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As We Approach 237

As we approach Independence Day 2013, this might be a good time to take stock on the American experience: where we are, where we came from, what we are supposed to be and what we have become, collectively, as a country. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the United States of America has become something other than what our Founders and Framers would have envisioned. In fact, it could be argued that the “old white guys in wigs” would not only be shocked for what we have become, but for our apathy in allowing our country to become what it is.

Thomas Jefferson is quoted as saying:

“A government big enough to give you everything you want, is a government big enough to take away everything that you have.”

Today, the United States federal government is so large and so intrusive that it not only employs 4.4 million people, but holds a national debt of over $16.8 trillion dollars. This does not address a $124.6 trillion unfunded liabilities mandate. These numbers appear shocking because they are shocking. And when one takes into consideration that each year the US federal government operates “in the red,” even though they glean $2.902 trillion in revenue from various sources (individual income tax being the primary source at $1.359 trillion), one can only conclude that the federal government has taken on the role of the arrogant spendthrift, and one that disavows Benjamin Franklin’s sentiment, “When you run in debt; you give to another power over your liberty.”

But perhaps the whole of our modern American experience can be summed up in the end state of this quote by Thomas Jefferson:

“A departure from principle becomes a precedent for a second; that second for a third; and so on, till the bulk of society is reduced to mere automatons of misery, to have no sensibilities left but for sinning and suffering…And the fore horse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression.”

Taxation
In the formative days of our Great American Experiment, the Founders and Framers set up a federal government limited in its authority and scope. In fact, in the early days of our Republic the federal government operated almost completely on revenues gleaned from tariffs and trade. It wasn’t until the 19th Century that the “income tax” would come to be and even then, until the passage of the 19th Amendment, the constitutionality of the income tax was held in question.

Today, thanks to an inequitable tax system – the Progressive tax system – we have a populace that is purposefully divided into factions: one that pays federal taxes, another that avoids paying federal taxes, and yet another that believes the taxes collected are due them. In a land where everyone is supposed to be equal in the eyes of the law (read: government), we have allowed those who we elect to office to literally create a class system, through which they manipulate the citizenry for political gain and the retention of power.

Religion
To say that the United States of America was founded on deep-rooted desire for the individual to be free to practice the religion of his or her choosing is to understate the importance of the issue. Truth be told, the issue of religious freedom delivered pilgrims to American shores centuries before. The Founders and Framers, being deeply reverent men – much to the opposite of claims by the secularists of today – understood all too well the importance of not only freedom of religion (the natural law right to worship in the dogma of choice) but the idea of recognizing something larger than self where government was concerned. As our founding documents – the Charters of Freedom – are predicated on the understanding and acknowledgment of Natural Law (the acknowledgement of a Higher Power), it is only the intellectually dishonest who argue religion did not (and does not) play a significant role in the government of our Republic.

To wit, The Declaration of Independence states:

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…” (emphasis added)

Yet, today, military chaplains are forbidden from even displaying a Bible on their government issued desks for the ignorance of history served up at the hands of Progressive and secular activists.

Today, because of an activist Judicial Branch (and at the urging of Progressive and secular activists), the innocent notion of a separation of Church and State, which in its original intent was meant to reassure one denomination that another would not be placed above it in an establishment of a “national religion,” i.e. the Church of England, has been grotesquely distorted to require the ever-increasing banishment of all religious symbols from the public square. And at the same time, the federal government – in the form of ever-expanding entitlements – seeks to replace the Creator as the Alpha and the Omega for the American citizenry.

Law
At our country’s inception, the Judiciary – the Judicial Branch and all federal courts in its charge – was to administer federal law in the context of constitutionality. Was it constitutional or what is not? Or was the question reserved for the States and the judiciaries of those States, per the 10th Amendment?

