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For most of our history no one paid income tax. Why now?

Dr. Harold Pease

As a nation under the U.S. Constitution we are 224 years old. It may surprise readers to learn that for most of these years, 124 to be exact, we had no established federal income tax and handled our national debt quite well. Today most pay at least a fourth of their income to the federal government. Prior to 1913 you kept for yourself what is now taken from you. And what would you now spend it on were it not taken? Not on the basics such as food, housing, and utilities for they are covered in what you are allowed to take home. You would spend the extra fourth of your salary on thousands of items that are made by others as well as services you might like. This not only would enrich your life but it would provide millions of jobs for others making those items or providing those services as well. Many middle class folks could purchase a new car every year with what they are forced to give to the federal government.

Would you spend it more wisely than the federal government? Certainly! Most of the money taken from you by the federal government is spent on perpetual war, foreign aid, grants to privileged portions of our society, and endless unconstitutional subsidized programs; the last two of which basically take the money of those who produce and redistributing it to those who do not. Even some non-tax payers get income tax refunds—so corrupt is the system. Of course, those receiving and benefiting from these areas will defend them. But the fact remains that tax monies provide largely government jobs, which are almost entirely consumption jobs (jobs that consume the production of society but produce nothing consumable). Such jobs cannot produce for public consumption a potato, a carton of milk, or even a can of hair spray. They bring another guy to the table to eat, but not another to produce something to eat.

What largely brought about the give-away programs of the Twentieth Century was the now 100-year-old 16th Amendment—the federal income tax. All three 1912 presidential candidates Teddy Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and Woodrow Wilson, and their respective parties, wanted this financial water faucet that they could turn on at will. They could purchase anything—even people. Prior to 1913 the federal government remained mostly faithful to her grants of power in Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, which left them with only four powers: to tax, pay the debts, provide for the general welfare and provide for the common defense. Because the federal government has the inclination to maximize their authority the last two power grants, general welfare and common defense, each had eight qualifiers to harness them more fully. Out side these four powers the federal government had no power to tax or spend.

General welfare then meant everyone equally and at the same time as opposed to “specific welfare” or “privileged welfare” as it is today, targeting those to forfeit and those to receive monies. The Constitution did not deny states, counties, or cities from having such programs, only the federal government. But politicians soon learned that the more they promised to the people, from the money of others, the easier it was to get elected and stay elected.

The problem with the federal government going off the list and funding things clearly not on it was that each time they did so the stronger the inclination to do so again. One minor departure begets another until one notices that what the federal government does has little or no relationship to the list. I ask my students what would happen if they took one lolly-pop to kindergarten and gave it to one child? What would the others say? Where is mine? Or, I give one student the answers to the next exam and the others find out. What would they say? Try taking away long provided benefits from a privileged group, as for example food stamps, and see how popular you are with that voting group in the next election.

So why does the government now need a fourth of everything you make and it is still not enough? Because we went off the listed powers of the Constitution and every departure required more taxpayer funding, that is why. The answer to less tax is less government. A side benefit is more freedom. The productive classes would not be hurt as might be supposed. Seldom do they qualify for the federally subsidized programs anyway. The fourth taken from the productive classes would be spent by them thus creating a haven of jobs of which those who wished to work could and would have no excuse not to. The cycle of dependency would be drastically reduced. The federal government would no longer be an enabler to those not working. States would decide for themselves what assistance programs they could afford with some states offering more and others less as the Tenth Amendment mandates.

So, how did we cover the expenses of the federal government—even wars—our first 124 years? Products coming into the country were assessed a fee to market in the U.S. called a tariff. Ironically we got product producers in other countries to cover our national expenses and thus we were able to spend, on ourselves, every cent of what the federal government now takes, which inadvertently stimulated the economy. I am certain that there is someone out there that could find a supposition in the above to fault, but no one should be able to argue that our approaching $16.7 trillion national debt is fair, has really worked for any of us, and is a better plan. I personally like the idea of being able to purchase a new car every year.

Dr. Harold Pease is an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He has taught history and political science from this perspective for over 25 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, please visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.

Fiscal Cliff Process Violated the Constitution. Does Anyone Care?

By Dr. Harold Pease

There are few parts of the Constitution more clear than, “All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other bills” (Article I, Section 7, Clause 1). In a vote taken well after midnight (the supposed deadline) December 31, the SENATE passed a bill raising taxes on those with incomes above $400,000 a year, a tax increase on this group from 35% of their annual income to 39.6%, and the removal of tax exemptions for those making $250,000 or more a year. The capitol gains tax on everyone was raised from 15% to 20% and there were many other adjustments on the tax code as well. This bill definitely did not originate in the House of Representatives as required by the Constitution. So, does anyone care?

