Ain’t gonna happen, of course, not without an epic cataclysm…most likely a bloody one. But while we’re just spitballing here, the 16th has to go too.
Last week we looked at the pernicious effects of the 16th amendment, and how for more than a century it has destroyed almost any chance the middle classes ever had of accumulating wealth, since their money is confiscated at the source, and has taught working Americans that the first call on the fruits of their labor belongs not to themselves and their families but to the federal government. (Real estate used to be the exception, although that too is now the province of the rich.)
Whereas the feds managed to scrape by from 1788, when the Constitution was ratified, to 1913, when the 16th was endorsed by 38 states (two more than the requisite number), on tariffs, and excise taxes, with only occasional resort to some sort of temporary income taxes, the way was now open for Washington to reach directly into the pockets of every American. This was a sea-change in the relationship of the federal government to the citizen, and the beginning of federal dominance over the very states which had given it birth and thus the entire population of the nation—not as members of sovereign states but as individuals.
The 16th, as several readers noted, was also significant in that it overturned the constitutional language regarding taxation under Article 1, Section 9: “No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.” That went out the window with the 16th and its game-changing language that “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.”
In other words, the idea that states could be subject to an individual “head count” tax of their residents only in direct proportion to their share of the overall population was now gone. This malevolent blunder turned out to be the first of several colossal blows to the nation-as-founded during the so-called “Progressive Era” headed by presidents Theodore Roosevelt (what in the world is he doing on Mount Rushmore?), the gloriously corpulent William Howard Taft, and the cadaverous Woodrow Wilson.
According to the liberal Khan Academy, the period was:
an era of intense social and political reform aimed at making progress toward a better society. Progressive Era reformers sought to harness the power of the federal government to eliminate unethical and unfair business practices, reduce corruption, and counteract the negative social effects of industrialization. During the Progressive Era, protections for workers and consumers were strengthened, and women finally achieved the right to vote.
That’s one way to look at it. The problem is, it’s looking at the era through the wrong end of the telescope by people who love the intentions and can afford to ignore the results. Left unquestioned is whether the federal government had the right under the Constitution to what it did. And the answer is clearly no—so it simply changed the Constitution via the perfectly legitimate amendment process, and induced a gullible and resentful populace to go along; recall that nobody thought the Income Tax had a snowball’s chance in hell of ratification, and yet it was ratified. (Don’t start yapping at me that the 16th was “illegally ratified.” It wasn’t, which makes things even worse.)
Which brings us to the 17th amendment. The relevant bit reads: “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. ” Prior to its ratification in 1913, the same year as the 16th and a spectacularly disastrous year for our real democracy, senators were chosen by the various state legislatures, in order to keep them tethered and answerable to their state governments: they were senators from the Great State of Whatever, not interchangeable “United States senators.”
I’ve been beating this particular dead horse for years hereabouts, and Walsh is perfectly correct: the 17th Amendment was the killshot for Constitutional governance, the Amendment that grotesquely flouted the core Founding concept of the sovereign States having their interests represented in the US government. As such, if you had to pick one specific development out of the myriad of ’em that cemented our status as a lowly, impotent Serf Class groaning under the immense weight of a bloated federal government whose power is without limit, whose expansion is perpetual, and whose intrusiveness is beyond challenge or even scrutiny, the 17th would have to be it.
There are two (2) primary obstacles standing in the way of any prospective restoration or rebirth of America That Was: the 17th Amendment, and the government “school” system. Unless and until those obstacles have been dealt with, the desperately needed American renaissance we all yearn so much to see will remain but a dream.