by Mark Dvorak
If you haven’t sent in your income taxes yet, you probably shouldn’t be reading this. Go ahead, find the pencil sharpener and get a new battery for the calculator. The sooner you get it in, the less it will hurt. We’ll still be here when you finish, and so will everything else.
About one hundred and forty million individual tax returns are filed each year, from which around 1.5 trillion dollars in revenue is collected. That figure does not include Employment Taxes, Corporate Income Tax, Excise Taxes, Estate Tax or Gift Tax. So all in all the IRS collects about 2.7 trillion dollars each year, and that’s a lot of scratch. If anyone out there can tell me “in plain language,” as H. Ross Perot used to say, where all of this money goes, please get in touch.
The Internal Revenue Service is an agency within the Department of the Treasury and was established in its current form in 1913, when Woodrow Wilson was President. Wilson was the World War One President, and is an interesting chap. He’s not so interesting that you’ll want to text ur bff asap, but Wilson becomes interesting if you happen to notice a few of the places where the fabric of our common American history has frayed and begun to wear through. You may also notice that we’re right now pretty much watching a rerun of the same show that played during Wilson’s administration.
Wilson was a progressive and read my lips, campaigned on the platform that if elected, he would keep America out of World War One. In the spring of 1915 however, twelve hundred people, including a hundred and twenty-eight United States Citizens, lost their lives when the Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk off the coast of Ireland. Results of investigations into the sinking were subsequently suppressed by the need for wartime secrecy, and a propaganda campaign was designed to ensure that the blame fell to Germany. Under enormous pressure from business heavies, political foes and an enraged and frightened citizenry, Wilson finally buckled and the United States formally declared war.
A couple of years before all of this, Wilson signed into law The Federal Reserve Act, which created the central banking system of the United States of America, and granted it the authority to issue currency. Also during his administration, the 16th Amendment to the Constitution was added, making your income tax a permanent component of the United States revenue system.
Some have argued that the passing of this legislation, way back in 1913, occurred under shady circumstances. Some have argued that Wilson, who held a Ph.D. in history and political science, was politically weak and a dupe for the big shots who make big money when wars are declared and paper currency is issued.
Before he died, it is widely accepted that Woodrow Wilson actually said this:
“I am a most unhappy man. I unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men.
“We have become one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated governments in the civilized world.
“No longer a Government of free opinion, no longer a Government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a Government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men.”
Before Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act into law, our nation’s currency was issued by the United States Government. Those bills had the words, “United States Note” printed right on the front. Each bill also had the words, “will pay to the bearer,” printed right above the denomination. In those days United States notes were redeemable in gold.
The money we use these days isn’t redeemable in anything, aside from the goods and services we receive in exchange. Our currency is issued not by the government, but by the Federal Reserve Bank, a conglomeration of private banking institutions that hardly anyone anywhere knows anything about. The value of a Federal Reserve Note is variable, determined by the the supply of currency in circulation. When more currency is made available, the purchasing power of each note is diminished. This is commonly known as ‘inflation.’
Those of us who still buy things with paper currency already know that Revolutionary War hero George Washington is on the one dollar Federal Reserve note. And why not? He was the Father of our country and the very first President. Numero Uno. Thomas Jefferson is on the two dollar note, even though John Adams was the second President. Jefferson did draft the Constitution, so let’s give him the two. Can’t remember though, the last time I saw a two dollar bill.
Good ol’ Honest Abe is on the fin and that’s Alexander Hamilton of the saw. Hamilton was never President, but was our nation’s Secretary of the Treasury back in the days when George and Tom and Ben Franklin were busy stirring up trouble for the King of England. Some years later Hamilton got into a political dispute with then Vice President Aaron Burr. The two agreed to settle their differences by arranging a duel. Burr shot first and Hamilton later died from a bullet wound to the chest.
Andrew Jackson is an interesting choice for the twenty. “Old Hickory,” as he was called, was the military Governor of Florida before Florida was a state, and commander of the American forces in the Battle of New Orleans. Over the course of his lifetime Jackson had a lot to do with running Native Americans off their land. Politically, he was a polarizing figure and carried a bullet lodged in his chest until the day he died. President Jackson opposed the national banking system of his day, one of the forerunners to the Federal Reserve Bank. He actually succeeded in destroying the bank by vetoing its re-charter and withdrawing the U.S. funds. The business of money lending then fell to the legions of smaller banks and institutions that sprang up quickly all over the country. No wonder he got shot!
Civil War hero Ulysses S. Grant, whose given name was Hiram, is on the fifty, and Ben Franklin’s image is on the hundred.
I have never seen a five-hundred dollar bill, except for a picture of one in a book, and President William McKinley’s picture was on it. I don’t know anything about McKinley other than he was born in Ohio, was the Spanish-American War President, and was assassinated after delivering a speech declaring his positions on foreign policy and tariffs. It was a lone gunman.
There is a one-thousand dollar note, and Grover Cleveland’s picture is on it. James Madison gets the five-thousand dollar note, and a guy named Salmon P. Chase is on the ten-thousand dollar note.
Mr. Chase was the Senator from Ohio and also served as her Governor. He was Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of the Treasury and helped establish a national banking system that issued paper currency, known as greenbacks, to finance the Civil War. Chase also served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and if you guessed that Salmon P. Chase is of the family whose name is on your credit card and ATM receipts, you’d be right.
An enormously wealthy fellow, J.P. Morgan founded the Chase National Bank, naming it in Salmon P.’s honor, although Salmon P. had no financial affiliation with the institution. Today the bank is known as JPMorgan Chase.
The highest denomination issued by the Federal Reserve Bank is the one hundred thousand-dollar note. And go figure, the single piece of paper worth a hundred grand carries the image of the World War One President, the man who signed into law the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, and who established your Federal income tax. Drum roll please: Woodrow Wilson.