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Enmired in a civil war, the federal government of the United States was wanting for funds. The answer the government arrived at was to impose an income tax. Before this happened though, President Lincoln actually met with his cabinet to determine whether or not such a tax was constitutional. Lincoln’s hesitation should speak volumes.taxes scrabb

The first income tax was 3% and was only imposed on those who had incomes over $800, or around $20,000 in today’s money. This actually worked out to the income tax only applying to about 3% of the population in the north.

Things were not to last. The first income tax was repealed and  replaced with another one. All in all, the United States had an income tax for a period of ten years. From our modern-day perspective, we know that this is not the last of the income tax. There was a 2% income tax issued during peacetime in 1894, but it was struck down as being an unapportioned direct tax the following year by the Supreme Court in Pollock v. Farmer’s Loan & Trust Co. However, In 1913, the 16th Amendment was ratified and income tax has been a fixture of America’s tax system ever since.

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240 years ago today, in the midst of the American Revolutionary War,  one of the greatest and most inspired documents of all time was adopted by the United States Congress: The Declaration of Independence. It hardly requires an introduction, being one of the most well-known statements on human rights. The English philosopher John Locke is usually recognized as one of the biggest influences on the language that the Declaration uses, and it’s hard to miss the connection when you know about Locke’s idea that we have natural rights, namely life, liberty, and property.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

These words are monumentally bold—to declare that all men are equal, and what’s more, to say that to a king, whose very status is deeply rooted in inequality. The Declaration’s words echo through time, igniting a flame in the breast of millions of people. This flame is the flame of liberty, the flame which has breathed life into the peoples of nations all around the world–whether their countries are founded on liberal democratic principles or not. As inheritors of the flame, it is our duty to ensure its survival. And make no mistake, this flame will be extinguished if there are no torchbearers. The fight is never over, so we must never hide, and never rest.

On this day, as on all days, keep the flame of liberty alive. Have a happy Fourth of July!

 

On June 24, 1932, something remarkable happened in the country now known as Thailand: a bloodless coup was carried out by 102 people (many of them students) which overthrew nearly 700 years of rule by an absolute monarchy and led to Thailand’s first constitution.siam

The seeds of the revolution started growing in 1927 when Pridi Phanomyong was sent on a government scholarship to study politics at a university in Paris, where he began to admire the system of constitutional monarchy in France. Indeed, it was at a hotel in Paris where seven students from Siam met to found a party, the Promoters, to bring about change in their homeland. Understanding the difficulty in bringing about a mass revolution for democracy, they went home and focused their efforts on recruiting key influential and powerful people, including those in the military.

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The following post is written by one of SFL’s summer interns.unsafe

When Ruth Benedict wrote her widely influential study of Japan, The Chrysanthemum and the Sword (1946), she distinguished between shame cultures and guilt cultures, noting that each has its own unique methods of getting people to fall in line with cultural norms. Benedict identified the United States as a guilt culture and thought the  significance of the Christian faith (with its emphasis on guilt) and its proliferation on American soil was largely responsible for this outlook. Today, however, America fits much more uneasily into the definition of a guilt culture. Indeed, there is one important place in the United States where shame culture is enjoying a toxic reign: the college campus.

Coming to us 70 years after Benedict’s book was released, Unsafe Space – The Crisis of Free Speech on Campus examines this new outlook in academic life throughout the Anglosphere. This insightful book is edited by Tom Slater and is composed of contributions from nine writers, all focused on the value of free speech and the existential threat it faces on campuses, especially in the US and the UK. The book contains chapters encompassing everything from trigger warnings to the cult-like bullying that is carried out on those who dare to blaspheme against the climate change consensus.

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