Monday, February 18, 2013

Do Americans Really Believe in No Taxation Without Representation?

An argument in favor of extending the franchise to tax-paying American non-citizen residents using the American “no taxation without representation” argument from the 1760’s regarding the Stamp Act and the Townshend Acts

“No Taxation Without Representation!”  It’s one of America’s oldest battle cries against tyranny, one of its fundamental theories of just governance and one of American’s oldest rights.  The theory behind it is that one cannot have his property taken from him without his consent, and the way one gives his consent is through his representative in a legislature.  And although the phrase wasn’t actually used in America, in print at least until around 1769, possibly coined first by a British newspaper printer in 1768, as Boston, MA historian J.L. Bell notes on his blog, the topic of taxation without representation dates back at least to the 1765 Stamp Act.[1]  The Stamp Act, as most historically aware Americans know, was a British parliamentary piece of legislation that attempted to raise revenue from the colonies to pay for the debt left over from the French and Indian War by forcing American colonials to buy and use paper with a British stamp on it for virtually all purposes that paper could be used for, from legal documents to playing cards.[2]  And although it was merely one grievance American colonials had against the British Parliament, it continued throughout the entire colonial debate of the 1760s and early 1770s, rearing its head again in protest against the Townshend Act and the taxes it laid on certain products imported into and sold in the colonies, and with the Tea Act of 1773, as can be seen in the American Whig and Patriot John Dickinson’s oppositional writings to the Tea Act.[3]  Thus, not being taxed, or having one’s property taken from him without one’s consent, given through his duly elected representative in the legislature, who one has duly elected by being able to exercise his right to vote by casting his ballot for him of this is a long asserted right in America, and no one in their right mind would deny this.  It’s historically and philosophically proven right.  And not only is the right to vote for one’s representative and have his representative give his/her constituents’ consent to taxation passed in the legislature secured only to men, but also to women nowadays as well, thanks to the bravery of the those early and later women who fought for their basic right of suffrage.  And while its true that just because one votes for his/her representative in the legislature and his/her representative of choice is not elected, doesn’t mean that the representative picked by the majority for an area doesn’t represent those who didn’t elect him/her.  Whomever is elected is said to represent all those in a given area, whether one actually voted for that person or not.  For this is the accepted democratic, or in our case, republican rule, that the majority rules.  Thus, it cannot be said that person A, because he voted for representative B, who lost the election to representative C, does not give his consent to tax legislation when these taxes are duly levied upon the populace, simply because he exercised his right to vote, even though his vote didn’t put the individual he wanted into office.  In other words, one’s vote, whomever it is for, is one’s consent to have whomever is elected by the principle of majority rule to be his/her representative in the legislature and pass laws for him/her and his/her area that in no way harm his liberty and rights in any unconstitutional way.  And while its true that the early Americans who fought for no taxation without representation fought for this right only for men, and even then only for those men who had the required property to exercise the franchise, thus denying women this fundamental right of no taxation without representation, this wrong has been rectified and should be forgiven, for it was the society these men were raised in that brought about this wrong.  Yet there are many who refuse to forgive the Founders for this unfortunate blunder, of forgetting the women when it came to liberty and rights, and constantly reopen that wound in America’s skin and pouring salt in it, constantly reminding us of this wrong.  Others, of course, like myself are more forgiving.  But either way, we are all happy that there is universal adult suffrage in America, and that the age of adulthood is relatively low, at the age of 18.  Yet these same individuals in American, dare I say the vast majority of Americans, who applaud the fact that all adult men and women now have the right to vote and thus have taxation with representation, are in fact acting as hypocrites, whether they no it or not, and are only applying this fundamental right of mankind to not have one’s property taken from him/her without his/her consent (AKA theft) to American citizens while denying this right to those in residents in America who pay their America taxes yet are not actually citizens.  In other words, America is once again applying its principles and ideals only halfway, to some people but not to all.  This is a problem with America, and not only America, but many nations in general, but it is a greater sin on the part of America for it has known about, preached, and fought for universal rights of mankind, regardless of where one lives, for much longer than most nations.  Indeed, America was the first to have this concept that the rights of mankind enshrined in the Constitution, particularly the Bill of Rights, were for all of mankind, and that, as it states in the Declaration of Independence, that “all men are created equal” and are born inherently free with inalienable rights endowed upon them by their creator.  Such was reaffirmed by the Lord of Hosts to Americans first in D&C 98: 5, 8, which state the following:

“5 And that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me.

