Should Only Taxpayers Vote?

We all pay them, whether we know it or not.


There has been a lot of commentary on the Right since last week’s disaster some of it useful, and some not so useful. Some of it, I have to say, is just a little bit, well, dumb. Among the latter is this proposal I read at, that only those who pay taxes should be allowed to vote.


Our republic, in its current form, cannot continue forever. The old adage that once the peasants learn that they can vote themselves bread is rapidly proving itself to be true. Any but a fool can see that no government can continually spend more than it takes in can last. We can see it… the fools can’t. The point is that we must desperately attempt to educate them before they run the entire American experiment into the ground. Otherwise we will go the way of Greece, into insolvency, massive inflation and turmoil.

Whenever enlightened people gain control of our government or in the next republic, if it comes to that, the vote must be restricted to those who pay taxes (which will be most people) and the government should be required to balance its budget except in time of declared war. The idea that all men are created equal and should therefore be able to vote is baloney. All men should be treated fairly and with compassion, but only those who pay some amount of tax, regardless how small, actually have some skin in the game and should be able to decide how much they are willing to spend.


I think that the writer needs to reread the Constitution, especially the Twenty-fourth amendment which states.


Section 1.The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.


The right to vote does not depend on the ability to pay a tax. Maybe it should, but that is beside the point. There is no way that the twenty-fourth amendment will be repealed and no way that any means-testing for voting will be permitted. It does not seem to me that discussing disenfranchising large segments of the voting public is a way to win votes.

I would like to take issue with the statement that only those who have “skin in the game” should have a say. It seems to be a common belief that only about 50% of the citizens of the US currently pay taxes. This is true, if you only consider the federal income tax, but that is not the only tax that people in the US pay. There are  also Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes. There are state and local income taxes. There are sales taxes and excise taxes, and more. I doubt there is anyone in this country who doesn’t pay any taxes at all. Granted, many people are unaware of just how much they actually pay, but that is a matter for education. The point I want to make is that if the right to vote is restricted to those who pay some form of tax, than the right to vote cannot be restricted at all.

And, anyway, every citizen of the United States does have some skin in the game, whether they pay taxes or not. If the economy collapses because people are voting themselves goodies out of the treasury, than everyone is affected, rich or poor. Let’s try to come with with sensible ways to solve our country’s problems and not waste time on nonsense like this.




Tax the Rich 2

In the early 1920s the highest tax rate was 73%. In 1921 President Harding appointed Andrew Mellon to be Secretary of the Treasury. Over the next eight years he reduced the top rate to 24%. The result, federal revenue increased from $700 million to over $1 billion. Every year that decade the federal government ran a surplus, hard to believe I know. Unemployment and inflation were at record lows.

It may seem counter-intuitive that lowering tax rates would increase revenue but it is actually easy to understand. In general, people do not like paying taxes. They will often go out of their way to avoid paying taxes by exploiting any loopholes in tax codes, decreasing any activity that is taxed, consuming less of any commodity, or just plain cheating. If tax rates are relatively low, it is not worth the trouble and people go ahead and pay their taxes. If tax rates are relatively high, then people start putting their money in tax shelters.In other words, people don’t just sit still and allow themselves to be taxed. They take action to limit their tax burden as much as possible.

The reason I mention all of this is that there seems to be a movement among the Democrats to raise taxes in order to lower the deficit. They believe that the reason that we are in the fiscal mess we are in is because people, especially the greedy rich, just do not pay enough in taxes. The problem is that raising taxes simply will not produce the bonanza of increased revenue that they expect. Raise taxes on the wealthy and they will send their money abroad, or not invest, or do what it takes to pay as little as they can. I know I am being repetitive, but I cannot seem to pound that concept into Progressives’ heads.

In any event, revenue to the federal government as a percentage of GDP seems to hover at about 19%, regardless of tax rates as shown here and here. And check out this chart here. The US has the honor of having the second highest corporate tax rate in the developed world, 13% higher than the OECD average. This is not exactly helping our recovery.