View Full Version : Paying Taxes vs. the Right to Vote
01-02-2004, 05:31 PM
A remark in this thread (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?s=&threadid=232793) got me thinking, which is always a dangerous thing. Without getting into any debates or politicking, if given the choice, would you give up the right to vote if it meant never having to pay any taxes again? Let's further say that this would be reversible, but to get the vote back, you'd have to pay back all the taxes you would have paid before. What would you do?
Personally, I think I'd have no problem giving up the vote to save all that money. But then, I couldn't complain about the way things were being run. ;)
So, what about you?
01-02-2004, 05:44 PM
NOpe. Wouldn't give it up. My right, that is.
Paying taxes is just part of making society go. It can't go without money.
So, giving up one of my few abilities to make a change wouldn't be worth it.
01-02-2004, 06:01 PM
I think that, if such a choice were offered, all that would really change is the methods of taxation. If the government couldn't tax people's income anymore, they'd just tax businesses more, which would pass those costs to their employees and customers.
That said, I wouldn't do it. The increased cost would make my vote worth even more.
01-02-2004, 06:12 PM
There is just no way this system would work.
Besides, so many people have given up their right to vote by staying home on election and they still pay taxes.
01-02-2004, 07:20 PM
I wouldn't do it. I pay a boatload of tax and I do vote.
While I think a lot of government spending is wasteful, and my tax bill could be lower, I recognize that the government must be funded. And I'm not about to give up my right to bitch (which, as Zebra notes, many don't seem to care about).
01-02-2004, 08:59 PM
Interesting thought. On one hand you don't want people with money controlling everthing, but on the other hand you have people who don't contribute money voting for polititians who spend the money. Hmmmmmmm
I've actually thought that there should be some form of social contribution involved as a qualifier to vote but I've never concieved of a way of doing it. Hurts my brain.
I guess I've always felt that if someone can take my money by force then the same process should apply to labor.
01-02-2004, 10:18 PM
I like having the right to vote (except I don't even have that at the moment - living in a foreign country, you know), but I would happily give it up to avoid taxes.
Let's face it, voting is a pretty irrational act. How many elections are decided by one vote? It's hardly worth the cost of the gasoline to get to the polling booth, let alone the value of all my taxes. In 2000, many people were saying that the closeness of the result shows just how important it is to vote. No, actually, it didn't. Unless you were on the Supreme Court, a single vote made no difference in any state.
01-02-2004, 11:02 PM
I am a foreign national living in the US with a permanent residency visa. I pay a buttload of taxes and don't get to vote. Next year I hope to start the naturalization process, mostly because I want to be able to vote. I want that privilege. I do not enjoy living in a country in which I have no say as to the composition of the government. I wish to participate fully as a citizen, to be educated about the issues and to vote for my representatives. I think both paying taxes and voting are part of what it means to have a stake in the country in which you live.
01-03-2004, 07:20 AM
Nope, no way. I've voted in all but two elections since I became old enough to vote (and would have voted in a bunch more before that, if not for the oppressive jackboot of The Man), and I'm happy to pay taxes to keep my government running.
However, I'd gladly accept a refund of all the taxes I paid before I was able to vote.
In a split second. By not paying taxes I'd pretty much be making my opinion known. If you want me to fund you then make sure you spend the money I give you responsibly. And that shouldn't take more than 10% of my income, not 50%*. Plus, I live in western Canada. Our vote out there pretty much counts for shit anyway, IMHO.
*I'm an expat, so at this time only pay ~10% anyway. Still, I'll eventually work in Canada again.
01-03-2004, 09:04 AM
I believe the goverment's final authority should be the will of the people. If I were to take the bribe and give up my vote I would be a hypocrat as the goverment would not be answerable to my say. While in the grand scheme of things my vote probally does not mean much but what if every figured that? Thats the question I ask me self when I don't feel like voting. Of course if I don't agree with anyone of the canidates I can always vote for none of thee above.:D
I would be a hypocrat...Now THERE'S a political party I'd support, merely on the basis of Truth in Naming. At least they'd be honest about being dishonest.
re, the OP: Are you KIDDING?!? The only true reason left to vote is to get your damn taxes lowered. 'Cept that whenever I vote for someone based on his campaign promise to lower taxes, he usually turns out to actually be an un-registered Hypocrat.