Today, our entire legal system – federal as well as the lessers – is held hostage to a system of precedent law; Stare decisis et non quieta movere, a Latin term meaning “to stand by decisions and not disturb the undisturbed.” This is understood to mean that courts should abide by decided precedent and not disturb settled matters, regardless of whether the decision was born of activism. If the judiciary produced judgments and opinions that had fidelity to the Constitution – as the Constitution mandates, then the notion of stare decisis would be a good thing. But those who serve in the Judiciary are equally subject to human intellectual infirmities as are those who serve in the Executive and Legislative Branches. Truth is, one decision based on ideologically; one activist decision, forever moves law away from the Constitution.

As Steven G. Calabresi, a professor of law at Northwestern University School of Law and a visiting professor at Brown University, opined in a paper titled, Text vs. Precedent in Constitutional Law, published the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy:

“The argument…is that the doctrinalists are wrong in arguing for a strong theory of stare decisis for three reasons. First, there is nothing in the text, history, or original meaning of the Constitution that supports the doctrinalists’ strong theory of stare decisis. Second, the actual practice of the US Supreme Court is to not follow precedent, especially in important cases. In other words, precedent itself counsels against following precedent. And, third, a strong theory of stare decisis is a bad idea for policy reasons…

“Both textualism and originalism supply arguments as to why following precedent is wrong. As for the text, it is striking that there is not a word in the Constitution that says in any way that precedent trumps the text.”

Yet, decisions on issues from voting rights to life-ending procedures, social issues to mandatory health insurance are continuously based on precedent law, or stare decisis. And with each decision that bows to stare decisis, we move further away from fidelity to the Constitution.

Self-Reliance
At the founding of our nation, our citizenry was comprised on those who wanted the freedom to build, to create, to glean the benefits of their labors based on the effort with which they sought success. Pride was not the product of artificially installed self-esteem, but a humble condition of dignity, arrived at through determination, education – sometimes, or most times autodidactic – and perseverance. The United States was a nation of strong individuals, determined to embrace the freedom – the liberty, that the New World afforded them; a nation of people with a commonality based on self-reliance and a brotherhood born of the love of liberty and justice for all, not just the oligarchic few.

Today, our country has devolved into a socialistic nanny-state, complete with an entitlement faction that will very soon not only outnumber Ayn Rand’s “producers” but a faction that celebrates its gluttony; its piggish appetite for entitlement, even as they scheme to avoid the responsibility of maintaining the Republic; even as they demand more from a government whose seemingly sole purpose is to concoct new ways to extract wealth from those who produce. Today, 47% of the nation’s people do not pay federal income taxes. Today, 23 million households are dependent on food stamps. Today, nearly 49 percent of the citizenry lives in a household where at least one member receives a direct benefit from the federal government.

That those duly elected to office exploit this societal malady for purposes of maintaining power is tantamount to a betrayal of the very principles held by those who gifted us the exquisite beauty of liberty. I wonder, if the Founders and Framers could confront the elitist oligarchs of today’s American ruling class, would they be strong enough to do so with temperance?

On this, the 237th anniversary of the American Declaration of Independence, we would be wise to self-examine our national condition. Do we really want to be a nanny-state? Do we really want to admire a legal system that moves further away for the very basis for our freedom with each decision? Do we really want to support a government that increasingly steals from the producers to give to the dependent class of their own creation, and for purely ideological and politically motivated purposes? Do we want to be a nation that stands arrogantly in its belief that We the People – or They the Government – are the highest power to which we must answer, therefore abandoning our God-given right to acknowledge Natural Law?

In 1964, future president Ronald Reagan gave a speech titled, A Time for Choosing, in which he said:

“We are faced with the most evil enemy mankind has known in his long climb from the swamp to the stars. There can be no security anywhere in the free world if there is no fiscal and economic stability within the United States. Those who ask us to trade our freedom for the soup kitchen of the welfare state are architects of a policy of accommodation.

“They say the world has become too complex for simple answers. They are wrong. There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right….

