Dan Popp
What did you think the IRS does?
By Dan Popp
May 26, 2013

...the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron... – Paul (1 Timothy 4:12b, NAS95)

Have you heard? The Internal Revenue Service has been harassing some groups of citizens and greasing the skids for other groups. Wow. Tell it not in Gath. Lawless Government Uses Power Lawlessly; Film at 11. As the kid in the commercial said, "This is my 'shocked' face."

Excuse me for asking, but what did you think the IRS does?

What did you, dear anguished reader, imagine that the income tax was designed to do? Early 20th Century Americans were funding the federal government with excise taxes and tariffs when some envious people said that the rich weren't paying their fair share. Washington needed the power to tax the very wealthy, directly. To target them. These Americans had every right to expect "equal protection under the law;" to be treated, and taxed, the same as everyone else. And yet sinners enticed other sinners to use the sword of government to confiscate their property. The targeting of law-abiding-but-disfavored groups isn't something new and strange. It's not the result of a few overzealous bureaucrats in Cincinnati going rogue during the Obama campaign. Violating the rights of certain groups of citizens is the reason the income tax exists. Why else would we need one?

Now, if "an unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy," as Chief Justice John Marshall famously said, then a limited power to tax involves a power to impede. And a power to tax unevenly involves a power to obstruct opponents and aid supporters. That is corruption. It's also the definition of a progressive income tax.

The United States government, through the IRS, Congress and unconstitutional bureaucratic agencies, targets many groups: the rich, the "middle class," the non-union worker, churches, businesses, Asians, renters, smokers, drivers, savers, parents who send their kids to private schools... a full list would be longer than this article. And I don't see much angst at the coerced preference for Group A or punishment of Group B going on all around us. The principle is the same. What the IRS did is what the entire government does, every day, all day long, has been doing since at least the Wilson administration and is increasing exponentially. The outrage seems very selective.

In a sense, Lois Lerner is correct in saying that she "didn't do anything wrong." Of course everyone employed at the IRS does wrong for a living. But Lerner and her brown-shirted colleagues didn't do anything out of the ordinary. They didn't do anything they weren't expected and authorized to do, generally speaking. If trampling the rights of one group is good and lawful, then what executive could be blamed for merely training her sights on a different group? That's just good "customer service."

You can't be outraged when the IRS targets the political right if you shrug when it targets the successful. Your performance in the Shocked And Appalled scene is unconvincing if you can only play it with the IRS, but not with the EPA or the NLRB. Don't clear a space on your mantle for that OscarĀ® just yet. Bullying isn't wrong sometimes unless it's wrong all the time. If you want to end the unequal, unjust treatment of some citizens by tax collectors, you have to end the income tax. And most of what the federal government does.

If you don't want to do that, either find a way to integrate your principles (regain your integrity) or cry your crocodile tears elsewhere.

© Dan Popp


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