June 1, 2013

"Americans are overly deferential to bureaucracy, but, in my observation, they are uniquely fearful of the state’s tax collectors..."

Mark Steyn writes:
I am an immigrant to this great land, and I love it, but I will make a small observation from my years in the United States which I hope won’t be taken the wrong way: Like citizens of almost all Western democracies in the 21st century, Americans are overly deferential to bureaucracy, but, in my observation, they are uniquely fearful of the state’s tax collectors to a degree I have never seen with Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs in London or equivalent agencies in Paris, Ottawa, Rome, Canberra. The IRS has, in American terms, extraordinary powers.... Americans are fearless if some guy pulls some stunt in a shopping mall, but an IRS assault is brutal and unending. Many activists faded away, and the media began writing stories about how the Tea Party had peaked; they were over; they wouldn’t be a factor in 2012. And so it proved.... [T]he plan worked.

53 comments:

AprilApple said...

American voters say 76 - 17 percent, including 63 - 30 percent among Democrats, that a special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate charges the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today.

Pogo said...

If the IRS is not dismantled, if it takes over our healthcare as designed in Obamacare, there is no argument anymore.

There is no turning back from complete and total authoritarianism.

No longer the stuff of warnings from catastrophizing wingnuts, but real, and here.

And for me, one more reason to move and push for secession.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...


against all odds, do we actually have the bastards on the run? I'm skeptical still.

But, hope springs eternal.

pm317 said...

And so it proved.... [T]he plan worked.

Yeah, now that he puts it that way, why? I think it is the rule of law. The big people, monied people know how to skirt the IRS but the little people fear it none the less because of the general notion of rule of law in this country. I don't think those countries he mentions are as litigious as America can be on the little people. You know, even Martha Stewart goes to jail for lying about some "stupid" thing. Even she can't skirt around -- that is what the little people see; they are afraid of the Feds.

AprilApple said...

American voters say 76 - 17 percent, including 63 - 30 percent among Democrats, that a special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate charges the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today.

Obama says "NO" to special prosecutor. You know, because even though he met with the head of the IRS 157 times, Obama knows nothing about targeting conservative groups.

Any bets on when Obama takes the "Executive privilege" route?

AprilApple said...

Mark Steyn's writing is so delicious...

Furthermore, although the commissioner of the IRS, Douglas Shulman, visited Obama’s White House no fewer than 157 times, which is 156 times more than his predecessor Mark Everson ever visited the White House, we know that this was for legitimate Easter-egg rolls, as he testified to Congress, and meetings to discuss Obamacare. The Easter Bunny, one should note, visits the White House two to four times as often as the average IRS commissioner did before Mr. Shulman came along. But you can’t make a health-care omelet without breaking Easter eggs: It is one of the many distinctive features of Obama-style “health” “care” “reform” that, while it has not led to the hiring of a single additional doctor, nurse, or hospital janitor, it did require the biggest expansion of the IRS since the Second World War.

traditionalguy said...

The IRS has the powers that the Federal government first displayed in Georgia on Sherman's march to the sea.

They are an organized theft Army that have carte blanche and no accountability. They are BY DESIGN an agency whose mission is to create fear to dare oppose them and humiliate its victims.

To turn that Agency over to King Obama I's ChiTown mob for use in their war against conservatives and show once more that War is Hell is a scandal to end all scandals.

If that is not an impeachable offense, then there is no Constitution in the way of King Obama I's conquests.

drunkdebunker said...

We all love to bitch about the IRS and Obama, but the real problem is a nation of poorly educated and highly propagandized ignoramuses. A close friend, a perfectly decent and hardworking woman, a rare Democrat among small business owners, told me she was "amused" that the IRS went after the Tea Party because she doesn't "like them."

AprilApple said...

How would democrats feel if Bush and Cheney used the IRS to go after progressive groups?

Rusty said...

Didn't Althouse assert a couple of weeks ago that once the assumption of impartiality is lost there is no going back.

I contend that unless it is dismantled and rebuilt the IRS is going to need increasing force to operate.

