This Saturday at a stump speech in Rochester, Minnesota Ron Paul may have outdone even himself. Famous for advocating the repeal of many laws, the elimination of numerous agencies and substantially reducing the size and scope of the federal government Ron Paul recently told the Wall Street Journal “I’d really like to repeal 1913.” Why a whole year? Three reasons:
· On February 3, 1913 the 16th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified. The amendment allows Congress to levy an income tax without apportioning it among the states per the Constitution Article I, Sections 2,8, and 9.
· On May 31st, 1913 the 17th Amendment was declared part of the Constitution by Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan. It established the direct election of U.S. Senators by popular vote stripping the right away from the state legislators.
· On December 23, 1913 the Federal Reserve Act was passed. This act grants a consortium of private banks legal authority to issue Federal Reserve Notes.
These three events are barely discussed in today’s retail politics, but they are at the genesis of nearly every controversy the country suffers from today. After 1913, the United States, once a grand laboratory of democratic experiments became irrevocably chained to the one-size-fits-all decisions of experts and special interests in Washington D.C.
The 16th Amendment or the federal income tax created the IRS as we know it today and allows the federal government to pool national wealth and keep it without returning it to the states. This allows Washington to create massive entitlement programs, go to war, prop up foreign governments, fund extensive bureaucracies and bribe state governments with their own money to accept federal regulation.
The 17th Amendment, while affirming the redemptive qualities of popular sovereignty by instituting direct elections of U.S. Senators, removed the state governments from the federal process. The bicameral legislature was originally set up to represent both the people (House of Representatives) and the states (Senate) as an indispensible component of federalism and an essential check on government overreach.
Prior to 1913 Senators gave the 10th Amendment teeth by acting as jealous guardians of individual state rights. Held to account by local legislatures U.S. Senators were charged with preventing unlawful federal encroachment upon those rights. Any legislation that would emphasize the federal government over of the state governments or their citizens would be voted down.
The Federal Reserve Act also known as the Aldrich Plan effectively privatized what was otherwise a public utility, the nations money supply. Handing monetary policy over to a fundamental conflict of interest is all that is important here. The Constitution as originally conceived charged Congress with the public regulation of monetary policy, not private banks. The Federal Reserve inherently desires our government to spend more and thereby borrow more at interest, whether it be for peace or war.
Few Americans appreciate the fact that while the last century is known as the “American Century” we began it already on top. By 1906 the United States was the dominant economy in the world, enjoying the highest living standards and literally recreating the world in our image. It stands to reason therefore that it is what we did (or better yet, did not do) as a country in the 19th century, which led to our prominence in the 20th.
With this in mind it strikes me as odd when someone praises what we “accomplished” during the last century when it in fact these accomplishments testify to where we are now – divided, decadent, laden with debt and in decline. Nonetheless it has become a buzzword for some to claim the Tea Party movement, conservative leaders and libertarians want to “repeal the 20th century” evidenced here, here, here and in this video:
This byword hides the fact that nearly all of the 20th century’s legislative accomplishments and wars are predicated on the fundamental changes that literally ripped the heart and soul out of the Constitution. Its a matter of perspective, does one measure accomplishments on what we are able to do through government namely by winning wars or passing laws? Or does one measure accomplishments on our aggregate ability to progress and add value to each others lives, something government can never do?
These three pieces of legislation over the last 105 years acting in concert have effectively ended capitalism and replaced it with corporatism. The year of 1913 was crucial in reducing a vibrant republic to one glacial organism monolithic in its agenda, pallid in its imagination, unresponsive to the needs of its people and growing in capacity to harm not only Americans, but others as well. We must now ask ourselves: shall we like so many other nations succumb and be pulled back into the fog of history or are we to reclaim our culture of freedom and emphasis on the individual and resist the fate of so many nations?