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Chapter 6

D uring a time of tranquility, when the economy is prosperous, a political movement demanding the repeal of the income tax might be viewed as zealous and irrelevant. The United States today, however, is caught in an economic convulsion [written in 1982]. The party of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson, of Hubert Humphrey and Jimmy Carter, is ideologically bankrupt. There is no intellectual justification left for the direction those leaders pushed the nation in the past 50 years.

The Reagan administration has pretended to wrestle mightily with the bloated Federal budget, and has failed to cut it. The best that has been offered was a "reduction in the rate of increase," as if that were any kind of achievement. Deficit spending by the Federal government has produced such fear in the investment community that lenders have come to believe that a collapse in the capital markets is inevitable — and they demand real interest rates, significantly above the inflation rate, that exceed anything seen previously in American history.

In a time of confusion and conflict, new ideas that seem politically unrealistic have the greatest opportunity for advancement. People who are offered no alternatives by their ineffectual leaders are all the more open to new ideas from new sources of leadership. You who have read this book and understand the reasons why the income tax must go have only to stand up and make the demand for repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment to inject this alternative into the current debate. No more than one percent of the American population repeating this demand could achieve the result. This is not a fantastic proposal, with no hope of realization. Political revolutions are made by very small numbers of dedicated individuals.

We are not advocating a political revolution. Under the United States Constitution, a revolution is not necessary to bring about sweeping changes. It took the Populist Party, in alliance with Democrats like William Jennings Bryan and Republicans like Theodore Roosevelt, only 19 years to enact the Sixteenth Amendment. With modern communications and so much more at stake to be gained, it should take much less than 19 years to repeal the income tax. Once the nation understood the destructive consequences of the Eighteenth Amendment, Prohibition — it took only five years. The Twenty-first Amendment, repealing the Eighteenth, was ratified by the States in just ten months after it was adopted by Congress.

Constitutional amendments, and their repeal, are provided for in Article Five of the U.S. Constitution. There are two procedures: One is for Congress to adopt a resolution by a 2/3 majority in both the House and Senate (the President's signature is not needed) and send it to the States where 3/4 of them (38 out of 50 States today) must ratify the resolution before it becomes an amendment.

The second procedure is the method of a new Constitutional Convention, under which 2/3 of the States (34 out of 50 today) adopt a resolution calling for an amendment. Typically, when about half of the States have called for a Constitutional Convention, the Congress becomes frightened that it will lose control and it proposes its own amendment. This is what happened with the Seventeenth Amendment, which changed the way in which Senators are elected.

The "balanced budget" proposal currently being debated has produced such heat that the Congress may soon propose some amendment that would side-step the issue by requiring a 60 percent majority vote in Congress to spend money. Of course, spending bills always pass in their final form by nearly unanimous votes, so that will be a useless way to try to control the size and power of the Federal government.

Nine States have already passed resolutions calling for the repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment. When the "balanced budget" movement was just getting started, it didn't even have that much momentum. When Howard Jarvis first launched Proposition 13 in California, nobody believed he would succeed. If it is necessary to elect new majorities in the State legislatures to get the necessary 34 States to adopt resolutions, then that must be the operating objective!

You can start by giving a copy of this book to your next-door neighbors, or co-workers at your job. The nitty-gritty work of political reform begins by reaching out and talking to someone about the issues — ring doorbells, write letters, invite guests to your home for coffee and discussion meetings.

Of course this new popular movement will not be easy. The vested interests of bureaucracy and politically obtained wealth stand to lose too much to give up without a fight. The most unpleasant part of the struggle will be the irrational name calling that will be hurled at those who stand for repeal. You will be called "lunatics, right-wing fanatics, anarchists, left-wing subversives, dreamers." The intellectual palace guard of middle-class professionals that Senator Moynihan described (Chapter 4) will attempt to mobilize a vast constituency of the elderly, the disadvantaged and the uneducated, against the repeal movement. The major print and broadcast media will at first attempt to ignore the movement, and when they no longer can, they will attempt to distort all of the logic and evidence that you need to communicate to the voters.

State and local politicians will not help you, because after the repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment, it will be their duty to collect any taxes that need to be collected — and to collect as well any additional funds that need to be transmitted to Washington, D.C., for functions of the central government such as national defense.

Your Representatives and Senators in Washington will not help you, because their careers depend upon their ability to distribute favors and largess collected under the Sixteenth Amendment. Today, the members of Congress are the most important politicians in their home communities, because they have the greatest access to wealth and power under the authority of the income tax laws. After the repeal of this irrational and vicious fiscal mechanism, members of Congress will have to answer to State and local politicians for their revenue demands.

In every city and county in the United States, there are political organizations — precinct captains, county chairmen, campaign coordinators. Political careers are slowly built by people who work in the neighborhoods to get out the vote. Often the most glib members of a political organization are nominated to run for the U.S. House of Representatives or the Senate, but the real managers of the political organization — the ones who decide who gets nominated — hold local office, or sit in the State legislatures.

What is needed to put an effective lid on the power of the purse, as our Founding Fathers intended, is for all members of Congress to keep a respectful fear of their local officials and their State legislators. These are the people who control the election-worker organizations and their nominations and renominations to the seats in Congress. It is necessary to make the Senators and Congressmen answer directly to their political peers for every cent they vote to spend — not to diffuse the responsibility and impact to the millions of voters, no one of whom can daunt the Congressman individually. The precinct captain, however, who also sits in the State legislature — and who would have to collect the tax money that Washington, D.C., votes to spend — could put the fear of defeat at the polls directly and forcefully into the heart of the Congressman or Senator who voted for more Federal spending and higher Federal revenues.

This movement for repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment has already begun. We must build its momentum throughout this election year, and on toward the election of 1984. From a small core of dedicated individuals, the movement will gain support because the fiscal crisis of the United States will grow worse and worse toward the end of this century. A new generation of young Americans will not submit meekly to growing Social Security taxes and a widening web of subsidies and transfer payments. In the face of this growing disgust with payroll taxes, our underground economy will grow wider. Disdain of government will become more common as people seek to hide their income from the I.R.S.

Yet, at the same time, more and more Americans will recognize that the collapse of our nation is not inevitable. The same individuals who seek to escape the burden of taxation, and who have no desire to live at the expense of those who do pay taxes, will endorse a fundamental affirmation of American patriotism — the patriotism of the American Revolution of 1776.

Remember these words, among the grievances of our Revolution:

"He has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harrass our People, and eat out their Substance … For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent ... And for the support of this declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."

This is our tradition — The Income Tax Must Go!

your comments are welcome.

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