This is a multi-part series examining the worst year in American History: 1913.
Put together, each of the unfortunate changes in the American system which happened in 1913 would have resulted in some problems probably more manageable each on their own. As they have combined, however, they've put our country on a path where power is concentrated among a few. 1913 was indeed a very bad year for the United States of America. Let's review:
All of these things have a couple of things in common.
First, they substantially changed the careful controls designed into the Constitution.
There was no power to tax income in the Constitution because money causes government to expand.
A democracy wasn't created, but rather a republic with a balance between representatives of the people and representatives of the states. This provided a buffer against the problems inherit in true democracies.
The Constitution granted power to Congress to coin money and regulate its value. Congress should not delegate this power, which it has done in spite of the Constitution and the Founder's views on the subject. The Founders wanted transparency and accountability with regard to monetary systems so that the electorate would hold Congress accountable for sound money.
All of these provisions limited the size, scope and influence of government.
The Confucian Cycle explains how governments collapse because of individual desires. The Founders understood human nature and tried to create a system that worked with human nature rather than against it. The idea was to have the various branches of government watch each other and keep each other in check, hopefully breaking the Confucian Cycle (even if that's not what they called it).
The second thing these changes have in common is that they require an electorate to remain somewhat ignorant. Ignorant of the principles taught in the Constitution, ignorant of the checks and balances established to keep government within its bounds and ignorant of the liberty given up when the changes were made.
Sometimes, it takes some dishonesty on the part of those espousing changes to pull the wool over our eyes. Humans seem to be in an everlasting cycle of humility causing hard work and strong morality, which leads to great prosperity, which leads to pride (manifested by desires for wealth, power, whatever), which leads to strife and contention, which brings us full circle back to humility. There's a reason the phrase "those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it" is so hackneyed and so true - the Confucian Cycle keeps happening even though we should know better.
Fortunately, there are some things we can do.
There may yet be hope to turn things around. Maybe 2013 can be a very good year for the country.