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Should You Be Allowed To Vote If You Don't Pay Taxes?
Old 11-13-2010, 06:56 AM   #1
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Should You Be Allowed To Vote If You Don't Pay Taxes?

After reading a couple other threads in the forums that covered Social Security and government budget cuts; I thought I would post a question I find interesting to ponder and one that I struggle with.

If the numbers I see on TV are true, that around 50% of the population pays no federal income tax; should these same people have any say at all on how the governement spends the money it collects from others?

My first instinct is to say, "heck no", particularly in the case of social welfare programs as it's just not right to allow people to vote to themselves other people's hard earned money; but, I am not sure this would be in line with our long history of democracy? On the other hand, in most all other "private" organizations, if you are not an investor or shareholder, you don't get to vote on the direction of the organization...I wonder what others out there might think?
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Old 11-13-2010, 07:17 AM   #2
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In the case of federal elections, that would violate the 24th Amendment to the Constitution. In the case of state elections, it would violate the 14th. Here is a good primer from Wikipedia.

Twenty-fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Here is a copy of the Supreme Court decision in Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections.

http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/htm...3_0663_ZO.html

This is the key language:

A citizen, a qualified voter, is no more nor no less so because he lives in the city or on the farm. This is the clear and strong command of our Constitution's Equal Protection Clause. This is an essential part of the concept of a government of laws, and not men. This is at the heart of Lincoln's vision of "government of the people, by the people, [and] for the people." The Equal Protection Clause demands no less than substantially equal state legislative representation for all citizens, of all places as well as of all races.

We say the same whether the citizen, otherwise qualified to vote, has $1.50 in his pocket or nothing at all, pays the fee or fails to pay it. The principle that denies the State the right to dilute a citizen's vote on account of his economic status or other such factors, by analogy, bars a system which excludes those unable to pay a fee to vote or who fail to pay.

[w]here fundamental rights and liberties are asserted under the Equal Protection Clause, classifications which might invade or restrain them must be closely scrutinized and carefully confined.

Those principles apply here. For, to repeat, wealth or fee paying has, in our view, no relation to voting qualifications; the right to vote is too precious, too fundamental to be so burdened or conditioned.
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Old 11-13-2010, 08:40 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cb7010 View Post
After reading a couple other threads in the forums that covered Social Security and government budget cuts; I thought I would post a question I find interesting to ponder and one that I struggle with.

If the numbers I see on TV are true, that around 50% of the population pays no federal income tax; should these same people have any say at all on how the governement spends the money it collects from others?

My first instinct is to say, "heck no", particularly in the case of social welfare programs as it's just not right to allow people to vote to themselves other people's hard earned money; but, I am not sure this would be in line with our long history of democracy? On the other hand, in most all other "private" organizations, if you are not an investor or shareholder, you don't get to vote on the direction of the organization...I wonder what others out there might think?
Notwithstanding the question of "democracy", it would be difficult to find out who did and didn't pay taxes. Not all taxes are income taxes. I would guess that there are few people who escape taxes entirely. Sales tax, gas tax .......
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Old 11-13-2010, 09:56 AM   #4
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Following your rationale, the more taxes you pay the more votes you should get. The US would be run by Gates, Buffet , et al. Maybe this is a good idea?
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Old 11-13-2010, 10:06 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cb7010 View Post
My first instinct is to say, "heck no", particularly in the case of social welfare programs as it's just not right to allow people to vote to themselves other people's hard earned money; but, I am not sure this would be in line with our long history of democracy? On the other hand, in most all other "private" organizations, if you are not an investor or shareholder, you don't get to vote on the direction of the organization...I wonder what others out there might think?
You could come up with other systems. Everyone gets one vote. Then add

1/4 vote for paying taxes
1/4 vote for serving in the military for x years
1/4 vote for graduating high school
1/4 vote for having a body mass index lower than 25
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Old 11-13-2010, 10:07 AM   #6
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I understand and am sympathetic to the need to reign in the use of the state to take the property of others.

But, people who pay no taxes also contribute to society. They serve in the military (and can be drafted against their will). They raise families, and their kids may become Senators and Congressmen, or even productive members of society. They perform all types of labor that contributes to our economy (working for businesses and helping them make profits that are taxed).

I don't like the idea of the top 50% income level voting in politicians who will send poor people off to war without their input.

The most effective counterbalance now in place against a takeover by those who pay no taxes is free speech. The wealthy should be allowed to spend as much as they choose in speaking out on political matters. They only get one vote and they are taxed exhorbitantly--the least they are owed is a free voice to convince all those voters of the value of their opinion.
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Old 11-13-2010, 10:13 AM   #7
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Ah, you young whippersnapper, we worked hard to not have to pay taxes in our "golden" years. You want to take away our senior citizen block? We have sacred cows to protect! God willing and the creek don't rise, you'll be here one day!
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Old 11-13-2010, 10:41 AM   #8
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Landed gentry only! Male gentry. White. No Irish either. Or Linux users. or vegetarians.

It excites me somewhat when towns in which we have apartments vote on assessments and fees and we who are financially impacted by the fees don't get to vote on them - have considered sending notes to the tenants urging votes one way or another but feel it would be in poor taste and somewhat like blackmail: "your rent will go up if prop x passes". Notice the school districts have no such compunction - "if prop x fails we're cancelling bus service and football".

Have wondered idly if vote by mail shouldn't be postage free - isn't that stamp a charge to vote and having one other collection point a restiction on voting?
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Old 11-13-2010, 03:40 PM   #9
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You are upset about someone earning a pittance who pays payroll taxes but gets enough deductions and credits to skate on Fed Income Tax? What about corporations that have an effective tax of zero? Should they be able to spend gazillions influencing elections?
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Old 11-14-2010, 08:02 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dex View Post
You could come up with other systems. Everyone gets one vote. Then add

1/4 vote for paying taxes
1/4 vote for serving in the military for x years
1/4 vote for graduating high school
1/4 vote for having a body mass index lower than 25
I like this idea, except for the last item. BMI is only good for those who are not physically fit.
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