“8 I, the Lord God, make you free, therefore ye are free indeed; and the law also maketh you free.”

D&C 101:77-80 also says the very same thing:

“ 77 According to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles;
 “78 That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.
 “79 Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another.
“ 80 And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.”

The Constitution, as indicated by God Almighty, was established by Him through wise men He raised up for that very purpose, which protects the rights of ALL flesh, not just American men, not just American women, and not just Americans, (and indeed, not just adults either, but children as well, but that is a topic for a different article and time), but for ALL flesh.  And one of these rights of ALL flesh enshrined and protected in the Constitution, as well as in all state constitutions, is the fundamental right to acquire and be secure in one’s property, even against government theft.  And this protection of one’s property against government theft is secured by granting all adults the right to vote for one’s chosen representative, and to not have one’s property taken form him by the government without his consent (ignoring the Eminent Domain Doctrine for now), which is given through one’s elected representative in government.  Yet in America we do not recognize this right of ALL flesh, but only recognize this right as inherent in American citizens only.  And thus we tax non-citizen residents of America without their being represented in Congress and our state legislatures.  We in America therefore don’t apply that old battle cry of 1765 in full.  We apply it halfway, protecting ourselves and our own right to no taxation without representation, but we don’t recognize legally that this is a right of ALL flesh, as we have been told by the Supreme Legislator that it is.  Now, let us look at some particulars concerning this inconsistency in America.

It takes 3-5 years of continuous “lawful” residency in America for foreign residents of America and its territories to become naturalized citizens, 3 years for those married to American citizens and 5 years for those unmarried residents or residents married to a non-American citizen.[4]  These are the lawful time requirements a resident must live in America and pay taxes, thus being taxed without representation in order to be able to apply for American citizenship.  But this isn’t all.  Just because one lives in America for these required time limits doesn’t mean that he/she is guaranteed American citizenship when it is applied for.  One must also have a “good moral character” (whatever that means!), “a basic knowledge of English,” a “basic knowledge of US government and history,” and “be willing to take the Oath of Allegiance.”  One must also get fingerprinted (why is this required for naturalized citizens but not American born citizens?), attend a USCIS Interview and take the citizenship test, take the Oath, and much more.  All these requirements can be found on US Citizenship Info’s webpage, by consulting the following link:

According to this same source, it can take roughly anywhere from 1-3 years or more to complete the application process, even then depending “on the number of U.S. Citizenship applications the USCIS offices receive in each state” and on whether one makes a mistake on his/her application!  So total, the quickest one who is married to a US citizen could become himself/herself a US citizen is roughly 4 years, while the quickest one who does not have the fortune to be married to a US citizen can become himself/herself a US citizen is roughly 6 years.  That’s in the very least 4-6 years of being taxed without representation in America, effectively having one’s right to be secure in his/her property nulled by legislation just because one has the misfortune to not being born in America!  How (unfortunately) American of us (and unfortunately, human of us) to do this to residents hopefully seeking the blessings of American citizenship.  We should be ashamed that we deny our brothers and sisters in humanity (or if you believe in LDS doctrine, our literal brothers and sisters) the same rights we espouse for ourselves, just because they aren’t yet members of the “American Club.” 

There are two easy ways this wrong against our fellow man can be rectified.  One is to immediately grant US citizenship to all people who come to America and place foot upon our shores.  The other is to leave our current citizenship laws the way they are, unjust and unfair as I see them, and lawfully extend the right to vote to those American residents who live in and pay taxes in America.  Either way, these non-citizen residents of America would then be secure in their right to no taxation without representation, to be secure in one’s property and not have it taken without one’s consent.  Given that there is a great national battle going on over immigration and citizenship, and that there would not be much support among either political party, Republican or Democrat for granting all visitors to America’s shores instant citizenship (and indeed, there might be some valid arguments I have not considered for not doing so), perhaps let us take the latter route of extending the right to vote, in the very least for one’s representatives in Congress and one’s state legislature, to those foreign residents in America who live here and pay taxes here.  Before I go any further, however, let me consider some very probable objections to my arguments and proposals.   

