IRS Scandal Highlights the Dangers of Big Government

Both parties need a powerful tax agency to support their favored programs.


It's hard to believe, but the current tax scandal will eventually fade away just as all Washington, D.C. scandals run their course. It's easier to believe that the IRS will remain a loathsome and abusive agency, subject perhaps to some reforms and personnel changes that ultimately will do nothing to change its character.

This has been a good teachable moment for Americans about the nature of the federal Leviathan, but few people will glean the most important lesson: Both parties need a powerful tax agency to collect the funds that support the programs they, and the constituencies they represent, favor.

And boy do they favor programs. Despite the partisan rancor and the pretense of "big debates" about the size of government, the Democrats and Republicans have no interest in trimming, let alone slashing, anything of substance. Democratic leaders are particularly infuriating as they blame any tragedy on sequester "cuts," but Republicans are no more given to trimming entitlement programs – plus they still want the defense budget to grow.

Conservative think tanks even echo the tactics of liberals by complaining that modest cuts in the military budget amounts to an assault on our nation's ability to protect itself. As the Heritage Foundation opined, "President Obama's overall budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2014 and beyond is all but certain to result in the continued application of sequestration to the defense account, which will lead to defense spending levels that are too low to permit the military to protect U.S. vital national interests."

This weekend, newspaper readers will find the usual, touching commentary calling on Americans to spend some time during the three-day holiday remembering the sacrifice made by Americans who died while serving in the military. That's an honorable idea, but I'd suggest we get past the "freedom isn't free" clichés and ask a more pointed question few on the right or left want to answer: Has our continued exertion of military might made us a safer, better and freer nation?

Americans shouldn't be shocked to find that our government relies on a muscular and fearsome tax-collection agency to fund our massive welfare state. And they shouldn't be shocked that our nation, which has a defense budget higher than the combined defense budgets of the next 10 highest-spending nations, projects its military power in ways that have more to do with realpolitik than with protecting "freedom."

Even the military is dispensing with arcane talk about protecting freedom. I recently spotted billboard ads from the U.S. Navy, which proclaimed: "A Global Force for Good." I perused the Navy's Web page dedicated to the ad campaign, and there wasn't a word on it about protecting freedom. I found the lingo a little creepy: "The strength and status of any nation can be measured in part by the will and might of its navy. … As the largest, most versatile, most capable naval force on the planet today, America's Navy epitomizes this idea."

A few years ago, the Associated Press' Robert Fisk reported on the rewriting of the U.S. Army's rewriting of the "Soldier's Creed." It had long been a simple ethical statement in which soldiers vowed to protect our nation, live up to the highest ideals, and not disgrace the uniform. The Army rewrote it into a creed of the "warrior," in which America's soldiers vowed to "never accept defeat" as they destroy the nation's enemies.

I don't always agree with Fisk's politics, but he was dead-on in complaining about a subtle shift in America from honoring our military and its necessary role to a more Sparta-like embrace of militarism.

In December, my wife and I visited Central America, which brought back memories of decades-old foreign policy debates that helped mold my political worldview. We flew into Liberia, Costa Rica's modern Daniel Oduber Quiros airport – jokingly referred to as Oliver North International because it was built on the site of the military airstrip used to send aid up the Pacific coast to supply the anti-communist Nicaraguan contras.

I remember cheering the vote in 1984 that approved aid to the contras. As a young conservative, I was eager to see the United States project its military might in a way that was designed to roll back rather than simply come to terms with the freedom-sapping and expansive Soviet empire. But one of the most memorable sights as we drove through the impoverished Nicaraguan countryside last year was the huge posters of El Presidente Daniel Ortega that welcomed visitors into every city. North's Cold War nemesis remains the president of the country.

This reminded me of the insight that, ultimately, America can only be the guardian of its own freedoms. Unfortunately, we haven't been doing so well on that score in the ensuing years.

The Soviet Union's collapse was a godsend, but it's hard to argue that America has become a freer nation since the Cold War ended. The so-called peace dividend has turned into a down-payment on other wars, on maintaining the infrastructure of troops, bases and weaponry that sustains our nation's role as the world's most effective "global force for good," as the Navy's ad folks put it.

The best way to honor the sacrifices of those who perished in the nation's wars is to look at ways to limit unnecessary American military endeavors in the future. Right now, I'm guessing that will happen around the time that Congress decides to disband the IRS.

NEXT: Taliban Militants Launch Attacks in Kabul

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  1. Another article on the IRS. It’s becoming a meme!

    1. The meme is another instance of Chicago-style politics in DC, not surprisingly.

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        (Go to site and open “Home” for details)

    2. If you think Leslie`s story is really cool,, last week my son made $7179 working 10 hours a week an their house and their co-worker’s half-sister`s neighbour did this for 4 months and errned more than $7179 in their spare time at there computer. use the instructions available at this link…

  2. The IRS exists to systematically steal money from people. Don’t act surprised when they try to steal more.

    1. people who proclaim proudly that “taxation is theft” are either anarchists or hypocrites… or possibly amish. and of the 3 i’d prefer the amish.

      1. If it’s not theft what is it? Taxing productivity is one of the most vile things the gubmint does. I just found out that I owe an additional 17 grand this year, which considering we have about 4 in the bank is going to mean some serious sacrifice this year. That money that will go to a wasteful gubmint would have instead been spent on the first vacation we have taken in the last couple years and the rest would have been retirement investment. Guess I will have to rely on social security. Yeah right.

        I should have not worked the last two months of the year or spent a bunch on new product to give our small biz more write offs. But our accountant (my wife) was heavily pregnant at the time and didn’t get to our taxes till after the fiscal year. If everyone had to actually write checks like this to the man instead of having it taken out of their paychecks we would have mass agitation for less taxation of productivity.

        1. … so you’d be willing to pay for a non-wasteful government?

          plus, if you owed 17k in taxes, it sounds like you’re not doing too badly…

  3. I don’t always agree with Fisk’s politics, but he was dead-on in complaining about a subtle shift in America from honoring our military and its necessary role to a more Sparta-like embrace of militarism.

    Greenhut, why do you hate the troops? You should want to do everything for them, including quarter them in your home.

    Long live the Warrior Caste!

  4. Indeed, the republican ideal is that men who are capable and disciplined in their everyday lives are able to enlist, train, fight, win, and return to civilian life.

    The creation of a permanent army over a certain size seems to be a historical marker of the decline of free states.


    In early August 2008, the New York Times trumpeted the creation of a left-wing group (a 501(c)4) called Accountable America. Founded by Obama supporter and liberal activist Tom Mattzie, the group?as the story explained?would start by sending “warning” letters to 10,000 GOP donors, “hoping to create a chilling effect that will dry up contributions.” The letters would alert “right-wing groups to a variety of potential dangers, including legal trouble, public exposure and watchdog groups digging through their lives.” As Mr. Mattzie told Mother Jones: “We’re going to put them at risk.”


    These people are actual fascists, in my opinion. They’re not just well meaning activists, misguided but good people. They are the slime of humanity, and it’s time to stop talking to them like they want an honest debate.

    1. It would explain why they elected JFK, then. Jonah Goldberg must feel so smug right now.

  6. Start by reducing taxes and making the spending more painful. But the cuts can be constructive. End all bbusiness taxes. Here’s why:
    1. Where but from their customers, you and me, does a business get money to pay their taxes? You’re paying those taxes with each purchase, but they’re hidden from you. Wouldn’t “transparency” dictate that you see when you pay the cost of government?
    2. We decry “crony capitalism. Why? Does it give some enterprises a preference over their competition, in exchange for favors from campaign contributions to outright bribes to law makers? If you think all businesses should be on an equal footing, how else would you accomplish such a condition? If you’d like to get corporate money out of elections, how better than to eliminate incentives to buy those lawgivers?
    3. Health care for employees gives some tax subsidized health care at the expense of others. If there was no tax to avoid, it would, put all workers on the same level playing field.
    4. Having the lowest possible taxes on businesses would make the product of American labor competitive in the world market while preserving higher take-home wages.
    5. It is a far easier call for the IRS to hold all citizens to a common standard than to attempt to differentiate among businesses, unions, religions, and advocacy groups as diverse as the Sierra club or the NRA.

  7. like Christopher implied I’m alarmed that anybody can earn $7398 in a few weeks on the computer. did you see this site link…

  8. The Jew run IRS is nothing more than a collection agency for the Jew run Federal Reserve.

    1. This is not sarcasm.

      1. Nor is it intelligent.

        BTW, Greenhut’s second to last paragraph is very well put, imo.

  9. my roomate’s step-sister makes $65 every hour on the laptop. She has been out of work for 9 months but last month her pay check was $21459 just working on the laptop for a few hours. Read more on this web site…

  10. the IRS is a private corporation and IRS code is not law.

    1. …a private corporation?
      In what State are they Incorporated?

      1. Delaware

  11. my best friend’s sister-in-law makes $67 an hour on the internet. She has been without a job for seven months but last month her payment was $21287 just working on the internet for a few hours. Go to this web site and read more…

  12. Has our continued exertion of military might made us a safer, better and freer nation?

    Yes. Next question: Can we guarantee that only Mr. Greenhut’s family, friends, and colleagues will be butchered on the streets of Woolwich? or Boston? If the answer is yes, then cut it all.

  13. I fail to see how the “peace dividend” has been a down-payment on other wars.
    It actually funded a vast expansion of the domestic side of the Federal Government as non-defense spending soared, and defense spending and manpower was curtailed.

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