Sunday, August 7, 2016

Course Corrections #2, A Proposed Amendment correcting the National Revenue Processes

Much has been said about the process in which the 16th amendment became law.

It's a polarized debate, and it doesn't help to re-hash the various accounts and points of view defended. It's time to quit arguing with the ratification and start looking at the effects.

Mind you, we all agree how horrible the prohibition amendment was (without looking too carefully at what the repealing amendment allowed).

Isn't it time to look at the internal revenue amendment with the same critical eye, but being careful not to allow something worse in its repeal this time?

In case someone reading this does not understand the complaint, what is the current biggest problem in the United States of America, in one word and in two?


Big Government.

The government institutions at the national level are several orders of magnitude too big. Without the computer to help the wheels turn, it would have long since imploded of its own mass.

If you agree, I don't need to support that assertion, and if you don't, well, take a listen to my suggestions anyway. Turning a deaf ear won't help.

What enables the excesses of the national government is the 16th amendment. Without that, the national government would be beholden to the States, and the States would be a bit more answerable to the people.

But, NOOOOO!!! you say. Without the national government being able to directly tax people's incomes, look at all the important things that wouldn't be getting done!

We have to sometime admit that maybe there are better ways than requiring the national government to be everybody's sugar daddy.

One argument: the eleventh and twelfth amendments. What was the purpose of having those, if they weren't intended to reserve to the States and the People, the rights and responsibilities not specifically given to the national government in the Constitution?

And if the Constitution is short, how can such a properly restricted government get big?

So, what is the solution I would have proposed?

Even without the 16th amendment, a capitation or direct tax may be laid in proportion to the census.


Oh, really?

Just because the States were recalcitrant, does that mean we have to so thoroughly undermine the structure set out in the Constitution?

Yes. The 16h amendment is a direct attack on the structure of a union of republican governments that was supposed to be the national government. (Look one more time at Article 4 Section 4.)

It basically gives the national government the clout to sidestep the States where individuals could make their voices heard. That is why all the lobbyists gravitate to Washington D. C.

That is why the District of Columbia now looks more like an imperial court than representatives of a free people trying to help each other out.

So, what we needed instead was teeth in a levy on the States -- some means of requiring recalcitrant States to pay their share of a reasonable national debt. (Given that some people define reasonable as "meets my approval", perhaps I should say, "... even a slightly unreasonable national debt.)

Let me see if I can propose an amendment that would allow us to turn back the clock and try the other path, where the national government is allowed to enforce a levy against the States.

(I don't like this approach. I personally lean to the idea of resorting to patience and persuasion instead of force, but foreign governments and people who don't know how to be free can't understand that.)

This one needs a lot more work, but I would like to propose an amendment something like what follows --

An amendment to return the revenue responsibilities to the States.

Section 1:

The United States shall not have power to tax individual citizens or recognized residents in any direct manner. No taxation may be made without recognizing the citizenship or residence of individuals.

The United States shall have power to tax corporations which operate in more than one state on interstate commerce activities according as Congress directs, subject to Constitutional limits and requirements.

Section 2:

The several States shall have power to tax individual citizens and recognized residents in a direct manner, as determined by the law of each State, in keeping with the limits and requirements of the Constitution of the United States and each State's own Constitution. No taxation may be made by the states without recognizing the citizenship or residence of individuals.

The several States shall have power to tax corporations which operate within their boundaries, as their legislatures direct by law, subject to the limits and requirements of their own Constitutions and the Constitution of the United States.

The States may delegate their power to tax individuals and corporations to counties, parishes, or cities, towns, etc.

In no case shall a citizen or resident of any State be required to pay taxes or report income or property to any State in which they do not reside.

Section 3:

This amendment shall come into force upon the third year from ratification, or upon proper transition of taxation functions to the individual States as directed by Congress.

Until it comes into force, the 16th amendment shall remain in effect.

Once this amendment is in force, the 16th amendment shall become null and void.

Section 4:

Upon ratification of this amendment, Congress shall direct the dismantling of all national or federal functions which can not be legally and fiscally maintained by the government of the United States under the provisions herein.

As necessary, Congress shall direct the individual States to assume the operation and financing of the same, or the cessation thereof in a legal and fair manner.

Section 5:

No quasi-national or federal government operation, institution, or other entity with government authority shall be recognized by the United States or by any of the several States, except as Congress or the legislatures of the several States shall direct by law.

In no case shall such an operation, institution, or entity be allowed to operate in any manner in contradiction to the Constitution of the United States or of the several States.

The Congress of the United States and the legislatures of the several States shall periodically review the such operations, institutions or entities in their function and effects. In no case shall the period between such reviews exceed five years.

When grievances arise and cannot be addressed and resolved concerning these operations, institutions, and other entities, Congress shall review the laws concerning the same and make appropriate changes.

Nothing in Section 5 shall be construed to effect private non-government operations, institutions, or entities. In particular, this section shall not be used to abridge the separation between church and state.