What’s the worst thing about Delaware?
Instead, the so-called First State is actually the Worst State because almost exactly 100 years ago, on February 3, 1913, Delaware made the personal income tax possible by ratifying the 16th Amendment.
Though, to be fair, I suppose the 35 states that already had ratified the Amendment were more despicable since they were even more anxious to enable this noxious levy.
But let’s not get bogged down in details. The purpose of this post is not to re-hash history, but to instead ask what lessons we can learn from the adoption of the income tax.
The most obvious lesson is that politicians can’t be trusted with additional powers. The first income tax had a top tax rate of just 7 percent and the entire tax code was 400 pages long. Now we have a top tax rate of 39.6 percent (even higher if you include additional levies for Medicare and Obamacare) and the tax code has become a 72,000-page monstrosity.
But the main lesson I want to discuss today is that giving politicians a new source of money inevitably leads to much higher spending.