Many of the problems we have with the Federal Government today can be traced back to a critical year. That year was 1913, the year in which the 16th and 17th Amendments were ratified and the Federal Reserve Act was passed, which set up the Federal Reserve Bank.
Of course, the seeds of the Statist Revolution of 1913 were sown earlier, but that was the year that the bad seeds took permanent root, where the Federal Government finally removed all semblance of being balanced by the states, and spawned the monstrosity we have today.
The 16th Amendment allowed Congress to directly levy an income tax on U.S. citizens without apportioning it among the states. Prior to this, Congress’s authority to levy an income tax was limited and could only levy direct taxes on the states (as determined by census counts). There is some dispute over how much this affected the balance of power between the states and the federal government, but its passage was (at least) symbolic and represented a key time when the Federal Government determined to increasingly tax incomes, and when – because of this assertion of its power to directly tax – it felt more able to take on debt.
The 17th Amendment allowed for the direct election of U.S. senators so that rather than having state legislatures elect senators – ensuring that the senators would be answerable to the states – they were elected by popular vote, nationalizing the elections and bringing national special interests into the funding of senatorial campaigns. In effect, it created a structural and incentive problem that shifted power away from the states and since that time the states have become more and more subservient satellites to a hegemonic national force.
Finally, the Federal Reserve Act which set up the Federal Reserve System and Central Bank in the United States, has resulted in economic catastrophe, impoverishing inflation (and subsequent dollar depreciation) and wealth-destroying boom-bust cycles.
The net effect has been that the states no longer are effective counter-weights to the Federal Government, and the Federal Government now rules with impunity. Indeed, it has reduced the states to pawns in its statist moves.
Perhaps the most insidious practice the Federal Government engages in is that of unfunded mandates, wherein the Federal Government dictates to a state how it must act, while simultaneously compelling the state to pay for the program. Attempts to limit this in the past have failed to stop the harmful practice.
In essence, the states and its citizens are then enslaved by Federal Government. Even the ultra-liberal Janet Napolitano, the former governor of AZ and current Head of Homeland Security recently expressed exasperation with the harmful effects that Washington DC’s unfunded mandates have on the states. One way to turn a Big Government liberal into an advocate for states rights is to just make her responsible for implementing and finding confiscatory takings to pay for a Big Government as mandate.
It is just this outrage felt by both conservatives and liberals in state governments that is pointing to a way forward.
The first step in the process is that the states must assert their sovereignty, which is their right under the 10th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It reads:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
The glimmer of hope now felt is that many states are beginning to assert their sovereignty.
There is a movement under foot, a bi-partisan movement at the state level, called the 10th Amendment Movement. Within this movement state lawmakers are introducing legislation which asserts their power to regulate matters not specifically and constitutionally delegated to the federal government.
In Arizona, this legislation recently passed the House and Senate and could soon be signed into law.
Be it resolved by the House of Representatives of the State of Arizona, the Senate concurring, that:
1. That the State of Arizona hereby claims sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States.
2. That this Resolution serves as notice and demand to the federal government, as our agent, to cease and desist, effective immediately, mandates that are beyond the scope of these constitutionally delegated powers.
3. That all compulsory federal legislation that directs states to comply under threat of civil or criminal penalties or sanctions or requires states to pass legislation or lose federal funding be prohibited or repealed.
4. That the Secretary of State of the State of Arizona transmit copies of this resolution to the President of the United States, the President of the United States Senate, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate of each state’s legislature and each Member of Congress from the State of Arizona.
Thirty-five states have introduced similar legislation this year. For those of you keeping count, yes, that is more than a two-thirds majority, which is all that would be required under Article V of the Constitution to call a constitutional convention – the “nuclear option” the states have to modify the constitution and by those means strip the Federal Government of the powers it currently unjustly employs to harm the states. This is a psychologically important fact.
Now, the important part. You need to get involved.
First, look at this map to see the status of state sovereignty legislation in your state.
Second, call your state legislators – find their contact information here – to either express support of the legislation if it is in process, or express your desire to see the legislation introduced if it has not yet been.
Third, ask your friends, co-workers, employees, family members, and neighbors to join you in this effort. Share with them this video (also embedded below).
If you are the type that loathes “talking politics” with others, don’t worry, this isn’t a partisan thing and is something that people of all stripes are supporting – majorities of Americans see the federal government as meddlesome and overwhelmingly disapprove of Congress.
Now, there is an additional thing you can do. You can also contact your U.S. Legislators and support the Enumerated Powers Act that has been introduced in the House by John Shadegg.
Tell them you want them to support HR 450.
It won’t limit their powers or what they do, but by requiring all legislation to enumerate powers, it returns the focus to the constitution and builds evidence that can later be used to restrict powers, evidence the states can use later to document abuse and remove federal power.
The United States is a nation of 50 constitutional republics bound by a common federal constitution. The federal government was constitutionally never intended to be a Leviathan and in fact the Constitution was established precisely to prevent what has happened today.
It is the states’ constitutional right to have sovereignty in all areas not expressly delegated by the constitution.
While efforts to overturn the 16th and 17th amendments and abolish the Federal Reserve system face significant uphill battles, the fight is more winnable if the states are willing to reclaim their constitutional sovereignty.
The federal government won’t be reformed from within. Only an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires of liberty in the minds of others can inspire the states to us the power of the 10th Amendment to slay Leviathan.