Taxes: The Four-Part Series

The history of taxation in American has a long and infamous history. Since the imposition of the very first tax — The Navigation Tax of 1651 — taxes have been wildly unpopular in America. When the Constitution was written and ratified, the only taxes allowed were to pay the debt and provide for the common defense and general welfare. At times, taxation was implemented during wars to fund the government and the war effort, with no intention of becoming permanent. However, since 1913, the United States of America has adhered to a communist plank second only to the abolition of all private property: a progressive or graduated income tax.

What purpose does an income tax serve? In our four-part series on taxes, we’ll explore its history in America and how a tax once promised to never climb above seven percent has, at times, ballooned to 77 percent at the hands of an out-of-control government.

The four-part series is compiled below for your convenience.

Part I: How Income Tax Began

When the Constitution was written and ratified, the only taxes allowed by America's founding document were to pay the debt and provide for the common defense and general welfare. "Welfare" meant the general well-being of the people, not government handouts to people who didn't work for a living.

During the War of 1812, Congress imposed America's first sales tax. But even then, just on gold, silverware and jewelry. Amazingly, in 1817, several years after the war of 1812 had been won, Congress ended all internal taxation on Americans, including sales tax, relying solely on tariffs on imported goods to fund the government.

It wasn't until the Civil War of 1862, in order to pay for the increasingly high cost of the war that the United States Congress adopted America's first income tax --- three percent for wage earners between $600 and $10,000, and higher for those making over $10,000. Sales and excise taxes were imposed, as well as the nation's first inheritance tax. The Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Office was created and granted the power to levy and collect taxes, a power the Constitution had given solely to the United States Congress. In 1872, with the Civil War long over, Congress eliminated the income tax.

Then came the era of progressivism.

After progressive Democrat Woodrow Wilson was elected president in 1912, the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution made the income tax permanent in 1913. The amendment gave Congress the legal authority to tax income --- of both individuals and corporations. Advocates promised the highest tax rate would never climb above seven percent, but just two years later, it was already at 15 percent.

With the onslaught of World War I, the federal government made the case that tax rates must be raised to finance the war effort. In 1916, the top rate leapt from 15 to 67 percent, and the next year to 77 percent. Two constitutional presidents --- Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge --- fought and succeeded in cutting spending by 50 percent and lowering income tax rates. By 1925, the tax rate had been slashed from 77 percent to 25 percent.

Throughout our nation's history, the wealthy have been punished with egregious taxes, but nothing could compare to the unbelievable burden placed on the most successful Americans in 1944, when the federal government raised the top tax rate to 94 percent of every dollar earned over $200,000. It's difficult to believe that any American would find it right and moral for a government to confiscate all but six to 10 percent of a person's income.

The highest rate fell from 70 to 50 percent in 1981 and then to 28 percent in 1986.

It should be noticed that the second plank of the Communist Manifesto, right after the abolition of all private property, is a progressive or graduated income tax. The United States of America has adhered to that communist plank since 1913. The nation that first instituted communism --- Russia --- abandoned the progressive or graduated income tax in 1998 for a flat tax of 13 percent, growing the country's revenue by 28 percent.

Part II: What Is a 'Fair' Income Tax Rate?

Americans hear the refrain "fair share" virtually every day from left-wing sources like socialist Bernie Sanders and progressive Hillary Clinton who believe businesses and the rich must pay their fair share of taxes.

So what is the fair share for the wealthy? It's nearly impossible to pin the left down on an actual number. According to them, it's simply more --- more than the 42.6 percent in federal taxes currently being paid by those in upper income brackets. It's apparently entirely fair to the left that 50 percent of Americans right now pay zero federal income tax, and some even enjoy what's called a negative tax rate.

FDR told Americans paying higher taxes was a privilege. He also believed, at a times of great national danger, no American citizen ought to have a net income of more than $25,000 a year after paying taxes. It seems reasonable to assume that Karl Marx would have agreed. The outrageously high taxes throughout the '30s and the '40s certainly didn't help America pull out of the worst depression in American history.

As it stands now in the United States, the top one percent of wage earners, those who are continually disparaged by the left in America, bring home nearly 18 percent of the nation's income. But they pay 35 percent of all federal income taxes. That would seem, to some, almost double their fair share.

So what happens when the tax rate is raised significantly? Study after study has shown that when taxes are lowered, it stimulates the economy and brings in more revenue. For example, during the Roaring Twenties, tax rates were slashed dramatically, dropping from over 70 percent to less than 25 percent. Personal income tax revenues increased from $719 million in 1921 to $1,164,000,000 in 1928, an increase of more than 61 percent. Increasing taxes also hurts the tax base, as oftentimes people and businesses flee higher tax states for lower tax states.

