Washington, D.C. Tax Haven?
April 12, 2001
Lieberman of Connecticut you remember him and Eleanor
Holmes Norton, the District of Columbias nonvoting delegate to the House
of Representatives, have come up with a brilliant idea. They have jointly
introduced a bill to exempt residents of the District from income taxes.
Its called the No Taxation without
Representation Act of 2001. The idea is that D.C. residents shouldnt have to
pay income taxes until the District becomes a fully represented state, with
senators and congressmen.
District residents are already exercised about
the principle No Taxation without Representation, which is now
inscribed on their auto license plates. Mostly black, they contend that whites,
especially Republicans, dont want them to enjoy statehood, since they
would be likely to elect black left-wing Democrats to the Senate and House. And
they have a point.
But the bill might have unintended
consequences. D.C. residents might discover that they are better off without either
statehood or income taxes. Think of it. If you could keep your own earnings,
wouldnt you be willing to forgo statehood for a while? Like, indefinitely?
Maybe even forever, per omnia saecula saeculorum?
If Washington becomes a tax-free zone, it will
be transformed. People from around the country, or around the world, will pour in.
Property values will soar. Slums will disappear, as developers snatch up decrepit
neighborhoods and replace them with luxurious new housing.
With a booming and prosperous population,
competition for the privilege of tax-free residence will be intense. White
professionals (and lets not forget Asians) who have fled or avoided the city
would pay big money to move back in. Poor blacks, priced out of the market, would
move out. The capital would be transmuted ethnically.
politically. The new population would fiercely resist the very thing the present
population demands: statehood. Once Washington became a state, its inhabitants
would have to start paying income taxes the very thing they came to
escape. The whole purpose of the great migration would have been defeated. The
people of the city would realize that gaining representation in Congress, in return
for paying thousands of dollars in taxes annually, would be a terrible bargain.
Think of it. Washington, D.C., headquarters of
the federal government, would actually become an enclave of freedom from the
oppression of the federal government!
So without realizing it, Senator Lieberman and
Delegate Norton may be establishing themselves as the leaders of what amounts to
a new secessionist movement. Abe Lincoln, eat your heart out!
No taxation without
representation could also mean Just get rid of my taxes, and I
wont need representation. Who really feels
represented by our elected officials, anyway? If they represent
everyone, how can they truly represent anyone? When you hire a lawyer, you know
he represents you; he doesnt profess to represent you and your adversaries
at the same time.
If politicians actually represent all of us, as
they claim they do, how come we have to pay high taxes and submit to so many
onerous laws? If you got similar results from your lawyer, youd fire him.
Why do we assume that the government
represents us when it exercises power over us, robs us of our
wealth, and strips away our freedoms? What nonsense. But this is what passes, in
an age of political superstition, for democracy and
The Lieberman-Norton bill may inadvertently
expose the truth: that we are better off without politicians
representing us. I doubt that this is what they set out to
demonstrate, but thats fine. People will draw their own lessons when they
get the chance to keep their city not only tax-free, but politician-free. They will
say, with one mighty voice, Hey! Why didnt we think of this
Who knows how this idea might catch on?
Other parts of the country might clamor for tax-free status too. Would they have
to give up their representation in Congress? Well, you cant have everything!
At least they should have the option. Let the market test the real value of
Thats why the Lieberman-Norton bill
wont be adopted. In this great democracy of ours, no politician in his right
mind would offer the voters a chance to choose between politicians alias
representation and 100 per cent tax relief.
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