The Perfect Storm

Posted on May 30, 2013 by


I hope everyone has been watching the unfolding scandal at the IRS (that’s the Internal Revenue Service for the present).  As I see it, this seems like the perfect convergence of several disturbing trends in recent decades.

First, we see the increasing use by congress of “big” and “broad” statutes whose language is left (deliberately?) vague.  So we begin with vagueness–even extreme vagueness.

Second, Congress then leaves the implementation of these bold and vague laws to the agencies either already existing or to new ones established by Congress.  The agency officials then have very broad discretion as to what language means in the laws.  By itself, this is problematic but not fatal to our well-being.

Third we have seen the astronomic expansion of the “regulatory state” which means that bureaucratic agencies now consist of thousands of (well-paid) employees who are not accountable to the electorate at all, only to their political master, but who have tremendous power at their disposal.  I repeat that these bureaucrats (I hate the term myself) are not accountable to the people and are thus largely free to pursue their own agenda or that of their favorite master.

Fourth, I fear that virtue in general has declined in America, and this decline is reflected in the makeup of any and all Federal agencies.  The deviation from traditional values of honesty, unbiased behavior  and the like probably is statistically close at any given level of an agency, but it does seem particularly lacking at the top levels where political “hacks” are often appointed and even if not, are promoted on the basis of loyalty to a master or an ideology.

Finally, it appears in this case that the labor union representing IRS employees specifically has now been allowed to make policy and indeed has conspired to attack conservative groups and individuals along with the administration.

All these factors have converged in this scandal.  As a result it is not surprising to see the breathtaking arrogance of the top officials in their congressional testimony.  They believe–possibly with good reason– that they are untouchable by the law or anything else.  Our president, not unlike some others in the past (Nixon?)  has helped create the environment that encourages such behavior.  

The question is, will Congress actually have the courage to address the scandal head-on?  Or will it make noise and then allow it do die away?  All Americans ought to be outraged and fearful of the implications of the IRS thuggery.  If this one dies without real resolution the rule of law has died  just a little more.  As Christians we should now pray for our leaders, especially that they would have courage to do right.  Many might say this not Armageddon, and indeed it is not in the highest sense of that word, but it might well be a turning point for our nation.