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A non-political IRS is essential for safety of the people
Remember the name Brendan Eich and his resignation from Mozilla?
If that event didn't scare you into action, then one of a few things must be true: You don't know what happened. You are a liberal and gleeful over the damage done to a white, successful male. You think that in America the good guys always win. Or, you are just a fool. I can fix all but the last.
Brendan Eich was the CEO of Mozilla, a California software company. He had made a contribution to an organization supporting California's Proposition 8, an antigay marriage ballot proposition, which passed in 2008. The IRS leaked the information and it came to the attention of OkCupid, a popular dating website. Due to pressure from OkCupid, Eich resigned his position at Mozilla.
This issue happened to be a conservative issue and a conservative was harmed by the IRS in this case. My point has nothing to do with what the issue was. My point is directed at what the politicians and IRS did. It would be just as disturbing if, under a Republican administration, Al Sharpton had his tax information publicized.
In my more strident younger years, I referred to the IRS as the American Gestapo. That was an exaggeration. Now we are truly headed in that direction. For younger readers, the Gestapo was Nazi Germany’s secret police and the creation of Hermann Göring, one of Adolph Hitler’s top henchmen. They had super legal powers and were capable of almost anything, including taking your life. Intimidation was their method of gaining results.
I don't believe we will reach the point where the IRS will threaten people's lives or physical well-being, but everything else is open to abuse.
Information is power and no one has more information than the IRS. Think of the information the IRS has about you from your tax returns and, in the near future, the information available through the Affordable Care Act. They know where you live, all your contact information, your investments, sources of income, asset locations, relatives, etc.
It is right and proper for them to have that information for the purpose of administrating the most complicated and convoluted tax system in the history of the world. The problem arises when zealots determine that punishing enemies of their cause can be accomplished through federal government agencies. Hermann Göring had to build the Gestapo from scratch. Political zealots and their supporters within the bureaucracy have a ready-made tool for intimidation and control. All you have to do is politicize the IRS.
The current administration uses more than just the IRS as a weapon to punish enemies. Other agencies such as EPA, Labor, etc., target various entities on the enemies list but only in the segments over which they have jurisdiction. The IRS touches everyone.
For decades now it has been the American nightmare to be audited by the IRS. If you owned a business, it was particularly intimidating. The rules, regulations and directives are incomprehensible and the additional taxes levied, plus penalties and interest, could cause financial ruin.
Trying to cope with an audit reminds me of the Grand Inquisitor Torquemada's question to enemies of the King of Spain during the Inquisition. The question asked of the prisoner was whether or not they had ever had an impure thought. For a yes answer, the person was executed for having impure thoughts. For a no answer, they were executed for lying.
In order to have an organization with the power inherent in what the IRS does, non-politicization is absolutely essential for the safety from big government by the people. The problem is, zealots both within the agency and in the ruling political class do not care about such issues. They are advancing an agenda the people may not want, but in a zealot’s mind, you simply lack the correct view of the world and therefore violating your rights is a necessary action to further a higher goal.
If you have any doubt of the validity of that assertion, simply find a good biography about Hitler, Pol Pot, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and many lesser despots. I am in no way comparing them to any American politician. I am simply saying that history is well populated with misguided zealots who, for their perceived good of the citizens, did evil things because it served their purposes. Each thought the end justified the means, and the end, in their mind, was paramount to any other consideration.
Whether you are a liberal or a conservative or a Democrat or a Republican, you should be very concerned about the politicization of the IRS. Don't gloat if you are a liberal. Regimes change and the next administration may target your friends and associates instead of your perceived enemies. Once the precedent is set, it could become standard procedure. That would be harmful to us all.
In the process of politicizing the IRS, the current administration is far more threatening to small business than it is to the general population. Most W-2 earners have a job, and the tax code as applied to them is relatively simple when compared to a small business owner.
Small business is directly at odds with the current administration. Small business owners prove every day by their existence in America that you do not have to be a victim if you choose not to be. Almost every small business owner stands on their merit, and government is an impediment to their success. Being beholding to no one, they are some politician’s nightmare. One person’s success sets an example that, if you want to live independently, you can. To those who pander to the victims, those who refuse to be victims destroy the argument for dependency on taxpayer supported largess.
What should you do? Same as always. Get involved. My goal has always been to get small business owners involved in the political process through the Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Association of Michigan, etc. This time everybody should work through their advocacy group to end this practice.
This is not just a business issue. It cuts to the very core of our Democracy, and we all will suffer if it continues.
Paul Hense is the retired president of local accounting firm Hense & Associates and the past chairman of the Small Business Association of Michigan.