Federal Government

The federal government is undoubtedly one of the most fundamental
pillars of the United States. It is made up of the legislature, the
executive and the judicially, all of which derive their powers and
authority from the constitution, as well as the varied acts of the
congress. Needless to say, the authority of the federal government has
been expanding since time immemorial, so as to meet the dynamics of the
society that it served or serves. The expansion of the federal
authority can be seen in varied events pertaining to the Civil War,
Reconstruction, the Progressive Era, the Great Depression, and the Civil
Rights Era. Since the federal government derives its authority from the
constitution, the expansion of its authority in the varied eras came
through constitutional amendments.
One of the most fundamental expansions of the federal authority revolved
around the 1865 Thirteenth Amendment, which underlined the abolishment
of slavery, as well as the authorization of congress to make legislation
enforcing the abolition. The 13th Amendment made the Emancipation
Proclamation a law. This most crucial political aspect of this
amendment rests on its second part, which granted the United States’
congress powers to make legislation enforcing it (Piven, 2006). It is
worth noting that the Supreme Court had previously opined that the
Congress was deficient of powers of controlling slavery. This amendment,
however, gave the congress this power, thereby allowing it to deal with
the ten confederate states that rebelled at that time. The social
aspects of this amendment revolve around the depiction of the
incorporation of full civil rights. It exposed the discrepancy that
existed between the laws of the land and the public opinion (Piven,
2006). As much as the slaves and their descendants could have or were
entitled to the same rights as their white counterparts according to the
law, they still underwent a different treatment until the coming of the
civil right movement (Piven, 2006). On the same note, there 13th
Amendment came with some economic implications especially considering
that the agricultural businesses had to modify their manner of
functioning due to the elimination of slave labor. The profit margins
declined despite the low wages as the former slaves now could start
their own enterprises or seek better opportunities elsewhere.
In addition, the federal government’s authority was considerably
increased in 1913 by the Sixteenth Amendment. This amendment authorized
the federal government to keep unallocated taxes instead of subdividing
the taxes among the states as outlined in the constitution. The economic
implications of this amendment were extremely pronounced thanks to the
banking laws whose introductions allowed individuals to evade taxes
legally through varied strategies including government bonds, retirement
accounts, as well as medical savings accounts. On the same note, the
amendment triggered some social changes thanks to the economic changes.
In an effort to avoid paying taxes, people made some modifications on
their spending habits and sought ways of sheltering their money (Piven,
2006). It is worth noting that the amendment also triggered the
development of movements that questioned government expenditure and
allocation of resources, with the Sixteenth Amendment being responsible
for the enhanced quality of life. The expanded federal government
authority had implications on the political structures as it gave the
federal government powers that it did not have, something that negated
the ruling of the Supreme Court (Piven, 2006). In fact, the amendment is
credited with allowing the Internal Revenue Service to increase its
staff over the subsequent years.
In conclusion, federal government has been a fundamental pillar of the
United States. It has been deriving its authority from the constitution
and the acts of congress. Over time, it has been expanding its authority
to meet the dynamics of the day, with the expansion coming mainly from
constitutional amendments. One of the most crucial instances where the
federal government had its authority expanded was the enactment of 13th
Amendment, which abolished slave trade. This gave congress powers to
make legislation on the same, authority it didn’t have. It also
affected production as slave labor reduced considerably, and exposed the
discrepancies between the law and the realities on how slaves were
treated. In addition, the federal government expanded its authority
through the 16th Amendment of 1913, which allowed it to keep taxes
instead of subdividing them among the states. This allowed individuals
and corporate to come up with legal methods of avoiding taxes. It also
altered spending habits of individuals, and had the political
implication of giving the federal government powers it did not have. It
led to the expansion of Internal Revenue Service staff over the years.
Piven, F. F. (2006). Challenging authority: How ordinary people change
America. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield.