From time to time, while writing articles on politics and pop culture, I fall into periods of deep cynicism—not that this is such a bad thing. After all, Antisthenes, the original Cynic (ca. 445-365 BC), developed his philosophy as a reaction to the contradictions and inequities that he observed in everyday life. He believed that happiness was dependent on moral virtue, and that this virtue could be taught.
Antisthenes identified two categories of objects: external goods, including such elements as property, pleasure, and luxuries; and internal goods, including truth and self-knowledge. He emphasized pursuit of the internal goods, and would forcibly speak out—bark, if you will—at the folly and injustices of his society. Hence the “canine” or Cynic school of philosophy.
Let’s bark a little…
Aren’t you just a wee bit tired of all the prattling over how this or that law is unconstitutional, or how recent Supreme Court decisions are “tearing up” the Constitution? Never mind that fully 90 percent of what the Federal government does these days is not in the Constitution, is this supposed to be a new phenomenon? The simple fact is that once Abraham Lincoln took office, and created his Federal leviathan out of whole cloth, killing hundreds of thousands of Americans in the process, this country was changed forever. Alexander Hamilton, the biggest Federalist of them all, could not have imagined the transformation that occurred, less than 60 years after his death.
Dozens of “ultimate” Supreme Court interpretations of the Constitution—that were changed by different iterations of the Court—could be cited, but perhaps the most telling chronology is that of the despised Income Tax. Contained in Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution is this sentence, confirming the Founders’ fear of direct taxation:
“No capitation, or other direct, tax shall be laid, unless in proportion to the census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.”
It was of course the sainted Lincoln, who, in 1862, introduced the Income Tax, to finance his marvelous war. It was to remain in place until 1872. An income tax was again enacted in 1894, by President Grover Cleveland as a way to ease the tariff burden affecting the agricultural West and South. (Maybe they should have seceded.) This law was, however, held to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, forcing its backers to seek an amendment to the Constitution that would give Congress the right to impose income taxes without apportionment among the states. In 1913, the 16th Amendment was ratified, and a new individual income tax with rates ranging from 1 to 7 percent on income in excess of $3,000 for a single individual, was voted by Congress shortly thereafter.
Ironically, the amendment was proposed by conservatives, who were hoping to drive a stake through the heart of the constant calls for an income tax bill. They never dreamt that there was already enough creeping socialism and class envy extant to easily carry three-fourths of the states. For what it’s worth, this amendment is one of the few that completely opposes the Founders’ intentions.
Feeling cynical yet?
Then there’s our obsession with race. Who would have thought, in the early 1960’s, that less than 20 years later, we would be talking about discrimination against Whites, not Blacks? And even then, whom but the most cynical among us would have predicted that by the late 1990’s, virtually no discussion of any issue at all can be free from racial overtones?
How sad that the plantation mentality is alive and well, with the former segregationist party (the Democrats) now lording it over a virtually monolithic Black voting bloc.
Finally, we must reluctantly give some credit to FDR, whom regular readers of this column know is hardly one of my favorites. At least he built his political empire on the backs of disadvantaged groups that had existed long before he came on the scene. Nowadays, the Gramsci socialist political leaders have to create more and more new members of their victim serf class.
So far, with the help of an amazingly ignorant, toadying, and Leftist elite media, they have not begun to run out of pernicious creative ideas.