Thursday, January 6, 2011
Statehood: A Moral Imperative
Statehood for DC isn't just a central tenet in the DC Statehood Green Party platform, it's a moral imperative in a society that proclaims democratic values. Our efforts to spread democracy abroad cannot be complete while over half a million people are disenfranchised at home. The pursuit of equal congressional representation for District residents has been pursued in various ways, including a recent effort to secure a single House seat for the District in exchange for an additional House seat in Utah. The District ranked 31st amongst states in terms of how much federal income tax revenue was paid by our residents in 2007, just under South Carolina (a state with 9 times our population). It is unconscionable that District residents pay $20 billion in federal taxes and receive no vote in Congress. If I am chosen to serve as At-Large City Councilperson for the District of Columbia, I will work tirelessly to raise awareness of this injustice and work to remedy it.
addendum: You might ask, how does the lack of statehood affect DC residents? Let's take one practical example: the services available to our veterans. As noted above, South Carolina and the District of Columbia pay roughly the same amount in federal taxes. Yet, South Carolina has an office of veteran affairs for every county in its state, while the District of Columbia only has an Office of Veteran Affairs in one suite in a single office building downtown. This is true despite the fact that the District of Columbia has one-ninth the population of South Carolina and a comparable number of veterans per capita, including almost 60,000 District veterans who served in wars in Korea, Vietnam and Gulf War I alone (roughly one tenth our total population), not even including District veterans who served in Afghanistan and the current war in Iraq (or served in peacetime or non-combat areas). By contrast, Charleston County (the county comprising South Carolina's largest city) has a 18+ plus population that is 13% veterans, but when you include the number of persons under 18 (23% of that county's population, roughly 81,000 people) into the equation, you see that the percentage of veterans in their total population is roughly equal to the percentage of District residents who are veterans of the three major conflicts prior to the current wars in which we are currently engaged. If the District of Columbia was a state, I have no doubt that we would see offices to serve veterans in every ward in our city comparable to the veterans offices in each county in South Carolina. Every American deserves services comparable to the taxes paid by their locality. Statehood, in my opinion, would provide this for the District.