It is generally agreed the U.S. Constitution is a remarkable work of political art; it created a unique form of government with three separate branches and checks and balances designed to maintain a balance of power. It specified certain powers of the federal government and reserved all others to the states and the people. The Constitution was effective for most of the country’s life and performed the function intended. For hundreds of years each of the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government were properly restrained by the others – but then something began to happen that destroyed the vision of a great Republic created September 17, 1787 – congress given the constitutional authority to coin money learned how to exploit this power and the judicial branch learned it could legislate without any repercussions.
Eventually states of the union that could and did operate autonomously within Constitutional boundaries for the early part of the Republic, succumbed to human greed and began to dispense goodness on a lavish scale because there was no end to the well, and not so well, intentioned benefits that could be contrived to bestow on the electorate. A country that was built on self-reliance of individuals became a country of greedy recipients depending on the labor of others. Political leaders learned how to increase electoral support to keep them in office and retain the power inherent in such positions. The lesson learned was simple – use state money to benefit some at the expense of others. Of course this could only be done with money extracted from people through taxes because states and governments do not earn wealth, they acquire it from the citizens over whom they rule. The wonderful thing about this is that there is no end to the "good" that can be accomplished inasmuch as it limited only by political imagination. Of course some states kept to their better instincts and restrained such practices but other states, usually those with large urban centers and populations, were not so inclined.
The federal government also deviated from the founders’ expectations but it could do so on a grander scale because it had more money. Very cleverly the writers of the constitution did not originally give the national government the right to tax the population except in very limited and benign ways – a general tax on income was not authorized as one of the specific rights granted to the federal government.
Many of the early presidents understood that a national bank was harmful and strove to keep it from being created but eventually lost out to the powerful influence of bankers. As a result a national bank was created during the Woodrow Wilson administration labeled the Federal Reserve Bank and given the power to create money by instruction to the U.S. Treasury Department who had the printing presses. Curiously the Federal Reserve Bank not only could create money, it could lend the created money back to the federal government and charge interest on the money loaned (but printed by the government). When the interest charges became great and exceeded federal income, it became necessary to amend the constitution to provide for the ability of the government to impose and collect income tax to pay the interest owed to the Federal Reserve Bank. [Few people ever knew that the Federal Reserve Bank was privately owned and many of the owners were international bankers.]
The income tax proved to be very popular with congress. By simple acts of the legislative branch the income tax could be expanded and more and more money collected for public works and other acts of goodness. It did not take long for congress to dream up all sorts of things it could do with this virtually unlimited source of income. Eventually it occurred to many in congress who did not adhere to the founder’s original intent to restrain the size of the federal government that they too could lavish income from those citizens who through their efforts accumulated more wealth and dispense it to those not willing to make such efforts but who constituted large numbers of voting constituents who could keep them in power. Once again the programs to accomplish this were limited only by the imagination of the elected politicians who could go back to the well as needed and collect more taxes. Soon the idea came to mind that it was not fair to tax everyone equally; those who could afford to pay more taxes should be required to do so thereby enabling the government to distribute more benefits to those who had not made the same sacrifices to achieve a higher standard of living for themselves and their families. Actually Karl Marx originated this concept when he prescribed "from each according to their means to each according to their needs."
In the natural flow of events, now possessed of unlimited income through taxation and the ability to print money at will, the federal government learned it could avoid the restrictions of the 10th Amendment which reserved power not expressly granted to the federal government under the constitution to the states and the people. Since it is human nature to accept handouts when the imbued tendency for self reliance is extinguished, the states operated by politicians possessing a human nature accepted money from the federal government in ever greater and greater amounts and eventually became dependent on the federal government’s largesse. Of course, money from the federal government came with an entire ball of string, imposing all sorts of conditions and requirements on the state recipients. For example: federal money for highways included a federally imposed highway speed limits; money for state school programs included requirements in teaching curricula, school admission requirements and more; money for unemployment insurance included requirements in state programs for that purpose, etc.
It did not take long for the federal government to be able to exert control of a myriad of state functions and the scope of control in the future is limitless. One example; the federal government can provide funds to states for universal healthcare while dictating rights and limitations of the healthcare program. The result is that today congress can dictate to the states and to the people whatever kind of restrictions on their rights they wish by giving states money (with strings) which they will readily accept. This becomes fatal to the American way of life, individual freedom and liberty when those in congress and the White House choose to change the form of government from a free society to a controlled society without the necessity of amending the constitution.
Only the people can change this outcome; but will they?