In 2012, French socialist candidate for president, Francois Hollande, proposed a massive 75 percent income tax on the wealthiest citizens. It didn't go over well with some of France's most well-known millionaires. French actor Gerard Depardieu was personally handed a new Russian passport by the President Vladimir Putin after Depardieu was granted Russian citizenship. The tax revenue from the super tax was down significantly from the first year to the next, while the deficit skyrocketed another $97 billion. In January of 2015, the French government quietly killed the tax.

Unfortunately, historic lessons once learned have been unlearned. Instead, the mindset is now this very much in step with the socialist and communist planks of punishing the wealthiest producers with the highest taxes --- completely antithetical to the Founders' position on taxation.

Part III: The Reagan Years

During the presidential election of 1976, then president Gerald Ford and candidate Jimmy Carter battled over taxes in a debate. Carter’s class warfare argument resonated with enough Americans to help win the election. Under Carter, taxes remained over 70 percent for the wealthiest Americans while the economy was the worst in peacetime since the Great Depression. Interest rates, unemployment and inflation all skyrocketed under Carter, and Americans endured gas lines and shortages and a general dampening of American morale.

Into this environment came a former actor, former governor of California — Ronald Wilson Reagan.

His middle name “Wilson” was an ode by his parents to Woodrow Wilson. However, he couldn’t have been more different from his namesake. Reagan was a true conservative, socially and fiscally. He received advice from economists like Art Laffer and Milton Friedman. After his election in 1980, Reagan promptly fought for and obtained a massive tax cut in 1981, lowering the top tax rate to 50 percent. It sparked the economy and pulled the United States out of its economic and morale malaise.

In 1985, from the Oval Office, Reagan pitched further tax cuts to his fellow Americans.

In 1981, our critics charged that letting you keep more of your earnings would trigger an inflationary explosion, send interest rates soaring and destroy our economy. Well, we cut your tax rates anyway by nearly 25 percent. And what that helped trigger was falling inflation, falling interest rates and the strongest economic expansion in 30 years. Over the course of this century, our tax system has been modified dozens of times and in hundreds of ways. Yet, most of those changes didn’t improve the system. They made it more like Washington itself: complicated, unfair, cluttered with gobbledegook and loopholes designed for those with the power and influence to hire high-priced legal and tax advisers.

But there’s more to it than that. Some years ago, an historian, I believe, said that every time in the past, when a government began taxing above a certain level of the people’s earnings, trust in government began to erode. He said it would begin with efforts to void paying the full tax. This would become outright cheating and eventually a distrust and contempt of government itself until there would be a breakdown in law and order.

Well, how many times have we heard people brag about clever schemes to avoid paying taxes, or watched luxuries casually written off to be paid by somebody else, that somebody being you? I believe that in both spirit and substance, our tax system has come to be un-American. How would the proposal work?

The present tax system has 14 different brackets of tax rates, ranging from 11 to 50 percent. We would take a giant step toward an ideal system by replacing all of that with a simple three-bracket system, with tax rates of 15, 25, and 35 percent. By lowering everyone’s tax rates all the way up the income scale, each of us will have a greater incentive to climb higher, to excel, to help America grow. The power of these incentives would send one simple, straightforward message to an entire nation: America, go for it.

To young Americans wondering tonight, where will I go? What will I do with my future? I have a suggestion: Why not set out with your friends on the path of adventure and try to start up your own business? Follow in the footsteps of those two college students who launched one of America’s great computer firms from the garage behind their house. You too can help us unlock the doors to a golden future. You too can become leaders in this great new era of progress, the age of the entrepreneur.

Reagan and his policies, derisively referred to as Reaganomics, were mocked by the left. He was called stupid, reckless and senile. However, Reagan succeeded in lowering taxes. In fact, instead of 35 percent for the top rate, he actually lowered it to just 28 percent in 1986 --- the American economy boomed.

Today, many of the same people who reviled Ronald Reagan sing his praises.

Part IV: The 2016 Candidates

Proponents of high income taxes have long had one undeniable problem: The facts are not on their side. When taxes go up, revenues go down. However, the answer to that problem for high taxation advocates is simple --- ignore it. Instead, they change the argument and focus on fairness, playing on Americans' emotions and inciting class envy.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama discussed why he would raise capital gains taxes despite evidence it would lower revenues. His answer? It boils down to a matter of "fairness."

So how is it fair that the top one percent of wage earners in America today --- who bring home only 18 percent of U.S. income --- pay 35 percent of all federal income tax? The bottom 47 percent of wage earners pay zero income tax. The current rate on Americans' top income bracket is 40 percent, yet somehow the class warfare rhetoric continues unabated.