Face it, not voting in order to reduce your tax burden is like wrapping yourself in raw bacon to keep from being eaten by jackals.
01-03-2004, 11:52 AM
Originally posted by Tygr
Now THERE'S a political party I'd support, merely on the basis of Truth in Naming. At least they'd be honest about being dishonest.
but, but what if someone joined the hypocrats and excatly what they said they would?:confused:
01-03-2004, 12:13 PM
Hell, no. There's no way I'm giving up my rights as citizen to save a few bucks. What kind of craven money-grubber do you think I am?
01-03-2004, 01:12 PM
Originally posted by Tygr
re, the OP: Are you KIDDING?!? The only true reason left to vote is to get your damn taxes lowered. 'Cept that whenever I vote for someone based on his campaign promise to lower taxes, he usually turns out to actually be an un-registered Hypocrat. [size=1]Psssst! It is a hypothetical Q. Obviously such a thing couldn't work in real life.
01-03-2004, 02:02 PM
Let's face it, voting is a pretty irrational act. How many elections are decided by one vote?
This attitude is just plain stupid and makes me despair. Every vote is equally valid and important. Many elections give victors with small majorities. How big was Bush's victory in that county in Florida?
01-03-2004, 03:39 PM
Like Idlewild, I live and pay taxes in the US, but am not a citizen and thus do not vote. So I would happily retain my tax dollars and continue not to vote.
If a country did adopt such a scheme, I wonder if an individual could have more influence over the process by applying their money rather than their vote.
Say someone pays $10K per year in income taxes, and chooses not vote, but instead puts the money toward campaigning for their candidates/causes through contributions to candidates, parties, etc.
What is the likelihood that they would influence more than one person to vote their way and thus get a better return than by actually voting themselves?
01-03-2004, 03:59 PM
Originally posted by zoltar7
If a country did adopt such a scheme, I wonder if an individual could have more influence over the process by applying their money rather than their vote. I don't recall who wrote it, but I remember reading a SF short story ion Analog many years ago, in which taxpayers could choose how much of and for what purpose their tax dollars were applied. I found the idea intriguing at the time, and I've often wondered if such a scheme were viable.
01-03-2004, 04:18 PM
Originally posted by qts
This attitude is just plain stupid Why? Your saying so does not make it so. What percentage of elections are decided by one vote? That will tell you the likelihood of your vote being significant.
Every vote is equally valid and important. Correct - and individually, they are of very minor importance. How often in history has one vote been significant?
Many elections give victors with small majorities. Maybe so, but how often is that majority just one? How big was Bush's victory in that county in Florida? More than one. And it is irrelevant anyway - the votes for the whole of Florida got lumped into one total, where the majority was also more than one.
01-03-2004, 05:06 PM
amarone What if most people felt that way?
01-03-2004, 05:11 PM
amarone, I can understand your attitude somewhat if we're talking about national elections. But local elections are a whole 'nother ballgame. That's where your vote really is important. Voter turn out is often low (25-30%) for local elections, so if you do drag your ass out to vote, it can make a difference.
Local officials also often make many of the decisions that affect you most directly. As an exmaple, in our county, we elect the sheriff. The current sheriff has a reputation (pretty well based in fact) for being corrupt and selectively pursuing cases. He's especially soft on domestic violence cases. (A few of his relatives, including his son, have been implicated in such cases.) You better believe I'm going to do my best to throw his sorry ass out of office. And when voter turn-out consists of 8,000 people in a county of 80,000, I do have a chance of getting the bastard out.
01-03-2004, 05:30 PM
Originally posted by netscape 6
amarone What if most people felt that way? That actually changes the argument. The more people feel it is not worth voting, the more valuable your vote becomes as your vote is a more significant portion of the whole - it is more likely you can affect the result.
This also addresses Burundi's comment. That's where your vote really is important. Voter turn out is often low (25-30%) for local elections, so if you do drag your ass out to vote, it can make a difference.
I agree that a vote is more likely to be of use in local elections where the size of the electorate is much smaller. There again, the stakes are also lower. I may be one of only a few hundred voting for members of the county school board, but the result will not have consequences such as whether an undesirable foreign country gets invaded.
