Progressive movement still seeks its victories
To the editor:
America flourished as never before after the Civil War. An economy half the size of Great Britain became twice the size of England’s by the early 20th Century as the United States became the world’s economic powerhouse. Real wages soared 200 to 300 percent without inflation because of hard money policies, not just for the Rockefellers and the Carnegies, but for the common man as well.
But foreign ideologies were creeping onto our shores along with the swells of immigrants from Europe seeking and finding a better life. Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto became a fascination for some, and progressivism was growing in popularity among politicians wanting a muscular, activist federal government. For the latter group, Republican and Democrat alike, money and sovereign state legislatures selecting senators as their representatives to the federal government stood in their way. Earlier attempts at passing a Federal Income Tax were struck down by the courts leaving the govt limited to excise taxes and tariffs, its historic sources of income.
Thus, they turned to deception and class warfare (sound familiar?). They pushed the Income Tax Amendment claiming only the very well off would pay. As for the selection of senators, what could be wrong with a popular vote for each state’s senators? The result of their efforts was the 1913 Federal Income Tax Amendment, the 17th Amendment changing the selection process of U.S. senators and the third being the Federal Reserve Act.
The populace soon discovered the income tax wasn’t for just the very well off. Electing senators by popular vote cemented politicians’ twin goals of dividing people into interest groups as well as eliminating the sovereign states role in the federal political process. The flood of money and power flowing into the federal government coffers was an irresistible catalyst for corruption and ushered in the age of politicians buying votes with taxpayer money.
By 1920, the electorate had enough and the tide of progressivism receded. Even Teddy Roosevelt had second thoughts. But the progressive trifecta of the Income Tax (16th Amendment), the 17th Amendment and the Federal Reserve Act destroyed limited government Federalism the founders established. To the country’s detriment, the damage done was catastrophic and permanent.
Today we see a federal government eating 20 percent of GDP, not the 3 percent prior to the income tax amendment. With states’ rights not represented at the federal level, the states are not much more than subjugated vassals of the federal government. Further, our dollar is equal to 5 cents in 1913 currency because of inflation and the Federal Reserve keeps printing at a record pace.
On the 100th anniversary of these Progressive victories, our country is at another high tide of Progressivism. Amazingly, their tactics haven’t changed, deception is their calling card and division a primary tool. Not surprisingly, the IRS figures prominently in their plans. During the last high tide, Progressives snatched the tools to grow a powerful, centralized government. This time, their targets are the abridgement of the First and Second amendments, or more precisely, control of the populace. Progressives eventually overplay their hand as the current scandals are beginning to show. The question is: Will the damage they cause be as irreversible as 100 years ago?