DOWNED CITY, RISE: So Mayor Anthony Williams was in New Haven yesterday, giving a speech for a bunch of Yale students.
Somebody asked him about statehood. The phrase “taxation without representation” (coolest license plate slogan in America, by the way, even if it does pander to the District’s culture of resentment) was used. To quote the Yale Daily News: “Williams said statehood is not the most likely scenario.
“‘I don’t spend so much time thinking about statehood, but we should have representation,’ Williams said of Washington D.C., which does not have voting members in Congress.”
D.C. will not get statehood. Nor should it. It’s a swatch of land–small even for a city!–with none of the income base of real states. Carving out pseudo-autonomy for DC is not what federalism is all about. (And the city’s bills would be unpayable without regular cash infusions from Congress.) However, the home rule charter reeks. And taxation without representation is galling and illiberal. The best solution would be to return all of D.C. to Maryland except the Constitutionally-required federal district. (I don’t know how much would have to change legally.) But oh boy, would Maryland hate to be saddled with another revenue-sucking, image-weakening city.
As an alternative to the current situation, some right-wing types have proposed making D.C. a tax haven–no representation, no taxation. I’d rather have both than neither (is that why I’m not a libertarian?), but some version of the tax-haven idea might actually make the District attractive and vibrant. If DC’s economy could flourish, it would no longer be a burden to Maryland, but an asset. The Catch-22: If Maryland then wanted to snap up the District, the rationale for the tax haven would vanish. So it seems like the tax haven is the best idea around… grrr…
The mayor also unveiled his wiggy desire to bring a “magnetic levitation train” (= Monorail! Monorail! Mono–d’oh!) to the District. What’n, Ah say what’n?? DC already has a convenient, cheap, safe, clean, fast subway system. OK, so it looks a little post-Soviet. But it works. Why on earth should we ask America’s taxpayers to shake their wallets over the city so we can have a fancy monorail?