The Senate then forwarded their “revenue raising” bill to the House the day after the deadline presenting them with a single choice, be blamed for taking the country over the so-called fiscal cliff or not. It was blackmail! With no way to modify any of its provisions and the bell having already rung ending the tournament, they agreed. It is true that the House had not presented to the Senate any revenue raising solution as it opposed such, largely because President Barack Obama had made it clear that he would not sign any law that did not raise revenue on the rich. Still, the House is the only body that had authority to do so and their intention not to support a tax increase, by not originating one, should have stood regardless of what the Senate and President thought or wanted. Allowing these other bodies to do so for them has weakened this part of the Constitution and House authority. Henceforth, past practice wrongly will be used to legitimize future revenue raising by the Senate and this part of the Constitution, in effect, will be obliterated.

So why should you care? For thousands of years, until the Constitution, governments taxed their citizens whenever and whatever they wished. The people had no say. If the pharaoh in Egypt wanted bricks without straw from the Israelites, for instance, so be it. In our republic we have two legislative bodies, the House to represent the people, and the Senate to represent the individual states. Prior to 1913 the State Legislators elected the Senate so that it could protect the interests of the states from the federal government’s natural inclination to grow, absorbing state functions. This is called federalism—shared government. The House was to protect the interests of the people as its first and major concern.

The power of the purse (both taxing and spending) is one of the most important powers of the Constitution. The Founders resolved that it should be left with the representatives of the people; “all bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives (Article I, Section 7).” This made it impossible for the people to be over-taxed for more than two years as all members of this body come up for reelection on the same date—every two years.

Addressing this subject James Madison, the father of the Constitution, observed, “This power over the purse may, in fact, be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance, and for carrying into effect every just and salutary measure.” The U.S. Constitution mandates that “the House of Representatives cannot only refuse, but they alone can propose the supplies requisite for the support of government.” This power alone he added, “can overcome all the overgrown prerogatives of the other branches of the government. They, in a word, hold the purse… (The Federalist 58).”

Taxes, the historic grievances of the masses of all ages, were left to this body alone to originate or initiate. The significance of this placement cannot be over-stated. In the Constitution only the masses could originate taxes as all revenue for the government came from the backs of the people. In the United States it is impossible to be over-taxed if we are following the Constitution. No other nation in all history, as far as we know, had this protection from their government. Once processed through the House, the Senate could modify as on other bills, but it must first come from the House. This cannot happen without permission from the people’s representatives.

This may seem like a small thing given all the hype on the Fiscal Cliff but the people really do not want to surrender their freedom from excessive taxation, which, prior to this document was virtually unheard of in the history of the world. Losing this is far more serious than what pundits said would be the worst-case scenario of the cliff because, once gone, it is unlikely to be retrieved. Members of congress are doing so incrementally by not insisting that the government stay within its bounds and honor the document that they individually have sworn to uphold. No one will destroy the Constitution all at one time but by their ignorance, or worshipful loyalty to party, are doing so one piece at a time. If your representatives voted for this please send him a copy of this article so that he/she will be more sensitive to this issue in the future.

Dr. Harold Pease is an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He has taught history and political science from this perspective for over 25 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, please visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.

Democracies Breed and Feed Special Interest Groups

By Dr. Harold Pease

Viewing past presidential elections, and the one we are now in, it becomes very obvious to me that the winner will be the one who gathers the most special interest groups by promising them favors in return for their vote, often from the public treasury. Today there are between 9 and 15 thousand lobbyists working on Capitol Hill seeking ever-larger portions of the tax pie for their faction. Purchased politicians can’t say no. When they can’t actually meet all the promises they have made, they simply raise the debt ceiling which signals the Federal Reserve to print more paper money, a process sometimes called quantitative easing. Hence we have passed to our children a debt in excess of 16 trillion dollars.

The Founding Fathers were quite familiar with the need to control special interest groups, then referred to as factions, as absolutely critical to liberty. Democratic governments in both Athens and Rome had bred and fed factions thus, “bread and circuses” was the cry of their factions before their loss of liberty.

James Madison, Father of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, defined a faction, in The Federalist Papers No. 51, as “a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or minority of the whole, who are united and activated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.” He saw the source of factions as being “the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold, and those who are without property, have ever formed distinct interests in society. Those who are creditors, and those who are debtors, fall under a like discrimination.”

Tension over income distribution will always exist because we do not share the same talents or work ethic. The problem with democracy, he continued, is that “there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party, or the obnoxious individual. Hence, it is, that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives, as they have been violent in their deaths.” Free men are not equal and equal men are not free.

