No Representation Without Taxation: An Argument for Curtailing Voting Rights
The American Revolution was sparked by a singular complaint. The colonies, being disunited self-governing entities with the economic purpose of providing revenue for the English crown, were heavily taxed but not represented in English Parliament. In essence, they paid into a system over which they exerted absolutely no control. However, in the two-hundred years since this war, the West has encountered the opposite problem; one which may very well be the end of the Occident entirely. I speak of Representation without Taxation.
There are those now who, without paying any net into the system or, through safety nets and welfare payments, actually contribute a negative amount to the national revenue, are given an equal vote as their toiling countrymen. This endows them with a control which is infinitely proportional to their contribution. Since any nation governed by consent is host to a variety of views, many of which are hostile to one another and constantly competing for power, allowing those who do not contribute to the national revenue is enabling one side over the other.
In this essay I shall further explain this phenomenon. If you are totally uninterested in reading further, it can be put simply here (though without the justification of argument) that those who vote while being compensated in some way by the government are first of all bound to the will of the governors – creating an ochlocratic oligarchy out of a democratic aristocracy – and second of all being given twice the wage of their fellow citizens who toil. In short, Representation Without Taxation establishes, in any nation, a rule by ten million or more tyrants.
The Purpose of Taxation
There is a strawman argument made by anarcho-capitalists that taxes are the prices we pay to live in a civilized society. This is not true. Taxes are the prices we pay for public goods. These public goods include national defense, criminal justice, infrastructure, education and healthcare, and social safety nets. Of course, not every individual, especially in a progressive tax system (which is more effective than the flat tax in accomplishing the goals of taxation), contributes to the purchasing of these public goods. However, every individual under the jurisdiction of the government imposing a tax does enjoy the public goods.
So why does one pay taxes at all?
Taxes buy not a civilized society, which a state funded by military conquest and plunder could provide as well, but instead purchase citizenship. In the post-Enlightenment Occident, the citizen is endowed with the Right to Vote. This is to say each citizen has a direct say in the state’s policies. The greater the number of voters, the less important his voice.
Ideally, each ballot is equal in value, purchased not by an amount of contribution, but by the mere fact a contribution was made. Though those earning the least in a progressive tax system pay the smallest amount into the public coffers, the surrender potentially better living conditions than do the rich who pay a considerably higher percentage of their income (and, logically, a greater sum). Thus, taxation is not a contribution of quantity, but of quality. It is each citizen looking at his fellow and saying “I may be this and you may be that, but we have both given up something for one another”.
Taxation is how the citizens of a nation express their consent to be governed. And since it is evidence of their consent, it should also be their purchase of direct influence in how they are governed.
The Purpose of Representation
Representation in the Occident is described best by Jean-Jacques Rousseau as the demos appointing the aristocracy. A Republic is an aristocracy, but not one of lineage or ability, but one where the few are selected by the many. Hence, it is best called a Democratic Aristocracy.
The Representative is an Aristocrat who is chosen from among his fellow citizens and by his fellow citizens. Those who participate in the election of a Representative, whether voting for him or not, are referred to as his Constituency. The Representative’s purpose is to guarantee that the most popular views of the General Will are expressed, then to advance the second and third most popular. It is also important that the least popular ideas with his Constituents are suppressed, or, if he cannot suppress them from other Representatives, that he vehemently opposes them. In this manner, the Representative becomes a sum of voters incarnated as a single individual.
Tangential arguments may be made regarding the compensation of Representatives. In the United States, the wages of those in Congress is entirely in their own hands, and the results have been, by all accounts, abysmal. Yet that is a discussion for another time, though it does run tangential to this one. Here all I will say on the matter that it would be best if the Constituency not only determined who Represents them every election cycle, but also determined his compensation for doing so. Further legislation could and should be enacted to closely monitor the finances and assets of each Representative to better ensure that he is not accepting additional payments from wealthier Constituents or those completely outside of the segment of the population he has been elected to represent.
