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The number 13 is one steeped in superstition and one that many people dread. For the United States there are few years that stand out as much as 1913. The early twentieth century was one of scientific wonder. A time when new inventions like the lightbulb, the automobile, motion pictures and the radio were transforming the world. It seemed that there was no obstacle that modern science could not conquer. It was during this time that progressives would establish a new supposedly more enlightened philosophy.

The progressive movement was one that embraced all that was new and eschewed all that came before. They believed mankind was perfectible and society malleable in the right hands, their hands. It was this belief that bound them more than any other. Some were socialists, many humanist, there were even religious zealots that sought to bring heaven to earth through human intervention. All saw the past and capitalism as enemies of progress. For them, only a society led by the brightest and best minds could hope to achieve the next step in human evolution.

In America the foremost of all the Progessives was Woodrow Wilson. A college professor turned Politician, he exemplified the Progressive idea of what a leader should be. The first year of his presidency would mark the pinnacle of progressive achievement. That year saw two game changing amendments to the constitution and two new Federal acts that still very much effect the U.S. today.

  • February 3rd, 1913 The Sixteenth Amendment: The progressives, like the socialist, believed a progressive income tax should be the cornerstone of any well designed society. It would, in their eyes, limit wealth concentration and provide funds to alleviate poverty. In short, it would allow large scale wealth redistribution. There was only one problem, the Supreme Court had declared unequivocally that such a tax was unconstitutional. The progressives worked tirelessly to amend the constitution to allow for the progressive income tax, with the sixteenth amendment their dream was realized.
  • April 8th, 1913 The Seventeenth Amendment: The bane of the Progressive movement was the Senate. The Senate was not beholden to political pressure like the House of Representatives by design. They were the states counter balance to federal power; nominated by state legislatures they were ambassadors whose sole purpose was to safe guard the states from abusive federal power grabs. For over half the country’s history these sentinels of freedom safeguarded the people from excessive debt, unfunded mandates, unreasonable regulations and laws that did not make sense for all the people. When the Seventeenth Amendment that all changed.
    The Seventeenth Amendment turned the Senate into a glorified House of Representatives, open to anyone who could demagogue or cajole enough votes to gain office. Once in office they could do whatever they wanted safe in the knowledge that peoples memories were short and their terms long. For them, only the last year before re-election time did they have to worry about voter desires. Guardians no more, the Senate would become a political animal of the worst kind. (This tendency of voters to have short term memories was why the founders restricted the directly elected House of Representatives to only two year terms)
  • September 30, 1913 The Revenue Act of 1913: The income tax became law, never again would a man be considered worthy to receive the full sum of his wages.
  • December, 2013 The Federal Reserve Act:The eighteenth century, and even early twentieth century, were filled with short periods of recessions, inflation, deflation and rarely depression. In almost all cases the culprit was shortages in the supply of gold that the country depended on to back its expanding commerce. Many thought a central bank managed by men of intellect could make all such occurrences things of the past. Such was the reasoning behind the long fight for what would become the Federal Reserve.
    The Federal Reserve (Fed) was a colossal failure almost from the start. Not only did it not stop recessions and depressions it actually has made them deeper, stronger and last longer. As far as inflation and deflation, it caused the worst case of deflation in American history and has made inflation a normal part of life! What the Fed has proven once again is that one mind, or even a group of select minds, just cannot do better than the combined brain trust of millions of minds working in conjunction.

Nineteen Thirteen was not the first or last hoorah for the progressives, but it was the year they made the biggest impact on America. Unfortunately their impact was not limited to one year, one country or one continent.

The early progressives were at heart Darwinians, people who saw the human race as evolving to an ever higher state and thought intervention by those higher on the evolutionary scale could accelerate the process. Their support for the false science of eugenics is well known as was their support of the KKK. The fact was, before they appeared as a political force the KKK was nearly extinct, but by the time they were voted out of office the KKK was a power to be reckoned with and racial strife was at an all time high. Wilson himself praised the KKK, segregated the Federal Government and even showed the movie “Birth of a Nation” to high praise in the White House (Birth of a Nation was about the KKK and its exploits terrorizing black communities).

The racism of the early Progressives were not limited to blacks, but they were the ones that suffered the most. **Margaret Sanger, one of the progressive saints, worked tirelessly to control the size of poor families, especially black ones. She told them that less kids meant less poverty but when she spoke to the KKK she let her real reasons be known. For her genetically inferior people needed to slowly go away. Another great progressive, George Bernard Shaw, saw population control wholly inadequate. He advocated humane killing of those who did not seem to measure up (a video on the subject including actually footage of Shaw can be seen here). In Germany a young Adolf Hitler absorbed it all in.

President Wilson himself created quite a stir during World War I. His war time policies of corporate control boards and nationalism caught the eye of a very infatuated Benito Mussolini. Mussolini’s adulation for Wilson was no secret, neither is the fact that he used Wilson’s war time government plan as the basis for what he would call Fascism.

Progresses of today still embrace the 1913 folly that a few have the right to direct the many. They share the belief that protecting people from themselves justifies controlling all they do and that somehow good can come from absolute power. They seek utopia but inevitably end up in hell. A look back to the progressives of old, what they stood for and who they inspired is telling. It can also be used as a compass to where their present path leads. A path whose foundations were laid in 1913.

**”All over the country to-day we have enormous insane asylums and similar institutions where we nourish the unfit and criminal instead of exterminating them. Nature eliminates the weeds, but we turn them into parasites and allow them to reproduce.” Margaret Sanger legendary progressive and founder of Planned Parenthood from her article Is Race Suicide Possible (found here)

“The Conservative Mind”

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