So….with all of the discord in our political arena, a lot of people are throwing around the Communist Manifesto. Out of line? Perhaps…but perhaps not. When Marx and Engel published the Manifesto in February of 1848, they set forth a series of “main measures, emerging as the necessary result of existing relations…” This next series will study each of those measures, in order as written by Marx and Engels, and discuss whether or not we are seeing these measures come to fruition here in the United States. In other words, Are people concerned for no reason? Or, are they rightfully worried that Marxism is taking a slow, laborious hold on American policy?
Measure (i) “Limitation of private property through progressive taxation, heavy inheritance taxes, abolition of inheritance through collateral lines (brothers, nephews, etc.) forced loans, etc.”
This particular measure is interesting. We would first have to determine whether or not provisions for a progressive income tax was even included in the Constitution. Though taxation was included in the Articles of Confederation, in the language as “The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defenceand general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;” this was not a provision for progressive taxation. In fact, progressive income tax was not imputed on the American People until the Civil War in the 1800’s, and held a maximum rate of 10 percent. It was then overturned in 1872.
Progressive income taxes were then re-instated by Congress almost twenty years later, this time, however, it was only for the top 2 percent of the top-earners. The Supreme Court overturned the taxation, however, as unconstitutional, and it took another twenty years before Congress ratified a progressive tax, capped at 7 percent, that would be the foundation of the taxation system we know today. That was approximately 60 years after Marx and Engel prescribed progressive taxation for the Manifesto. Once Hoover came into office, the maximum rate was upwards of 60 percent; and then once Roosevelt took office, he imputed upwards of 90 percent. It was under Roosevelt that the subsidies to farmers, miners and laborers began….the most brilliant method of “buying votes” in American history until present day.
As for inheritance tax, which today can be at a rate upwards of 35%, was initially established under the Revenue Act of 1916, just three years after the progressive income tax was established.
As for the “forced loans,” some could argue that 2008’s Community Reinvestment Act would satisfy that criteria.
So how did our Founding Fathers rationalize taxation? Why, “for the Defence and general welfare of the United States,” of course! Yet, here we sit today…our military facing major slashes in an uncertain world, and our unemployment at record highs. Now, you may ask, “What does that have to do with the Communist Manifesto?” Good question.
The Manifesto states, in regards to the proletariat (working class) wresting power and all capital from the bourgeois (capitalists), “…in the beginning, this cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads on the rights of property, and on the conditions of bourgeois production; by means of measures, therefore, which appear economically insufficient and untenable, but which, in the course of the movement, outstrip themselves, necessitate further inroads upon the old social order, and are unavoidable as a means of entirely revolutionising the mode of production.”
So…getting a little history lesson on the first measure of the Manifesto, I ask you: Do you think that the United States meets the criteria for this first measure? If yes, why? If not, please enlighten me.
As a Constitutionalist, I can only say that the purpose for our taxation seems to be a bit “off.” Currently, for example, the US Navy is considered to be “critically undermanned.” So, that begs the question: if taxes are for the national defense, why is the military getting cut, while superfluous federal programs are given hard-earned tax dollars? Until next time…