Collectively, we Americans deserve the IRS

Walter Williams's picture

Individually, Americans do not deserve to be subservient to such a fear-mongering, intimidating and powerful agency as the Internal Revenue Service; but collectively, we do. Let’s look at it.

Since the 1791 ratification of our Constitution, until well into the 1920s, federal spending as a percentage of gross domestic product never exceeded 5 percent, except during war.

Today federal spending is 25 percent of our GDP. State and local government spending is about 15 percent of the GDP. That means government spends more than 40 cents of each dollar we earn. If we add government’s regulatory burden, which is simply a disguised form of taxation, the government take is more than 50 percent of what we produce.

In order to squeeze out of us half of what we produce, a government tax collection agency must be ruthless and able to put the fear of God into its citizens. The IRS has mastered that task. Congress has given it powers that would be deemed criminal if used by others.

For example, the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment protects Americans against self-incrimination and being forced to bear witness against oneself. That’s precisely what one does when he is compelled to sign his income tax form. However, a Fifth Amendment argument can’t be used as a defense in a court of law. The IRS will counter that you voluntarily provided the information on your tax return.

If you’re in debt to Bank of America, Wells Fargo or any other private creditor, in order for it to garnish your wages as a means of collecting debt, it must first get a court order. By contrast, the IRS can garnish your wages without having to get a court order first. If your employer doesn’t obey the IRS and send it a portion of your wages, he will be held accountable for what you owe. At the minimum, some IRS collection procedures violate one of the basic tenets of the rule of law — namely, the law of the land applies equally to individuals (and other private entities) and the government (and its officials and agents).

Our Founding Fathers feared the emergence of an agency such as the IRS and its potential for abuse. That’s why they gave us Article 1, Section 9 of the Constitution, which reads: “No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken.”

A capitation is a tax placed directly on an individual. That’s what an income tax is. The founders feared the abuse and the government power inherent in a direct tax. In Section 8 of Article 1, they added, “But all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.” These protections the founders gave us were undone by the Progressive era’s 16th Amendment, which reads, “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.”

If federal spending were only 5 percent of our GDP ($750 billion) — instead of 25 percent ($3.8 trillion) — there would be no need for today’s oppressive and complicated tax system. You might ask, “How could we be a great nation without all the government spending?” When our Constitution was ratified in 1791, we were a weak and poor nation. One hundred forty years later, with federal spending a mere pittance of what it is today, we became the world’s richest and most powerful nation. No small part of this miracle was limited and unintrusive government.

The bottom line is that members of Congress need such a ruthless tax collection agency as the IRS because of the charge we Americans have given them. We want what the IRS does — namely, to take the earnings of one American so Congress can create a benefit for some other American.

Don’t get angry with IRS agents. They are just following orders.

[Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University.] COPYRIGHT 2013 CREATORS.COM

stranger than f...
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"IRS-gate" may be attributable to Human Nature

For extremists on either side, investigation of IRS-gate is superfluous since they have already discerned their truth. Either Mr. Obama was far too busy healing the sick and raising the dead to harm one hair on a Tea Partier’s head, or the President is Satan incarnate, incapable of being truthful, and Nixonian in his persecution of humble tea drinkers.

There is another plausible explanation for IRS agent targeting behavior that takes human nature into account. Tax collectors (like most others) want a secure job with benefits and pensions, and they are regularly exposed to the media. Liberal groups champion government solutions to problems that actually expand IRS activities such as extracting more revenue from the wealthy. Conversely, conservative groups dislike taxes in general and IRS-based solutions to economic difficulties in particular. Right wing calls for eliminating the IRS altogether in favor of a “Fair Tax” are common.

Perhaps the most parsimonious explanation for unequal scrutiny resides in the agents themselves. Despite agency protocol, one might be much more compelled to hassle those who see you as a jackbooted government thug rather than those who want to expand your sphere of influence.

So if you haven’t already tried and exonerated/convicted the President, consider the innate survival instinct. After all, it motivates the entire biosphere.

mudcat
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Human Nature phenom makes sense. But there is more.

Sure, it is very likely that several mid-level people erred on the side of self-preservation and did inappropriate things. I would also submit that they knew these things were inappropriate, but rationalized by thinking that if caught their supervisor and his supervisor and so on up the chain would be sympathetic to these outbursts of "Human Nature" and likely quietly support them or even cover it up.

I daresay that if one of these mid-level people ever gave any thought to "what would Obama want me to do" the answer would clearly be in favor of political warfare. The rotten fish starts to stink from the head.

I simply cannot wait until 2 female U.S. Marshals approach Lois Lerner and inform her that they will be escorting her to jail for contempt of Congress. If Issa has any class he will do this before testimony starts so she has something to think about. She'd be much smarter to get immunity for her testimony so she can rat out the higherups.

Joe Kawfi
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STF

Or it could be that barry obama and his administration are nothing but a bunch of lying, two-bit thigs. obama isn't man enough to take criticism of his radical policies, so he attacks the accuser. He's a coward.

father time
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TO Blame

Of course, when a situation arises, and things go wrong we all point fingers in opposite directions. When a candidate runs for public office, such as the President of The United States, he/she is somewhat aware of the ramifications that come about during the term of office which he/she is elected. The President has power over every facet of government from the treasury to the Military and should be the one held responsible for these problems. The president is elected to SERVE the people and not himself. We as Americans have not done enough to stop these illegal action that have taken place in recent months. Oh have we talked about it though, the buck must stop here. Government officials , when under examination from a congressional hearing must be accountable for what has happened, regardless of having criminal charges brought before them. They were being paid to SERVE the American people and not somebody else.
Our country needs to be taken back, taxes are out of control and the HARD working people of this country deserve better. People should not be scared of the government or any body thereof, because we elected those people to be there. Just like Bill Cosby once said, to his children, " I brought you into this world and I can take you out if need be" or something of that nature. America, Take action now and contact your officials. They make good money and have awesome benefits. They do not participate in Social Security and could care less about ours. One term in office and they are Vested for life. No wonder they fight and spend so much money to get elected. Patrick Henry said " give me liberty or give me death" and lately I haven't been feeling so good. They are slowly killing the America I once loved. Its tiem folks, now is the time. What will you do?

conditon55
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Counter Point

There is now counter point. I agree.
The problem is not the IRS. It is the size of government, government spending and the tax code.

There are too many industires addicted to the drug of easy Federal dollars. Defense. Health Care, Higher education - meaning colleges and universities.

We have seen it. Orchestrated attacks on ObamaCare. Never mind they congress knew since the time of CLinton and before that thatthe government health care assistance program were destined to bankrupt the counry. and that health care has become a 'industry' tuned to milk the federal dollars cow.

Defense -trying to bankrupt the country, cloaking their insatiable need for money with terms like readiness, constantly looking for a new foe worthy of the glut of defense dollar spending. We are a massive military organization in constant search of a clean conflist that draw vast volumes of material, but will not put big numbers of people at risk.

Colleges and universities - through student loans and various federal grants.

THe IRS trying to enforce the law, that congress gave them. The IRS does not make the law. COngress does. And the Tea Party singing the blues because they got asked to confirm the details of their app for tax exempt status so they can hide the identies of their donors. And Liberal groups got asked too many questions too, but they are not singing the blues so bad.

And not a single congress person tlaking about tax reform.

Tlak of downsizingthe government is always coupled with warnings of new recession and global economic collapse.

Isn't it the behavior of addiction ? Addiction to easy federal dollars ?

S. Lindsey
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Syntax and grammar issues aside...

...Over 400 Groups and individuals where targeted. All of those groups where either aligned with the Teaparty, Patriot, Constitutional or any other such named groups.

Do you have any named sources that any Liberal group were also targeted during the same time period and any liberal group that was asked the same questions? Do you?

I heard you really like stating statements without substance. Well that was what I heard.