VOTING REFORM: A Progressive Voting Scheme

by Diane Rufino

This article follows the one I previously wrote, entitled “Who is Really Disenfranchised?”  In that article I talked about the incessant claims of  “disenfranchisement” of minority voters when no such disenfranchisement exists nor any intent to do so. I argued that those Americans who are really “disenfranchised” today in this country are the taxpayers.  These are the Americans who really have a “fairness” and “equality” argument.  These are the ones whose interests are not being fairly or equally protected by a government that is required to do so.  These are the Americans that government wishes to exploit and the ones that fellow Americans want to take advantage of.

In this article, I will offer a remedy to safeguard their legitimate constitutional rights.

Claims of “disenfranchisement” of minority voters lack merit and are based on a hypothetical negative impact that common sense, neutral, and necessary voter laws may possibly have upon minorities. It is another attempt to find racial intent where none exists.  Voter ID laws require a voter to present an ID in order to vote (with suitable provisions should a person not have one), yet Democrats and civil rights groups fight such laws with great energy. Common sense Americans want protective laws to ensure the integrity of the voting system, so that we have “one person, one vote” and every vote counts equally. The laws are reasonably related to the problem of voter dilution where a person’s legitimate vote is diluted by those cast fraudulently.  No one should lost the full force of their vote because Mickey Mouse casts a vote or because dead people are voting. Most people don’t see any undue burden on a person to show an ID to vote.  People can barely get by in today’s world without one. For example, a person needs to show an ID to get a driver’s license, open a bank account, buy alcohol, buy cigarettes, apply for welfare, apply for food stamps, sign up for healthcare, cash a check, write a check, purchase a firearm, make a significant credit card purchase, rent an apartment, be admitted to a hospital, enter certain federal buildings, and get a marriage license. Yet having to produce one to vote once every couple of years is somehow a problem. They claim it’s ‘racist.’  This is assuming that minorities don’t feel they need to get any ID at all in their lives, even though every single American needs an ID to conduct some kind of business or in general to simply prove that he is who he says he is. This is a speculative argument and one that most people don’t buy. Yet the tax laws that require working Americans at a certain income level to turn over a chunk of their earned income to the government are an outright disenfranchisement of property. There is no speculation. This is the government determining that some Americans must work about 4 months of the year – from January until April, sometimes May –  for the government and there is nothing they can do about it. They must work, as indentured servants, to pay Uncle Sam. The risks are criminal penalties and incarceration.

The liberal media doesn’t talk about this “disenfranchisement” because their party is of the belief that they have a RIGHT to take whatever money they need from Americans who are condemned to be taxpayers.  Everyone talks about the 14th Amendment and the “Equal Protection” clause, but no one talks about the 13th Amendment (which abolished slavery and indentured servitude).  The “disenfranchised” have no meaningful advocates.  They are soon to be “minority” upon which the majority will soon completely oppress. It is their lot in life to support a government that rarely gives them anything in return, other than roads, public parks, and decaying public schools. It is their lot in life to support others who they have nothing in common with and in fact, are ones they have little respect for.  It is their lot in life to support government programs that stand for everything that they abhor -  programs that dumb down society, remove personal responsibility, lead to increasing levels of crime and decay, result in moral depravity, and yes, highlight racial differences by establishing different sets of rules for different groups – all in the name of “equal opportunity.”  It is their lot in life to finance the destruction of the United States by taking us from the once-proud “Land of the Free and Home of the Brave” to “Land of the Depraved and Home of the Enslaved.”

Actually, the liberal media does talk about those ‘disenfranchised’ Americans. It wants them to pay more.  As the number of persons paying federal income tax to support a rapidly growing US population decreases, the amount of money needed will increase. Democrats won’t require their voters to pay (because once an “entitlement” is given, it is very hard to take it away), so they will look for ways to soak more out of those who are working and earning enough.  “Enough’ is the key term.  Those men and women working hard to support their families, who have put the time and energy into their education and have sacrificed to develop a career, and who are trying to realize the “dream” that they so diligently sacrificed for, have no say in what is “enough.”  What is “enough” for them and their family has no relevance. The fact that they might want to have more children (which would require them to buy a larger house and put more and more money aside for college educations) means nothing to the government.  The fact that they might have $100,000 in school loan debt which they want to pay off as fast as possible means nothing.  Doing the right thing, investing in education, buying and improving property, and raising responsible children means nothing to the government.

“Class Warfare” is the new term for “Equality.”  The poor can only improve their lot by making the richer less well-off.  That sounds fair, doesn’t it?  In whose eyes?  For which party?  In some cultures, it is unheard of to look at the finances and the “stuff” that other people have. In fact, that was the mindset of our earlier (legal) immigrants.  That was the attitude of my parents and grandparents. That was the mindset of our Founders. They wisely protected all those opportunities for individuals to attain the same station in life. We aren’t supposed to covet the things that others have.

