Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Saturday, July 03, 2010

"Only Taxpayers Should Vote"

That was the slogan on a bumper sticker I saw on a very large pick up truck at my local home repair and garden mega store. At first I was annoyed. But then I started to think about the actual policy this guy was proposing.

First, all current voters are tax payers. I know what this guy meant though. He meant only people who pay income or business taxes should vote. But he is willfully ignoring all the other taxes that people pay: property taxes, sales taxes, payroll taxes, FICA withholding, vehicle licencing fees, etc etc etc. Everyone pays taxes whether they make sufficient money to pay income taxes or not. What he is saying is trivial. What he probably meant though is nothing less than advocating taxation without representation. He wants all the people who don't pay income taxes to be disenfranchised.

Second, his bumper sticker never said this but consider the flip side of this little slogan. What if ALL tax payers voted? Would this benefit the right wing populism this guy probably supports? That's doubtful. There are many people who pay taxes who are either prohibited from voting (ex-convicts in many states) or are much less likely than average to decide to vote. Studies show that whites are more likely to vote than other racial groups. Women are slightly more likely to vote than males. Older voters are more likely to vote than younger voters. Higher income citizens are more likely to vote than lower income citizens. So if all these people voted the electorate would be significantly less white, poorer, and younger and slightly more male. And of course once we include property and sales taxes in this, 11 million or so undocumented immigrants would have to start voting. Most of these changes would likely make the electorate shift somewhat to the left, not the right.

Third, what if what he meant was that the more taxes you pay, the more your vote should count. I'm sure he thinks he pays more taxes than anyone. But the reality is that the local lawyers, doctors and other professionals would most likely be able to dominate local elections. Small contractors like this guy (this assumption is based on the contents of his truck bed and the sign on the door), would probably be somewhere in the middle in terms of vote weight. Such a policy would also effectively disenfranchise most of the military - especially the enlisted men. So if someone were to propose such a policy of weighting votes by tax burden I'd say "Why do you hate the troops?" Surely, he would follow up with an exemption for the troops. But to be fair his bumper sticker didn't say "Only tax payers and soldiers should vote!"

What I conclude from this is that what this guy really wants is to say "Only people who agree with me should vote!" That's a commonly held view and I must confess to having some sympathy with it. I often wish that only people who agreed with me could vote. Unfortunately for my pick up driving fellow shopper, imposing such a policy (from my point of view) would probably disenfranchise him.


The Law Talking Guy said...

It is sort of absurd, isn't it? I mean, voters are a subset of taxpayers. Even welfare recipients pay sales tax, vehicle tax, gas taxes, and so forth.

The real meaning, as you guessed, is that those who fund the government should be the ones who are allowed to control it.

From an historical perspective, this is absurd. The sales tax is a modern invention. Wikipedia says it was first enacted by WV in 1921. The federal income tax dates to 1913. Before this period, the federal government and states were funded by tariffs and excise taxes, borne by a very small percentage of the public. Only local taxation was more widely shared.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Also, the excise taxes and tarriffs were not borne by the people wewould want voting. They were paid for largely by tipplers and foreigners.

The Law Talking Guy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Raised By Republicans said...

I forgot about tariffs. Yes, just what these right wing populists would want - a lot of foreigners voting. Heck, given how much we import from China, Chinese import-export companies would come to dominate the electorate.

What worries about me in the end about this kind of slogan/rhetoric is that it is representative of the new American right-wing. Logic and good governance are not part of the equation. The sound of the rhetoric in the sound bite, on a bumper sticker or on Fox News is all that matters. If it were only rhetoric it wouldn't bother me THAT much but the Bush years proved that they actually mean to govern this way too.

It is absurd. And those of us who worked so hard to expel these people from power in 2006 and 2008 need to make sure they don't come back in 2010.

The Law Talking Guy said...

OTOH, allowing black and women taxpayers to vote is a big step for most of them.

The Law Talking Guy said...

OTOH, allowing black and women taxpayers to vote is a big step for most of THESE RIGHT WING INDIVIDUALS.

Anonymous said...

This is actually very simple. Why should those who don't contribute be allowed to control the money of those who do? Why should someone like me, who planned ahead and learned the skills to earn a good income, be told how I have to spend my money (taxes) by someone who benefits from those taxes, but doesn't pay? Talk about absurd, this is absurd. Keep in mind that not everyone who files a tax return is a tax PAYER. With regard to the above comments about sales taxes, property taxes, etc, generally those who don't earn enough to pay income taxes also don't own property, thus don't pay property taxes, and the sales taxes paid by low earners are so small as to be a non-issue. Also keep in mind that when this country was founded only property owners had the right to vote. It is when you allow the "have nots" to control the money of those who do that you bankrupt a country, and we are seeing this now.

Anonymous said...

It would be absurd to limit voting to taxpayers. What about college students who may not pay taxes now but are educating themselves so that they can land jobs that bring in more income and thus more tax revenue in the future? Shouldn't they have a say in taxes they will someday pay? What about housewives? Should they be allowed to vote since they don't technically earn taxable revenue? And on an ethical note, since all persons over the age of 18 are expected to obey adult laws shouldn't they also have a say in what those laws are?

Anonymous said...

Well said Anonymous, I 100% agree. The purpose of the bumper sticker is to keep non contributers from actually voting. It's absolutely ridiculous that they should have a say in how the government should spend money when they aren't contributing to it.

Anonymous said...

Housewives file income tax with their partner, so they would be covered. College students could also be allowed to vote if they proved they were students working towards a degree.

You bring up pointless 'what ifs' that would clearly be accounted for if we wanted to draft a 20 page document addressing the subject.

Anonymous said...

Vehicle taxes, sales taxes, license taxes, property taxes are STATE & CITY or COUNTY taxes, NOT Federal Taxes.
Furthermore, if you pay FICA or Federal Telephone taxes, but you get more money back than you pay, did you really pay Fed Taxes?

Anonymous said...

Sales tax is a state issue, the same with car registration, and state property taxes. I think what this bumper sticker was getting at is people who pay no federal income tax or get back EIC which can give them more money than they ever paid in should not be allowed to vote. Imagine if you have a canadate who promises to do more for the needy, increase their welfare payments, or some other type of entitlement program. Naturally the needy people of America will cast their ballots for this person. To me that is a kinda sorta conflict of interests because you are supposed to elect the person who is best for this country, not the person who can give you more money. I think many people have lost sight of the fact of what's right for this country as a whole as opposed to what is better for them and their friends, or who is the more likable canadate.

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