The aljazeera article raises some interesting points. Some of them need some explanation, however.
Over time, a steadily increasing proportion of tax revenues has flowed to the federal government, at the expense of the states.†
This, for example, has a ring of authority to it. But, on examination, I find I canít actually isolate what the statement means. It is in the passive voice, so nobody has actually done anything ó itís all been done somewhere off in the heavens someplace by forces or persons unknown. Have they flowed? If so, how, and who has made them flow in this fashion, and for what reasons? I see no explanations or proofs offered here; though there certainly may be such things floating about, the author or authors or the article donít mention them.
Nor has there been any effort made to prove any connection between the two asserted facts.
Is aljazeera suggesting that Federal tax rates have gone up over the last 30 years or so? If so, they have shown no evidence to support this; nor has Mike, who says that he agrees with many of the points raised in the article wholeheartedly. My understanding for many states is that their tax rates may have gone down because of reductions in property taxes and other taxes. Perhaps there are others who can suggest what their states are doing with the massive surpluses that theyíve been running from the popular campaigns to cut local spending by eliminating fripperies like roads, police and fire services, and education.
My understanding is that there havenít been any, and that attempts by the Federal Government to help make up the difference have not been accepted graciously. I can understand that. The money that the Feds have been distributing, as I understand it, has tended to go mostly from blue states to red states, and that the blue states have been pretty much keeping the red states afloat. I suspect that if Federal tax dollars we returned proportionately to the states where they were collected, the results would be even more upsetting to those citizens of red states than they are today.
As for the intent of the Framers, Iíd like to hear more about that. Iíd also like to hear where aljazeera gets their notion about what those intentions actually were, and why they would pick and choose among the various intentions of the founders as to which ones they think are important to bring up in this case.
The initial experiment may have been with citizen legislators serving at the whim of the people, but aljazeera and others have apparently overlooked the fact that the framers were people who found that model did not work, and who quite purposefully set aside the Articles of confederation, which stipulated temporary citizen legislators by permitting only a congress with a two year term. Had that been their continued intention, they wouldnít have made the changes they did, would they?
Because, even if you take into account the possibility that they might only have wanted the President to be an administrator, and not a very powerful one at that, you would still have to deal with the large number of folks who thought that Washington would have made a fine King; and part of the wonder of George Washington was that he passed on being King of America. Even George III of England admired him for that.
And the other branch of government was one that designed not to be at the direct beck and call of the public. They were designed to be insulated from the public. In fact, initially, they werenít even elected by the public. Nor were they supposed to be citizen legislators, really, and that expectation was right there in the name that was chosen for them: Senators were named after members of the Roman Senate, and you couldnít join unless you were a Knight. In a country like our own which didnít have hereditary nobility, that fell on the folks who could own large amounts of property and who had the ability to maintain a couple of residences and households and a lot of servants for a long period of time. They didnít have to be at anybodyís beck and call and were relatively immune (Ha! ó they were supposed to be, at least) from political and financial pressures. Thatís why they had a six year term.
And they werenít beholden to voters. They were beholden to the folks back home in the state legislatures or the Electors. They were meant to be a check on the craziness of congress. The Framers were many things, and one of them was very nervous about the mob. They did not want the mob running things. They remembered the latin phrase, Vox Populi , vox Dei.
The Voice of The Mob is the Voice of God. They were pretty well educated folks by todayís standards, and they were terrified of mob rule, even if they were a sort of democratic bunch of folks. In fact, it would have been very difficult to get them to agree on any single definition of what democracy or republicanism actually was. Recent reading surprised me with that particular piece of information recently.
I too am fond of a lot of things we say today about our framers and our founding fathers and mothers. I may like some of them more than my best understandings of the truth, and I need to grant them their own weight and authority. That doesnít mean that I agree to substitute fantasy for reality, much as it may appeal.