When We Deny Citizens Their Rights, How Can We Say We Believe In Our Founding Principles?
Every school child learns the phrase “No taxation without representation!” It is one of the main causes why we fought the American Revolution. Those words, spoken in 1750 by Jonathan Mayhew in his sermon, have echoed through the years and are a source of pride to many Americans.
So, why if these words are so venerated, do we have millions of taxpaying Americans who still do not have representation in our government? Isn’t this a fundamental right that Americans agreed to when we went to war and asked our men to die? Shouldn’t the people of this nation who pay a portion of the money they earn at least have a say as to how they are taxed and where it is spent?
Apparently not. There are places this country holds as territories and of course the District of Columbia where people are taxed but have virtually no representation. Most people are probably thinking those places don’t matter, they aren’t states. Did you know that D.C. may be small, but it has a larger population than Vermont and Wyoming? Puerto Rico has a larger population than 20 states. The people in these places pay taxes like everyone else, shouldn’t they be treated like the rest of us?
In fact, even if they were to pass a law, the federal government can come in and change it at any time or just keep it from going into effect. In D.C. they passed a law making marijuana legal, but Congress said they couldn’t do that, so the law died before it went into complete effect. In Puerto Rico, they have a law that the minimum wage must equal the American minimum wage, but because we refused to let them restructure their debt recently, Congress is planning to put in place a law to lower their minimum wage to $4.25 an hour. This is to help make the place more attractive to business because the workers will only have to be paid slave wages.
Some are probably saying, but they do have a member in Congress. Yes, a non-voting member in the House of Representatives, and no representation in the Senate. Sounds fair doesn’t it? After all, they aren’t really members of our society, they just pay us taxes. I mean D.C. only seeks statehood every time a Presidential election is held, but gets refused on each occasion.
The Washington Post asked presidential candidate John Kasich about the issue of D.C. statehood, and he gave a rather odd response, but one that is eminently believable. It boiled down to Congress doesn’t want to give it to them because they will just have more Democrats voted in. That might be the reason, but is it fair? Have we sunk so far and abandoned our moral fortitude?
The founders of his nation were far from perfect, but they attempted to lay down something greater than themselves. They did have noble ideas. One of those ideas that we should honor today is not to tax people if we refuse to let them participate in the government that does the taxing. It’s like being beat up every week by the school bully for your lunch money. You don’t know what he’s going to do with your money, but you know he’s going to come and get it.