Page:Rise and Fall of Society.djvu/32

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Economics Versus Politics
 

ation were neatly circumscribed. It did not seem possible, in 1789, for the American State to do much in the way of interfering with the economy of the nation; it was constitutionally weak and off balance.

The ink was hardly dry on the Constitution before its authors, now in position of authority, began to rewrite it by interpretation, to the end that its bonds would loosen. The yeast of power that is imbedded in the State was in fermentation. The process of judicial interpretation, continued to the present day, was later supplemented by amendment; the effect of nearly all the amendments, since the first ten (which were written into the Constitution by social pressure), was to weaken the position of the several state governments and to extend the power of the central government. Since State power can grow only at the expense of social power, the centralization which has been going on since 1789 has pushed American Society into that condition of subservience which the Constitution was intended to prevent.

In 1913 came the amendment that completely unshackled the American State, for with the revenues derived from unlimited income taxation it could henceforth make unlimited forays into the economy of the people. The Sixteenth Amendment not only violated the right of the individual to the product of his efforts, the essential ingredient of freedom, but it also gave the American State the means to become the nation's biggest consumer, employer, banker, manufacturer, and owner of capital. There is now no phase of economic life in which the State is not a factor, there is no enterprise or occupation free of its intervention.

The metamorphosis of the American State from an apparently harmless establishment to an interventionary machine as powerful as that of Rome at its height took place within

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