"The basic test of freedom is perhaps less in what we are free to do than in what we are free not to do." ~ Eric Hoffer
Taxation With Representation
It was right around 7:30 last Friday morning when I crossed over the Delaware River Bridge on my way to work. About a minute after merging onto the New Jersey Turnpike, I noticed a large white truck two lanes over and four cars ahead'an F-350 Dually, I believe. It was going maybe 70 miles an hour, and a solid half mile of road was opening up in front of it as drivers in all three lanes tried not to pass it by.
Curious, I switched into the middle lane and moved up a bit, trying to get a better look. That's when I realized the word 'POLICE' written in big blue letters across its backside.
'Police?' I said.
Maybe the Geese Police, I thought. It sure didn't look like an actual cop car'at least not like any I've ever seen. So I began to move closer, determined to find out: (a) what this truck was; and (b) why folks were too scared to pass it.
I soon found myself riding right up beside it, and before long I committed to giving it the old New Jersey get-in-front-and-slam-your-brakes routine. I'm not sure why I did this. It just seemed like a good idea at the time. In the process, however, I saw that it was, in fact, an actual cop car'it belonged to the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police. And so I politely switched into the middle lane again, joining the rest of the pack. I'm not sure why I did this, either; I'm relatively certain these guys couldn't've given me a ticket. But anyway, that's what I did. And that's when the cop riding shotgun shot me a dirty look as their vehicle passed by on my left.
Now, I have several questions about this incident. First, what the hell were the D.C. police doing all the way up in New Jersey? I mean, it's not like these guys were feds or anything; it's not like they were up in NJ on assignment. So I can only guess they were headed for a seminar of some sort. That's the most logical explanation. It makes the most sense. But you mean to tell me they couldn't take one of their own cars to get there? They had to take this monstrosity instead?
Which brings me to my second question: Namely, why must a couple of D.C. cops'nay, any cops'ride in a Ford F-350' ever? Is this absolutely necessary? These trucks are pretty big, you know, with six wheels and everything. They might as well have been driving a tractor trailer. Or hell, for that matter, they might as well have been driving Robosaurus, the World's First Car-Nivorous Monster.
But anyway, let me tell you, it was their license plate that intrigued me most of all.
Now, I don't know if you've seen any D.C. plates before, but I've seen quite a few of them on both the PA and NJ Turnpikes. They're not the worst looking license plates ever. Certainly not as fruity as Georgia's peach plates. But it's the words at the top and bottom that get me. They read: 'Washington, D.C.,' 'Taxation Without Representation.'
All without irony.
Well, after last Friday's commute, I finally decided to look them up. It turns out America's capitol city has been issuing 'Taxation Without Representation' plates since the year 2000. They're not mandatory; just an option. According to a group called D.C. Vote, the idea is to let drivers express their disgust with the 'disenfranchisement of the people of the District of Columbia." You see, for a few hundred years now, the federal government has tinkered with Washington's local government, dangling self-determination over residents' heads like a carrot on a great big evil stick. And residents are said to be sick of it. In their minds, they're fighting the same tides of tax-happy tyranny kicked off our shores by our forefathers centuries ago. Their strange fortune, however, is that they must do so from within the very heart of the beast.
So the 'Taxation Without Representation' plates are therefore a battle cry'a throwback to colonial times, when throwing tea into harbors wasn't called environmental destruction.
Unfortunately, though, D.C. seems to believe full congressional representation is one way to win their war. I'm not so sure I agree. I mean, we all face taxation without representation'all of us, nationwide, from sea to shining sea. You think congressmen represent America? I don't. I think congressmen represent themselves.
Think about it.
Who do you know outside Congress that can vote to give themselves raises? That can pull pensions out of thin air like apples off a tree? That can gerrymander their way into permanent job security? Who do you know outside Congress that can silence their critics by passing laws? Anyone? No one? Me neither. That's because no such humans outside Congress exist.
It's amazing anyone actually wants these folks on their side. With the exception of Ron Paul, our modern Congress is far worse than King George III ever was.
Now, look: I understand what D.C. is trying to do here. I get it. I even support it. They ought to control their own destiny'no question in my mind. But they shouldn't be putting all their eggs in a congressional basket. They shouldn't be counting their chickens before Orrin Hatch.
After all, when you complain about taxation without representation, you're really only saying taxation with representation is a-ok. But it isn't. Taxation is how politicians exploit our hard work and labor in the first place. Without taxation, they wouldn't be able to hand out homeland security jobs in return for sexual favors, or prosecute millionaire homemakers for kangaroo crimes in kangaroo courts. They wouldn't be able to fund the U.N., or keep U.S. troops in over a hundred countries, or leave a brainwashed child behind. And they probably wouldn't be able to drive around in flashy F-350's, either.
So as nice as 'No Taxation Without Representation' sounds, I say it's time for an altogether different battle cry. How about this one: 'No Taxation. Period.' It's quick, incisive, and more to the point.