FROM “IN DEFENSE OF RURAL AMERICA”
by Ron Ewart, President, NARLO, ©2016
(Dec. 4, 2016) — “Progressivism started out as a social movement in response to the injustices of the industrial revolution and government corruption. Like many such movements, Progressivism began as a worthy cause. But the Democrats saw a political opportunity and adopted Progressivism as their party platform. It then evolved into a means to an end ….. perpetual political power. It further evolved into European-style socialism, which it is today. Ignorant, weak Americans bought Progressive-style government dependency hook, line and sinker and they liked it. All that ‘free’ stuff only cost them a vote for the providers-in-thief ….. and their liberty.” Ron Ewart
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THE NUMBER 1 PUNCH:
There were two polar-opposite happenings created out of the industrial revolution. First, capital was created at an unprecedented rate and the using of that capital for political purposes became commonplace, leading to massive corruption. Some have said that there was so much capital in the hands of an elite few, they could buy the presidency ….. or have one assassinated. Second and far worse, workers were being treated inhumanly, as if they were beasts of burden.
Throughout history, injustices have always created movements acting against those injustices. That a movement would rise against industrial revolution abuses was a foregone conclusion and about circa 1890 that movement became known as Progressivism. The movement’s goals were to eliminate waste and corruption in government and bring efficiency to government practices. Its parallel goals were to support worker’s compensation, child labor laws, minimum wage legislation, daily and weekly labor limits, a graduated income tax and allowing women to vote. With one exception, it is hard to argue that most of what the movement wanted were positive social goals, depending on your perspective. The exception was the graduated income tax, which we will go into later. It is also hard to argue that the movement was directly responsible for the centralization and increase in federal power to achieve those goals.
According to historian William Leuchtenburg: “The Progressives believed in the Hamiltonian concept of positive government, of a national government directing the destinies of the nation at home and abroad. They had contempt for the strict construction of the Constitution by conservative judges, who would restrict the power of the national government to act against social evils and to extend the blessings of democracy to less favored lands. The [Progressive’s] real enemy was ‘particularism’, state rights and limited government.”
After over 100 years of Progressivism, they still have contempt for the strict construction of the Constitution and they hate conservative judges. Most of the movement’s goals have been realized, with the exception of eliminating waste, fraud, abuse and corruption in government and greater government efficiency. Thanks to Progressivism, we now have a very powerful, centralized, in-efficient, hopelessly in debt, corrupt federal government who directs every aspect of our lives on the guise of social and now environmental justice.
But like most movements, the original goals, once realized, were never enough. Progressives have built up enormous political power through the electorate and like all people with power, they want more. The way to get more power is to “buy off” more voters with social promises without regard to the financial consequences and demean and demonize those who oppose them.
Those that hold the Progressive mindset have been hugely successful and have brought a majority of the people, most of government, academia, public education and the news media into the fold. Unfortunately, a free and prosperous people have paid an enormous price in the open and notorious assault on their liberties and the exponential rise in federal debt.
However, a surprising reversal took place in the presidential election of 2016, but that reversal may have a short life span because the Progressive side of the political spectrum has the majority votes, thanks to 100 plus years of institutionalized Progressivism.
THE NUMBER 2 PUNCH:
But one of the questions of the Progressive movement was how to pay for all the federal social programs that had been and would be passed into law, or by bureaucratic rule making. The old constitutional ways of taxation would not produce enough revenue to pay for a growing federal entitlement budget.
Prior to the 16th Amendment, excise taxes and duties were the primary sources of revenue to pay for federal government operations, in compliance with constitutional mandates. But government has been trying for 204 years to get around those constitutional limits and even proposed an income tax to fund the War of 1812. Fortunately, the tax was never implemented.
During the Civil War, Congress passed an income tax provision to fund that war. The tax started out at 3% on $800 of income and then was quickly raised to 5% on income over $600 in the following year. Surprisingly, the Congress let the Civil War Tax expire in 1872.
But after the expiration of the Civil War tax, the call for a graduated income tax became the rallying cry of the Greenback movement, the Labor Reform Party, the Populist Party and the Democrat Party. In 1887, the Socialist Labor Party jumped on board as well. The Democrat Party succeeded in passing the income tax law of 1894 and proposed an income tax amendment in their 1908 party platform. With Democrats in control of Congress and with the help of some very prominent industrialists and bankers, a graduated income tax Amendment to the Constitution was passed in 1909 and later ratified in 1913 by Congress and the states. The 16th Amendment authorized the creation of the Federal Reserve and Internal Revenue Service, in spite of constitutional prohibitions. (Government never has enough money to fund all the “great” things it wants to do and never misses an opportunity to raise taxes.)
Private bankers staff the Federal Reserve. They owe no concrete allegiance to the federal government, with the exception that the President gets to appoint the seven members of the Board of Governors for 14 years. The Board of Governors, unilaterally, determines Federal Reserve Policy without Congressional oversight, or audit. They can print money and then loan it to the federal government at interest. To make sure that those massive loans were collateralized, the 16th Amendment indentured the people of America, whose lifetime incomes became that collateral through the graduated income tax, enforced by the Gestapo-like Internal Revenue Service and its code of 74,000 pages of regulations. Once again, liberty was diminished by the Progressives.
Hopefully, it has not gone unnoticed that the Democrats, Progressives, socialists and labor parties have all been primary advocates for a graduated income tax to pay for all the social programs they have invented ….. to buy votes. The creation of the Federal Reserve and the Internal Revenue Service has essentially turned American taxpayers into indentured debt servants for an ever more powerful, growing federal government. The fact is, ladies and gentlemen, “You Are An Involuntary Servant to Almighty Government,” but 90% of the American people don’t realize it, or don’t care, especially if they are receiving the lush benefits from our government who is over-generous with “our” money. In the land of the free and home of the brave, being “an involuntary servant to almighty government” is a contradiction of every principle of unalienable rights and individual freedom.
THE NUMBER 3 PUNCH:
Which takes us to the Number 3 Punch, the Great Depression. What really caused a nation to plunge into economic chaos? From the “Foundation for Economic Education” we learned that:
“The Great Depression created a widespread misconception that market economies are inherently unstable and must be managed by the government to avoid large macro-economic fluctuations, that is, business cycles. This view persists to this day despite the more than 40 years since Milton Friedman and Anna Jacobson Schwartz showed convincingly that the Federal Reserve’s monetary policies were largely to blame for the severity of the Great Depression. In 2002 Ben Bernanke made this startling admission in a speech given in honor of Friedman’s 90th birthday: ‘I would like to say to Milton and Anna: Regarding the Great Depression, you’re right. We did it. We’re very sorry.'”
Ben Bernanke is sorry?!!! Well good for him! When will the people learn that when government starts “tweaking,” the people should be freaking ….. out. To the detriment of every American’s freedom and pocketbook, government is “tweaking” all the time.
The Great Depression, a Federal Reserve caused event, plunged America not only into economic chaos and over 20% unemployment, bread lines, the loss of the gold standard and virtually national bankruptcy, it plunged Americans ever deeper into the socialism that the Progressives have been preaching and longing for since 1890. One could easily conclude that the Great Depression was created on purpose to further enslave the people to government.
Besides the many programs of FDR’s New Deal that included government subsidies for just about everyone, including the farmers, Democrat Progressives, under the 12-year reign of FDR, first or second dictator of America, (Wilson may have been the first) gave us going-broke Social Security and made Americans ever more dependent on government, a Progressive’s and Keynesian economic professor’s dream come true. (Later, Democrats would add the Great Society, Medicare, Medicaid and Obama Care to the Progressive mix, making Americans even more dependent and more in debt.)
In contrast and long overdue, the presidential election of November 8th, 2016 was a repudiation of Obama, Clinton and everything else Progressive. The failures and corruption of a Progressive government were on the ballot that day and they lost to a breath of fresh air called freedom, in the embodiment of a brash billionaire, a ferocious, plain speaking, irredeemable government outsider, with a mandate to “drain the swamp.”
Nanny government was soundly defeated that day, at least from an Electoral College perspective. It remains to be seen whether that breath of fresh air will last, or will be overwhelmed again by the putrid, anti-American smell of Progressivism, or worse, maybe even fascism.
Through Progressivism, America has evolved into a mob Democracy, without any regard to constitutional limits, a mostly ignorant, greedy mob that has neither the mental capacity nor the interest to discern whether government is their enemy, or their friend. Almost every person over 70 knows instinctively that government is always a dreaded enemy if allowed to go unchecked. The Constitution was supposed to be that check on power but only if the people held the government to the mandates of that Constitution.
But now the fate of America is left in the hands of the people under 70, who for a least three generations, have been steeped in a noxious brew of never-ending Progressivism.
It remains to be seen whether the “One, Two, Three Punch” we have described in this article, has “Doomed America’s Constitutional Republic” forever, or whether there is a chance to reverse course. That chance would have been lost forever if Hillary Clinton had been elected president. Progressivism would have been irreversibly entrenched in government and the entire body politic, until a violent revolution dismantled it, a revolution that always occurs when government sets its sights on “absolute power,” as have the Progressives for the last 126 years.
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NOTE: The foregoing article represents the opinion of the author and is not necessarily shared by the owners, employees, representatives, or agents of the publisher.
Ron Ewart, a nationally known author and speaker on freedom and property rights issues and author of this weekly column, “In Defense of Rural America,” is the president of the National Association of Rural Landowners (NARLO) (www.narlo.org), a non-profit corporation headquartered in Washington State, an advocate and consultant for urban and rural landowners. He can be reached for comment at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Sharon Rondeau has operated The Post & Email since April 2010, focusing on the Obama birth certificate investigation and other government corruption news. She has reported prolifically on constitutional violations within Tennessee’s prison and judicial systems.