Yak Attack

A place to unwind and spend some time yakking.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A few weeks back, my daughter and I were heading to her volunteer gig at the zoo when we embarked on a serious discussion. We chatted about taxation without representation. My baby girl brought up the conversation—how it morphed from the proceeding car chatter, I do not recall.

“That’s why we went to war with Britain,” she mused. “Imagine if Britain gave the colonies representation, like they asked for. We’d probably be part of Canada.” Giggles bounced around inside the mini-van, as we pondered the routes our fate could have veered.

Taxation without representation. Approximately 230 years ago, the colonists considered it a cause worth going to war over. Later that day, as I sat on a park bench, drenched in sweat from my three-mile walk, I ruminated over the conversation my daughter initiated. Our country has turned its back on the lofty ideals of yesteryear. How long has it been since our senators and representatives in Washington DC have been concerned with their constituents’ viewpoints? I’m thirty-seven years old, and I cannot remember a time when constituents around the country have possessed undying confidence that the elected officials sent to Washington truly represent them.

Taxation—the colonists wanted to remove themselves from unfair financial burdens thrust upon them by the British. The idea of working so hard, taking all the risks, only to dump a substantial portion of the money earned into another’s coffers was abhorrent. Yet today, how many days does the average American have to toil to pay his tax obligation? One hundred and seven days of labor is the magic number for 2005, according to the Tax Foundation. Using Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and Net National Product data, the Tax Foundation calculated that 29.1 % of our income is shelled out to cover taxation for 2005. That’s almost one-third of our annual income being slushed into the government’s piggy bank. I find that abhorrent. Is that rustling sound some patriots rolling around in their graves?

As I lounged on the park bench, watching people walk, stroll, jog and roll by, my thoughts drifted back to my daughter and how we discussed typical American behavior. We discussed the current political climate in America. We both noted how the citizens have forgotten their role in our political system. The Preamble of the U.S. Constitution begins with these words, “We the People of the United States…” Let that roll around on the tongue for a moment. We the People. WE THE PEOPLE. That phrase does not equate, “We, the government of the Unites States…” now does it?

Yet, in today’s political climate, the people of America forget their place in our government. The citizens’ place isn’t supposed to be to serve the government machine in return for the promise of speculative security. The people are to be a key component of the process, managing the government set up by the Constitution to keep our country from spiraling into chaos. Yet, today too many of us surrender our money, our integrity and our minds to the unfeeling, never satisfied beast, the fedgov.

Looking at the debacle in the Gulf states, after Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent levee damage that flooded New Orleans, it is only too clear that people have forgotten now to manage themselves and the government. The government machine stepped in to save the day and yet they only succeeded in keeping people from helping themselves, in the name of security. Most heinous, the powers that be, in the name of red tape, have kept fellow states from helping the Gulf states, letting their supplies and skilled citizens wallow, hindered by useless rules and regulations. Citizens all over the spectrum, from Mayors and Governors, to Johnny Q. Public, have forgotten how to direct themselves and give the finger to the rules when common sense dictates.

Mayor Ben Morris, of Slidell, LA, a notable exception in the wake of Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath, stated that he was tired of feds keeping things away from citizens to appease bureaucracy. He correctly called it—the commandeering of needed items and the regulations keeping donated supplies from reaching effected towns— #$%%sh%t.” I hope his ire continues to burn after the crisis dims from the public radar.

My daughter ended our taxation without representation conversation by telling me that she views our government as a large corporation; she sees its mission to make a profit to keep the stockholders happy.

“Who are the stockholders?” I asked her. After taking a few moments to contemplate my question, she began to speak, but the words didn’t flow from her mouth. Taking a few more moments to formulate her answer, her shoulders slumped. The answer to my question eluded her.

“But it isn’t the people,” she told me.

As we’ve watched the events unfold in the southern United States, I’ve reminded my daughter that we need to learn from the unfortunate circumstances endured by the citizenry in the deep South. I reminded her that we have to remember we aren’t the stockholders the feds want to keep happy; we must persevere to take care of ourselves, refusing to wait for the government to save us in times of trouble. We live in a time where we, once again, have taxation without representation, which means that profit reigns instead of common sense. Under such a volatile climate, we, the people, must be vigilant rather than expecting crumbs of bread to be tossed our way by those elected to serve us. This isn’t a lesson I wanted my baby girl to learn at fifteen.


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