Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Party of the Government: Abuses of Power by the IRS and the Expectation that We Believe and Accept


 
Let’s review what IRS Commissioner Koskinen is asking us to believe as he testifies cheerfully to Congress:

1.     It was pure coincidence and chance that Lois Lerner’s computer crashed and that emails were lost at a time that coincides with the focus of the investigation into the targeting of conservative groups.
2.     That the IRS tried desperately to recover her lost emails but decided not to recover them from a known source, the back up tapes that hold the information for six months; and that we shouldn’t have any suspicions about this fact.
3.     That in determining whether or not their had been a criminal violation connected with the loss of the emails, it is best to rely on the IRS leadership exercising common sense to make a determination rather than actually reviewing criminal code.
4.     That an agency that requires citizens to maintain 7 years of financial records in case of an audit, cannot put in place a system that can reliably maintain electronic records for any period of time.  Remember, this is an agency that has little forgiveness for citizens who legitimately lose records or make honest mistakes.  The price tag for a reliable system is $10-$30M which is too high.  Meanwhile the IRS spent over $80M in annual bonuses to its employees.

Other pieces of information that we should accept regarding this entire incident and chain of events:

1.     That Lois Lerner invoked the Fifth Amendment, yet there was no crime committed.  Rather, we should accept that this was an abuse of power by an aberrant few.
2.     That John Koskinen, a man who has donated over $100,000 to the Democratic Pary, Democratic candidates, and liberal causes as well as thousands of dollars directly to the campaign efforts of Barack Obama, is an unbiased, impartial, and disinterested administrator of the Internal Revenue Service and is best qualified to lead the agency through a time of controversy and to make sure that no crime was committed—a crime that limits the reach of conservative groups.

Here are a few questions Commissioner Koskinen and President Obama may be thinking:
1.     Why would any of us ever think that the IRS overstepped its bounds by attacking groups based on political ideology? 
2.     Why would any of us ever think that such blatant abuse of power was condoned and perhaps encouraged by the very head of the agency? 
3.     Why would we ever be suspicious that the President of the United States would indicate, explicitly or otherwise, to the leadership of the IRS that they should use their powers to fix what he felt was an incorrect decision by the US Supreme Court?
4.     Why would we suspect that Commissioner Lerner and the agency destroyed on purpose emails that may be central to the investigation, especially in light of her utilizing her Constitutional rights under the Fifth Amendment?  (By the way, can we get a list of other incidents of emails being lost over the past few years, or was it just these ones?)
5.     Why would we not trust a man who has donated $100,000 to the Democratic and liberal causes to clean up this mess?  If the president trusts him, then we should trust him.
6.     Why should we be concerned that the agency that can so easily lose emails at any time and target specific groups based on their political views will also be in charge of administering the Affordable Care Act?

Even if we were to accept, for the sake of argument, that we live in a galaxy where everything lined up so that the very emails needed were the ones that were lost accidentally through a hard drive crash and then were not recovered, perhaps the present IRS Commissioner, the President of the United States, and those one the left who are defending the indefensible could understand why the rest of us might be a little suspicious and untrusting. 

The issue of the IRS targeting any specific group unfairly should be a non-partisan issue.  It should be a national issue.  Once such an abuse of power, whatever the cause, is allowed to pass unpunished, it becomes easy for all sides of the political spectrum to engage in such behavior in the future.  A biased, partial, and interested IRS is not in the interest of any American.  It will undercut even further public trust in government giving rise to abuses of power and reactions to abuses that will pull at the very threads of the nation.

We cannot allow career politicians and corrupt bureaucrats to seek after power for the sake of power.  They must remain the servants of the people.  The government cannot become a political arm on its own.  We must avoid the scenario described by George Orwell in his book Nineteen Eighty-Four:

"In a way, the world-view of the Party imposed itself most successfully on people incapable of understanding it. They could be made to accept the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening. By lack of understanding they remained sane. They simply swallowed everything, and what they swallowed did them no harm, because it left no residue behind, just as a grain of corn will pass undigested through the body of a bird." 

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