Rusty said...
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Diogenes of Sinope said...

When the government has an agency with the power to force citizens to incriminate themselves we are screwed. The IRS has this power.

pm317 said...

told me she was "amused" that the IRS went after the Tea Party because she doesn't "like them."

That seems to be the fall back position of many Dems to pretend this is not serious. I guess they are that clueless.

AprilApple said...

The IRS is also a union.

Follow the money.

Diogenes of Sinope said...

The power to tax is the power to destroy. Now that the IRS is an organization of the Left, they are using this power against the enemies of the Left.

Mogget said...

I don't think that a nation whose middle class has lost trust in rule of law and/or the lawful use of government power can survive. Speaking for myself, now, if many IRS folks do not go to jail, I will conclude that my innate mistrust of government has been fully validated.

ricpic said...

If the federal government collected its revenue at the point of sale all of the intrusiveness of looking into a citizen's income would disappear.

AprilApple said...

Peggy Noonan is getting warmer...

It is considered a bit of a faux pas to point this out, but what we are talking about in part is a Democratic president, a largely Democratic professional administrative class in Washington, and an IRS whose workers belong to a union whose political action committee gave roughly 95% of its political contributions last year to Democrats.

and..

Tim Carney had a remarkable piece in the Washington Examiner this week in which he looked for campaign contributions from the IRS Cincinnati office. "In the 2012 election, every donation traceable to this office went to President Obama or liberal Sen. Sherrod Brown." An IRS employee said in an email to Mr. Carney, "Do you think people willing to sacrifice lucrative private sector careers to work in tax administration . . . are genuinely going to support the party directed by Grover Norquist?" Mr. Carney noted that one of his IRS correspondents had an interesting detail on his social media profile. He belongs to a Facebook FB -0.82%group called "Target the Shutdown at the Tea Party States." It advised the president, during the 2011 debt-ceiling fight: "For instance, shut down air traffic control at airports in Norfolk, Tampa, Nashville."

Wow. I guess that was target practice.

rhhardin said...

Guys will survive the bureaucracy much better than women.

Guys don't go to doctors anyway.

Jay said...

a rare Democrat among small business owners, told me she was "amused" that the IRS went after the Tea Party because she doesn't "like them."

Of course.

Why would anyone be surprised by this?

Leftists view anyone who do not agree with them as illegitimate weirdos. They have no problem at all using the law to get rid of people that they don't want to hear.

lemondog said...

IRS Guiding principle: Service plus Enforcement equals Compliance

From Wiki:
John Requard. Jr., accused of leaking the documents (Nixon tax returns), collected delinquent taxes in the slums of Washington. In his words:

We went after people for nickels and dimes, many of them poor and in many cases illiterate people who didn't know how to deal with a government agency.


A proud heritage

edutcher said...

I don't know about how "deferential" we are to bureaucracy. I think Steyn (who doesn't know America as well as he thinks he does IMHO) confuses deference with the understanding that you do not cross these people lightly.

Sometimes it's a necessary evil, but people really don't like it, most realize it's been allowed to get out of hand, and tend to look down on "civil servants".

n.n said...

Money is a means to an end. It is a negotiable and fungible article for products and services which we need and desire. If our labor was compensated with chickens, then we would be equally fearful or wary of the USDA, or perhaps the FDA.

The Godfather said...

Americans' fear of the IRS is why this scandal may have legs that none of the others have.

Paddy O said...

Clearly he hasn't seen Stranger than Fiction.

Paddy O said...
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edutcher said...

Steyn equates deference with intimidation, but I recall many Tea Party organizations saying their efforts would be directed toward GOTV; that their days of rallies and intimidating Congresscreeps were over.

I think Steyn is falling for the psyop.

cubanbob said...

The deference stems from fear. Fear of the power over us and the financial ruin that can come of it. But for that then they would be treated for what they are-hired help.

Insty has it right. it's time to get rid of the civil service as it is and replace it with the spoils system. At least the graft and corruption would be more and honest and transparent and with greater accountability.

