Friday, May 27, 2005


Let us take a trip in the Way Back machine. The year is 1913. Crackerjack puts its first prize in their candy boxes, the temperature in Death Valley hits 134 degrees which is still the hottest recorded mark in American history, Ford Motor Company introduces its first assembly line, construction on the Panama Canal wraps up, and Thomas Woodrow Wilson is sworn in as President. Also in 1913, Rosa Parks, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Hoffa, Gerald Ford, Jesse Owens, Burt Lancaster, and J.P. Morgan all draw their first breaths while Albert Einstein worked on the theory of general relativity. This was also a dark year for the country and especially the Constitution.

In barely a two month span both the Sixteenth Amendment and the Seventeenth Amendment were ratified. The 16th ushered in the era of a national income tax and the 17th took away a birthright of the individual states. The really stunning part is the clandestine maneuvering that took place to ram these draconian measures through. These two amendments will be forever linked in annals of American history and as with all things political nothing is as it seems.

Originally proposed in 1909 the national income tax was dead on the vine. The 16th Am. languished in the state legislatures with little chance for ratification. Then the federal brokers arranged an unwritten back-room deal that would assure passage of a federal income tax. The power mongers in Washington knew that Amendment XVI would exponentially increase their supremacy and influence over the sovereign states and they were desperate to push it through. Likewise, the states were equally eager to rid themselves of the hassle of having to appoint their own senators. Thus a deal was struck. The states agreed to ratify the income tax and the feds vowed to back Am. XVII. There is nothing in writing to support this conspiracy theory but the timing was dubious at best. Amendment XVI was ratified on February 3, 1913 with Amendment XVII receiving the stamp of approval on April 8 of the same year. That’s a difference of 64 days. What a coincidence. And as we all know there are no coincidences in the world of American politics.

So, in a ravenous power grab the federal government dramatically increased its power to undreamed of levels while the states surrendered what was at one time their duty imposed by the original framers of the Constitution and endowed by our Creator. In one fell swoop the intent of a government that operates from the bottom up was turned on eats ear. No longer could the states dictate to the feds because the last vestige of state influence over federal power was handed over on a silver platter. And the US Congress took the ball and ran with it all the way to the bank.

To put it into perspective the federal budget in 1900 was $550 million. In 2004 the budget was $2.294 TRILLION, and when you do the math that’s an average yearly increase of 40%. Between 1917 and ’18 the federal coffers grew from just under one billion to over four, a boost of 400%. In 2003 federal spending topped $20,000 per household for the first time since WWII. That same year the feds taxed $16,780 per household, a deficit $3,520. Under George Bush Jr. we’ve seen the largest proportional increase in spending since Lyndon Johnson. With Ronald Reagan at the helm the budget deficit quadrupled. Lyndon Johnson spent money like a drunken sailor on shore leave and Jimmy Carter pumped up the deficit to $990 billion. The 16th Am. created a rabid monster that has yet to be tamed.

The 17th Am. was no less insidious. Because of overt laziness and political skittishness the states abdicated their ability to influence federal legislative policy. The Senate was meant to be an arm of the state legislatures, not a tool of the people, that’s what the House of representatives is for. Of the appointment of senators by the states Alexander Hamilton said this, “Among the various modes which might have been devised for constituting this branch of the government, that which has been proposed by the convention is probably the most congenial with the public opinion. It is recommended by the double advantage of favoring a select appointment, and of giving to the State governments such an agency in the formation of the federal government as must secure the authority of the former, and may form a convenient link between the two systems.” The question is not which method is the most accurate reflection of the will of the states but which method affords the states their greatest opportunity to protect their sovereignty. To acquiesce to a central government the states’ rights of self determination is to create a system where the government rules and legislates from the top down. The 17th Am. gave the feds absolute power over the states and as the old axiom says, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely”, not to mention the basic principle of s**t ALWAYS flows down hill.

As a professed registered Democrat I realize on a prima facea level that my condemnation of the two Constitutional amendments that have done more to expand the federal government than all other amendments combined seems disingenuous but hear me out on this. But for the 16th we’d have no Social Security, welfare, Medicaid or Medicare. But for the 17th we’d have no Senate blood bath over judicial nominees or Borking, no NAFTA, or no Kyoto. I have supported many of these policies in the past but no longer can I turn a blind to the sinister influence of such a mad governmental expansion. No longer can I ignore the disastrous affects of the deterioration of state sovereignty. December 7, 1941 was a day that will live in infamy but 1913 is a year that inexorably altered the foundations of our republic and therefore scarred the very fabric of our society. 1913 was a dark year indeed.