What's the difference between a tax and attacks?

Wednesday , July 09, 2014 - 6:04 PM

By D. LOUISE BROWN

Standard-Examiner contributor

I’m looking for a harbor, and a load of tea to dump into it….

That was an awesome Fourth of July, wasn’t it? Lots of “rockets red glare, and bombs bursting in air.” So, what was the Revolutionary War about anyway? The simplest answer is “Taxation without representation.” Remember the Tea Party? No, not the one that’s waging political wars today, but the actual dumping of British tea into the Boston Harbor?

It was a feisty American way of saying to their Sovereign, “We’re not going to take it anymore!” They’d had enough. They paid taxes on stamps and sugar and tea, were restricted in how they could trade with other countries, and forced to follow laws they didn’t help create. They hadn’t come across a deadly ocean in shockingly small ships to live life like that. So they rebelled. That took guts. And people who have guts —courage and conviction and determination — would never take unrepresented taxation lying down.

At least that’s the way it used to be. But now I’m wondering, because we’re experiencing some taxation without representation right now. And a lot of the problem has to do with us. City leaders have the authority to impose taxes on us without representation when we don’t show up to represent ourselves.

Many of our city councils are struggling to decide whether or not to continue their city’s involvement in the UTOPIA boondoggle. A boondoggle is “a project that is considered a useless waste of both time and money, yet is often continued due to extraneous policy motivations.”

“UTOPIA” stands for “Utah Telecommunication Open Infrastructure Agency.” According to its website, UTOPIA will offer an optic network “supported by its member communities.” It promises “blazing fast Internet speeds” that will be available to everyone, because everyone will pay for it—whether or not they use it. UTOPIA must be guaranteed that kind of monetary support to survive. It’s called a “forced fee,” which is code for “taxation without representation.”

I’m mortified that, according to a recent news story, my city’s council members made their decision in a council room with no citizens in attendance. Where was I? Where were you? Why weren’t we paying attention? Am I the only one that revolts at the idea of forking over money on a monthly basis to a non-essential service I will never use, provided by a company whose monetary gain stands somewhere around $1 billion?

The issue is complicated. But this citizen believes the logical answer city leaders should practice sounds like this: “NO.” Not like this: “Well, let’s go to the next step and see what that looks like and maybe we’ll get a better deal for our city because there are discrepancies of what this company charges in different cities and….” But I wasn’t at the meeting to give my opinion.

Bravo to the city councils of Orem, Lindon, Payson, Murray, and most recently, Centerville. Bravo to those citizens who made their voices heard, and to city councils who listened. To folks living in Perry, Brigham City, Tremonton, West Valley City, Midvale and Layton — if you’re OK with being forced to pay for something you may or may not use, then just settle back and don’t do anything, because you’re on your way to subtracting another $20 to $30 from your monthly budget.

But if you oppose, start being your own representative. It’s not too late to call your city hall, get the phone numbers or emails or addresses of your city council members, and hassle them until you have a solid answer for why taxation without representation is back.

The recent increase in the number of city’s withdrawing their support could doom the project. So be a representative. If we end up paying that much money that many years for something we don’t want and won’t use, a lot of tea had better fly.

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