“Three years after the ‘Hope and Change’ president took office, Hope turns out to mean high taxes and lots of regulations, and Change consists of celebrating the government’s takeover of General Motors.. The Great Uniter is all about class warfare…  It’s one thing to beat up on the big banks that caused the financial crisis; it’s another to hammer any family that earns a combined income of $250,000 a year as “millionaires,” pretending they didn’t work for their success and thus ought to pay the government more hard-earned money.”   (Charles Gasparino).

Barack Obama based his entire State of the Union address around envy, pointing to tax disparity as proof.  As Gasparino says: “The tax code is indeed a glaringly obvious problem. It pits every constituency against the rest, and Leftists are especially adept at exploiting that to wage class warfare.”  Obama’s tired rhetoric continues to be that the rich don’t pay their “fair share.”  In his State of the Union address, he stated: “If you make $100,000 – 250,000 a year, like 98% of American families do, then your taxes shouldn’t go up.”  Where did he get that data?   If that were indeed the case, we wouldn’t need entitlements and there would be no class warfare, right?  Obama continued: “You’re the ones struggling with rising costs and stagnant wages. You’re the ones who need relief.”  What he neglected to mention is that it is his administration’s own policies that are causing such struggles.  In other words, he wants the wealthy to do more to support his failing government policies. He wants the wealthy to relieve his corrupt policies of blame.

The money that goes to the federal government is a combination of income tax and payroll taxes.  Those who want the rich to pay more attack the amounts they pay in capital gains and estate taxes.  They pay too little, they cry.  Obama mislead the American people by alleging that Warren Buffett pays as much in income tax as his secretary. He provided a new sound-bite for the class-warriors when he said: “You can call this class warfare all you like, but asking a billionaire to pay as much as his secretary is simply common sense.” First of all, Buffett’s secretary, whom Obama deceptively tried to pass off as being in the same category as the typical office secretary that many of our mothers were, is believed to earn between $200,000 and $500,000 per year.  I have a PhD, 2 Masters, and assorted other degrees and I will never see that kind of salary in my life.  Second of all, the amount each person pays is automatically progressive according to that person’s income.  A billionaire who pays 30% in taxes clearly pays tons more in taxes than a secretary who pays 30% on $200,000.  It’s just simple math. Buffett says that the rich have lobbyists to try to lower the estate and capital gains taxes and that’s why they should be vilified and that’s why the middle and poor class are right in hating them, but he misses the point. Everyone paying taxes is paying at least a “fair share,” even if they are all paying the same percentage and sometimes even if they are paying even a little less.  What “services” does a man get back from the government when he pays $9 million in taxes, for example [30% of $30 million in taxable income]. The bottom line is that everyone paying taxes receives the same benefits from the government. Well, that isn’t exactly true, right?  Those who don’t work and those earning below the poverty limit certainly receive a whole lot more services and benefits.

Mitt Romney has released his tax records and is being criticized as having paid “too little in income tax.”  Certainly he is a wealthy man; he earned more than $20 million in taxable income in each of the last two years for which he released returns.  But he paid exactly what he was required under the law.  Because his income was entirely from short-term capital gains (the money earned on the profit realized on the sale of a non-inventory asset that was purchased at a lower price), his tax rate was around 15%.  Unnoticed and therefore not taken into consideration by those criticizing him, however, is that most of that money was taxed already at the corporate rate of 35% before it was ever paid to him. So the government certainly got its money.  While Democrats criticize Romney’s unfairly low burden and point to this as the very reason to attack the rich, when John Kerry paid only 13%  in 2004, they remained noticeably silent. Americans have to get over the mindset that just because a man is wealthy, he must have become so because he screwed over poorer people and therefore it’s OK to hate him, envy him, and take his money. We could easily say the reverse..  Poorer people tend to stay in their socioeconomic class and not move upward because they’re screwing over richer people.

The sad thing is that Americans are so out of touch with their founding documents and have become so ignorant with respect to the values on which our country was founded that they aren’t posing the most fundamental question of all: “Why should the government even have the right to tax so many aspects of an individual’s property?”  The layers of taxation is incredible. The government is charged with securing an individual’s “life, liberty, and property,” and should always be looking for ways to allow Americans to keep what is theirs under natural law and not for more and more ways to “convert” the people’s money to its own uses.  Arthur Brooks, President of the American Enterprise Institute, is bothered by the fact that most people only seem to care about the fairness of the tax system as it relates to how much taxes rich people are paying. He explains: “When a government that has overspent for years turns to tax increases instead of spending cuts simply for the sake of “fairness,” it weakens free enterprise, lowers opportunity and impoverishes us in many ways.”

