Close window  |  View original article

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

The change we need.

By Fennoman  |  February 27, 2008

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:

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.