But overall, if I had a vote, I would be much more likely to use it in local elections where it might make a difference. This is, of course, counter to the norm where most people are more likely to vote in state or national elections.
01-03-2004, 09:21 PM
Well, the two things are very unrelated; it's really a "would you give up your left hand to have true love" kind of question.
The question could be rephrased "how much would the government have to pay you to give up your vote?" Sadly, I'd give up my vote for a lot less than I pay in taxes. Not that I don't value voting. I consider my vote very important; I've never missed one. But in the scope of things, I'd rather have the cash.
So the next question is, if you give up your vote, do you have to give up your influence on other votes? I like to think that I vote at least 5 or ten times by influencing others, so one vote is pretty small.
And that leads to the most important aspect: could I still make political contributions? I have no idea what the typical dollar per vote is in political contributions, but I'm sure I must influence hundreds of votes minimum currently, again making my individual vote miniscule in the scope of things.
Originally posted by Q.E.D.
Psssst! It is a hypothetical Q. Obviously such a thing couldn't work in real life. Yeah, but the only way to figure out the answer is to determine the potential benefits and consequences.
I mean, hypothetically, in keeping with the OP, nearly everybody decides to keep their taxes, and almost nobody votes. Power gets concentrated in the hands of a few special interests.
...they have no means (i.e., money in the form of tax revenue) to excercise their power.
I mean, does the OP mean NO taxes whatsoever? Not just income? No sales tax, and a refund on all built-in taxes, like the gas tax? Does it apply to corporations? See, there's too many variables to consider in determining if giving up your right to vote would be worth it.
Originally posted by netscape 6
but, but what if someone joined the hypocrats and did excatly what they said they would?Geez, another hypothetical question that could never happen in real life...
If they did what they said they would, they wouldn't politicians. ;)
01-04-2004, 08:56 AM
Originally posted by Tygr
If they did what they said they would, they wouldn't politicians. ;)
I like that resolution of that paradox. It's based on real world facts.
01-04-2004, 09:06 AM
but, but what if someone joined the hypocrats and excatly what they said they would?
Then they'd be saying one thing and doing another, and fit right in. Three cheers for the liar paradox.
01-04-2004, 09:09 AM
originally posted by amarone
I may be one of only a few hundred voting for members of the county school board, but the result will not have consequences such as whether an undesirable foreign country gets invaded.
Local elections are kind of weird. In terms of big picture issues, they aren't as important as national elections. But in terms of what affects you day to day, they're more important. I have a strongly held opinion on the Iraq war, and the war has huge international consequences, but, honestly, the U.S. going to war against Iraq hasn't changed my daily life. With the important exception of military/reserve families, I doubt it's changed most Americans' daily lives. When the county commissioners vote to limit the hours the public libraries are open, that does change my daily rountine. When they vote against funding community non-profits, that makes a big difference to me, considering I work for one.
I realize the above paragraph sounds petty. Big issues do matter. That's why I vote in national and state elections. But the smaller picture matters, too, and that's where local elections come into play.
01-04-2004, 10:07 AM
Alas you seem to be forgetting that there are several jurisdictions that are taxed without representation, including The Nation's capitol as well as Puerto Rico, USVI and Guam. We must all pay our fair share to the IRS, but have no representation in the legislative process. However, in DC we do get to vote in the presidential election ( I have no idea if PR, USVI or Guam can) but since the House and Senate are more direct forms of representation it really is an insignificant privilege. Not that POTUS is an insignificant position, but that in terms of having a say in the laws of the nation, Congressional representation would be more valuable
01-04-2004, 10:22 AM
I don't pay taxes now, I get that poor worker's credit refund.
And I don't vote.
Does that answer the question?
01-04-2004, 10:54 AM
Forgive me for being all "high horse" here, but I think voting is a responsibility, more than a right. And I wouldn't give it up.
I kind of agree with Magiver, too: "I've actually thought that there should be some form of social contribution involved as a qualifier to vote but I've never concieved of a way of doing it. Hurts my brain." It does hurt the brain, and every time I think of this I can come up with six dozen reasons it won't work - but I still wish it were possible. 'Course, I also think potential parents should have to pass an aptitude test, so that ought to give you some insight into the way my brain works anyway.
And Tygr - I don't believe our taxes will EVER go DOWN. Not to disparage you at all, but I truly guffaw at the idea.
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