According to Obama and his supporters, there are Americans who aren’t paying “their fair share.”  But the facts and figures simply don’t back him up.  The top 1% of Americans pay 38% of the federal income tax burden.  The top 5% of Americans pay 60% of the federal income tax burden.  The top 10% of Americans pay at least 70% of the federal income tax burden. The middle class pays 15.1% of the federal income tax burden.  And half of Americans don’t pay any federal income taxes at all and contribute essentially nothing to the funding of our government.  In fact, a good chunk of that last category actually “makes money” under our current tax system. It is, after all, a wealth redistribution scheme. And that, by definition, is forcing some people to work to support others, which is unfair and unconstitutional. But perhaps Obama was referring to the capital gains tax not being high enough. The short-term capital gains tax is already 33%  - the highest since 1978. (Long-term is 15%, which was a result of the 2003 Bush tax cuts, and then extended by Congress through 2012).

How dare US politicians exploit and intensify class warfare. It was class warfare – the hatred for the rich – which led to the 16th Amendment and then the vast expansion of government.  Why single out the rich?  Why not look at ordinary tax cheats?  According to documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, more than 450,000 active and retired federal employees failed to file tax returns in 2005.  Those taxes totaled over $3 million. Timothy Geithner, Obama’s Treasury Secretary, failed to pay his taxes, and so did Rep. Charles Rengel.  There are many others.  Former IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti testified back in 2002 that there is a “tax gap,” which is the amount of tax owed that will never be collected.  In 2002, that amount was a whopping $30 billion. Recently, the IRS reported that 36 of Obama’s executive office staff owe some $833,970 in back taxes, and thousands of federal employees owe back taxes totaling $3.4 billion. Why aren’t tax cheats the subject of the president’s economic recovery policy?  Isn’t this what we are talking about – or should be talking about – when we refer to those “not paying their fair share.”  Why is it always the rich who are to blame when there isn’t enough money for government to spend recklessly?

Note the hypocrisy of our President.  On Dec. 5, 2008, Obama’s transition team told Finance Committee staff that Geithner had not paid social security or self-employment taxes on income received from the International Monetary Fund from 2001 to 2004.  In 2005, the IRS audited Geithner for tax years 2003 and 2004, and he was ordered  to pay back taxes and interest — but no penalties!!  Imagine that.  Even after a pattern of willingly and intentionally not paying taxes for 4 years, he was not required to pay any penalties, which would have totaled  $16,732.  But wait a minute, the IRS only looked at 2003-2004. Geithner was not compelled to pay taxes for 2001 and 2002. [The statute of limitations had expired, and the IRS did not have the authority to enforce any policies in these years.]  The Senate Finance Committee characterized those errors as “honest mistakes.”  Does this sound reasonable or does it sound like political cronyism?  In all fairness (cough, cough), when Obama was getting ready to nominate him to the Treasury position, Geithner was “pressured” to voluntarily pay those taxes, but all he paid was $25, 970 as a total for both years.

Tim Geithner repeatedly failed to adhere to tax law, from 2001 through 2004. He is a bona fide serial tax cheat. If it weren’t for an IRS audit, he would never have paid any taxes. He was hoping to take advantage of the statute of limitations and cheat the system. Only when the opportunity to become Treasury Secretary presented itself  did Geithner pay his back-taxes from the former two years. Learning of his pattern of cheating, President Obama chose to ignore them and nominated him to the post anyway – with the Senate’s consent, of course.

And what about charitable giving?  In 2011 alone, Mitt Romney gave more than 19% of his income to various charities, including the Mormon Church.  He donated more in charitable giving than in federal taxes, although the latter wasn’t a donation but rather a legal obligation, under penalty of fines and jail time (that’s only because he’s not a Democrat). The Obamas, on the other hand, gave just 1% of their income to charity between 2000 and 2004, but increased it to 5% by 2007.  Joe Biden gave $369  (you read that correctly) the year before becoming vice president, and just $5,350 in 2010.  “A reasonable conclusion is that because “liberals” are so miserly with their money, they think the only way to “spread the wealth” around is through forced taxation.” (The Patriot Post).

Indeed, Obama has a monopoly on hypocrisy.  It oozes from his lips every time he speaks. But the majority of Americans are too brainwashed or ignorant to know this to be true.  Near the end of his State of the Union address, he said: “No one built this country on their own. This nation is great because we built it together.  We’re great because we have each other’s backs.”  What he really was too cowardly to say was this: “The rich must do more to have the backs of the poor.”  (Wow, that rhymes).