America faces a choice. Bernie Sanders' plan is to raise taxes by "a damn lot" and redistribute the wealth. As a result of his plan to institute so many socialist policies, like free college education for everyone, he will have to raise taxes across the board. For the wealthiest, some speculate his references to the 90 percent rate under Eisenhower is the figure he has in mind.

Hillary Clinton's plan is also to raise taxes on the wealthy and redistribute the wealth.

Donald Trump's plan is to raise taxes on the wealthy and redistribute the wealth.

Ted Cruz's plan is to cut taxes for everyone, institute a flat 10 percent tax --- with taxpayers under $50,000 paying zero --- and eliminate the IRS. The Nonpartisan Tax Foundation estimates it would produce 4.9 million new jobs, increase capital investments and increase after-tax income of every single income group in America by double digits, at least 14 percent.

As Americans finalize their taxes for 2015 and go to the polls during the primary season and the general election, they are confronted with a clear choice, perhaps the clearest choice in American history. Does America become more like Denmark and Sweden or go back to being more like the United States of America?

Would Glenn make a better bounty hunter or a Jedi? You'll have to find out in a new episode of the Beltway Banthas Podcast, where Glenn goes deep on Star Wars with host Stephen Kent. In this 45 minute discussion, Stephen and Glenn explore the political themes of the Star Wars franchise, Darth Vader's redemption from Return of the Jedi, Glenn's earliest memories of seeing the films and even debate elements of the latest Star Wars films.

If you enjoy the pop culture and nerdy discussions that Glenn, Pat and Stu get into on the radio show, you'll love this! After you're through, you can also check out Stu Burguiere's appearance on Beltway Banthas to talk Star Wars. You can find that here.


It's never too early to start your Christmas, Hanukah, or Kwanzaa shopping. Or even birthday gift shopping. Especially if that special someone in your life is a Democrat. Because at last count, pretty much all the Democrats are now running for president. And that means there has never been a wider selection of official candidate merchandise to choose from. Whether you're into environmentalism, feminism, classism, socialism, or just plain love, there is a smorgasbord of classy items that you and yours will treasure forever... or at least until the next presidential election.

We have browsed each of the candidates' online stores, so you don't have to (it only took us three months). We have curated only the finest items from each of the Democrats running for president of the United States of America. Without further ado, here is your handy progressive gift guide – or maybe your what-not-to-gift guide.

First, the bargain basement options. Hurry! Time is running out to grab your Beto bandana, or your Delaney pack of golf balls, because at this point Stu has as much of a chance as these guys of getting the nomination.

Tom Steyer, for example – is he still in the race?


https://shop.tomsteyer.com/collections/frontpage/products/tom-2020-pattern-tee


There's way too much Tom here. That shirt's got more Toms than a Caucasian dentists' convention.

For the slightly more moderate Democrat in your life, perhaps they'd like to join the "Yang Gang"…

https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/bumper-stickers/products/yanggang-decal


Andrew Yang is a lock for Math Club president…


https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/apparel/products/math-hat


But for actual president? Well, I wouldn't make plans for how you're going to spend your $1,000-per-month Yang allowance just yet.

If you happen to be shopping for your dog, may I suggest this lovely "Dogs for Delaney" dog collar…


https://store.johndelaney.com/products/dogs-for-delaney-collar


John Delaney's definitely going to secure the canine vote with this kind of outreach. As for any human votes, that's another question entirely.

How 'bout this tastefully understated "Natural Canvas" Michael Bennet tote to remind you he's also still here?...


https://store.michaelbennet.com/michael-bennet-for-america-natural-canvas-tote/


Then again, it's a tote. So, it'll end up on the floor of your closet and you won't have it with you until that one random moment when you're out somewhere and you really need a tote bag. Just like Democrats will really wish they had a moderate when we're in the middle of the socialist nightmare of their creation.

Captain Planet himself, Jay Inslee recently dropped out of the race, but don't let that stop you from picking up what may be the greatest single item sold by anyone in this race…


https://store.jayinslee.com/elvis-the-elves-the-mystery-of-the-melting-snow-by-jay-inslee/


A children's book called Elvis & the Elves: the Mystery of the Melting Snow. Written and illustrated by Governor Jay Inslee. Talk about a whodunnit – how could that snow possibly be melting? Spoiler alert: it's because of evil, white, patriarchal capitalism. And Donald Trump.

Then there's the candidate who thinks you're a moron that can't pronounce his last name: Steve Bullock...


https://shop.stevebullock.com/collections/apparel/products/emoji-t-shirt


Get it? Bull. Lock. Oh, so that's how you say the name that sounds exactly how it's spelled.