“You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children’s children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done.”

Today, my fellow Americans is Independence Day. Please, think about it.

Frank Salvato is the Executive Director for BasicsProject.org a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) research and education initiative focusing on Constitutional Literacy and the threats of Islamofascist jihadism and Progressive neo-Marxism. His writing has been recognized by the US House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict Prevention. His organization, BasicsProject.org, partnered in producing the original national symposium series addressing the root causes of radical Islamist terrorism. He is a member of the International Analyst Network and has been a featured guest on al Jazeera\'s Listening Post, Radio Belgrade One, ITN Production’s Truthloader Program in the UK and on Russia Today. He also serves as the managing editor for The New Media Journal. Mr. Salvato has appeared on The O\'Reilly Factor on FOX News Channel, and was featured in the documentary, “Ezekiel and the MidEast ‘Piece’ Process: Israel’s Neighbor States.” He is the author of the series \"Understanding the Threat of Radical Islam\", an educational pamphlet series. Mr. Salvato is a regular guest on talk radio including on The Captain\'s America Radio Show, nationally syndicated by the Phoenix Broadcasting and ABC Starguide Satellite Networks, catering to the US Armed Forces around the world. He is also heard weekly on The Roth Show with Dr. Laurie Roth syndicated nationally on the IRN-USA Radio Network. Mr. Salvato’s opinion and analysis have been published by The American Enterprise Institute, The Washington Times, Accuracy in Media, Human Events, and are syndicated nationally. He is a featured political writer for EducationNews.org, BigGovernment.com and Examiner.com and is occasionally quoted in The Federalist.
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Comments (11)

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  1. Andrew W. Pearson says:

    Derrell:

    Yes, you are being foolish.

    You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to make up your own facts.

    The facts are that the 16th Amendment, having been properly passed and ratified, according to the process for doing so, set out in the Constitution itself, is as legal and legitimate an amendment as any other, your delusional reasoning to the contrary notwithstanding.

    The 10th Amendment, the purpose of government, the justification behind other amendments, and the abuses of our tax code, all have absolutely nothing to do with the legality of the 16th Amendment.

    Please re-read my previous comment, and then read this one again. If you still don’t understand that the 16th Amendment is just as valid (or “legal”) as any other, I can’t help you, and I won’t waste my time trying.

    • Derrell Poole says:

      Andrew,

      Are you kidding me? You asked me a question and I took the trouble to answered it. Now you are trying to help me? And indeed there is a limit to your willingness to help me? You won’t waste any more time on little ol’ misguided me? Do you have trouble seeing past your own ego when you look in the mirror?

      No one invited you to address my statement with a single syllable of your over-educated wisdom. And now you suggest that you cannot “help” me? No one asked you to help me! Don’t blow smoke up my skirt; this was never about helping me. This was nothing more than an opportunity to make yourself look reeeeally smart at my expense! Had you responded with a true discussion of any of the points I offered in the defense of my statement I might have been able to accept your honorable intent and interest to “help” me. Instead, with great craft, you have avoided any serious response to anything I said! I don’t know who you are – and at this point I don’t CARE who you are. You are just one more of the many people I’ve encountered that apparently find it completely inconceivable that they could possible be wrong or simply did not grasp what they were being told! Take your ecclesiastical contempt – your “help” – and g-o- – a-w-a-y!!!

      To anyone else who might read this the 16th Amendment is illegal because it is fundamentally contrary to the Constitution and no political process, correct or otherwise, will shift its moral polarity! Certainly the act of ratifying the 16th amendment was legally executed but the content of the amendment is NOT!

      I am not an expert on the Constitution but I embrace as much of Its values and principles as I am capable of understand; ANYTHING contrary to It is WRONG when it is forced upon me as some law! On the other hand I am Not repeating something that sounded good to me. I arrived at this conclusion by my own cognitive abilities and the contemplation of static facts! Everyday I fight the trap of just believing what others tell me because I believe thinking for myself is one of my best weapons to fight tyranny! These then are the ground of my argument – take it or leave it!