Not one time in any of his speeches has he addressed how the “lifestyle freeloaders” help benefit anyone other than themselves?  What should they be required to be disposed of in order to serve the nation?  The taxpayers are disposed of their earnings (property) and their precious time (working 3-4 months to pay Uncle Sam).  The conversations coming from our President and his party have to stop being one way.  Cutting entitlement and other government programs will cut the need for increasing tax revenue and perhaps even do something magical, like force people to take education seriously (have you spent any time in the public school system lately and seen which students aren’t putting any effort in because they already know where their paychecks will be coming from?), force people to develop skills and become ambitious, curb teen pregnancy, prevent so many women from having babies when they aren’t married, and lower the out-of-control birthrate of those who can’t raise their children properly and make sure they go to school and excel. People will finally start doing the responsible thing, such as applying themselves in school, taking care of their health, taking care of their communities (because they have to work to pay for upkeep and repair, to protect their investments), and having only as many children as they can reasonably support and raise. But these common-sense ideas are never discussed by a Democrat. Why not?  Imagine the great benefit to society if these things could happen. So many problems would be solved.  In fact, their knee-jerk response to such talk is to cry “racism” – even though color has nothing to do with this discussion.  But they will find a way to make it about color… they always do.  And even if they claim that that such a solution would “disenfranchise” people of color, the next question should be “why?”  Then they should do some further objective analysis.  Because, as Obama said in his State of the Union address…  we all must make this country together – not just one group or another.

Newt Gingrich recently said: “What allows one group of people to believe they have the right to determine what’s best for the lives of others and the right to take what they need for that agenda?  We have gone the full spectra in the rights of man with respect to government: We replaced the divine right of Kings with the divine right of the individual to the divine right self-righteous groups.”

Members of society must accept that individual effort determines income, and that all have a right to enjoy the fruits of their effort. Equality is in the opportunity, not the status. Equality of wealth will ultimately make every man poor and sluggish and equality of social condition will ultimately lead to complete social decay.

Background:

Earlier I stated that the government has an obligation to protect the rights of citizens equally.  After all, it expressly says so under the 14th Amendment. This amendment, after all, has not only been used to give rights to every group under the sun but it has also been used to give spirit to the Court’s broad powers as judicial activists.  Schools were not only desegregated (legislative segregation was ended under Brown), but they were judicially mandated to use bussing and other artificial means to mix the races and reach acceptable “quotas” in school districts, even if it meant using extensive plans to move students around.  Surely, the “Equal Protection” clause must extend to the most basic of fundamental rights….  the right to property.  After all, men and women convert the fruits of their mind and their creativity (intellectual property), the benefits of their personality, ethics, etc (good will, which is also an intellectual property), and the fruits of their labor into compensation. Salaries and other investments are converted “property.”

The Constitution was written for those in whose name it was cast – “We the People.”  Why was it written for the People?  As the Preamble explains, it was written so that people and their posterity would know what to expect from their new government. Basically the government would protect citizens from internal strife and from attack from the outside, but most importantly, it would defend individual liberty. In other words, the Founders did not establish the Constitution for the purpose of granting rights but rather for the purpose of protecting rights.

Thomas Jefferson, who drafted our Declaration of Independence, understood that there are certain rights fundamental to the idea of man being free and because it is our Creator who is responsible for life and because those rights flow from our humanity, governments have no power to take them away and instead, must be obligated to protect them. Drawing inspiration from philosopher John Locke, whom he studied intently, Jefferson believed that government is morally obliged to serve people, namely by protecting life, liberty, and property, and our government, as based on limited powers and the principle of checks and balances, was crafted to protect these fundamental rights.  The Declaration was initially written to read: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, endowed by the Creator with certain natural rights that among these are the Enjoyment of Life and Liberty, with the Means of acquiring and possessing Property, and pursuing and obtaining Happiness and Safety.”  This language was believed, especially according to Virginia’s George Mason, to be a literal improvement of Locke’s phrase “Life, Liberty, and Property.”

John Locke stressed that private property is absolutely essential for liberty. In his Treatise on Government, he explains that the primary reason for men to organize themselves into societies and to institute a common government is for “the Preservation of their Property.”  He wrote: “Every Man has a Property in his own Person. This no Body has any right to but himself. The Labour of his Body, and the Work of his Hands, we may say, are properly his.” Certainly, the right to property and the right to the fruits of one’s labor (including compensation) are as fundamental a right as the right to life itself.