What needs to be said is that the Representative is a voice. He speaks for the citizen, and not merely for the resident. Recent immigrants, temporary visitors, and corporate firms are not entities which it is his responsibility to represent. In fact, there are times where it is his solemn duty to oppose such entities when his Constituency calls for it. However, it is forgotten that a fourth group exists which he cannot represent in good faith. The Representative cannot represent the idle, who should not be considered citizens in any real sense of the word. The representation afforded to immigrants has resulted in foreign influence in the Occidental Republics. Representation afforded to visitors has resulted vanity of how representatives are seen not by Constituents, but by other representatives and the world at large. Representation afforded to corporations has resulted in political and economic corruption. Representation afforded to the idle has resulted in economic devastation and is, I firmly believe and intend to prove to you dear reader, the cause of the oligarchies forming in the Occident and the even more worrisome consolidation of power they are touting as the Great Reset.
Democracy is a Delicate Math Problem, not a Moral Issue
Many in the Occident believe that Democracy, that being rule by the many, is a moral accomplishment. It is not. Rather, it is a Utilitarian concept meant to prevent despotic rule. The idea was developed in ancient Athens as a response to the tyranny of the Peisistratids. The dispersion of the ability to rule over the many gave some power to the governed over the governor – power which did not require bloodshed.
Other Greek city-states engaged in similar experiences. Lacedaemon, later known as Sparta, operated as a kind of strict democracy. Whereas Athens granted one vote to every male citizen, Lacedaemon restricted voting only to the martial classes. Rome behaved in a similar manner, carefully defining the Roman citizen by several attributes – notably being a land-owner and a Patrician. This definition became even narrower as the Empire expanded so as to prevent conquered nobility from subverting the Roman regime. This increased limitation of citizenship also helped to keep out those who were born Plebian and the freed slaves, guaranteeing that what the elites considered to be dangerous ideas did not surface to the Senate floor.
Lacedaemon’s small voter base appointed a mercenary tyrant over themselves, which ended their experiment in democratic monarchy. Not much is known about this era of early Sparta, only that Lacedaemon was once a rival of Athens, and after it became known as Sparta, it became subservient to the Democracy; although it remained an important entity in Greek history, its power remained dwarfed by that of the Athenians.
Rome’s small voter base allowed for exactly that which the Patricians feared. The influence of competent and charismatic generals wooed enough of the voters that the power of the Senate was decreased and more authoritarian powers were awarded to a small number of men. This number of despots shrank until it became the absolute minimum of one under Julius Caesar. Though he was assassinated before the formal establishment of the Roman Empire, he did bury the Republic. The Roman Empire would occasionally be ruled by Philosopher Kings such as Augustus or Marcus Aurelius, but it would also come to be ruled incompetent despots like Nero and Commodus. Yet most of the existence of the Empire was defined by a balancing of power between the Emperor and his Legions’ generals. The Senate, which was meant to be the instrument of enacting the will of the people, became little more than the voice of the people. And since these out of touch Patricians relied not on the consent of the masses but of fellow patricians, any Emperor easily overruled them by simply appealing to the masses, as did Caligula and Constantine. The mob truly outweighed the Patrician class.
In Rome, a Democratic Aristocracy became a Monarchic Aristocracy under Caesar and Pompey. The successors of Julius Caesar, Caligula in particular, changed it from a Monarchic Aristocracy into an Ochlocratic Monarchy, cementing the power of the Emperor by establishing himself as the symbol of the people. The Senate, who truly did not represent the people but rather only a segmented caste of them, were rendered impotent by their lack of raw support.
The Ancient Occident attests to one thing: power cannot be entrusted in the hands of too few. The modern Occident is gearing up to prove the opposite is equally true. Power cannot be entrusted in the hands of too many.
The United States is currently the hegemon of the world (although it is recognizable this status does wane). However, it has only recently come into such power and has not occupied this seat for a century at the time of writing. Currently it is poised on a path that if it continues to go down, it will not be recorded as a Rome or Athens or Persia, but as a Kingdom of the Ostrogoths: a footnote in history which serves only as a warning to those who bother to read it.
