In the history of mankind, no one has ever liked the tax collector.
Taxes are a necessary part of government, but in the United States we expect those who collect our money to do so fairly, honestly, uniformly, without prejudice and with at least a little compassion and a lot of understanding about where that money comes from.
Over the last two years, at least, the IRS has failed in that charge.
It's not just the targeting of Tea Party groups. Anybody who claims that use of the search engine phrase Tea Party to red flag those groups wasn't targeting is being completely ridiculous.
Of course they were targeted. There even were a few liberal groups targeted (MoveOn.org, for example), but mainly they were politically conservative groups. It's almost become a badge of honor for those groups (like being a Democrat on the Nixon "enemies list").
It's not that it wouldn't have been appropriate to take a look at the applications that were scrutinized. They were hoping to get tax exempt status, but the provision they were seeking says the groups can't be political advocacy organizations (among other things). Let's face it, the chance that MoveOn.org and the Tea Party groups weren't going to advocate for some political policy were low. A lot would have normally been rejected.
It's just that, in the process, they should have been handled like everyone else, not have their applications targeted and harassed. That was what was so fundamentally wrong. They weren't treated equal.
We expect our elected and appointed leaders to know the difference between right and wrong. When they don't seem to care, it's a slap in the face to every citizen of this great land.
Secondly, the IRS was throwing away our hard-earned money hand over fist. It's not just $60,000 for a bunch of stupid videos. That's not even a decent drop in the federal government's bucket. And it's not even the $50 million they spent to send 2,700 (3 percent) of their employees to conventions and conferences. That averages out to $18,518.52 per employee, which by any standard is a pretty plush, presidential suite type of junket. That's 20 percent more, for a few days at a convention, than a taxpayer on minimum wage makes working 40 hours a week 52 weeks a year. That's outrageous. No, it's the principle of the thing. They're our servants, not our masters.
No matter how important you may think you are in the federal government, it's not your money. You can stay at a Holiday Inn or Motel 6 like most of the rest of us. If you want to upgrade to a presidential suite, it should come out of your own pocket.
The real crime in all of this is the attitude behind these excesses. It says that the people at the IRS see the average American as something that can be ignored, where their power over people can be misused without any feeling of consequence or remorse.
None of these excesses can be excused. You can pass all the laws you want, but until the attitude gets changed, you'll just have variations on the same theme through whatever loopholes get left.
No, this is not a case for slaps on the wrist or being told to go sit in a corner. The people who thought this stuff was appropriate are not public servants. -- that's a special trust, not to be abused. These people should be fired.
-- Kelly Everitt