Locke believed people legitimately turned common property into private property by mixing their labor with it, improving it.  He insisted that people, not rulers, are sovereign, which also happens to be the bedrock principle underlying our Constitution.  Government, Locke wrote, “can never have a Power to take to themselves the whole or any part of the Subjects Property, without their own consent.  For this would be in effect to leave them no Property at all.” He makes his point even more explicit: rulers “must not raise Taxes on the Property of the People, without the Consent of the People, given by themselves, or their Deputies.”  Thus, according to Locke, an individual’s labor, his intellect, his personality, the good will he earns through his honest and ethical conduct, and the fruits of all of these are his PROPERTY and are to be protected with the greatest zeal by any legitimate government.

Locke went further and affirmed an explicit right to revolution: “Whenever the Legislators endeavor to take away, and destroy the Property of the People, or to reduce them to Slavery under Arbitrary Power, they put themselves into a state of War with the People, who are thereupon absolved from any farther Obedience, and are left to the common Refuge, which God hath provided for all Men, against Force and Violence.”

In 1772, John Adams wrote “The Rights of the Colonists,” which he delivered to a Boston Town meeting.  He started his historic document with these words: “Among the natural rights of the Colonists are these: First, a right to life; Secondly, to liberty; Thirdly, to property; together with the right to support and defend them in the best manner they can. These are evident branches of, rather than deductions from, the duty of self-preservation, commonly called the first law of nature.”  As the colonists were British subjects at the time, Adams further wrote in his essay: “The absolute rights of Englishmen and all freemen, in or out of civil society, are principally personal security, personal liberty, and private property.”

Arthur Lee of Virginia (1775) wrote: “The Right of property is the guardian of every other Right, and to deprive the people of this, is in fact to deprive them of their Liberty.”  William Blackstone, the great British legal scholar, wrote: “So great is the regard of the law for private property, that it will not authorize the least violation of it; no, not even for the general good of the whole community.”  Ayn Rand, author and philosopher, wrote: “Just as man can’t exist without his body, so no rights can exist without the right to translate one’s rights into reality, to think, to work and keep the results, which means: the right of property.”  Thomas Jefferson wrote: “To take from one because it is thought that his own industry and that of his father’s has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association – ‘the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.’”  He also said, in his 1801 inaugural address: “A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of the laborer the bread he has earned.”  And finally, Frederic Bastiat, a French economist, wrote: “Each of us has a natural right – from God – to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life, and the preservation of one is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two.”

Prior to 1913, the government operated with revenues raised through tariffs, excise taxes, and property taxes, without ever touching a worker’s paycheck. The Supreme Court has classified income tax as a direct income tax.  Apparently, in enacting the 16th Amendment, legislators ignored the pesky little problem of States’ rights and the concept of federalism.  After the government attempted to enact a peace-time income tax following the Civil War, the Supreme Court, in Pollock v Farmer’s Loan and Trust, 157 U.S. 429 (1895), declared it unconstitutional.  Referring to the explicit prohibition against direct taxation in Article I, the Court argued that the income tax would excessively enhance federal power in relation to state power.  But in an effort to “soak the rich” and attempt to strip them of at least some of the power they held, the 16th Amendment was passed despite the important Constitutional principle it violated.

In his book “The Income Tax: Root of all Evil,” Frank Chodorov explains why taxes on income and inheritance are different in principle from all other taxes: “The government says to the citizen: ‘Your earnings are not exclusively your own; we have a claim on them, and our claim precedes yours; we will allow you to keep some of it, because we recognize your need, not your right; but whatever we grant you for yourself is for us to decide.’”

As Larry Arnn and Grover Norquist wrote in their 2003 article in Claremont entitled “Repeal the 16th Amendment”:  “Although the first income tax in 1913 was very limited – it applied to just 2% of the labor force, and its highest rate was 7% – it prepared the way for the federal government’s almost unlimited access to revenue. It thus provided an almost unlimited ability to fund programs that are properly state matters–crime fighting, education, welfare–and to pressure the states into conforming to a national standard in matters that should reflect regional differentiation, like speed limits and drinking ages.”

The Problem:

The nation currently faces a crisis not only financially, but also of conscience.  It also faces a crisis of Constitutional proportions, under both the very language of Article I and under the Equal Protection Clause which requires that laws must be applied equally to all Americans.  In 2009, the Democratic-led Congress enacted a series of tax reforms and generous exemptions and tax credits and then in 2010, it passed the gargantuan economic stimulus bill.  The result of these reforms, credits, and stimulus bill is that millions of Americans have been dropped from the federal tax rolls. A huge number of Americans are simply no longer affected by the federal income tax. Before these tax reforms, 47% of Americans were already not paying income tax.  Now this number is about 50% and shows every indication of continuing to climb higher.  As if that weren’t enough, the bottom 40% of income-earners actually receive a cash payment from the government at tax time – “the Earned Income Credit.” This is a re-distribution of wealth in its most recognizable form and is not covered under the “General Welfare” Clause. Hence it is not a legitimate exercise of Congress’s powers.

