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Date Posted: 13:55:25 04/15/07 Sun
Author: Chuck in ND
Subject: Just in time to celebrate Tax Day
Here is dh's latest column
A tax that ‘corrupts the people’ (Not quite sure how The Forum came up with this title)
Ross Nelson, The Forum
Published Sunday, April 15, 2007
Quickly: What do our Constitution and Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto have in common? You should know the answer at this time of year – they both mandate an income tax.
The 16th Amendment, ratified in 1913, states: “The Congress shall have the power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.”
There are several momentous turning points in American history. Among them are the Civil War, which forged a nation out of a confederacy of states; the Spanish-American War, which started America off on an imperial quest over lands and peoples we had no intention of physically incorporating (unlike, say, the territories of the American Indians); and the direct tax, or what we commonly call the income tax. The latter sheared us of our right to privacy and laid open our wealth to unrestrained confiscation.
Previously the federal government fed solely on revenue from tariffs, excise taxes (which are internal levies on things such as tobacco), and a few miscellaneous sources such as the sale of federal lands. These were indirect taxes, principally paid upon the buying and selling of goods. It was a time, as the U.S. Department of the Treasury notes, that wages, profits, getting and spending were all done with practically no interaction with any government entity.
The income tax changed all that, “giving the government the right and the need to know about all manner of an individual or business’ economic life.” The 16th brought not just higher taxes but far more government meddling in our lives.
It seems appropriate that war gave birth to the income tax. The Union’s need to finance the Civil War gave rise to the first income tax law, which went undisputed and was retired in 1872. But having tasted the nectar of power that accompanies being able to dip directly into the citizens’ pocketbooks, rather than having to wait for them to buy or sell, some in the government pushed for a permanent income levy. Their wish was briefly granted in 1894 but overturned as unconstitutional a year later by the U.S. Supreme Court. The 16th Amendment was the solution to that decision.
In a shocking display of ignorance about governmental power and how liberty is maintained, Democrats and Progressive Republicans pushed for the amendment and the states ratified it. Meant to soak the “robber barons” and other East Coast fat cats, and as a measure of envy and vengeance, the amendment boomeranged on the people. Scarcely five years after its passage, top tax rates shot up to
77 percent, later 93 percent in World War II. The 1917 federal budget was almost as big as all the federal budgets combined from 1791 to 1916.
The income tax has allowed our federal government to grow from being a modest affair most Americans had nothing to do with to a cash-glutted behemoth that redistributes its citizens’ wealth on a vast scale and maintains a standing military nearly as costly as all others together. It helps provide the means for the president to wage war at the drop of a hat.
Just why did Marx favor the income tax? Republican Rep. Robert Adams explained in 1894: “The imposition of the [income] tax will corrupt the people. It will bring in its train the spy and the informer. It will necessitate a swarm of officials with inquisitorial powers. It will be a step toward centralization … and, finally, it is contrary to the traditions and principles of republican government.”
Time has borne out Adams’s warning, but we’ve already been trained to this yoke.
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