Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Taxes in America

I ran across an interesting article North Carolina's The News Observer, on the origins of our nation at Jamestown. As the daughter of two Virginians I have always been fascinated with Jamestown, and had the opportunity to visit the site and the Jamestown Festival Park while in elementary school despite growing up in California (my mother's home community was on the mouth of the Rappahanock).

However, what caught my eye in the article was the information on the House of Burgesses. The first exercise in formal representative democracy in North America, the House of Burgesses first met in 1619 (a year before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth). Moreover, one of the first acts of the Burgesses was to levy taxes.

The role of essential role of taxes in sustaining our society and communities has been much in my thoughts since I just posted a piece for Kentucky Economic Justice Alliance (KEJA) on that topic. It was gratifying to see that democracy and taxes are clearly linked together in a positive way in American history. Too many people only remember that the American revolutionaries objected to taxes imposed by England and fail to remember that the objection was primary about a lack of political participation in the process and not about taxes as such. If today's political candidates truly honored our founders intentions, they would spend more time on expanding political participation in voting and less on promising lower taxes.

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