To make matters even more unfair, those who are required to pay taxes often have to spend quite a bit of money on tax compliance. A recent study shows that taxpayers spend an astounding $431.1 billion annually on such compliance. How large is $431.1 billion? It’s more than the dollar value of all the goods and services produced in a state such as Virginia or Michigan.

Under the Obama administration, many Americans accustomed to paying their share of federal taxes are being taken off the tax rolls. Recent tax law changes mean that for the first time, in 2009, a family of four making $50,000 can pay no federal income tax at all.  A family at this income level has surely suffered in this recession, but should they really pay no federal income tax at all?  By the way, can you guess which political party they will now side with?

The fact is that America has become divided between a growing class of people who pay no income taxes and a shrinking class of people who are bearing the lion’s share of the burden. Despite what critics have said about former President Bush that the tax cuts enacted in 2001, 2003 and 2004 favored the “rich,” these cuts actually reduced the tax burden of low- and middle-income taxpayers and shifted the tax burden onto wealthier taxpayers. Everything the government does continues to shift the tax burden onto wealthier taxpayers and at some point it has to stop before the notion of fundamental fairness we so treasure in this country is made a complete mockery of.

The current mindset of the Democrats and progressives is dangerous and alarming. It goes against the fundamental principles of our founding documents.  Democrats and progressive politicians have turned John Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country” on its head. And telling so many Americans that they don’t need to make sacrifices for our government, as we are now saying, is dangerous new territory for our nation and for the health of our democracy and economy.

Furthermore, by placing the tax burden so heavily on a certain class of Americans and continuing to do so by excluding so many others, the situation is almost tantamount to institutional slavery, or involuntary servitude (to be free only when he or she retires, loses his job, or takes a job at a very low pay).  In other words, a taxpayer can only be freed from this immense burden (over 4 months of the year are spent in financial hock to the federal government) if he or she betrays her own conscience and inalienable right to pursue the career of his/her own choice. The 13th Amendment promises that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, shall exist within the United States.”

Recognizing that there is an inherent laziness and “degree of depravity in mankind” which will unfortunately flourish greater in a republican form of government (James Madison), we would expect non-taxpayers to behave as they do. Their demand for entitlements and government programs is naturally insatiable because they don’t care at all about the cost. Others are providing the funding who, in their eyes, have “more than enough.” Consequently, they will always support increasing government programs as a long as they get even a small benefit from them because it does not cost them a cent.  And so they will support politicians who favor more spending.  Representatives who need the support of such persons to be elected will continue to take from the pockets of others to provide to this solid voting bloc.

Therefore, by taking more and more Americans off the federal tax rolls, Democrats and progressives are creating a permanent base of supporters for themselves. In doing so, they have abused the progressive income tax too flagrantly and too unashamedly.  Many years ago, when Americans were Christians and God-fearing people, they knew it wasn’t right to take something for nothing.  They knew they should not look at what another has and covet it.  But Americans are a new breed and ‘honor’ isn’t a word that’s used much anymore.

At the rate Democrats and progressives are going, hard-working Americans can never expect their tax rates to go down. And it has to stop now, in the name of fundamental fairness and with reference to the Constitution and the reason the nation was formed in the first place.

Just as Democrats are catering to the needs of their voter base, Republicans must now begin to look after the interests of their voters.

The Solution:

We’ve talked about disenfranchisement and about class warfare.  We’ve looked at the fundamental values underlying our nation’s founding and we’ve looked at the problem created by our broken, unfair tax system. At its core, the problem isn’t about how much one group thinks the government should take from another group to somehow satisfy some subjective notion of ‘fundamental fairness,’ the problem is about the audacious and arrogant “right” of the government to take what it thinks it needs from people in the first place.  And if the government is going to take from some without taking from others, then there must be constitutional safeguards put in place to legitimately protect the interests of that former group with respect to the latter group.  That is a legitimate “fundamental fairness” issue and one that our Constitution in fact does demand.  The question becomes this: What is a fair way to safeguard the interests of taxpayers against those who do not pay?

For all the reasons above, I make the following proposal.  I propose that voter rights be subjected to the same arbitrary and progressive rules that property rights are.  Just as the tax burden is assigned on the ability to pay, the weight of an individual’s vote should be assigned based on the ‘stake’ that person has in government policies that will potentially diminish his or her property rights.  In other words, the weight of a person’s vote should equal the amount of skin that person has in the game.  A person with a lot of money might be taxed more but he also should have a greater say in what the government does with his money as opposed to someone who has contributes nothing.

