No Representation Without Taxation
Some sensible person on FB suggested that only taxpayers have the right to vote. Some of his "friends" demurred. I gave this answer:
Paying taxes is a significant part of citizenship, so is agreeing to do one's duty, if drafted or receiving a summons to sit on a jury. I avoided but did not evade military service on legal and reasonable grounds, but if taking the franchise away from draft-dodgers meant that I forfeited the right to vote, so be it. But that is only the start. Decades ago, I proposed a general rule that taxpayers, but not tax-consumers should be considered citizens. This would exclude government employees as well as welfare dependents. No man should be allowed to be the judge of his own cause, as Hobbes argued quite correctly, thus unionized public employees always voted for their own interest against those of the people who paid their salaries.
Obviously, such a principle would have to be fine-tuned to be practical. So, people who had spent a lifetime working and paying taxes would retain their rights, as would people temporarily on unemployment or receiving welfare benefits. Since only a free people in a free country would even consider such a principle, there is no point in arguing over details. But in a republic, as opposed to a demagogic tyranny, no one should be regarded as a citizen who is a burden on his neighbors and fellow-citizens. Imagine the consequences--closer to paradise than anything John Lennon dreamed up.
A number of people responded either favorably or politely. One of them suggested the title, to which I responded.
As a witticism, yes, exactly. Of course, but as you obviously are aware, the whole point is that if only those who did their duty and paid the price could vote, taxes would be much much lower, there would be less government, and fewer unjust military adventures.
Another pointed out that a connection between paying taxes was raised and rejected at the "founding Philadelphia convention. It's a good point...
Good point, but I'd make three little observations: First, nothing this sweeping or principled was proposed at the Convention, where they could hardly anticipate our situation, when a large majority of eligible voters are net tax-consumers, organized by special interest lobbies,. Second, There were many reasons to reject a proposal that would seem to put too much power in the national government--not a problem these days. Third, although it is good patriotic rhetoric to refer to the founding, only revolutionary states like Jacobin France or Soviet Russia were "founded." The coalition of sovereign states that rebelled against Britain were already bound in a confederation, and each of the colonies=states had a long political and judicial history, The Constitution was in part a crystallization of their experiences. It is certainly right for honest people to turn to the delegates to the Convention for insight, and just as important to look at their anti-federalist critics and the long history of the major states--New York, Massachusetts, Virginia, South Carolina--for the context. Obviously, no one seriously expect anything like this to happen, but it is a useful thought experiment to try to imagine what a normal reflective American in 1790 might propose to remedy the illness of an empire that had been once established as a republic.
Eric Obermeyer, who used to attend some of our programs in Rockford, was reminded of similar arguments made by Joe Sobran, but...
Libertarians, to give them their due, influenced My friend Joe And, I don’t blush to admit it my own ideas. I do think that my own proposal, which I was formulating by 1980, was more coherent and comprehensive but parents always love their own babies. By the way I extended it to government contractors and their employees
The Machiavellian Jeffersonian, Marco Bassani, observed: "If government employees did not have the right to vote, the Democrats could not win a single election, from San Diego up to Maine." Another virtual friend pointed out that even welfare-dependents pay some taxes on the goods they buy, to which I responded: