Thursday, September 01, 2011
Myth #18: The Constitution Ensures No Taxation Without Representation
This is the Eighteenth Myth in the series: 25 Myths of the U.S. Constitution.
Note: These articles later were updated and combined into my first book: 25 Myths of the United States Constitution.
By Douglas V. Gibbs
"No Taxation Without Representation" was a slogan used by the colonists to bring attention to the fact that they were being forced to pay unfair taxes brought about by the British legislators through tactics like the Sugar Act and the Stamp Act, yet, they were not represented in parliament.
Britain saw the colonies as a source of revenue, and taxed all manner of foodstuffs imported into the colonies, despite the economic depression the colonies were suffering through, or the growing tide of discontent that was leading some to support the idea of independence. The British did not understand the discontent of the colonists, for the British viewed taxes as a freely given gift of the people to the monarch, granted by the people's representatives.
Colonial leaders emphasized that therein lied the point.
George Grenville, the author of the Sugar Act and Stamp Act, said he agreed with the colonists regarding the notion of taxation by consent, but argued that the colonists were indeed "virtually" represented by Parliament. The House of Commons, argued Grenville, represented all British subjects, wherever they were.
The colonists emphatically rejected the view of "virtual representation," stating that the taxes were levied by a distant parliament on unwilling colonies.
From that point, a battle cry arose from the colonies. As Americans, we are quite familiar with the rallying cry "No Taxation Without Representation," and some of us have even come to believe that was the whole reason the Revolutionary War broke out in the first place.
Of course, though a small part of the reasoning behind the decision to declare independence, no one issue played the entire role. However important "No Taxation Without Representation" was, however, in today's society there are many people who fall under the same dilemma. . . and it is completely Constitutional.
In our country there are people who are unrepresented, yet pays taxes of some kind (if not income tax, they pay sales tax, and the like). Convicts, immigrants that have not become citizens, and illegal aliens fall into this group of people that are still subject to taxation, but are not represented for they cannot lawfully vote.
Washington DC also does not have any voting representation in Congress, but the residents of that city are taxed no different than the rest of us. By virtue of the 23rd Amendment, however, DC does have at least three electoral votes, but many even challenge the logic in that.
The nation's capital is not a State, therefore the district is not afforded representation in Congress. In fact, if you go back to the original debates, Washington DC was not supposed to have a resident population. The land set aside for the District of Columbia was supposed to be solely for the purpose of making it the seat of government. Congress has full authority over this district, as per Article I, Section 8, Clause 17.
Since the year 2000, Washington DC has been trying to bring attention to the fact that they are taxed without representation, even putting the words "No Taxation Without Representation" on their license plate.
Nonetheless, unless an amendment is passed changing the rules for representation, Washington DC will remain taxed without representation, and that practice will continue to be completely constitutional.
-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary