PEGGY NOONAN: Fortress IRS: Agency stonewalling could permanently harm Americans’ faith in government.
In all the day-to-day of the IRS scandals I don’t think it’s been fully noticed that the overall reputation of the agency has suffered a collapse, the kind from which it can take a generation to recover fully. In the long term this will prove damaging to the national morale—what happens to a great nation when its people come to lack even rudimentary confidence in the decisions made by the revenue-gathering arm of its federal government? It will also diminish the hope for faith in government, which whatever your politics is not a good thing. We need government, as we all know. Americans have a right to assume that while theirs may be deeply imperfect, it is not deeply corrupt. What harms trust in governmental institutions now will have reverberations in future administrations.
The scandals that have so damaged the agency took place in just the past few years, since the current administration began. And it is not Republicans on the Hill or conservatives in the press who have revealed the agency as badly managed, political in its actions, and really quite crazily run. That information, or at least the early outlines of it, came from the agency’s own inspector general.
Let's look at a few key lines here:
It will also diminish the hope for faith in government, which whatever your politics is not a good thing.
Actually, for voluntaryists like myself ( voluntaryism – n – a libertarian philosophy which holds that all forms of human association should be voluntary. The principle most frequently used to support voluntaryism is the non-aggression principle (NAP). It is closely associated with, and often used synonymously with, the anarcho-capitalist and individualist anarchist philosophies.), diminishing people's hope and faith in government is a wonderful thing. Some of us hold that government is inherently, definitionally, the use of force by the strong against the weak under the color of "legitimacy" (and ill-defined term that, when pressed, gives up a meaning closest to "might makes right"), and that mere "reform" can never change this.
Thus any hope or faith in government is necessarily either a hope that one and one's family can eventually seize the whip by the handle end, or is a false hope that the snapping end of the whip against one's back is an accidental temporary condition.
We need government, as we all know.
We do not all know this. I do not assert that society with out government is utopian – Somalia, the Icelandic Republic, the South Asian mountain highlands – all were populated by people, and thus were characterized by the human condition ( "From such crooked wood as that which man is made of, nothing straight can be fashioned." / “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”).
But just because the absence of government does not imply perfection does not mean that the presence of government is better. The idea that it is is a testable hypothesis, and I believe that the test already shows that the amount of government we have is far, far too much.
Americans have a right to assume that while theirs may be deeply imperfect, it is not deeply corrupt.
This is a crazy inspirational, aspirational sentence that is not even wrong. First, there is no line dividing "deeply imperfect" from "deeply corrupt".
imperfect – adj – exhibiting or characterized by faults, mistakes, etc.; defective
corrupt – adj – containing errors, tainted, contaminated
The sentence is pure rhetoric – and bad rhetoric at that. The word "imperfect", because it contains the word "perfect" has an inherent connotation of being – if not exactly Godly – then at least seated somewhere near by. Argument by connotation is not worth addressing.
Second, saying we have a "right to assume" something is inane. In a sense, sure, we do. We can have the right to assume anything we want – the right to assume that Santa Clause exists, that the sun rises in the West, and the Earth is flat.
What all of these have in common with each other (and the assumption that the US government at all levels is not deeply corrupt) is that they are testable hypothesis, and they are hypotheses that – once tested – are revealed to be false.
The IRS scandal is a good thing. It is transparency. It is the small shop owner seeing that the mafia lords who "protect" him for $100 a week are protecting him mostly from themselves. It is the artisan seeing that the check she is about to be handed is forged. It is the peasant who believes in the divine right of kings realizing that the king is an irreligious bastard. It is the woman who sees through the pickup artist's lines.
Government exists to give power and money to politicians, government employees, and patrons of the government.
The current IRS scandal is not unique in that the IRS is the only pit of corruption being run for the benefit of the politically connected.
The current IRS scandal is unique in that it shows the populace that the IRS is a pit of corruption being run for the benefit of the politically connected.
Last 5 posts by Clark
- Clark's Farewell To Popehat - December 30th, 2015
- The Current Refugee Crisis - November 18th, 2015
- Top Seven Things I Like About Internet Shame Mobs - July 29th, 2015
Gamer Gate vs Anti Gamer GateA Civil Discussion on Inclusiveness - June 23rd, 2015
- Two Kinds of Freedom of Speech (or #Strangeloop vs. Curtis Yarvin) - June 10th, 2015