- Posted January 29, 2014 by
No Representation without Taxation
The American Revolutionary war is on the basis of discontent over taxation without representation. The American founding fathers fought for the right to voice their opinions and allocate resources which they actually contribute to the state (i.e. taxes). The statement is so significant that it entails a few caveats people in infant democratic country like us should study.
Put differently, the war was about the fight to represent when you pay taxes as much as the fight to pay tax to represent. American dream is all about what you can contribute not what you can benefit. Thai democracy in the past 80 years is not that democratic, to be honest, but it is an on-going process.
I am a firm believer that you cannot import democracy. The US or many European countries have been through democracy for many hundred years. They value their democracy because they achieve that often time through war and civil unrest.
At least, the US and Germany (Prussia then) have had their voting law tying to tax paying in the past. Tell them it is not democratic. The US Supreme court back in 1937 ruled that poll tax was constitutional. Blacks and women were not able to vote before. People these days are quick to point out discrimination and I agree that most of it is discrimination. But there is a merit in that law. The election law those days makes sure people without access to information will not vote. You may not like that but I would say it was an on-going process in the US back then. We have equality and strong state of the union now in the US because the US has been through “the process”.
Not many countries have leap-frogged that learning process in the past. Japan, with the help of the US, perhaps is the best example and I attribute that to the integrity of Japanese politicians and the sense of community inherited from the Shogun era. Back then it was a dictatorship state in the sense that one village makes mistake, everyone in the village is liable. So Japanese has been through the process themselves. It is not so easy that the US can simply parachute democracy into Japan.
Thailand is learning. I believe we are on the right track. The demonstration, if anything, shows that people stand up against the corrupt regime. But we need to think with our own brain and understand why people disagree with you. Democracy is about debating the differences and then finding common grounds.
Paying taxes is an example of responsibility. Government should be the people’s employees “not” God. Government should be about allocating resources. This is not about rich vs. poor. This is not an emotional issue. It is about making sure the resources are carefully managed. I am struggling to understand why people can have a say when they do not contribute. If you want to have a say, you need to contribute and going to the poll is not enough contribution, in my view.
Of course, if you want this country to be better off for your children, the voters also need to have access to similar pool of information then we go to the poll.