      Nice talking with you Andrew.

  2. Andrew W. Pearson says:

    Mr. Poole:

    The 16th Amendment was passed by the Sixty-first Congress in 1909, and was ratified by the States, in 1913. Therefore, it is as “legal” a part of the Constitution, as any other amendment. The fact that the original Constitution as adopted in 1787 did not empower the federal government to impose and collect income taxes has no relevance to the legality of the 16th Amendment. The only requirements for legality are that an amendment be passed by Congress, and ratified by the States. According to your convoluted logic, the 10th Amendment (which you so proudly rely upon) is an “illegal” amendment also, since it was not included in the original Constitution as adopted in 1787. The 10th Amendment was not proposed until 1789, and was not ratified by the States, until 1791.

    Prior to 1913, the federal government had no constitutional power to tax income, and that’s why the 1895 bill, to which you refer, was struck down by the Supreme Court.

    You may disagree with the income tax, and you may argue that the 16th Amendment should never have been passed and ratified, and you may even argue that our Founders would not have agreed to it. However, the 16th Amendment was passed, and ratified, according to the constitutional provisions for amending the Constitution, and you only make yourself look foolish, if you claim that the 16th Amendment is an illegal one.

    Personally, I disagree with the federal income tax, too. I’d like to see us adopt The Fair Tax, and rid ourselves of the Internal Revenue Service completely. However, in opposing the income tax, I refuse to make ignorant and unfounded arguments, such as claiming that the 16th Amendment is illegal. I hope you’ll learn to do the same.

  3. Derrell Poole says:

    Thank you, Frank.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart…

  4. Andrew W. Pearson says:

    Mr. Salvato, you said: ” It wasn’t until the 19th Century that the “income tax” would come to be and even then, until the passage of the 19th Amendment, the constitutionality of the income tax was held in question.”

    Surely, you intended to reference “the 16th Amendment,” not the 19th, which provided for women’s suffrage.

    • Derrell Poole says:

      I’m always happy to see that I’m not the only human who makes mistakes. I’m a firm believer in making mistakes on purpose so that no one can tell when you do it by accident.

      That’s okay, Frank. We all know which Amendment is the illegal one. Every chance I get I preach that we need to repeal it. There is something called the Fair Tax, which is, in effect, a National Sales tax. I’m sure there are arguments that make sense against it but, the evil genius of those Sewer rats in congress from figuring out a way to do it notwithstanding – seems like it would be much harder for DC to corrupt that into the 666 beast we have today than what is in place now. We need good conservative Constitutionalist legislators to go in and clean out the “We the Lobbyist” government and get back to representing “We the People”.

      • Andrew W. Pearson says:

        Mr. Poole…..There’s an “illegal” amendment? Which one is that?

        • Derrell Poole says:

          Andrew,

          The 16th Amendment, which gives the Federal Government the “power” to forever collect income taxes from the Citizens. This power is never expressed in the Constitution and according to the 10th Amendment any power not enumerated in THAT document is not a power the Federal Government is entitled to. There is at least one good reason for that; such power gives the Fed the leverage of extortion, or blackmail, over the citizens! In fact, the Amendment in the form of the bill was passed in 1895 (iirc) and struck down by the Supreme Court! The fact that “they” went to the extrodinary effort to then amend the Constitution to make it law and in effect bypass the Constitution, ought to tell you something.

          So, precedence notwithstanding, it is an illegal Amendment which does not protect the Citizens from the Federal Government’s ability to abuse them. And, as you can see, it most certainly does abuse them!

          See how easy the Constitution is to figure out? It is only when lawmakers have ulterior motives that it becomes complex, outdated, and irrelevant….