George Washington warned that factions “put in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community” (Congressional Record, Feb. 19, 1973, S2653). He admitted that they “may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men, will be enabled to subvert the power of the people, and to usurp for themselves the reins of government; destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.” Unions come to mind. Factions are focused only upon themselves and demand an ever larger share of the public pie until there is no pie. Look at Greece.

Madison knew that factions could not exist in non-free states, they could simply be outlawed, but in free states only a republic could control them. The Constitution was specifically designed to do just that by offering them no incentive to assemble on the federal level. Congress was given but four powers: to tax, to pay the debts, and to provide for the general welfare and common defense. Clauses 2-9 of Section 8, Article 1 defined what general welfare is and 10-17 what common defense is. No money was set aside for, or provided to, any special interest. The power distributed benefited all equally and at the same time. The federal role was as referee only. Our Constitution does not redistribute wealth; it leaves the individual to do that by his work ethic. It remains the fairest way. The Founders, who were all veterans, even resisted the temptation to carve out special privileges for themselves. With no money to divide, the vultures had no reason to assemble.

Unfortunately, the resistance to use the public treasury to further special interests did not last. A transcontinental railroad was desirable in the late 1860’s and the country was willing to look the other way, ignoring the Constitution, when two railroads, the Union and the Central Pacific, were given the privileged contracts. The completed track laid in 1869 wet the lips of other railroad building companies who thought that they should get monies from the public treasury as well. The government, invaded by “me too” applicants financed three additional transcontinental railroads by the early 1890’s.

Benjamin Harrison decided to promise veterans monies from the treasury in his election against Grover Cleveland, who honorably refused to do so. Harrison’s win opened Pandora’s box. Now that some were getting access to the treasury, other groups and causes felt that they should as well. Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson opened it even wider allowing anyone with a cause to get taxpayer monies. Armies of special interest groups now assemble on the Capital to feed off the public trough. Damaged is the view that the federal government can only do and finance the listed items in Article I.

Factions will inevitably destroy our republic unless we return to the list. It will not be easy. We are addicted to debt, having everything right now, and passing it along to our children. Still, the foundation is there. Every remodel is first ugly and dirty before it shines, but getting back to where government cannot show favoritism to any group, interest, or faction is critical or this patient is terminal. The Founders had to start from the beginning to control factions. We already have machinery in place to do so but lack statesmen who will use it. It is time to find those statesmen.

Dr. Harold Pease is an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He has taught history and political science from this perspective for over 25 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, please visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.

Judicial Legislation, or Activism, At Its Best

By Dr. Harold Pease

With respect to the Supreme Court’s ruling on National Health Care, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said that the court majority “regards its statutory interpretation as modest. It is not.” Then, noticeably disturbed by the ruling, added. “It amounts to a vast judicial overreaching. It creates a debilitated, inoperable version of health care regulation that Congress did not enact and the public does not expect.” He called it “judicial legislation” and accused Chief Justice John Roberts of trying to “force on the nation a new act.”

Judicial activism is when a law of Congress is interpreted by the Supreme Court in such a way as to give it new meaning. George Washington warned us in his Farewell Address of the inclination of government to do so. “Let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed.” Usurpation, in his day meant twisting things around to extract meaning that was initially not there.

So what did Justice Roberts twist or legislate that changed the National Affordable Healthcare Act (Obamacare) as passed by Congress? At the top of the list, his rewrite called it a tax when Congress never passed it as a tax and the political party passing it, and their President, Barack Obama, emphatically resisted any description of it as such. Rich Lowry, a political commentator, said it best. “Obamacare as passed by Congress had a mandate to buy health insurance and a penalty for failing to comply. Obamacare as passed by the Supreme Court has an optional tax for those without health insurance. Obamacare as passed by Congress required states to participate in a massive expansion of Medicaid, or lose all their federal Medicaid funds. Obamacare as passed by the Supreme Court makes state participation in the Medicaid expansion optional.” In short, “Obamacare as passed by Congress didn’t pass constitutional muster. Obamacare as passed by the Supreme Court didn’t pass Congress” (The Umpire Blinks, by Rich Lowry, The Corner, National Review Online, June 29, 2012).

Judicial Legislation or Activism is not new. The desire for the Court to “legislate” through decisions expressed itself more fully the last sixty years as it attempted to “right” perceived wrongs instead of sending the faulted legislation back to the legislative branch for correction by the peoples’ representatives. By altering legislative law it has moved into state prerogatives such as education, state residency requirements, and imposed federal standards of procedure on local police to name but a few. In broadening its power base, far beyond Constitutional restraints, it has almost destroyed the idea of two co-equal governments, one federal the other state, known as federalism.