So how would this play out?  Well, everyone is entitled to the “equal opportunity” to vote so every citizen of legal age would automatically get one vote.  Additional votes would be allotted, progressively, according to the amount of property subject to government regulation and according to the amount of money the citizen would be required to turn over in taxes.  For example, every taxpayer who owns a house might get a second vote. Every taxpayer who owns a business would get a third vote.  Every taxpayer who experiences a jump in the tax rate gets additional votes.

Notice that I didn’t say that everyone has the constitutional right to vote.  While most Americans believe that we possess the “legal” right to vote in this country, the fact is that our Constitution only provides for non-discrimination in voting on the basis of race, sex, and age in the 15th, 19th and 26th Amendments, respectively. The US Constitution contains no affirmative individual right to vote nor is it protected from the forces of government in the Bill of Rights.  The 10th Amendment to the Constitution states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the State, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”  Since the word “vote” appears in the Constitution only with respect to non-discrimination, the so-called right to vote is a “state right.”  It could be argued, however, that the right to vote underlies our other fundamental rights because it protects them and therefore it is an affirmative right. In fact, voting rights protect all other rights and privileges in this country.  But it was the Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore (2000) which reminded us that there is no explicit or fundamental right to suffrage in the Constitution.  Chief Justice William Rehnquist had this to say: “In the eyes of the [Supreme] Court, democracy is rooted not in the right of the American people to vote and govern but in a set of state-based institutional arrangements for selecting leaders.”  Even more, the Court stated:  “The individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States.” [So, for example, if President George Bush lost the case, the Florida legislature could have discarded the 6 million popular votes cast in Florida (either real or by "hanging chads"!) and been within its legal authority to select a panel of electors of their choosing to vote for President. It was Republican at the time, so following this hypothetical, it would have made sure that Bush got the electoral votes].

Only an amendment to the Constitution – a “Voting Rights” amendment – can correct the flaw in our system highlighted by the Bush v. Gore case.  Only a constitutional amendment would give every American an individual affirmative citizenship right to vote and not one subject to any limitations by the state, such as a residency requirement. (“You must be a resident in the state for at least one year in order to vote.”)

Consider this proposal for a 28th Amendment:

SECTION 1:  All citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, shall have the right to vote in any public election held in the jurisdiction in which the citizen resides.  The right to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States, any State, or any other public or private person or entity, except that the United States or any State may establish regulations narrowly tailored to produce efficient and honest elections.

SECTION 2:  The weight of each citizen’s vote shall be determined in accordance with the liability to which he or she is subject to the laws and regulations of the federal government because of property ownership and earned income.

SECTION 3:  The District constituting the seat of Government of the United States shall elect Senators and Representatives in the Congress in such number and such manner as it would be entitled if it were a State.

SECTION 4: The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Why is a progressive voting scheme necessary?  It is necessary for essentially two reasons: (1) to ensure that interests are fairly and proportionally represented; and (2) to ensure that checks are in place to force Congress to be responsible with people’s money.  American taxpayers will soon face a crisis of no longer being fairly represented in government because the percentage of Americans who have no tax liability are reproducing at a faster pace than those paying taxes and welfare is becoming a way of life rather than a short-term necessity. Persons with no tax liability and no “skin in the game” are voting to spend other people’s money. They have no “stake” in the decisions of the government to spend taxpayer money or to raise taxes.  It simply doesn’t matter to them.  (When their programs get threatened, they can just hate the rich more and claim they aren’t “paying their fair share”). These non-taxpayers lack the proper nexus to the “checks and balances” that keeps government responsibly tied to person’s property. As a result, Congress will continue its out-of-control spending. Oh, it may talk about cutting the rate it is increasing its spending, but it won’t stop the ridiculous enlargement of programs and the irresponsible spending. Congress doesn’t have a taxing problem; it has a spending problem.  It sees hardworking Americans as an unlimited source of revenue – but only those that make what the government deems is “enough.”  And then that burden is enormous.

As I’ve already discussed, the federal income tax is a direct tax on property and therefore an unconstitutional burden on inalienable personal freedoms.  The right to property and the right to the fruits of one’s labor (including a paycheck) are as fundamental a right as the right to life itself.  The Declaration of Independence gives each individual the right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness (embodied in all types of property), and under the US Constitution, the federal government MUST protect these rights equally for all Americans.  Yet the government has not done so.

Our Founders created a republic form of government to protect the rights of minority groups from mob rule, but they never expected other groups of Americans to be required to support them through forced and regulated charity (spreading the wealth or redistribution of wealth).  There is indeed a Constitutional crisis when fundamental rights are treated so shabbily.  There is indeed a Constitutional crisis when fundamental rights are treated so differently between and among groups of Americans. We’ve gone through many crises in our country when civil liberties and fundamental rights were not respected equally and we’ve put laws in place to remedy the situation.  Yet when it comes to money, our government and courts can’t seem to apply the same notions of fundamental fairness and equality, even though money is intricately tied to more precious fundamental rights.

