Taxpayer Standing On The Ballot Tomorrow

Everyone in New Hampshire should vote “yes” on Constitutional Amendment #1, which reads in part, “Therefore, any individual taxpayer eligible to vote in the State, shall have standing to petition the Superior Court to declare whether the State or political subdivision in which the taxpayer resides has spent, or has approved spending, public funds in violation of a law, ordinance, or constitutional provision.”  Anarchists of good faith and logical positions can disagree on whether or not voting *for people* is moral. I’m not writing this article to attempt to convince you of trolly problem or lifeboat ethics, or that you should Sophie’s Choice your and others’ rights by picking the least harmful person running for office. I don’t find it immoral to vote for the least harmful person. My husband does. But I have never heard a decent argument against voting on ballot initiatives. If the State is asking you “So… Should I violate the NAP?” there is no logical argument against telling them “no.”

The proposed amendment institutes taxpayer standing in New Hampshire. This has several short-term and long-term benefits, and, to the extent that I can guarantee that a piece of legislation will never have any side effects, it has no negative effects. The only thing that this amendment can be used for is to stop the State from spending/stealing money. Taxpayer standing is a long-attempted, arguably fringe legal argument that a person has standing to challenge the constitutionality of actions of the State based on the fact that the plaintiff funds the actions through funds stolen from them. Flast v Cohen did rule in favor of very limited taxpayer standing, but said that the constitutional violation had to be fundamentally unconstitutional not just regular unconstitutional, whatever the hell that means. It mostly means that the case is very easy to rule around aka there is no taxpayer standing… unless you want to sue the State for an injunction to stop providing textbooks to religious institutions. Its that specific. Generally, taxpayer standing case law reads very much like draft, religious exemptions to taxation, and internment camp case law- which is of the “don’t look behind the green curtain” variety with lots of invoking “Compelling Governmental Interest” and very little if any explanation and legal argument found in most any other US Supreme Court case law which often reaches hundreds of pages per case.

The practical short term effect of not having taxpayer standing is that there are several things that the State can do with impunity simply because no one has standing to challenge them in court. Of course, if the State decides that they are going to do a thing, there are very few people on this earth with the power to stop them, and as far as I know all of people are other States with very little incentive to do so. Luckily for us, the State likes to maintain a facade of legitimacy and non-violence. As it stands the State will generally* back down under its own rules as long as it doesn’t stand to loose something more valuable than perceived legitimacy. *Offer not valid in Southern rural towns. Enacting taxpayer standing will not only prevent the State from wasting money in specific instances where people sue for injunctions, it will make them hesitant to waste money illegally in the first place. It will only waste stolen money legally. The proposed amendment applies to ALL illegal spending of stolen funds, not just unconstitutional spending of illegal funds. In my opinion the State will be sufficiently deterred from illegally spending stolen funds, which will in turn provide less incentive for them to steal as much money. The opinion of productive people being stolen from will have to hold at least some value when the State weighs decisions.

These are beneficial results and would put New Hampshire in a near unique position regarding this issue. (It seems that two other states have at least some form of taxpayer standing, but I’m not going to vouch for that without thoroughly researching it.) I do not believe that we will ever be able to “vote the State away” or otherwise successfully ask it nicely to go home and quit oppressing people. However, that does not mean the the position of non-aggressors can not be improved via the political process. In my opinion, the long-term cultural and perception effects are much more important. Granting taxpayer status is something of an admission on the State’s part that it is indebted to tax victims. It reveals part of the nature of the State. The reason the US Supreme Court got rid of it was not only so that the State could do what it wanted without the aggravation of additional lawsuits; it was because dismissing tax victims as significant entities that have a steak in the operations of the State, the State can further obscure what it actually is. The people paying, however unwillingly, are not significant players under the law- there are various and complicated groups of supposed protectors, scholars, and protected classes. Taxpayer status brings to light who pays the bills- actual tax victims, not metaphysical powers. If society is consciously clear on who pays the bills, people are more likely, though not guaranteed, to change their opinions on some policy. I understand that people are cognitively aware of where tax funds come from. But the reality of the situation is deliberately obscured by layers of metaphysical claims about the State, and I believe that being more direct about the reality of the situation would be helpful.

In addition of the nature of the State being more front and center, my prediction is that in the long-term the State will appear to be more of a fee-for-a-service entity. Stolen fees- yes, wildly immoral services- absolutely, but what it will be less likely to be perceived as is an all-powerful benevolent force of nature that judges wisely and literally can not run out of resources. If the population is forced to be aware of the source of State resources if they choose to be aware of policy, then they will be more aware of the nature of the State. Some people will be less inclined to advocate theft. Some people will be less inclined to trust in the infallible power of the State. The way people think about the State will be shifted, and at the end of the day, that is what “we” need to win.


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