In the National Affordable Healthcare Act the Supreme Court has effectively retrained further encroachment (mutilation) of the Commerce Clause but opened wide the interpretive door that the federal government can control anything it taxes. So, does this mean that if the federal government wishes to control free speech, press, assembly, religion, guns, or any other activity, it first simply levies a tax on that activity? Apparently judicial legislation creates a “need” for additional judicial legislation. God help us!!

We must return to our foundation the U.S. Constitution as written, without all the judicial or executive alterations that go beyond this document. According to Article I Section I, “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” There is no authority for either of the two other branches of government to make law—any law; and law made by Congress is specifically listed in Article I, Section 8 where 18 clauses identify the powers of the federal government. So, even Congress cannot make any law they like. The issue of health is not noted and is therefore, as per Amendment 10, entirely a state issue. The Supreme Court majority ruling ignored this long-term clarity and instead chose to violate the document they are charged with upholding.

Dr. Harold Pease is an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He has taught history and political science from this perspective for over 25 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, please visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.

Treaty to Give the Oceans to the United Nations, Now Before the Senate

By Dr. Harold Pease

Like a bad penny that one cannot get rid of, the idea of giving the world’s oceans, some 70% of the globe, to the United Nations is once again before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The “full court press,” led by Committee Chairman John Kerry, heard testimony favoring the idea from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey. Additional hearings are scheduled this month with a favorable vote scheduled, they hope, before July. President Barack Obama would like a full Senate vote before November to avoid the ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty from becoming an election issue but is willing to wait, if need be, until December. Then, while his party retains control of the Senate even if the Republicans win the election, quietly force it through before January, as he did the National Defense Authorization Act.

This is not a party issue. Presidents and secretaries of state from both Republican and Democratic Parties have favored this idea. Virtually all administration leaders from either party, and the advocates noted above, are Council on Foreign Relations members, an organization decidedly globalist in philosophy, and thought to be the mother of this idea.

The treaty evolved out of a series of United Nations Conventions on the Law of the Sea between 1973 and 1982, with the third such convention, known as UNCLOS III, being the most important. It is designed to create government dictating every aspect of the world’s oceans. What began as an effort “to codify certain navigational rights had … morphed into a ‘constitution for the oceans.’ ”

So what does the Law of the Sea Treaty, commonly, and hereafter, referred to as LOST, do? All ocean bordering nations are allowed a total jurisdiction outreach of 12 nautical miles from their shoreline, called Territorial Waters, plus another 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone with sole exploitation rights over all natural resources. All ocean water thereafter was International Water, controlled and managed by organizations created by the treaty but under the oversight of the United Nations. Under this new treaty the United Nations would own and control 70% of the earth’s surface.

Presently nations share fishing rights, treasure hunting or other extraction activities on a first come first serve basis and pay taxes on such gains to their respective countries—every country owns the sea. Under LOST, when ratified by a 2/3rds vote of the U.S. Senate, any wealth extracted from the oceans would be taxed by the United Nations alone. LOST creates the Seabed Authority with power not only to tax and distribute the monies gathered but to manage ocean research, impose production quotas, and create a multinational court to render and enforce its judgments; in short, a world government over seven-tenths of the globe. The United States would be subject to an international government of bureaucrats, none elected, and few would be sensitive to traditions of our republic. Moreover, LOST favors what is known as the New International Economic Order, which all socialists and globalists want—the redistribution of wealth to poorer nations.

Of interest is the fact that the only president to oppose LOST since its inception, also had the least affiliation to the globalist Council on Foreign Relations. President Ronald Reagan very publicly, refused to sign primarily because of the treaties threat to U.S. sovereignty. “He also dismissed the State Department staff that helped negotiate it. And in case anyone didn’t get the message, he sent special envoy Donald Rumsfeld on a globe-trotting mission to explain his opposition and urged other nations to follow suit.” Moreover, in a 1978-radio address entitled “Ocean Mining,” he said, “no national interest of ours could justify handing sovereign control of two-thirds of the Earth’s surface over to the Third World.” His new negotiator, Ambassador James Malone, later explained why Reagan’s vehement opposition to LOST, “The treaty’s provisions were intentionally designed to promote a new world order—a form of global collectivism… that seeks ultimately the redistribution of the world’s wealth through a complex system of manipulative central economic planning and bureaucratic coercion” (Still lost on the Law of the Sea Treaty, Brandenton Herald, Edwin Meese III, June 5, 2012).

So far the Senate, as before has not ratified LOST, but can they withstand the “full court press” to do so now? Twenty-seven Senators have indicated that they will not support ratification. Many more are needed to decisively stop this action. Do you know where your senators are on this issue? All globalists must be removed from power or this “bad penny” will return again and again until the United Nations owns and controls the oceans. U.S. Sovereignty is at stake.

Dr. Harold Pease is an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He has taught history and political science from this perspective for over 25 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, please visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.