Passing the Wealth Around

minute-man-2-lithoOne of the questions that has plagued me most of my adult life is about the concept of a progressive income tax.  It has always bothered me that a person who works hard and prospers is required to turn over to the state a larger portion of the fruits of that labor than the slothful person who drifts through life putting forth as little effort as possible.

The moral justification for a progressive income tax is based on the idea that the more wealth a person has the more he or she should contribute to the benefit of society.  I have no problem with that concept.  It is grounded firmly in both history and religion.  One of the earliest records of taxes is found in the Bible, Genesis 14:20 which records Abraham paying a tithe (10%) to Melchizedek, King of Salem.  Under the Theocracy of ancient Israel, everyone was required to pay a tithe to support the Temple and the government.  That practice is still followed today in many Christian religions.

Under that system if a man’s flock increased by ten sheep one of those sheep was given as a tithe.  If his flock increased by a hundred sheep he was required to contribute only ten. By any standard, this is a fair and equitable sharing of the burden in support of government.  However, exempting the man with only ten sheep from having to pay any tithe at all, while requiring the man with a hundred sheep to contribute twenty to make up the difference may be charitable, but it could never be called fair.

With the exception of a short time during the Civil War, income was not taxed in America.  In 1913, the Sixteenth Amendment was added to the Constitution which authorizes the government to tax incomes “from whatever source derived”.  That amendment seems to be universally accepted as the constitutional justification for a progressive income tax.  I have always considered it just another breach of the Constitution by the socialist element in Congress that has existed since the late eighteen hundreds.

However, yesterday Mark Levin, founder and director of the Landmark Legal Foundation, author of a best selling book on the Supreme Court, “Men In Black” and host of a nationally syndicated radio show, seemed to express the same view with a caller.  I consider Mark to be one of the foremost Constitutional Scholars of today; therefore, I have to take into account his opinions.  For that reason, I got out my copy of the Constitution and reread the Sixteenth Amendment which says,

“The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.”

I am not trained in law; however, I do have formal training in hermeneutics, “the science and methodology of interpreting texts”.  Try as I might, I cannot find justification for a progressive income tax in the Sixteenth Amendment.  I find it in Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto where he calls for “A heavy progressive or graduated income tax”.   I find it in the platform of the Socialist Party U.S.A, and in the platform of the Communist Party U.S.A, but I do not find it in the Constitution.

Article I, Section 8 grants Congress the “Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States; But all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;”  ” The remainder of Section 8, specifies the particulars for which Congress may appropriate taxes to “provide for the common defense” and “promote the general welfare”.

Article I, Section 9 provides that, “No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.”  The Sixteenth Amendment amends Section 9 to allow for taxation “without regard to any census or enumeration.”  It does not authorize a graduated or progressive tax, however.  In practice, the only purpose of a progressive, graduated income tax is for social engineering and redistributing wealth. Using the tax code to control or manipulate the business, social and personal lives of citizens violates both the letter and spirit of the Constitution.

In considering the socialist takeover of our government, it is apparent that it never could have succeeded without the help of our tax code.  Few actions of Congress have been more detrimental to the welfare of America than the progressive tax code.  When we take back the government from the socialists and return it to a Constitutional Republic, one of the first orders of business should be to reform or repeal the tax code so that it applies equally to all citizens at whatever station in life.

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4 responses to “Passing the Wealth Around

  1. Jonathan Simeon

    The problem with your argument is that, although it sounds nice, it’s simply not grounded in reality. We all know that there are many wealthy Americans who pay higher taxes, because they were lucky enough to inherit a great deal of money and/or a business that allowed them to be prosperous before they ever worked a day in their lives. We also know that there are many Americans who are born into areas with bad schools and as such do not have the same chance to get ahead in life. So, why should something as accidental as who you happen to be born to entitle you to keep vast amounts of money that you did nothing to earn?

    Having said that, I know that there are some Americans who have worked hard and made wealth out of nothing, but I am willing to bet that those folks are a small minority of the country’s wealthy population. Just as I am willing to bet that there are many people who work hard every day, but who have not been able to earn the degrees and things that, most of the time, equal wealth in our society. So, the next time you want to spout off could you please make arguments that do not engage in stupid generalizations and demonstrate a total lack of understanding of our society?

  2. Jonathan,
    The last sentence in your comment is excellent advice, hope you will follow it next time.

  3. Socialism establishes the goal of mediocrity. By contrast, the U.S. Constitution grants every American the freedom to rise above the expectations of the generalists and naysayers. The fact is that the process of rising above adversities demands personal responsibility, hard work and risk. Many fail one or more of these requirements for a variety of reasons from time-to-time. But, life is long and persistence often yields eventual success. In any case, we should not accept the potential or fact of failure of persistence in trying to excel as an excuse to depreciate the Constitution for everyone.

    The larger issue is that Congress is not empowered to legislate social change using the Sixteenth Amendment or any other part of the Constitution. Thus, the question of how fairly Congress abused the Constitution is a fact in evidence which has no standing or force of law to sustain such abuse if challenged in a court of competent jurisdiction.

    The only down-side of using the uniform principle of the tithe is that Congress would not need most of the IRS or the ten billion dollar a year income tax preparation industry and their army of lobbyists. Since much of this represents linkage to the finances of re-elections, Congress simply will not change their deliberate and intentional pattern of Constitutional abuse.

  4. Using your tithe example, would the theocracy have given the man sheep if he lost some to wolves? Or if he didn’t have enough sheep to pay the tithe, would his King have given him some to even him out with the neighbors? This is what our government is currently engaging in. If they continue to sneak in these socialist agendas without hearing outcry from the public these thing will eventually settle into Americans every day lives and seem like the natural thing to do. Vociferous protest seems to be our only consolation.