Monday, April 13, 2009

Taxation With Representation

If the Founding Fathers were irked at the idea of having to pay taxes to The Crown without fair representation in Parliament, just imagine how they would feel now. The government they worked so hard to put together has taken the idea of taxation and turned it on its head. While I'm sure they would agree that tax revenue collected by the Federal government was to be used for the good of all Americans, I don't think they'd be too pleased with how that is accomplished and how the money is apportioned.

I am sure they would see the Democratic point of view, which says that the money needs to be spent towards the general welfare, to ensure that no American should suffer through life with a lack of food, shelter, and education. I am also sure they would see the Republican side of the equation. Government must do these things effectively, efficiently, and above all, with as little cost to the citizen as possible. Large government benefits no one if its size is not a function of what it does but how it does it.

All that said, I'm sure the Founding Fathers would look upon the current system and see that it is a shambles of their original model. No doubt they would be horrified at the inefficiency and waste inherent in the current budgeting process. What would have them no doubt even more perplexed is how so much of the money is being misspent and misused. Despite representation, it is as if the whims of Congressmen are more important than the needs of the people.

For the American Republic to work, it must provide equal access to all, access to those things that are the fundamental right of citizens: health care, food and shelter, education. It must provide defense of the nation without becoming embroiled in every petty foreign war. It must show other nations through deeds and words, how the lamp of democracy may be lit by the people of a nation. Mostly, each and every citizen must do their share, whether they would agree with the policies of the government or not. Elections are held to give the citizenry a chance to change the course of the nation when they feel it is headed towards the shoals.

For all of this to work, the sweat of the American brow must not be spent perpetuating the same tired policies based on self-aggrandizement, appeasement, and chest-thumping. The taxes we pay must come with their own price tag: the promise by all our legislators that they will treat them with care, will portion them out to provide for all, and will ensure our safety and security, all this without the rancor and partisanship that has so mired us in the mud for so long. Perhaps it is too much to ask, but ask for it we must, each and every time we pay our taxes or go to the ballot box. We must hold those we elect to represent us to the highest standard, until it becomes clear to the establishment in Washington, D.C. that they work for us.

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