Saturday, April 30, 2011

Taxation Without Representation

The American colonists who participated in the famous Boston Tea Party of 1773 were protesting -- among other things -- a tea tax that they contended was a form of taxation without representation. It's ironic that current day conservative activists have chosen to call themselves the Tea Party since the taxation they routinely criticize has been adopted and maintained by this nation's elected representatives!

But while the modern day Tea Party rails against taxes levied by federal, state and local government -- elected representative bodies in every locale except for some places in Michigan -- I don't think I can recall the same kind of outcry for a real source of taxation without representation: fees, service charges and other assorted mechanisms to separate us from what little money we have left.

Ever studied one of your many bills closely? Aside from the cost of the product or service provided, there tends to be a number of official sounding fees included as well: Handling fee, Processing Fee, Monthly Service Charge, Assessment Fee and the list goes on and on.

In a manner of speaking, these fees are nothing more than mandatory taxes added on by unelected bodies. However, instead of going to a government entity that serves the public, this money goes to corporate headquarters to serve the corporation!

I realize that some people will argue that not one of us must have a credit card or bank account. We don't have to have electricity, trash collection or running water. We voluntarily choose to utilize these kinds of services and part of the contract between each of us and the service provider clearly states that a variety of fees will be added to the cost.

To this I say, BUNK! In order to live adequately in this modern world, almost all of the products and services listed above are needed to live an even minimal existence.

It would be one thing if service and product providers clearly stated their price for what they're trying to sell us, but they hide the genuine costs behind a labyrinth of fine print that, in a convoluted manner, details the various fees (taxes) we must pay in order to receive the product or service. It's not like we can agree to purchase the product or service and then negotiate as to which fees we feel hold merit. If we sign on the dotted line, those fees become mandated.

If you and I decide that a particular fee is unwarranted for a product or service and we gather a group of our neighbors who agree, what recourse do we have? To be certain, we can complain to a governmental body, lobby the corporation, write letters to the editor or conduct protests and boycotts, but we have absolutely no power or say so -- ourselves or through elected representatives -- directly to alter the decision-making process.

Even worse, if the corporation holds a monopoly in our community -- say it is the sole internet, Cable TV, electricity or trash collection provider -- we genuinely have no other option than to pay the stinking fees. In many cases, if we decide to take a stand to pay the amount owed minus this or that fee, we eventually will find that the service will be terminated and we're up shit creek without a paddle.

Why aren't Tea Party activists protesting this? Why don't they decry this real example of taxation without representation?

1 comment:

  1. Because they own or have stock in those providers?

    I think the burden of hidden surcharge/taxes at levels under the imperial court in a period of growing consumerism helped cause the fall of the Ming Dynasty.


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