Original Mike said...

Several years back an IRS bureaucrat (probably the Commissioner, but I'm not sure) was taking heat at a Congressional hearing. He responded with something along the lines of, "Senator, I can assure you that most people under audit have a cordial relationship with the IRS."

To which the Senator responded, "Most people have a cordial relationship with the neighborhood pit bull as well."

AprilApple said...

Only the GOP cares about the lavish spending of tax payer dollars on IRS elites.

The rest of the nation shouldn't be bothered. To most democrats, that's money well spent... right?

Michael K said...

Every day I am given another reason to be content that I lived most of my life before this criminal regime came to power. It will not end well but my children who voted for Obama will have to deal with the consequences.

Unfortunately, I also have a couple of children who are smarter than that but they don't have graduate (law) degrees.

Rich Rostrom said...

The IRS relies on intimidation as a substitute for absolutely comprehensive power, to obtain general compliance. They act scary, so they don't have to audit every return and monitor every small business.

Euro tax bodies? The level of habitual evasion is much higher. In Greece, Italy, and France, I've read, no one pays any income tax that could be evaded with the slightest effort. I believe these countries get nearly all their revenue from VAT (sales tax) and payroll taxes.

Idunno about Britain.

sydney said...

Now that they also are in charge of healthcare, they will also be able to use their power to force physicians and hospitals to play along with Obamacare rules. Speak out against them and an audit may be heading your way.

Even worse, they can send other bureaucracies after you. OSHA and HIPAA fines alone can put a doctor out of business. HIPAA fines can be as high as 1.5 million dollars per offense. The whole regulatory system is out of control.

lemondog said...

Even worse, they can send other bureaucracies after you. OSHA and HIPAA fines alone can put a doctor out of business. HIPAA fines can be as high as 1.5 million dollars per offense. The whole regulatory system is out of control.

Worth reposting:

H.R. 3590 gives the federal government specific access to individual bank accounts

Bender said...
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Bender said...

I have not been to many oral arguments at the Supreme Court, but I remember one quite well involving an IRS attorney.

He stood up there in his morning coat and proceeded to treat the justices as if they were pieces of shit unworthy of his time. His attitude was basically "We're the IRS. We can do whatever we damn well please."

He gave one of the worst performances I've seen. A few months later the decision came down and this guy who had such contempt for the Court won 9-0.

sydney said...

Lemondog, that is truly scary.

From the linked post:

H.R. 3590 gives the federal government specific access to individual bank accounts and medical records as provided by that individuals health plan. The government may monitor an individuals finances and medical records electronically, for the purposes of determining an individuals eligibility for certain programs under the bill. They may also monitor an individuals finances and medical records to ascertain whether that individual has health insurance and is making regular premium payments to an approved health insurance plan; this will allow the federal government to determine each individuals financial responsibilities with respect to penalties and fees prior to or at the point of care as outlined in the bill. This clause also gives the government the ability to transfer funds electronically to or from an individuals bank account for the purposes of debiting his/her account for fees and penalties.

Even assuming they are a benign entity (which today they are not), what if they make a mistake?

bagoh20 said...

"Even assuming they are a benign entity (which today they are not), what if they make a mistake?"

They can ruin you just like a common identity thief. They could cause your credit to be ruined and your future severely damaged, and you will be left with little to no recourse, not even an apology. Yes Obama voters, tell me again about the scary demented old man, John McCain, and how dangerous he was.

Rusty said...


Even assuming they are a benign entity (which today they are not), what if they make a mistake?

They didn't.
It was never about healthcare.
It's always been about control.

cubanbob said...

H.R. 3590 gives the federal government specific access to individual bank accounts and medical records as provided by that individuals health plan. The government may monitor an individuals finances and medical records electronically, for the purposes of determining an individuals eligibility for certain programs under the bill. They may also monitor an individuals finances and medical records to ascertain whether that individual has health insurance and is making regular premium payments to an approved health insurance plan; this will allow the federal government to determine each individuals financial responsibilities with respect to penalties and fees prior to or at the point of care as outlined in the bill. This clause also gives the government the ability to transfer funds electronically to or from an individuals bank account for the purposes of debiting his/her account for fees and penalties."

