The Fourth Branch of Government: WE, The People

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   AS HAPPENS WITH DISTURBING REGULARITY, a little wave of Constitution-bashing has recently erupted, especially within the minarchist — and anarchist-oriented “alt-media.”

   Each such instance deploys or relies upon some version of Lysander Spooner’s famous assertion in “No Treason” that “[W]hether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain — that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it.”

   Each such instance of Constitution-bashing also displays or relies upon an astonishing ignorance of some inconveniently contrary historical facts, such as the fact that SOMETHING prevented the rise of the corrupt Leviathan state for some 140 years after the adoption of that Constitution, as shown in this graph reflecting the overall size of the federal government from 1792 — shortly after the adoption of the current version of the Constitution — until 2004 (and to which can be added in the mind’s eye a great deal more upward growth since that latter date):

   This chart of the federal government’s size over time shows a virtual flat-line history of a statelet small enough to be drowned in a bathtub (comparatively speaking) up until the early 1940s. That statelet is emphasized in its consistent insignificance by the couple of relatively tiny and brief expansions during the conquest of the southern states and World War I.

   The chart also shows the dramatic change that occurred not coincident with the advent of any Constitutional event, but with the implementation of the “ignorance tax” scheme in the early 1940s — 80 years after the inception of the income tax and 30 years after the 16th Amendment (which had done nothing but close an 1895 judicially-declared loophole shielding federally-privileged rent and dividends from the tax on what the 1916 Supreme Court properly called “a mistaken theory deduced from the origin or source of the income taxed” — see for the details):

    That dramatic change is, of course, the advent of the Leviathan decried by today’s Constitution-bashers (who should look back at the time of Spooner’s complaint — 1867 — as shown on this graph and realize that for all his virtues, Spooner may not be the fellow whose perspectives are to be relied upon in evaluating matters related to “runaway government...”).

   THIS BRINGS US TO THE REALLY SIGNIFICANT IGNORANCE suffered by the punditry engaged in chronic Constitution-bashing: ignorance of the true nature of the income tax. What is misunderstood by those pundits, and what is reflected in the graphs above (and more-or-less spelled out in the second of those graphs) is that the income tax is an indirect excise tax, application of which is entirely in the control of the individual (natural or artificial) involved.

   Liability for the tax hinges on the voluntary exercise of excisable activities. This is something no one is obliged to do (and doesn’t include the mere making of money — one can make billions and live like a king while never doing anything subject to the tax).

   Because the income tax is limited as it is, and because alternative methods of financing the state — basically, apportioned direct taxes and revenue tariffs — are themselves constrained by their own limited scope or political weaknesses, it has only been the widespread ignorance of those income tax limitations that has furnished the fuel by which the little drownable statelet has grown into the 8,000 lb. monster now terrorizing both liberty-and-rule-of-law-minded Americans and the rest of the world, as well.

   THE FACT IS, the tax structure set up and hard-wired into the US Constitution by the Founding generation puts control over resources available to the state directly and entirely in the hands of the people. The exercise of that control requires no cooperation by any state official, inconveniences the individual exercising it in no way whatsoever, and cannot lawfully be thwarted.

   The American people thus comprise a fourth branch of government, just as expressly recognized in the Constitution as are the legislature, the executive and the judiciary instituted by way of that instrument. That fourth branch goes unnamed therein because the people of which it is composed — being the sovereign creators of the other branches — stand before, above and outside of that subordinate chartering instrument, even while having built into it tools exclusively for their own use in their capacity as the master branch.

   Succinctly put, the people, through the tax provision limitations, provided themselves with a regulatory dial by which they can control the size of the state, up to and including a full-stop “kill switch,” to enable the bloodless prevention or correction of a runaway state, just as would any forethoughtful creator of any kind of otherwise powerful and potentially-dangerous mechanism. (Other fourth-branch tools helping to illustrate the principle include the jury power, prohibitions of state interference with speech and assembly and the provision of the Second Amendment as a fall-back against the possible insufficiency of the others.)

   IN LIGHT OF THE FOREGOING, it becomes clear that the problem has never been the Constitution.  On the contrary, the Constitution, properly understood, should be recognized as the brilliant, liberty-respecting, Leviathan-preventing instrument that it really is, the knowledgeable implementation of which produced that first 140 years of tiny, relatively-harmless statelet shown in the graphs above.

   The problem is simple ignorance — ignorance, in particular, of the true nature of the income tax. It is not the Constitution that has proven inadequate. It is the preservation of the peoples’ knowledge that has failed us, and sadly, every pundit that bashes the Constitution is also guilty of helping perpetuate and cement into place widespread public ignorance of the tax.

   The remedy is still at hand, though. Ignorance of the tax hasn’t changed its true nature.

   All we need do is spread the truth about that true nature (see and the significance it has in the Founders’ Constitutional plan (see If we can get those misinformed pundits to help, we can get all that done real quickly, too.

   Contact some of them. Share this article. Let’s see what can happen when the Constitution is not being bashed but is being celebrated with real understanding of its design by their voices as well as ours.

   It might be transformational.

   “Although all men are born free, slavery has been the general lot of the human race. Ignorant — they have been cheated; asleep — they have been surprised; divided — the yoke has been forced upon them. But what is the lesson? …The people ought to be enlightened, to be awakened, to be united, that after establishing a government they should watch over it....It is universally admitted that a well-instructed people alone can be permanently free.”
-James Madison

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