Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Taxation with Representation

Instead of “taxation with representation” we have gradually made a transition to “taxation with titular representation.” Representatives are elected in Congressional districts and in States and, in a formal, titular way, they represent the public residing in those geographical regions.

The problem is that getting elected requires an enormous amount of money. I know that’s true because a member of our family ran for Congress a few years back and I have personal experience to back up what is commonly repeated in the media and backed by published statistics. After a person is elected, especially to the House, where the term is a mere two years, the need to raise new funds, for the next election, begins almost at once. Under such circumstances, the tendency is very strong for the legislator to “represent” the biggest sources of his or her funding rather than the masses who contribute very little. Who pays the piper calls the tune.

Okay. This is rocket science. It’s difficult because we cannot see, touch, feel, and taste motivation. We have to infer it. We don’t have time to shadow the legislator’s every move and record his/her every statement, read every piece of paper he/she sees. But if money matters a whole lot, those who have the most should be harvesting the biggest benefits from legislation.

I show a chart taken from a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report that issued this September (link).† Understanding that graphic is not rocket science, however.

Nothing on LaMarotte should be read as advocacy. I’m personally sure that the state of a society always mirrors the state of the individuals in it. No mechanical fixes, reforms, stratagems, or devices (like public funding of elections) change things. Societies are too vast and complex to be ruled by anything other than inspiration—meaning the deepest convictions that move the most people. When things have come to this state, very serious troubles loom ahead. They will eventually produce vast public trauma. And that trauma will, in turn, erase our democratic institutions except (that word again) in titular form. Will oligarchies rule us forever? No. This sort of thing eventually produces a kind of dictatorship but under exalted names—and the ruler will be the enemy of the oligarchy. That’s the way we’re going. Advocacy, no. But I like to know what lies ahead.
† Thomas L. Hungerford, Congressional Research Service, Taxes and the Economy: An Economic Analysis of the top Tax Rates Since 1945, September 14, 2012.

No comments:

Post a Comment