America is drowning in debt. Taxpayers are demanding fiscal responsibility—but our leaders won't listen. What's the solution? This may sound like a radical idea, but our fiscal emergency demands radical intervention: Only those who pay taxes should be allowed to vote. Only those with "skin in the game" should be allowed to choose our representatives.
Is this idea constitutional? Absolutely! The portions of the Constitution that deal with suffrage are the 14th, 15th, 19th, 23rd, 24th, and 26th Amendments. Read them. You'll see that my idea is constitutionally sound. Such a proposal would force our spendaholic government to listen to the voice of the taxpayers—the people who pay Uncle Sam's bills.
Who, then, would get to vote? Every bona fide stakeholder: Current taxpayers. Those who have paid income taxes in the past (including retirees who no longer pay income taxes). And I would also include veterans and members of the armed forces—whether or not they pay taxes, they literally have their own "skin in the game."
Some critics would say that this idea is an attack on the poor. Nonsense. I would disallow the non-taxpaying rich from voting as well—and from buying influence through lobbying. There are more non-taxpaying rich Americans than you might suppose—such as L.A. Dodgers owner Frank H. McCourt Jr., a multimillionaire who paid no federal or state income taxes from 2003 to 2008, according to the Los Angeles Times.
There are those who would argue that everyone should have a right to vote—it's only fair! But is it fair for one group of citizens to vote to take the private property of other citizens? Is it fair for the beggar to vote himself a steak and lobster dinner at his neighbor's expense?
Instead of viewing my suggestion as taking the vote away from "the poor," let's reframe the question this way: Why does our tax system permit more than half of all Americans to pay no taxes? Shouldn't the tax burden be spread more equally across the population? Even a tax bite of as little as $100 a year might motivate them to elect more fiscally responsible leaders.
To those who still think this idea is unfair, let me pose this question: Are you seriously telling me that 51 percent of Americans are poverty-stricken? Almost 90 percent of American households subscribe to cable or dish TV services. If they can afford hundreds of dollars per year for entertainment, they can certainly afford to become shareholders in our republic.
One of our founding fathers, Samuel Adams, said, "Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote . . . that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country." Adams reminds us that voting is more than a right. It's a responsibility.
Steak and lobster? Or burgers and fries? Those who pay the bills should have the final say.