Over the last three years, we have heard some people in our country talk incessantly about wealthy people needing to pay their so-called fair share. But, what really is our Fair Share?
In The United States Constitution, our Founders wrote these words:
Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3:
“Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers…”
Article 1, Section 9, Clause 4:
“No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census…”
Our Founders, when creating The U.S. Constitution, in Philadelphia, in 1787, largely agreed that, all direct taxation should be in direct proportion to our Representation, in The House of Representatives, in Congress; as it only stood to reason that, no one should be taxed without having proper Representation; neither should they have considerable Representation, if their requisite, or proportional, amount of taxes were not paid to The Federal Government.
Below, are some words, by two men, who actually participated in those debates:
“All money to be raised for supplying the public treasury by direct taxation shall be assessed on the inhabitants of the several states according to the number of their representatives respectively in the first branch, … according to the general principle that taxation and representation ought to go together.” – Elbridge Gerry
“In one respect, the establishment of a common measure for representation and taxation will have a very salutary effect. As the accuracy of the census to be obtained by the Congress will necessarily depend, in a considerable degree on the disposition, if not on the co-operation, of the States, it is of great importance that the States should feel as little bias as possible, to swell or to reduce the amount of their numbers. Were their share of representation alone to be governed by this rule, they would have an interest in exaggerating their inhabitants. Were the rule to decide their share of taxation alone, a contrary temptation would prevail. By extending the rule to both objects, the States will have opposite interests, which will control and balance each other, and produce the requisite impartiality.” – James Madison
Clearly, the Founders were attempting to create a system that was truly equitable, and impartial. And, while subsequent taxes may not have always been agreed upon by the several states, each person was required to truly pay their “fair share” of Direct taxation, so that The Federal Government could provide the services that were enumerated to them by our Founders. This system was also a great mechanism to prevent Government officials from arbitrarily punishing or rewarding certain persons, or states, based on some political agenda; which, sadly, is what we have become accustomed to, in our lifetimes, since the inception of The Federal Income Tax, with the (1913) ratification of The 16th Amendment.
The 16th Amendment, basically, flipped the Founder’s original concept of Direct Taxation on it’s head; as it included these words: “…without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.”
This debate, however, goes well beyond just tax policy. How can any politician, or citizen, make such a determination as to what is someone’s fair share of income? There are many different variables involved, when someone has earned/acquired wealth. For example, some people have inherited wealth; others may have won the lottery, or hit the jackpot at a casino. But, for the majority of people who have acquired wealth in our country, it is due to very hard work, very long hours, and their ability to take very big risks, with their own money, or borrowed money, which they have promised to pay back.
It is very disconcerting, and, at times, infuriating, to hear American politicians, and some of our own citizenry, trying to “impose” their own moral, and arbitrary, beliefs, onto fellow citizens. Often times, you hear things like, “it must be nice to have all that money,” when someone is referring to a successful business owner; but, if you ask that same person, “how would you like to have all of the same responsibility as that person”? The answer, generally, is “no thank you”! OK, fine, that is understandable. However, if you think that person should be forfeiting their so-called fair share of their income to Government, then, why are you unwilling to take on your fair share of their responsibility?
And, as much as I may enjoy these things, it can be asked, “why do people who play sports, or make movies, and music, often make so much money”? Why is that fair? How have they helped us to put fuel in our cars, food in our refrigerators, or clothes on our bodies? What is “fair” is not something that can be, or should be, determined by Government. Fair is determined by “consumer choice.” If a person is willing to pay top dollars to see a concert, or go to a ball game, then, that is “their choice.” And, as long as entertainers can bring in the spectators, then they can demand such salaries, and contracts.
Also, if a person is required to give their so-called Fair share of their income to Government, then, going back to the Founder’s original model, perhaps such people should then get their Fair share of Representation, in Washington D.C. In other words, taxation being directly proportional to your Representation. Conversely, if someone is paying zero in Federal income taxes, wouldn’t it only stand to reason that they should have zero Representation in Congress?
And, if there is one true purpose for our Federal Government, it is their job to protect, and guarantee, Individual rights, not to provide Equal things.