsung, house their R&D in Silicon Valley for obvious reasons—this is where the talent and venture money lives. And yes, the things that make California awesome (like infrastructure, education, entertainment) cost money. But we appreciate those things, which is why we voted ourselves tax increases.
While it was pretty stupid of Californians to make it so difficult to raise revenues, good on them for finally realizing that all costs increase over time and if you want, you know, a civilization, you have to pay the price. That always seems to get lost in every fiscal argument, particularly when people start to complain about how their tax dollars go to fund things for "other people." As though we all live in a vacuum otherwise, and it matters not how educated or healthy people in my community are.
There's sort of Godwinian kind of law regarding taxes. The longer a debate goes on, there's a probability approaching one that somebody will cry, "no taxation without representation!"
Uh, yeah, and do you not have Representatives and Senators in the Congress? Were you prevented from voting in national, state and local elections in 2008, 2010, 2012 (despite the GOP's best efforts)? It's certainly true that arbitrary authority extracting taxes without our consent is bad, as James Otis wrote in 1764:
The very act of taxing exercised over those who are not represented appears to me to be depriving them of one of their most essential rights as freemen, and if continued seems to be in effect an entire disfranchisement of every civil right.
But the whole point is that we do grant the authority to tax for our collective good, not that we rebelled over taxation per se. Way back in the days of revolution, people recognized that shit had to be paid for, and that our primary beef was that we wanted to be able to direct and limit that responsiblity of government.
Same goes for all the insurrectionist fever going around. If we lived in a nation with no popular sovereignty and no republican structure to mitigate the worst effects of government, then yeah, maybe we should rebel over Obama's drone war or healthcare mandates or whatever.
Yet we have free elections, representation and rights to demand action from our government (we even retain our natural rights to engage in acts of civil disobedience, so long as we're prepared to accept the consequences). It ain't easy, but it's a far sight better than picking up our muskets every time we don't agree with policy.
And on that note, Happy Birthday, James Otis.
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