Thomas Jefferson and Martin Luther King Jr. meet at a local Starbucks, have a grande Café Latte, and discuss their visions of what type of society best supports the pursuit of happiness. They agree on most aspects, but disagree on one aspect. Jefferson and King both have the same views for taxation, education, and crime and punishment. However, they both disagree on racial justice. Racial justice has failed to materialize, much to King’s disappointment, though, Jefferson does not seem to mind. Their views on taxation, education, and crime and punishment have also failed to materialize in society today.
Both Jefferson and King both had similar views on taxation. They believed that taxation was wrong and a burden to citizens. King believed that taxation should have been fair; the poor should not have been taxed so much and the rich should not have been taxed so little (The Atlantic). Jefferson thought that the government should protect their citizens from taxation. Jefferson believed that taxes should have been avoided as it was the source of tyranny. Jefferson’s vision of the United States was freedom for its citizens to live their lives without the excess burden of taxation from the government (Political Economy). King faced this very burden himself when he became the first person ever criminally charged in the state of Alabama on tax fraud. One major reason he was accused of tax fraud was because of the color of his skin.
Jefferson’s and King’s views of taxation resolution in 2018 have failed to materialize. People are still being burdened by taxes; some people are even going into debt because of taxes. The tax systems have the poor paying more than the rich. The poorest 20% of Americans paid an average of 10.9% of their income in taxes. The middle 20% of Americans paid 9.4%. Meanwhile, the top 1% only pay 5.4% of their income in taxes (CNBC).
Another aspect that both Jefferson and King agreed on was the importance of education.
Jefferson viewed education as a key to securing life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. Therefore, Jefferson proposed a bill in Virginia that would have established free schools every five to six miles. He sought to teach all children of the state reading, writing, and arithmetic (Daily Signal). King had similar views on the importance of education. King believed that the purpose of education is to teach people to how to think critically and intensively about various topics, to defeat personal ignorance and the prejudices spat out by the environment, and to ask questions (King).
Jefferson and King’s views of the importance of education have not failed nor have they succeeded to materialize in 2018. Education may be free in public schools from kindergarten to senior year of high school, however, it is not free for those who wish to continue their education and go to university. Students pay thousands for their tuition, and for those students who cannot afford tuition, are forced to take out student loans and find themselves in major debt by the time they graduate. If some students do not want to bury themselves in student debt, they are forced to drop out altogether. Since these students do not return to school, they cannot educate themselves further, and do not secure life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness; nor do they learn how to think critically and intensively, or defeat personal ignorance; just as Jefferson and King said they would through education.
Jefferson and King shared somewhat similar views in crime and punishment as well. To be more specific, they shared somewhat similar views on the death penalty. Jefferson believed that crimes committed should not result in the death penalty unless the person had committed treason or murder (Police State USA). King believed that crimes committed should not result in the death penalty as well, even if the crimes were murder or rape. He believed that the death penalty was highly inconsistent to take the life of a criminal. King stated, “Capital punishment is against the best judgment of modern criminology and, above all, against the highest expression of love in the nature of God” (King).
King’s views of crime and punishment have failed to materialize in 2018, while Jefferson’s views has not somewhat. The death penalty has not yet been abolished. There are still criminals being sentenced to the death penalty and being executed. This year alone, there have been 23 people who have been executed for their crimes. Although, people who do commit murder are sometimes sentenced to life in prison, rather than be sentenced to the death penalty. Still, the death penalty has not been abolished.
One last aspect that Jefferson and King did not share similar views on at all is racism. King was extremely against racism. He believed that all people, no matter what race they were, or the color of their skin, were created equal. He believed in equality; everyone had the same civil rights. However, he faced the difficulties of racism, hate, and death threats. He believed that he was broken loose from slavery, but faced legal segregation. Jefferson, however, did not care for black people. When the idea for abolishing slavery came forward, he promoted unsound reasoning to justify laws that protected slavery and white supremacy. He believed that black people were inferior to white people in both body and mind. He thought that if these slaves were freed, that they would hurt the people who kept them, therefore, he was against freeing the slaves.
Unfortunately for King, solutions for racism has failed to materialize in 2018. America still faces racism every day. Since the newly elected president, hate crimes have been on the rise, white supremacists have been strengthened, and anti-immigration has escalated. Racism is still in schools, offices, court system, police departments, and elsewhere. Although, like King, people do not stand down to racism. Like King, people set protests, like Black Lives Matter, and march for their rights to be treated equally.
As Jefferson and King finish up the Café Lattes, they both finish up their discussion about their visions of what type of society best supports the pursuit of happiness. They agree that a society where there is little to no taxation, education is free, and little punishment for crimes best supports the pursuit of happiness. They argue about racial justice and equality for all people. King being the excellent speaker that he is, tries to convince Jefferson of the importance of racial justice in order to have happiness in society. If people are not given the same rights, is the society truly happy? Jefferson sees King’s point and eventually agrees. Little to no taxation, free education, little punishment for crimes, and racial justice best support the pursuit of happiness.