We have undeniably sunk to a new low in “punishing” productive behavior – such as investing in education, conducting oneself morally and ethically, building a career, and making the necessary sacrifices in family life to move up the corporate or business ladder – through excessive taxation.  Such productive behavior used to be the ones that defined Americans.  That’s not the case anymore.  The character of Americans has changed.  The dynamics in this country are changing.  There is an old saying which goes something like this – If you punish those who work hard and raise their families right, they will start having less children, and if you reward those for being lazy and being freeloaders, then they will have more children.  And that’s what we are seeing. We are seeing a shift in the distribution of those who are contributing and those who are taking and it doesn’t bode well for the country and especially for taxpayer.  Our financial bankruptcy is finally catching up with the depth of our moral and ethical bankruptcy.

Congress bears a moral responsibility to provide for and protect individual Liberty, including economic Liberty, and personal property (whether real or intellectual). If the current income tax structure is permitted to exist in its arbitrary and progressive nature, then immediately, there MUST be voter reform to institute a progressive, or weighted, voting system to protect the inherent property interests of taxpayers. While each person is entitled to one vote, additional voter weight will be given to those who pay taxes, own property, own a business, and otherwise engage in activities which are subject to the onerous and burdensome taxation requirements of the federal government.  This progressive voting scheme will be necessary to combat the inherent unfairness of the current income tax scheme.  It will provide that necessary constitutional safeguard to protect a person’s property from the insatiable jaws of government.  It will help exceedingly to protect against the thing that could destroy personal freedom and that is government confiscation of property. Then we’d surely have communism here in America. Right now it’s socialism that is moving closer to fascism. (Note that you don’t need outright confiscation of private property or business to impose socialism. It doesn’t really matter if you hold the title to your property the government regulates it so heavily as to render it useless or unproductive.  It doesn’t really matter if you hold the title to your business if the government holds the power over the life or death of it).

In the alternative, of course, we could simply abolish the 16th Amendment and move to a Fair Tax or other fair taxation scheme, or go back to the taxation scheme that served our nation well for the first 126 years of our existence – revenues which were raised through tariffs, excise taxes, and property taxes.  It never touched a worker’s paycheck. Of course, that would require the federal government to divest all its unconstitutional powers and functions, return the responsibilities to the states, where they certainly would apply them more fairly and intuitively to their citizens.

My solution just keeps getting better !!

In summary, we need to a return to fairness, and not the kind of fairness that Democrats talk about.  Fairness needs to apply to everyone and not just those who have chosen to do the very least to get by and therefore feel they are entitled to what others have earned. We need tax reform (or if not, then voter reform!). With tax reform, we need the government to cut its “cradle-to-grave” nanny-state policies. Then we can finally expect to see tax breaks. We need to get the millions off dependency and into self-sufficiency. We need them to stop waiting around for a government check and instead, getting out each day to work to earn a paycheck or to class for an education to get a bigger paycheck. No one has the right to claim inequality unless he or she is willing to put an honest effort into an education and learning the English language in order to speak and communicate fairly intelligently. We need to stop the mean-spirited accusations and the tired old line that certain Americans can’t achieve because they are victims. Everyone is in charge of their own destiny.  As Machiavelli once warned: “It is just as difficult and dangerous to try to free a people that wants to remain servile as it is to enslave a people that wants to remain free.”

References:

Larry P. Arnn and Grover Norquist, “Repeal the 16th Amendment,” The Claremont Institute, April 15, 2003.  Referenced at: http://www.claremont.org/publications/pubid.477/pub_detail.asp

Ilana Mercer, Repeal the Abominable 16th Amendment, WorldNetDaily, November 20, 2002.  Referenced at:  http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=29716#ixzz1F6ILra20

“Government and Policies: Class Warfare Dominates Debate,” The Patriot Post, Digest – January 27, 2012.  Referenced at: http://patriotpost.us/edition/2012/01/27/digest/

Charles Gasparino, “Adding Up to Nothing,” NY Post, January 26, 2012.  Referenced at: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/adding_up_to_nothing_8K1eBN3afYXNELupfK8tRL

Timothy Geithner, Honest Questions.  Referenced at:  http://www.honestquestions.com/tim-geithner/

Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98, 104 (2000)

About forloveofgodandcountry

I'm originally from New Jersey where I spent most of my life. I now live in North Carolina with my husband and 4 children. I'm an attorney
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