          • Andrew W. Pearson says:

            Mr. Poole:

            The 16th Amendment was passed by the Sixty-first Congress in 1909, and was ratified by the States, in 1913. Therefore, it is as “legal” a part of the Constitution, as any other amendment. The fact that the original Constitution as adopted in 1787 did not empower the federal government to impose and collect income taxes has no relevance to the legality of the 16th Amendment. The only requirements for legality are that an amendment be passed by Congress, and ratified by the States. According to your convoluted logic, the 10th Amendment (which you so proudly rely upon) is an “illegal” amendment also, since it was not included in the original Constitution as adopted in 1787. The 10th Amendment was not proposed until 1789, and was not ratified by the States, until 1791.

            Prior to 1913, the federal government had no constitutional power to tax income, and that’s why the 1895 bill, to which you refer, was struck down by the Supreme Court.

            You may disagree with the income tax, and you may argue that the 16th Amendment should never have been passed and ratified, and you may even argue that our Founders would not have agreed to it. However, the 16th Amendment was passed, and ratified, according to the constitutional provisions for amending the Constitution, and you only make yourself look foolish, if you claim that the 16th Amendment is an illegal one.

            Personally, I disagree with the federal income tax, too. I’d like to see us adopt The Fair Tax, and rid ourselves of the Internal Revenue Service completely. However, in opposing the income tax, I refuse to make ignorant and unfounded arguments, such as claiming that the 16th Amendment is illegal. I hope you’ll learn to do the same.

        • Derrell Poole says:

          Andrew. Please. Call me Derrell.

          You would appeal to my emotions to feel shame for what I observe as black and white truth? I don’t care how foolish I look to you – or the whole world. That Amendment is illegal. Take a moment, if you would, and compare it to all of the other active Amendments; correct me if I am wrong but by comparison all of the other Amendments strengthen the rights of the people or, in some way, protects them from an abusive government. As I said before, the 16th Amendment has provided the Federal Government the means to grow itself to the monster it is today and to extort and blackmail its citizens. Pretty convenient to my point are the recent events as live evidence, huh? Take again the 10th Amendment; it was added in the attempt to prevent the Federal government from arbitrarily granting itself powers as yet unforeseen by the Authors of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights; powers that are reserved to the numerous States and or the People by default.

          Perhaps we differ on just what the purpose of government is? These days the belief in the collective insists that the purpose of government is to take care of the people. Is this your position? Our First Principles say that the purpose of government is to protect our individual rights. Tell me, just how does taking our income and growing the Federal Government to the abusive system it is today protecting our individual rights?

          Foolish as I may sound to you, the 16th Amendment is illegal and NOT in the spirit of the Constitution. Ratification does not correct that. Suppose one day the people of the United States decided they wanted to amend the Constitution to make Murder legal. Would that not be an illegal Amendment as defined by the spirit of the Constitution? Would Ratification somehow make Murder okay? Oh, don’t think it so far fetch or out of line to my point. (Darn those foolish statement!) What would an amendment granting the people the “power” to terminate life look like? Perhaps it would look like the protection of women’s “rights” to, say, abortion on demand! Now there’s a Constitutional guaranteed for ya! Tell me, friend, how DO you justify an amendment just because it is the people’s will?

          But of course I’m being foolish. La, la-la, la-la…!

          • Andrew W. Pearson says:

            Derrell:

            Yes, you are being foolish.

            You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to make up your own facts.

            The facts are that the 16th Amendment, having been properly passed and ratified, according to the process for doing so, set out in the Constitution itself, is as legal and legitimate an amendment as any other, your delusional reasoning to the contrary notwithstanding.

            The 10th Amendment, the purpose of government, the justification behind other amendments, and the abuses of our tax code, all have absolutely nothing to do with the legality of the 16th Amendment.

            Please re-read my previous comment, and then read this one again. If you still don’t understand that the 16th Amendment is just as valid (or “legal”) as any other, I can’t help you, and I won’t waste my time trying.