The Kids Of Summer

Originally published at
By K. Daniel Glover

Here comes summer. School is out, oh happy day.
Here comes summer. Gonna grab my girl and run away.
Here comes summer. We’ll go swimmin’ every day.
Oh, let the sun shine bright on my happy summer home.

Those lyrics, from the 1959 summertime anthem of Jerry Keller, no doubt ring as true to the teenagers of today as they did to the youth of the “Happy Days” generation. To American kids, summer means two things: no more school and the promise of a whole lot of fun. Some things never change.

But if the youthful image of summer remains fairly constant through the generations, the circumstances in which children live their summers most certainly does not. The era of “Murphy Brown” and latch-key kids long ago supplanted the stay-at-home-mom era of “Father Knows Best.” Most parents of the 1950s supervised their children after school and during the summer break; many parents today leave them in day care or, if their kids are older, at home alone to fend for themselves.

“In many more homes,” says Kay Luzier, a board member of the National Parent-Teacher Association and chairwoman of its education commission, “both parents are working, so there is no one home to supervise the children.”

The making of mentors
Statistics from a 1997 study by the Families and Work Institute confirm that more children are left alone or with non-parent caretakers these days than in the past. The National Study of the Changing Workforce shows that 78 percent of married employees also have spouses who work, compared with 66 percent in 1977, and 46 percent of workers have children younger than 18 who live with them at least half-time. Nearly 20 percent of employed parents are single.

And even when parents are home, the report says, they do not always have the time or energy to supervise the kids’ activities. One in three employees say they bring work home at least once a week, according to the study, and 28 percent say that after work, they often lack the stamina for family time.

The trend gives pause to youth activists like Stephanie Colbert Stradford, who worry about the dangerous paths she says too many of today’s children tread — everything from homelessness, drugs, prostitution and crime to teen pregnancy, violence and even parental assault. But the trend also explains the existence of groups like Youth Achievers USA Inc. in Landover, Md., of which Stradford is national president.


Evolution Of The Income Tax

Originally published at
By K. Daniel Glover

Two-and-a-quarter centuries ago, disgruntled colonists demanded that there be “no taxation without representation,” and they revolted and started their own nation when Mother Britain did not listen. Today, Americans have their representation, but “tax” is no less a dirty word to most of them — and much of their antipathy is reserved for one particular form of revenue collection: the income tax.

Some taxpayers ridicule the “Infernal Revenue Service.” Tax-reform groups call attention to the burdens of the current system with special events like Taxpayer Day of Outrage and Tax Freedom Day. And vote-hungry lawmakers in Congress scratch the tax-loathing ears of their constituents by televising the transgressions of the current system. In the past few weeks alone, the House has voted, albeit by a narrow 219-209 margin, to eliminate the income tax in 2003, and both chambers have voted overwhelmingly for legislation to overhaul the IRS — a bill President Clinton is expected to sign soon.

With all the vitriol directed at the income tax today, it might be hard to imagine anyone ever having liked the idea. But history shows that a convincing majority once saw the income tax as a potential cure for the ills of a blossoming nation. Eighty-nine years ago this month, Congress put the decision of whether to tax income in the hands of voters, and the masses responded by ratifying the 16th Amendment to the Constitution.

Beginnings of the income tax
The United States first tested the income tax as a means of raising money during the Civil War. Its legality seemed questionable because of the Constitution’s prohibition against direct taxation, but no one challenged the law because of the need for wartime revenue. The tax, which raised $376 million, lapsed in 1872.


An Internet Legend: ‘The Bill Of No Rights’

Originally published at
By K. Daniel Glover

Lewis Napper, a self-described “amateur philosopher and professional geek,” found his libertarian muse one day in 1993 while driving home for lunch from his job as a computer programmer near Jackson, Miss. The inspiration surfaced as he listened to a radio news report about President Clinton’s proposed national health-care plan.

As the chatter about “this right and that right” in the health-care arena increased, so did Napper’s frustration. What makes Americans think they have the right to any government-backed health care, he thought to himself. Or for that matter, what makes them think they have the right to any of the goodies distributed by a government that has become far too intrusive.

And then it hit him. All those misguided defenders of big government had perverted the intent of one of the founding documents of American democracy, the Bill of Rights. Within 15 minutes upon arriving home, Napper had composed his own addendum to the Bill of Rights just for those folks. He dubbed his satire “The Bill of No Rights” and forwarded it to a few friends.

An appreciative audience
Now five years later, Napper’s lunchtime creation has become something of an Internet legend in its own time. Napper receives 10 or 15 e-mail messages a day from people worldwide who appreciate insights like these in Article I and Article III: