During his tenure as president, George Washington visited the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. When asked if he would call upon the new chief executive, Governor John Hancock is reputed to have said, “I am the highest ranking public official in the state and he should call on me.” The humble Washington did so.
Today, every time a president visits a state, we are treated to the pathetic scene of the governor and various state and local public officials waiting on the tarmac for the “King” to emerge from his state-of-the-art aircraft. Sadly, the states have willingly become subservient provinces. This is not they way it was intended to be. Continue reading
On December 19, 1893, William L. Wilson, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, rolled out a new tariff reform bill, which passed the House on February 1, 1894 by a significant margin, 204 to 140. Tariff duties were modestly cut by 15 percent. However, to make up for any projected loss of revenue, the final House version of the bill included a provision for an income tax. The young Democratic congressman from Nebraska, William Jennings Bryan, introduced the tax amendment and vigorously defended it. “There is no more just tax upon the statute books than the income tax,” he told the House.
Though not a new concept, a tax on incomes had been first enacted in 1862 to help finance the Civil War, and, despite the Constitution’s prohibition against direct taxes, federal courts had left it alone as a war revenue measure. The original act created the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the forerunner to the IRS, to collect the tax. It covered all incomes over $600 a year at two graduated rates. Income above $600 and up to $10,000 was taxed at three percent, while everything over $10,000 at five percent. In 1864 the top rate was increased to ten percent. When applicable, the federal government had actually withheld the tax from people’s income, such as government salaries, dividends and interest from bank stocks and bonds, as well as from railroads and other corporations. By the end of the war, some 15 percent of households were paying the tax. In 1872, the law expired and Republicans were content to leave it dead, as the tariff was continually pouring money into the federal treasury, making additional taxes unnecessary. Continue reading
American history is filled with slogans. Our independence was forged, you might say, because of a powerful mantra that rang out across the colonies: “No taxation without representation!” It was on the lips of nearly every American who believed in liberty. In light of our betrayal by the Supreme Court on the Obamacare bill, I want to propose a new one.
Recently I gave a speech to the Jones County Tea Party group on the subject of the Mississippi lawsuit against Obamacare. Since I am an original plaintiff, they sought my views on the chances that our suit might have for success. For the record, I think we have a great case and a shot at having the Court overturn it, yet in light of the curveball the Chief Justice recently threw us, your guess is as good as mine.
So what if we do lose the case and Obamacare remains law? What if President Obama is re-elected or a President Romney fails to live up to his promises of repeal? We must not lose heart. We must resist. Continue reading
Serious political talk centered last week on the latest Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report that warned of an oncoming “fiscal cliff” if the Bush tax cuts expire and previously agreed to spending cuts are implemented in January. The CBO estimates that if those two things occur, then the economy could plunge into another recession. Unemployment would hit 9 percent and the economy would shrink by 0.5 percent.
Frankly, I see no fiscal cliff in the CBO’s report if the spending reductions are enacted or even if the tax cuts expired. A rise in unemployment from 8.3 percent to 9.0 percent and an economic slowdown of less than one percent is in no way an economic crisis. The good news is the deficit would be cut nearly in half.
But the CBO analysis is flawed, given its findings, for it is the continued accumulation of massive deficits and debt that will drag us over the cliff. Our economic history does not show that cutting spending during hard times will cause a recession. It didn’t happen for Martin Van Buren, Grover Cleveland, or Warren Harding. Continue reading
Droughts periodically strike the United States and this year is no different, as a severe calamity has affected at least half the country, the worst, at least so far, since 1956. The House of Representatives recently passed a one-year relief bill, yet the Senate adjourned for August recess without acting on it. Senate Democrats have already passed a massive agriculture bill that totals nearly $1 trillion over a decade and want the House to do likewise.
So the question is not if there will be relief, but only how much relief will be doled out from Washington. It wasn’t always this way. During the late 1880’s, a severe drought struck Texas. Congress, growing with progressive-minded members, sought to help, since no organization like the notoriously inept, incompetent, and corrupt FEMA existed in those days. Continue reading
“Which is better,” Boston clergyman Mather Byles is reputed to have asked, “to be ruled by one tyrant three thousand miles away, or by three thousand tyrants not a mile away?”
Many loyalists and fence sitters during the very early days of the American Revolution pondered that very point. It did not mean they were in love with George III by any stretch of the imagination but only that they were just as wary of homegrown despots.
In our present predicament, it seems we have both – a tyrant in the White House and a multitude just down the road in our local courthouses. We must ever be mindful that local governments can oppress the rights of citizens just as effectively as Washington, DC. Continue reading
This column appeared in the Laurel Leader Call (Laurel, MS) on May 22, 2012:
“I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” So said Thomas Jefferson, the architect of American liberty and its greatest champion. Throughout his entire life, he fought every attempt by government to control the lives of the people, in thought, speech, and deed.
Today we should be just as vigilant, whether a form of tyranny originates in Washington, Jackson, or the local schoolhouse. We must be ever mindful that state and local governments can be just as tyrannical as Washington, DC. Continue reading