1913: America's Worst Year - What We Can Do

The change we need.

This is a multi-part series examining the worst year in American History: 1913.

Put together, each of the unfortunate changes in the American system which happened in 1913 would have resulted in some problems probably more manageable each on their own.  As they have combined, however, they've put our country on a path where power is concentrated among a few.  1913 was indeed a very bad year for the United States of America.  Let's review:

  • The Constitution was amended to allow for an income tax - which opened our wallets to Congress so that government can afford to do things government should never do.
  • The Constitution was amended to allow the direct election of senators - which removed the states' interest from congress, making us more of a democracy than a republic.
  • Congress established the Federal Reserve Bank - a private bank that creates money as Congress asks, making the value of every dollar you own today worth significantly less tomorrow.

All of these things have a couple of things in common.

First, they substantially changed the careful controls designed into the Constitution.

There was no power to tax income in the Constitution because money causes government to expand.

A democracy wasn't created, but rather a republic with a balance between representatives of the people and representatives of the states.  This provided a buffer against the problems inherit in true democracies.

The Constitution granted power to Congress to coin money and regulate its value.  Congress should not delegate this power, which it has done in spite of the Constitution and the Founder's views on the subject.  The Founders wanted transparency and accountability with regard to monetary systems so that the electorate would hold Congress accountable for sound money.

All of these provisions limited the size, scope and influence of government.

The Confucian Cycle explains how governments collapse because of individual desires.  The Founders understood human nature and tried to create a system that worked with human nature rather than against it.  The idea was to have the various branches of government watch each other and keep each other in check, hopefully breaking the Confucian Cycle (even if that's not what they called it).

The second thing these changes have in common is that they require an electorate to remain somewhat ignorant.  Ignorant of the principles taught in the Constitution, ignorant of the checks and balances established to keep government within its bounds and ignorant of the liberty given up when the changes were made.

Sometimes, it takes some dishonesty on the part of those espousing changes to pull the wool over our eyes.  Humans seem to be in an everlasting cycle of humility causing hard work and strong morality, which leads to great prosperity, which leads to pride (manifested by desires for wealth, power, whatever), which leads to strife and contention, which brings us full circle back to humility.  There's a reason the phrase "those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it" is so hackneyed and so true - the Confucian Cycle keeps happening even though we should know better.

Fortunately, there are some things we can do.

  1. Throw the bums out.  Do not re-elect anybody, even if you think they're "worth" keeping.  This will send a message that life terms are not acceptable.  That's not what we signed up for.  When Congressmen first take that position, their goals should only be focused on the good they originally set out to do.  Knowing they will never be re-elected will go a long way towards helping them keep that focus.
  2. Learn about the current money system (see the links below).  Understand how fiat money works.  Why?  Because understanding the causes of inflation will lead to better planning for the future.  You can also better understand what various legislative ideas will do to the economy and act accordingly.  There are several links below that can teach you about our current monetary system.  One thing to be aware of: many economists support the idea of a central bank and defend the Federal Reserve Bank.  It may be that a central bank is indeed the right answer, but not our current system which is a bastardization of private and public without accountability.
  3. Finally, tell everybody you know about the events of 1913 and how they've affected your life.  Taxes.  Unfunded state mandates.  States with no say in the federal government, leading to the unfunded mandates (No Child Left Behind, special-education, rules, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and on and on) that are bankrupting states and localities.  Private individuals controlling the money supply without accountability or transparency.  These are not dry, dusty pages from your junior high history textbook - they affect everyone's life every day, and the problems they caused are major sources of conflict in every election.

There may yet be hope to turn things around.  Maybe 2013 can be a very good year for the country.

Fennoman is a guest writer for Scragged.com.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Fennoman or other articles on Society.
Reader Comments
Even if you just do the first bullet, that is really all that is needed. Only serve one time and then you're through. I think that one bullet would revolutionize the entire political system.
February 27, 2008 5:25 PM
terms are needed because no one can get anything done in 4 or 6 years. most of the shit these guys pass takes a decade to get through. sheesh, do a little research.
February 27, 2008 6:48 PM

Go back to the original intent: It was expected people would serve 1-2 terms and then go home. It's a GOOD thing they don't serve longer. Look at the mess they make when it's a life's work.
February 27, 2008 6:55 PM
anonimis, please name for me ONE piece of good legislation that took several terms to get through? Most of the s*** (as you put it) that these jokers drive through is exactly that - nothing but s***. The reason they have to work so long is because most of the time they're subverting the will of the people or the original intent of the founders and the Constitution.
February 27, 2008 6:58 PM
even worse than the great depression?

what about 2001, the year 3,000 american citizens were savagely killed by islamic extremists?

what about 1941 when japan killed almost 2,000 of our soldiers in an unprovoked attack?

what about 1996 when timothy mcveigh killed 168 people because no one would listen to his idiotic nonsense?

i think many people would disagree with your view of american history as to the term "worst"
March 4, 2008 7:07 PM
It's not the single event that makes it the worst year... it's the birth of the welfare state, the mismanagement of funds, the ability for the military-industrial-complex to use taxpayer money because it's so easily available. It's the manipulation of the money supply by private individuals and banks.

All of the things you've mentioned are terrible, but they didn't have significant national long term consequences--consequences that result in the reduction of our liberty with each passing year.

The things you mentioned will always happen--you can't stop crazy people from doing stupid things. It's sane people who do evil things in the name of good that scare me.
March 5, 2008 9:33 AM
Outstanding series. Sadly predictable comments.
May 4, 2008 10:40 PM

If like minded individuals could find a way to repeal the 16th Amendment, the American Dream would be awakened. At this moment in time, The New American Dream is: an affordable rental home, decent ISP, a place to Barbecue Freely, Fresh Clean Water. With a repeal of the 16th Amendment, the dream could improve, Carpenters would reappear, Maytag would bring everyone back, Cardboard interests would emerge and Car companies would return to the source for your wildest dream aka 500HP and other such remedies.
Everyone would pay a Use Tax on any goods or services (Including Lawyers) over the cost of $1000.
With Cash in your pocket and a bird in your hand, this will once again be..a splendid Land.

April 23, 2011 10:33 PM
Add Your Comment...
4000 characters remaining
Loading question...