Here we go Again: Taxation without Representation

It is arguable that the taxes that fund public sector services are being targeted and looted by private sector corporations.

In the corporate war to profit from public funds—the taxes everyone who works is supposed to pay—billionaire oligarchs like Bill Gates, Eli Broad, the Walton family, the Koch brothers and their allies among the wealthiest 1% are taking over teaching our children, profiting off publicly funded private sector prisons, profiting off publicly funded private sector military contractors, and the list goes on.

Most if not all workers pay income taxes, but did you know that many corporations and millionaires don’t.  According to Forbes, “More than 90% of US Businesses Don’t Pay The Corporate Income Tax, and CNBC reported that “20 big profitable US companies paid no taxes.” In fact, according to PoliticFact, the “Middle Class pays higher tax rates than millionaires,” and 7,000 millionaires “gaming the system” pay zero federal taxes on income.

In fact, “The top 400 earners in the U.S. paid an average tax rate of 18 percent, according to a Bloomberg TV report noticed by Think Progress. And though that’s a far lower rate than the 26.5 percent that many families making less than $100,000 pay annually in taxes, some of America’s super-rich have been able to whittle their tax bill down even more, paying a tax rate as low as one percent, according to Bloomberg.”

Now, from Alan Singer writing for the Huffington Post, we discover that the United States (and the rest of the world) is back to square one leading toward no (real) representation for taxation.

Singer reports “Pearson’s business (a British corporation) strategy is to turn education from a social good and essential public service into a marketable for-profit commodity. … In the United States and the global-North, Pearson primarily markets much detested high-stakes tests that push rather than assess curriculum and learning. It is also big in selling data management programs of questionable value (once you have the data what are you supposed to do with it?) and digital learning platforms that are supposed to enhance (substitute for) instruction.”

I think  this is using public funds to pay private sector corporations that are opaque and answer to no representatives that are elected by the people, and this is taxation without representation.  The Constitution Daily reminds us that The Stamp Act Congress met (more than) 250 years ago in New York, an effort that led nine Colonies to declare the English crown had no right to tax Americans who lacked representation in British Parliament.

If our taxes are going to go straight from public pockets to opaque, for-profit, autocratic and often fraudulent corporations that own corporate charter schools, private prisons, etc.,  I think the board of directors of those corporations should be elected by the people in general elections just like we elect representatives for the U.S. Congress, and anyone should be allowed to run.  Then those elected corporate boards representing the people will have the final word over CEO’s and/or corporate founders like Bill Gates or Rupert Murdock.  If the corporations refuse like the British Empire’s King George did back in the 18th century, I think it’s time to declare that corporations have no right to take public funds from taxpayers.

I think we must once again pay attention to what Patrick Henry wrote in the Virginia Resolves in May of 1765 in his “taxation without representation” argument.

Before Patrick Henry, James Otis, who was chosen as the Stamp Act Congress President, wrote in 1764: “Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved” that “the very act of taxing, exercised over those who are not represented, appears to me to be depriving them of one of their most essential rights, as freemen; and if continued, seems to be in effect an entire disfranchisement of every civil right.”

Then there is the reality that the U.S. Congress does not represent the people any longer since the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United ruled that corporations are people and are free to buy elections with deep pockets arguably fueled by our taxes.

I think John Oliver, in his video, should have included the U.S. Congress and the White House in his “Pretend Power” statement.


Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

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Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy followed by his award winning memoir Crazy is Normal.

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