Yet another reason to keep your money overseas to the extent possible.

Smilin' Jack said...

Americans are overly deferential to bureaucracy, but, in my observation, they are uniquely fearful of the state’s tax collectors...

Hey, it's just the price we pay for civilization.

lemondog said...

Lemondog, that is truly scary.

Scary indeed.

And even more so as 'law'makers, in the never-ending search for revenue, become inclined to allow it to morph into something more aggressive.

William Chadwick said...

The IRS: the "liberals'*" goon squad.

*And by "liberals," I mean of course, "tax-happy, coercion-addicted State-f***ers."



Insufficiently Sensitive said...

As usual, Mark Steyn nails it, pointing out a few of the banana-republic features of the Obama administration.

lemondog said...

Anyone remember the Carol Ward case in the late 1990's

Consider the case of Carol Ward. In 1993 Ms. Ward, a Colorado Springs businesswoman, became
incensed when, during a meeting between her son and IRS auditor Paula Dzierzanowski, Ms.
Dzierzanowski began asking questions about her family's children's clothing stores that Ms. Ward
felt showed gross ignorance. Ms. Ward taunted the auditor: "Based on what I can see of your
accounting skills, you'd be better off dishing up chicken-fried steak on an interstate somewhere in
West Texas."

Three weeks later, the IRS responded by seeking to impose a financial death penalty on Ms.
Ward. On April 19, 1993, IRS agents swarmed into Ms. Ward's three stores, proclaimed that she
owed $324,889 in taxes, froze her bank accounts, shut down the stores and confiscated their
inventory, and allegedly informed some of her customers that Ms. Ward was suspected of drug
smuggling. The IRS even sought to seize the house owned by Ms. Ward's 74-year-old mother,
claiming that it was somehow related to Ms. Ward's purported tax dodging.

Prior to the seizure, the IRS had made no finding that either she or other family members who co-
owned the stores owed any taxes. The IRS violated federal law by seizing the assets without first
formally giving her a notice of deficiency of taxes.


Bravo, Mrs. Ward

lemondog said...

I.R.S. Criticized Harshly in Judge's Ruling

mariner said...

drunkdebunker,
A close friend, a perfectly decent and hardworking woman, a rare Democrat among small business owners, told me she was "amused" that the IRS went after the Tea Party because she doesn't "like them."

If you call this woman a friend you're one of those ignoramuses.

This illustrates why there is no such thing as a "decent Democrat". Those who don't actually support this crap are willing to stand by and watch it happen to people they don't like.

caplight45 said...

One of the grievances of the Colonies against King George III as listed in the Declaration of Independence is:
"He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance."

Phil 3:14 said...

Steyn is a curmudgeon, but a witty one.

I usually don't like angry conservatives but I have to admit, he writes well.

Andrew Shimmin said...

Honest democrats,
They would die rather
Than touch their caps to a lord:

But they know better
Than to get fresh
With Customs & Immigration.

WH Auden, Symmetries and Asymmetries

AprilApple said...

Lemondog @4:04

I don't think Phil is smart enough to comment on that.

Phil 3:14 said...

Huh??

c ward said...

Carol Ward here... from 1997 case.

Nothing has changed, and after my 15 minutes of fame, I was targeted by several 'sting' operations, to try to tarnish my reputation.

Winning in court changed NOTHING. If you live next to an IRS agent, and argue over barking dogs or garbage cans - YOUR ECONOMIC FUTURE IS IN PERIL>

The agency is manned with power crazy bureaucrats... like the big hair white trash from Clovis who decided to 'learn me a lesson'.

My case is 20 years old, but I am still damaged and haunted by what I know and learned from the many many people I met through my ordeal.

THIS GOVERNMENT IS EVIL - the intentions may be pure, but the EXECUTION is by the marginally unemployable public 'servant' with an agenda.