Tuesday, November 11, 2014
There is a saying that politics is the "art of the possible". This is true in
the sense that an electorate unready for actual reform will not support actual
reform, but I get the sense that, too often, this deters many politicians from
even trying. That said, there is some cause for optimism regarding taxation.
Writing for the Wall Street Journal, Cleta Mitchell enumerates several
abuses by the IRS against conservative political groups that our Republican
Congress can finally investigate, and concludes:
As Congress shines a light on these and other unacceptable IRS practices, public support for fundamental tax reform will only increase. The new Republican-controlled Congress will thus have a rare opportunity to overhaul a tax policy and a tax-collecting agency that both desperately need it.My regular readers will know that I see this as not nearly enough: Ultimately, we must both reign our government in to its proper functions and cease using confiscatory schemes, such as taxation and inflation, to fund it. This is a change that plainly can't be done overnight, so I can offer very qualified support for tax reform as an intermediate step towards abolition -- so long as it involves something like moving to a flat rate and a stripping-away of most of the power now wielded by the IRS (until it can be abolished altogether) thanks to our convoluted and paternalistic tax code.
To build on Mitchell's theme, the bringing-to-light of these abuses offers not just the chance to show once and for all what an abusive agency the IRS is, but also to demonstrate that any similar scheme of doling out favors to "nudge" people into activities favored by the government not only invites abuse, but constitutes abuse. This won't turn the electorate into advocates of limited government and laissez-faire overnight, but it would make advocacy of the same a little bit easier, and more reform possible down the road.
When I hear Republicans decry the IRS as "broken", the parable of the scorpion and the frog comes to mind. The IRS is not broken: It is vicious. The IRS must be abolished, even before taxation itself. It amazes me that the Republicans -- whose very supporters the IRS targeted for abuse -- is even considering taking this beast across the river by means of "reforming" it.