Taxation Without Representation is Still Tyranny!!
“Taxation without representation is tyranny” is the proclamation generally attributed to James Otis, a revolutionary war politician. Otis used this statement to proclaim his contempt for the Stamp Act taxes that were imposed on the colonists by the mother country. A few years later the slogan “no taxation without representation” became the battle cry of the American colonies as they sought recognition from King George and the parliament of Great Britain. England became offended by the verbal attack on their sovereign decrees, and decided to subjugate the colonies with their military might. The rest is history as the Boston Tea Party led to the Boston Massacre and the unleashing of the dogs of war. Somehow, the conflict was resolved with the defeat of the greatest military of the time by a ragtag army of mostly part time farmers. It was an inconceivable defeat of biblical proportions akin to the toppling of the huge professional soldier, Goliath by the rock slinging shepherd, David. None the less, the victory was final, and America was forever free of England.
I can not help but think that good old King George kicked himself for allowing the crown jewel of his empire to slip away. I wonder how many sleepless nights he spent pacing in his royal chambers as he lamented the loss of close to 300 years of work in growing, financing and cultivating his American colonies. He must have chastised himself for failing to be more diplomatic in dealing with the conflict. With his power and prestige, he could have promised the revolutionaries the relief they sought, and would have won the day. He could have been an advocate of change, and thereby defused the smoldering outrage. He could have unleashed his spin machine and advanced the propaganda that would have assuaged his outraged subjects. Whoops, my time machine just slipped into the 21st century!
Fast forward to 2008 to an America that has grown to greatness by hard work, declined to mediocrity through apathy, and is threatened by destruction for its greed. We’ve come a long way baby! But, it seems we have arrived, full circle, where we started some 235 years ago when our ancestors rebelled in the streets of Boston to the chant of “no taxation without representation”! Today, we are not in a revolutionary mood as we are more conditioned to the politics of hope and change. It is these ignoble virtues which I think King George may have used to salvage his colonies. But, perhaps the monarch was caught up in a predicament analogous to modern day America. Today, many Americans think we have our own version of King George, namely President George Bush. The colonial era king with a ruling style similar to our current president may have been too arrogant to negotiate, too powerful to submit, too righteous to change, and too financially beholden to his aristocratic colleagues. None the less, a good spin machine may have saved the day for the ailing sovereign. But, I digress.
Today, our politicians have massive spin machines capable of inventing countless scenarios to pacify the concerns of disgruntled Americans. At first, the officials counter objections with bombastic dialogue full of half truths and innuendo, which has the effect of confusing their constituents. Later, they invent issues which are meant to divide and subdivide the people until the citizens fight one another, thereby dismissing the legitimate concerns of the people. When all else fails, the aspiring leaders make promises of change and hope for the future. Who among us can dismiss such heartfelt pledges of a better tomorrow, and so we succumb to the talk with the belief that, this time, someone just may make a difference. But the inevitable conclusion soon becomes apparent when an elected official dismisses the needs of the people in favor of some sudden revelation which causes him to vote his conscience.
And so, here we are, once again, without representation in a new era where a Stamp Act would be a pittance welcomed by the masses of the overtaxed. The cry of “no taxation without representation” should be a resounding and deafening cry, but instead, we are silenced by promises of change. I suggest these political pledges for an altered America are convenient fabrications at best, and are, in all probability, outright lies. I confess to being a political cynic, but the dire history of political promises, has justified my skepticism. And yet, I like all Americans, remain hopeful for a better and more representative government.
Our country has an urgent need for legitimate change from perceptive leaders who truly understand the problems of Americans, and are willing to commit themselves to the solutions. The most important modification that we all desire is a return to representative government. We need leaders who will stand up for the will and needs of the people who elected them, and who will cast their votes accordingly. Politicians must have the fortitude to ignore the special interests, lobbyists and corporations whose needs frequently conflict with the welfare of the American people.
The new proponents of change must amend the way America does business. They must return the lost jobs, factories and industries to the Americans who built this country rather than continue to surrender them to foreigners under the fictitious banner of free trade. They must replace free trade with the social justice concept of fair trade. Free trade is the unrestrained pursuit of profits at any cost. Fair trade is the recognition of the greatness of America in advocating laws concerned with wages, working conditions, child labor, workplace safety, product safety, union recognition, environmental concerns, etc. If our government must persist in exporting democracy and global trade, they must do so in a manner reflective of the standards that generations of Americans have developed and built. Any other approach is hypocritical and a repudiation of American values.
Our leaders must recognize that the minimum wage law has to be replaced with a living wage law. Any American who works in our economy should earn an income sufficient to raise and feed a family, and provide adequate shelter and health care. Our economy and social systems will work most efficiently when all working people are able to financially participate. Many would claim that a living wage would be inflationary, but then neglect to account for the supplemental social cost that the government pays when someone fails to earn a living wage. If you pay a worker a living wage, he will no longer need government handouts in order to make ends meet.
Our representatives must commit to dealing with the problems of illegal immigration. Today, our government and businesses are content to exploit this group as a source of cheap labor . In doing so, they have eroded the standard of living of tens of millions of Americans, while failing to give the illegal immigrants a path to reasonable livelihood. Illegal they are, but inhuman, they are not. Once again, the concept of a living wage will do much to solve the real problems of illegal immigration while simultaneously restoring the dignity of the American worker.
We need representatives who will deal with the Federal Reserve System which has grown accustomed to overproducing dollars thereby creating constant inflation, dollar devaluation, financial bubbles, and the threat of economic collapse. As I write this article, the financial markets are in disarray as investors seek some safe haven for their cash. The Fed has, once again, lowered interest rates and is in the process of loaning hundreds of billions of dollars in a futile attempt to stimulate an out of sync economy. In just the last 10 years, the Federal Reserve policies have sponsored the dot.com bust, the stock market roller coaster, the housing collapse, the mortgage debacle, the credit glitch, and soon to come, the complete failure of the American economy. The Fed is out of control and must be stopped.
The future of America is in the hands of the American people. The people should not rely on the promises of an aspiring presidential candidate, a congressional hopeful or any other government official in deciding our future. There is too much remedial work to be done if we are to salvage America. We can no longer afford the luxury of complacency. We, the people, must insist that those who make promises of social and economic change be forced to honor their campaign commitments, or we must force them out of office. We must be prepared to recycle congress, the president and the judiciary until the welfare of the American nation is recognized as our only priority – by vote if it is still possible or by revolution if we must! In conclusion, I have modified the words of James Otis to meet our current crisis. “Taxation without representation is still tyranny and must be abolished if our nation is to survive”.
My book,”The Road to the Third World”, explores the root of these and many other problems in detail. Essentially, the book is concerned with the social, economic and political consequences of the excesses of capitalism. The novel, with its plots and characters, traces the decline of America over a 60 year period. The book is a work of fiction, but most Americans will find it relevant to our present day financial dilemma.