The District, a.k.a. the "Poverty Diamond"

I was disappointed but not surprised to learn that the case for a D.C. commuter case was dismissed in court yesterday. The judge basically said, "I'm sympathetic, but can't do anything. Only Congress can." Which, of course, will happen, oh, never.

It's not that I'm advocating socialism. Or maybe I am. But it isn't fair that 500,000 people enter D.C. every day, make a fortune, and then drive home to suburban Virginia or Maryland (or West Virginia or Pennsylvania), which gets all their income tax dollars. (Generally, a city commuter tax on non-residents is deductible from the home state's income tax, resulting in no net increase for the individual.)

And granted, D.C. is pretty bad at spending the revenues it has already, but that's not a good reason to keep it from imposing a commuter tax and forcing its residents to shoulder all the financial burden of running an international capital with almost 1 million people inside its borders during the week. The District can't impose taxes on non-residents, and it can't tax the federal government for property; exactly where is it supposed to get revenue from? Plus, most of the high-paying contractors seem to have established their headquarters outside D.C. (which explains why I'm writing this in... bleh... Reston), so D.C. sees no benefit from that.

Of course, a commuter tax would cause the suburbanites to complain about taxation without representaion, which is a familiar refrain around here. But really, if you're commuting to D.C. on work days, using its roads or potentially its civil services, and making a good salary off the federal government or otherwise, I think you have something of a social responsibility to support D.C. financially, just a little bit. At least enough to try to bring D.C. out of the shitholiness in which it seems to be constantly mired.

So whatever, I don't claim to be an economist or anything. But what worries me the most is that the situation in Washington will become the situation for the rest of the country, as we move away from progressive tax rate schedules. In other words: Washington (e.g. Congress) is trying to make the rest of country like itself. I really don't want that.

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