There have been two different Americas, and the big split came in 1913. From Jacob G. Hornberger at fff.org:
There have been two completely different Americas in U.S. history. Let’s examine twelve ways in which they differ.
1. For more than a century after the United States came into existence, there was no income taxation or IRS. People were free to keep everything they earned and decide for themselves what to do with it.
Today, income taxation and the IRS are a core feature of American life. The government essentially owns everyone’s income and decides how much people will be permitted to keep, much as a parent permits his children to have an allowance.
2. No Social Security. Earlier Americans rejected the concept of mandatory charity. People were left free to decide for themselves whether to help out their parents and others.
Today, Social Security is a core feature of American life. The federal government forces younger people to help out seniors by forcibly taking their money from them and giving it to seniors. Social Security is a classic example of a socialist program, one in which the government forcibly takes money from people to whom it belongs and gives it to people to whom it does not belong.
3. No Medicare and Medicaid. Americans had a free-market healthcare system, one in which there was no government involvement. The result was the finest healthcare system in the world, one in which healthcare prices were low and stable, innovations were soaring, doctors loved what they did in life, and the poor were receiving free healthcare services from doctors and hospitals.
Today, seniors and the poor are dependent on Medicare, another socialist program that is characterized by massive dysfunction, soaring prices, perpetual crisis, and physicians who hate what they do in life.
4. No centrally managed economy. Americans believed that people should be free to manage their own economic activities.
Today, whoever happens to be president assumes the role of centrally managing the economy, taking credit when the economy is going well and blaming the Federal Reserve when the inevitable crashes come. Central planning is, of course, a socialist principle.
5. No Federal Reserve or paper money. The official money of the country consisted of gold coins and silver coins. There was no central bank (i.e., Federal Reserve) to inflate or debase the currency.
Today, the Federal Reserve continues to destroy people’s money through monetary central planning, inflation, and debasement. The official money is now paper Federal Reserve notes, which promise to pay nothing.
6. Very few economic regulations, including minimum-wage laws. Americans favored a free-enterprise economic system, one in which economic enterprise was free of government control and management.
Today, economic regulation, including minimum-wage laws, form a core feature of American economic life.
7. No immigration controls. Americans believed in the right of people to freely cross borders in the pursuit of happiness.
Today, Americans maintain an enormous apparatus that centrally plans the movements of people into the United States. To enforce the system, the federal government has brought a brutal police state into existence in the American Southwest. This socialist immigration system is characterized by death, suffering, and perpetual crisis.
8. No drug laws. Americans believed that people have the right to ingest whatever they want, no matter how harmful or destructive.
Today’s Americans believe that it is a rightful role of government to punish people for ingesting harmful substances, much as a parent punishes a child for putting bad things into his mouth.
9. No national-security state, including a Pentagon, military-industrial complex, empire of domestic and foreign military bases, CIA, NSA, or FBI. Our ancestors used the Constitution to call into existence a governmental structure known as a limited-government republic.
Today, the centerpiece of American life is the national-security state, along with its sordid, dark-side practices of state-sponsored assassinations, torture, indefinite detention, kangaroo military tribunals, and mass secret surveillance.
10. No empire, foreign interventionism, or foreign wars.
Today, military empire, foreign interventionism, coups, foreign aid, alliances with dictatorial regimes, regime-change operations, sanctions, embargoes, invasions, and occupations are an ongoing central part of American life.
11. No public-schooling systems. Education was, by and large, based on free-market principles.
Today, Americans are required to subject their children to a state-approved education. There are compulsory school-attendance laws, government schoolteachers, government-approved textbooks, government-established curricula, and compulsory taxation to fund it all. Public schooling is another example of a socialist, centrally planned program.
12. No gun control. Americans believed that the right to keep and bear arms is a natural, God-given right that cannot be controlled and regulated, much like such other rights as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion.
Today, the right to keep and bear arms is controlled, regulated, and even nullified in certain areas of the country.
These twelve major differences naturally give rise to an important question: Was the abandonment of America’s sound founding principles the reason for the massive chaos, crises, and dysfunction that riddle our society today?