Taxes, Direct Democracy and Federalism

A continuing debate that has been occurring is the power of the federal government in relation to the states. This is because both are given specific areas of authority under the Constitution. However, the language is general enough that there is contention about who has what specific powers. To determine this, the judicial system will often rely on case precedent and interpretation of the law. This has caused the overall scope of federal vs. state power to continually shift. As a result, there are various instances which are illustrating how these rulings can affect the way the law is enforced. To fully understand what is taking place requires looking at issues such as: taxes, the use of the National Guard / military forces, the state's right to exercise direct democracy, acts of civil disobedience, the economic system and freedom of speech. Together, these different elements will offer the greatest insights as to how these powers are shifting and which level is the most dominant. ("Principles of Constitutional Construction," 2010)

Taxes

Why do we need state and local taxes? What were Adam Smith's four principles of sound taxation? What do you think makes each of them important?

The use of state and local taxes is designed to provide communities with a host of services (i.e. roads, fire / police and sanitation). The four principles of Adam Smith's views on sound taxation include:

Every citizen should contribute to supporting their local government. This is based upon their ability to contribute.

The tax that each person is paying is certain but not arbitrary.

Each tax should be levied at times when they are convenient for the contributor.

All taxes should take the smallest amounts possible from the people.

What makes each of them important is they are providing a foundation for funding the government. While; not imposing such a burden to hurt economic growth throughout the region. (Lambert, 2009)

Consider the following taxes (cigarettes, sales, inheritance and income). How do they stack up against the four principles?

Cigarettes are considered to be in line with the four principles. This is because: it is not placing a burden on the individual, it is certain, they are levied when someone is buying the product and the amount is small. Sales taxes are considered to be in line with Smith's guidelines by: giving communities / states control over the amount (which prevents it from being a burden), it is certain, it will be imposed when someone is buying various merchandise or services and they are a small amount of total sale. The inheritance tax is considered to be: a burden, it is certain, they are imposed at a poor time and the amount is excessive. Income tax could be considered as: a burden (depending on the individual), it is certain, it will be imposed at a bad time and the amounts are considered to be high. Yet, the tax is also viewed as fair by some individuals. This is because the government taxes the person based upon what they contribute. (Lambert, 2009)

States also get money from non-tax sources. What are problems that arise, especially with vices such as liquor and gambling?

The problem with non-tax sources is that the city or state is encouraging everyone to engage in these activities. This can lead to an increase in crime for select areas. At the same time, these activities do not contribute to an improvement in economic activity (such as: bringing in high paying jobs). Instead, there is focus on anything that is entertainment orientated (which is geared toward these regions). This can cause the states' and communities to run deficits when providing the support for these activities. ("Sin Taxes," 2005)

Give at least two ideas for gaining more control and preventing corruption.

Two possible strategies for eliminating pork barrel spending are to support legislation that will ban these practices. At the same time, there should be a push to enact a Constitutional amendment that will give the Executive Branch the line item veto. These two areas will make it difficult for Congress to place these projects on government spending bills. Moreover, the line item veto will allow specific areas to be removed that are considered to be wasteful.

The Use of the National Guard (Arizona's Navy)

Did Governor Moeur overstep his authority and breach the ideals of federalism? What specifically did he do wrong? Cite words from the Constitution to support your position.

Yes, the Governor overstepped his authority with the use of the National Guard. This is because the river is considered to be a part of interstate commerce. The fact that he has the National Guard patrolling to protect the state's water rights is in direct conflict with these actions. Evidence of this can be seen with Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution which says, "(Congress has the power) to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with Indian Tribes." (Commerce Clause," 2012) This is illustrating how this authority is specifically reserved for Congress.

The State's Right to Exercise Direct Democracy

Was the recall of California's Governor Davis too severe a reaction to that California's financial problems? Support your answer.

The recall of Governor Davis was not severe. This is because he was an inept leader who did not know how to deal with the price gouging in early 2000 by: electric and natural gas distributors (i.e. Enron). At the same time, the economy continued to underperform with his policies having no impact on improving the situation. These two factors meant that Davis failed to act properly in dealing with these issues. As a result, the recall was justified for failing to use the powers of his office to address challenges that are adversely impacting the public. (Aronson, 2003)

Search online news sources to find at least two (2) examples of direct democracy at work in your state or in one of the states around you. Briefly summarize each of the examples. Cite your findings fully. What is common to the examples you cited?

Two examples of referendums include: the Puerto Rico statehood amendment and the Montana medical marijuana initiative. In the case of Puerto Rico statehood there are two questions that are being asked to include:

Should Puerto Rico become a state?

Should the island remain as a U.S. territory, state or as an independent nation?

While the Montana medical marijuana initiative is focused on reducing the restrictions for patients to purchase these substances. What is common in both of these examples, is the citizens are asked specific questions about the way the law is enforced and their future. In each situation, the voters are directly expressing these views at the ballot box. ("2012 Puerto Rico Statehood Amendment," 2012) (Walker, 2012)

Name an issue that, in your opinion, requires direct democracy right now. Why do you believe the issue warrants direct democracy?

The use of medical marijuana needs immediate attention. The reason why is because there are conflicting laws between the states and the federal government. To settle this issue, there must be clear authorization from the voters. The best way to do this is to have a referendum that will allow the citizens to decide if they want these products sold in their state. Moreover, this will also set general guidelines for taxation and who qualifies. (Walker, 2012)

Civil Disobedience

List at least ten parallels between Rosa Parks and the characters in Yertle the Turtle.

Rosa Parks is similar to the character of Mack. Ten different parallels that she has with him include: determination, persistence, the ability to stand up for what they believe in, frustration with the system, the ability to inspire others, a lack of response from the status quo, a desire to change things for the better, vision, outrage at the current social situation with the turtles / the segregated South and massive action to transform the situation.

Who demonstrated civil disobedience? Rosa Parks? Yertle? Mack? Justify your answer fully

The individuals who demonstrated civil disobedience were Rosa Parks and Mack. The way that is occurred, is they wanted to change things in society. Yet, they were refused to do so by: the higher authorities and forced to suffer. Once they finally had enough, is when they rose up against the establishment with a form of civil disobedience. This is when everything changed, as others were inspired by their example. ("Yertle the Turtle," 2000)

Comparative Economic Systems

Consider the common criticism of socialism on the grounds that it discourages individual initiative. What assumption about initiative underlies this criticism? Is this assumption valid? Why or why not?

The criticisms of socialism are based on the belief, in the lack of desire for someone to do something more with their life. This is because there are social support systems in place that are encouraging this kind of behavior. As a result, most people will instinctively have no motivation to do more. (Wolf, 2005)

This assumption is valid. Evidence of…