Perhaps some might argue that those foreign residents who choose to live in America but not become citizens, or even those who are living in America and are wanting to become citizens one day or soon, consented to pay the taxes without representation by choosing to come to America and live and work here.  Let us apply that same argument to those British subjects, or Englishmen as they fancied themselves, who chose to leave England and live in the American colonies while they were under British rule.  They, upon leaving England, submitted themselves to be second-class citizens (or in their case subjects) and consented to taxation by Parliament without their representation by their continued living there in the colonies.  But this is not how the Americans saw it, nor is it how we Americans today see it.  I dare say no American today or then would argue such a ridiculous claim.  The fact of the matter is, colonial Americans saw themselves as British subjects, equal in rights and liberties to those back in the home country, England, and had their colonial or provincial charters to prove it, in their minds at least.  And one of those fundamental rights secured to Englishmen under the British constitution, as they called it at the time, was that no man could be taxed and have without his consent, and that man gave his consent through his representative.  Thus, the aforementioned argument made in opposition to granting foreign residents of America who are not citizens the right to vote for their representatives in Congress cannot and would not be applied to the colonials in America in the times of British rule by any reasonable America patriot, not according to simple American history and principles.  No American patriot, Democrat or Republic, Liberal or Conservative in their right mind would dare call into question the early American Patriots arguments against Parliamentary taxation and their battle cry of no taxation without representation.   This would be political, historical, and philosophical suicide!  Yet they would have no problem calling into question this same principle of no taxation without representation when it applies to foreign residents in America who pay taxes yet don’t technically consent to these taxes because they can’t legally vote for and elect representatives in Congress.

Some might argue that giving the right to vote for their representatives in Congress and their respective state legislatures to residents of America who pay taxes here is unwise because those residents have no connection to America and thus would not exercise their vote wisely, or perhaps might exercise it in a way contrary to what we hold dear as Americans.  But I counter this argument with the fact that that already happens, even with the votes of American citizens, and seems to be happening more and more in recent decades.  For indeed, we have a split in the nation, or many splits really, or perhaps two or three main splits with multiple fissures coming off those two splits.  Those main splits are the Republicans, the Democrats, and the libertarians, each with their own lesser cracks running off of them.  Indeed, the libertarian in me might argue that there are really two main cracks, one being Statism or Tyranny, the other being Liberty.  But for now, let us consider the political and social Democrat, Republican, libertarian split.  Each accuses the other of using their votes unwisely and voting for politicians who in turn vote for policies, ideals, and principles that are contrary to “American Values.”  In other words, “American Values” seem to be subjective these days, depending on one’s political leanings or party identification.  Indeed, there is a minority of Communists American citizens who in my humble opinion, and probably in the opinion of many others, libertarian, Republican, or even Democrat are using their right to vote for representatives who would in turn vote for measures that are utterly dangerous to America and Liberty.  But such is their right, their agency to do so, and their doing so hasn’t disrupted America drastically.  American residents who pay taxes in America are also a minority, and thus, whether they used their vote to support politicians who in turn supported ideals harmful to America and Liberty or not, their votes wouldn’t make that much of an impact I suspect.[5]  And even then, once cannot assume that all foreign residents in America who pay taxes here are alike politically, and that they would all support and vote for representatives who would in turn vote for policies harmful to America.  Indeed, some would vote Republican, some would vote Democrat, and some would vote libertarian, thus not really bringing that doom and gloom harm to America because they didn’t have the fortune to be born here.  Indeed, I suspect that many foreign residents of America who pay taxes here are more aware of American law and politics than many American citizens!  Perhaps; but perhaps not.  But what is reasonably certain is that this aforementioned argument in opposition to my arguments posited in this article is flawed.

In closing, let us as Americans be consistent in upholding our American ideals of universal property rights and voting rights, or when combined together in sum, the right of no taxation without representation for everyone, protecting this right of ALL flesh, by in the very least extending the right to vote for their representatives in Congress and their respective state legislatures to those foreigners residents of American who pay taxes here.  This is my argument and plea, one that will likely meet much opposition and ridicule, but one that I feel must be made on behalf of those our laws oppress.  Our early American fore-fathers didn't accept the British argument of virtual representation in Parliament during Parliament's attempt to deny the American colonials their fundamental right as English to be taxed only by their representatives whom they have voted for and elected, and nor do I think should we accept any argument to deny those non-citizen residents who live in America and pay taxes in America this same right that we fought hard to secure to ourselves as American citizens.        

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