There's another candidate who also thinks you need help pronouncing his last name…


https://store.peteforamerica.com/collections/apparel/products/boot-edge-edge-t-shirt


And he is definitely right about that. So, thank you, Pete "Boot Edge Edge." That helps.

Just outside the bargain bin section, but just barely, are candidates like Julian Castro and his "El Presidente" t-shirt…


https://store.julianforthefuture.com/julian-castro-loteria-card-white-tee/


When your last name's Castro, do you really want to go with a weird drawing of yourself as if you're a classic Latin American dictator on a postage stamp?

If you prefer a little "dark psychic forces" battling in your candidates, you'll love Marianne Williamson's "Turn Love Into a Political Force" rally sign…


https://store.marianne2020.com/collections/signs/products/love-rally-sign


"Turn Love Into a Political Force" would be an even better title for a Marianne Williamson album of 80s cover songs. And if you think I'm joking, then you haven't heard Bernie Sanders' classic 1987 folk album, We Shall Overcome. That's not a joke. Well, it is a joke, but it's also a very real thing.

Now, just a quick pause to consider the peculiar baby-wear that way too many candidates are selling…

…including Elizabeth Warren's trans-pride flag onesie. Let me get this straight – we can't force any gender on a child, because that's just cruel. But we can force a political advertisement on a baby? How do we know that baby is actually a Biden or Warren fan? The child may not even be a Democrat or a Socialist at all. That baby might self-identify as a Libertarian, or Republican, or even worse – a moderate Democrat.

Now to the premium items from the premium candidates. Elizabeth Warren – the candidate with the most honesty in her advertising…


https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/apparel/products/impolite-arrogant-women-make-history-unisex-t-shirt

-AND-

https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/drinkware/products/strong-american-unions-mug


Warren's merchandise reflects the woman herself – cold and humorless (watch her "This isn't funny" clip from the last debate here at the 4:27 mark). I'm sure she's really fun once you get to know her. Then again, maybe not.

Speaking of serious women, Kamala Harris wants to be president very badly for you, the people, as you can tell from her "For the People" poster…


https://store.kamalaharris.org/poster-for-the-people/


At $29.99 though, she's sure not charging "people's" prices. Of course, she might be having to pay royalties to a certain someone for riffing on their poster. Just saying.

For the race's number one socialist, there's a whole lot of capitalism going on in Bernie Sanders' campaign. He sells so many delightful items that it's hard to choose. But we did anyway. The most random item is this hundred-dollar, black, "Art of a Political Revolution – Artists for Bernie Sanders Coaches Jacket"…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/artists-for-bernie-coaches-jacket


Coaches across the land will be clamoring for this one. You know, since coaches are such a strong Bernie-socialist demographic.

If that's a little over your budget you might consider a "Feel the Bern" fanny pack, to help store all those government freebies you'll get from Bernie…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/feel-the-bern-fanny-pack


This is the only context in which you'll ever want to hear "feel the burn" and "fanny" in the same sentence.

And finally, from front-runner Joe Biden, we have this fine "Women's Fitted Biden Polo." Which is just about the best polo description ever…


https://store.joebiden.com/collections/apparel/products/biden-polo-womens-fit


It promises the kind of snug approach that Biden loves to provide women. Even when they don't ask.

This was one of the first homesteads in the area in the 1880's and was just begging to be brought back to its original glory — with a touch of modern. When we first purchased the property, it was full of old stuff without any running water, central heat or AC, so needless to say, we had a huge project ahead of us. It took some vision and a whole lot of trust, but the mess we started with seven years ago is now a place we hope the original owners would be proud of.

To restore something like this is really does take a village. It doesn't take much money to make it cozy inside, if like me you are willing to take time and gather things here and there from thrift shops and little antique shops in the middle of nowhere.

But finding the right craftsman is a different story.

Matt Jensen and his assistant Rob did this entire job from sketches I made. Because he built this in his off hours it took just over a year, but so worth the wait. It wasn't easy as it was 18"out of square. He had to build around that as the entire thing we felt would collapse. Matt just reinforced the structure and we love its imperfections.

Here are a few pictures of the process and the transformation from where we started to where we are now:

​How it was

It doesn't look like much yet, but just you wait and see!

By request a photo tour of the restored cabin. I start doing the interior design in earnest tomorrow after the show, but all of the construction guys are now done. So I mopped the floors, washed the sheets, some friends helped by washing the windows. And now the unofficial / official tour.

The Property

The views are absolutely stunning and completely peaceful.