February 17, 2009

Taxation Without Representation

Did you know that D.C. residents have no representation in Congress, and no voting rights in the House of Representatives? According to Wikipedia:

Voting rights of citizens in the District of Columbia differ from those of United States citizens in each of the 50 states. D.C. residents do not have voting representation in the United States Congress. Instead, they are represented in the House of Representatives by a non-voting delegate who may sit on committees, participate in debate and introduce legislation, but cannot vote on the House floor. D.C. has no representation in the United States Senate.

People in D.C. are mad. They have "Taxation Without Representation" license plates, regularly march about obtaining their rights, and want their quarter to carry that motto. Heck, even the Visitor's Center, a few streets from the White House, advertizes D.C.'s lack of representation:

Taxation Without Representation

DC Residents Federal Tax Dollars Paid: $116, 177,984.40

Even the usually very New-York centric New York Times had an article on it today:

This nation’s founders rebelled against taxation without representation, but residents of Washington are still without a meaningful voice in Congress. A bill to give the District of Columbia a voting member in the House of Representatives has taken an important step forward, and it could become law this year. The bill is not ideal, but it would redress a longstanding injustice. Congress should pass it.


Washington’s lack of representation is profoundly undemocratic. Its residents are American citizens who pay taxes, vote for the president and serve and die in the military. Although the city is relatively small, it is more populous than Wyoming and nearly equal to those of Vermont and Alaska.


With Barack Obama, who co-sponsored a 2007 version of the bill, now in the White House and the Democrats in control of both the House and Senate, this could be the moment Washington finally gets its representation.

“It’s 200 years too late,” says Eleanor Holmes Norton, who now serves as the city’s nonvoting member of the House. “But we’ll take it.”

I can't wait. Maybe we should ask for reparation: 200 years of Representation without Taxation.


TheMalau said...

I am currently visiting DC, and I have seen it on all the number plates... it doesn't sound right. They should be fully represented.

Anonymous said...

I've always thought the citizens of D.C. should just stop paying their federal taxes. If the entire city stops, then we'll get some attention :).
We just need an organizer.... Someone like you! :)

Carl said...

DC residents are, in effect, wards of the state, supported by the rest of us taxpayers. If DC was given a representative, could the rest of us ever expect this person not to vote for more money to DC?

It would be a permanent yes vote for higher taxes and bigger government. Us people out here in flyover land might not like that.

Anonymous said...

Hi Carl,
Would those be the same flyover states that receive billions in agricultural subsidies? Most states in the middle are winners when it comes to federal government spending:
In any case, it's a matter of principle. 1 citizen = 1 vote. Why should someone in Maryland, just across the border, be represented in Congress and not someone from D.C.? We pay taxes too.
Perhaps the solution would be to exempt D.C. residents from federal taxes.

Carl said...

if it were up to me, i would zap all the farm subsidies today. those subsidies mostly come from the other states. not much from DC. it is a sterile game though, the "did i get mine" game. sort of like the "who is more underpaid, me or you" game. it never ends.

i think it is matter of why the political entity exists. Maryland, like all the states, exists to promote the welfare of its residents. DC was created by the states as an administrative center to further the interests of the states. the people of DC can be viewed as having been dispatched by the states to work in the administrative center and are being paid by the states.

if the residents of DC, servants of the states, were given a cong rep, their natural human tendency would be to have their rep serve their particular interests, even if they were at the expense of the states, their actual employer. this would be a betrayal of the states. the states would be placed in a position of paying for an entity that could act in a manner contrary to their interests.

DC residents have a unique status and the status results in this political disparity. the city has done well by the overall arrangement over the decades. it seems a prosperous place and a lot of people are desperate to live there judging by the real estate prices.

sorry for the long comment 007. it is sort of complicated argument.