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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Which is Worse: The 16th or 17th Amendment?

I read an interesting debate. Which amendment to the US Constitution was worse, the 16th or the 17th? Some sources indicate that NEITHER the 16th nor 17th amendments were properly ratified.

The 16th amendment authorized the income tax. I've already written plenty about the evils of the income tax and the Federal Reserve.

The 17th amendment specified that Senators are directly elected by the people instead of the state legislatures. This removed an important check on Federal government power. The state legislatures would make sure that the Federal government wouldn't get too powerful. The state legislatures wouldn't want to lose their power and be usurped by the Federal government.

Originally, the House was supposed to represent the people and the Senate was supposed to represent the states. With a state-controlled Senate, it would be harder for the Federal government to pass laws that usurp states' rights. Voting doesn't work. By removing a level of indirection in the selection of Senators, that made it easier for corrupt newspapers to ensure that Senators with the "right" attitudes are elected.

A true anarchist or agorist says that all forms of government are illegitimate. From that point of view, this debate is kind of pointless. Whichever amendment leads to the most rapid destruction of government is the best. Both the 16th and 17th amendments enabled the Federal government to grow in power to the point where it might collapse under its own incompetence.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I would say the 17th is worse because it neuters the states. The 50 States have no official representation in our Federal Government. They have been reduced to being led around by the nose by the Federal Government. If the Fed's want the States to do something they simply threaten to withhold federal money and the State buckles. The whole concept of "state's rights" has come to be considered wrong and even dirty. When Ronald Reagan used the phrase, "State's Rights," he was accused of talking in code to racist white people in order to win them over.

Another good question is which amendment has the best chance of being repealed. (Not that the government bothers amending the Constitution anymore. Instead they just make things up i.e. right to privacy or they pass laws that blatantly violate the constitution i.e. The D.C. handgun ban, Campaign Finance Reform.) I highly doubt that the Income Tax Amendment (16) can EVER be repealed. People are simply too covetous. The average working person, poor person, even upper middle class person will gladly let the government seize 10%, 15%, 25%, 30% of their income as long as they know that "The Rich" are paying 35%, 40%, 50%. It is this ability of the average voter to leverage government to commit a crime they could never get away with that makes the income tax (esp. a progressive income tax) so dangerous. Jim Crow laws were White people using government as leverage to oppress blacks. In the absence of government backing racists can no longer do anything to affect public policy. The income tax is the same kind of use of government to leverage the desires of people. In this case the desire to take things they want from other people.

The fact that they will even accept a tax upon themselves shows how spiteful this desire really is. And so any desire to repeal the income tax will be met with various high profile people's salaries thrown around. Politicians will say, "Warren Buffet will take home 36 Million Dollars, Tiger Woods will take home 28 million, and the Average Joe is only bringing home $46,000. Thats not the America I know." Then Average Joe will say, "Yeah. That politician's fighting for me." Then Average Joe will go back to working the first 3-4 months of the year to pay his taxes.

So maybe the 17th amendment can be appealed but that would face considerable opposition too. The Senators will clearly fight it just to keep their current seat. They will go on and on about the peoples "right to vote." That simplistic message will resonate with far more Americans than the more dry, but far more important message that the government that governs the Union should include input from the States that make up that Union.

Screw John McCain,
But I Hope He Wins

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