Just as when power is distributed in the hands of a few it becomes too great, when power is distributed among too many, it becomes indistinguishable from impotence. And so Democracy is not some moral goal, but a math problem. It is a simple one of optimization, one of the simplest easily solved by even the most mediocre of math students. Here is a quadratic equation, find the derivative and solve for the sole variable.
I am proposing how to do just that. By limiting the Right to Vote, the essence of what it means to be a Citizen, only to those who pay taxes, we can optimize democracy. One vote per taxpayer.
Considerations of the Opposition
One might say the above paragraphs undermine my thesis. The small voting bases on Lacedaemon and Rome were important variables in each civilization becoming a dictatorship. The respective coups could have been prevented by a larger voter base.
This is true, but it does not follow that the larger the voter base, the safer the Society (with regards to a Republic). Much like many things, mathematically it would have an apex. This is to say that when a certain percentage of the population can vote, the Society is safest from usurpers and revolutions. That number is neither 0 nor 100.
It is important that the portion of the population which votes has some stake in the Society, and not just a vision of what it could possibly become.
For example, the Roman Republic only gave citizenship to landowners. Rome was, from its infancy until its demise at the hands of the Goths, a warrior Society. It waged war with neighboring Etruscans and, later, the Celts. Many of these wars, especially the earlier ones, were not campaigns of conquest, but raids on supplies and stores. The purpose was to prevent famine in one Society, often at the expense of another. It follows that those who owned the granaries, the farms, and the storehouses had the most to lose from being raided by neighboring peoples. So, the landowner was granted the vote, since his interests aligned with the general interest of not being raided.
He who did not own land could survive still off of the trade should Rome suffer plunder, as it did in its early years to the Gauls. He who did not own land could also emigrate, with little lost behind him. Thus, whatever his vision for Society, he paid no price for being wrong. So, his opinions cannot be guaranteed to align with the general interest of Rome. The same applies to Republics in all locations and all times.
Let us assume an extreme: that the United States allows all residents, citizen or not, to vote. The illegal immigrant, and indeed many migrants who have no intention of becoming citizens, have no real stake in the welfare of the Nation. They have abandoned their own for one they perceive as being better off. In short, they’ve emigrated once, they can do so again.
Thus, the way they would vote would most likely be for what they felt was most ideal: the smarter of the bunch would have their own esoteric ideas of perfection and the stupider would vote for the likes of Bernie Sanders and Big Titty Ocasio-Cortes. If they prove to have successful policies, then these voters reap the rewards. If these policies prove detrimental, they abandon the Nation in favor of greener pastures.
Now, I am suggesting that there is some legislation to allow illegal immigrants to vote, or green card holders, or anything else. However, there are those who have become losers in the Society. Students with overbearing student debt, single mothers, adults in minimum wage positions, and the like compose those who are without a stake in the United States.
Those with overbearing student debt took out loans they could not possibly repay with their plans. Single mothers are often dependent on public and private handouts – and have proven themselves to be highly impulsive. Adults in minimum wage positions have pursued no skill sets, and often spend their free time looking for the next party. These people stand only to benefit from redistribution policy, as they either profit or continue to pay nothing into it. Thus, predicted economic issues of say forgiving student debt means nothing to them. That various investors would be essentially scammed out of their interest means nothing to these borrowers.
Rather, they live for in the moment, because they have no long term investment. No matter what happens, they will continue, being leeches.
Today, land ownership is not the only measure of stake within the well-being a nation. Stake in National companies, government careers, and other methods by which individuals intertwine their fates with the country’s exist in the modern world.
However, some people, a growing percentage of every given national population, seeks out not to hold a stake. They exist passively, seeking out only the next rush of dopamine-rewarded impulse and nothing more. They improve nothing about themselves and, from the outside, it appears they would rather die that contribute back to Society – and despite that, they often lecture their fellow citizens about the duty to give back.
So the solution is twofold. First, institute a true progressive tax. This means lower tax rates but no tax refunds (and higher tax rates at upper echelons). Then, those who either take from the public coffers in the form of safety nets or those who contribute nothing are prevented from voting. That is all.