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Friday, May 17, 2013

The Criminality of Big Government

“Sometimes the law defends plunder and participates in it. Thus the beneficiaries are spared the shame, danger, and scruple which their acts would otherwise involve. Sometimes the law places the whole apparatus of judges, police, prisons, and gendarmes at the service of the plunderers, and treats the victim—when he defends himself—as a criminal.” — Frederick Bastiat — The Law.

When you are fired from the military for an offense against the Uniform Code of Military Justice you are given a less than honorable discharge. This form of discharge becomes a part of your life’s record and follows you wherever you go. You are barred from any form of government employment at the federal, state, or local level. Even prospective employers in the private sector will consider this record when considering you for a position of trust. In essence it’s a scarlet letter tattooed on your back forever. Just attempt to run for any public office with such a blot on your record and see what happens.

Not so with government service. When you work for a government agency like the IRS, Department of Justice, State Department, or White House you get a pass when you are fired or “your resignation is requested.” Take, as an example Van Jones when as a White House Czar he was outted as a Communist and 9/11 truther he was asked to resign. Did this hurt Jones? No. He went on to other positions of influence where he could promote his Communist agenda.

In most cases when a government employee is removed from one agency for inappropriate or rouge actions they somehow pop up in another agency across the streetirs1-620x362 or around the corner. Take the case of Sarah Hall Ingram the newly appointed head of the IRS unit to oversee ObamaCare as a prime example.. Not only did Ingram get a raise she received a $100,000 bonus. This is the woman who was in charge of the division included the group that targeted Tea Partiers and other conservative groups — the division of the IRS that is currently under investigation by Congress for illegal acts.

From ABC News:

“The Internal Revenue Service official in charge of the tax-exempt organizations at the time when the unit targeted tea party groups now runs the IRS office responsible for the health care legislation.

Sarah Hall Ingram served as commissioner of the office responsible for tax-exempt organizations between 2009 and 2012. But Ingram has since left that part of the IRS and is now the director of the IRS’ Affordable Care Act office, the IRS confirmed to ABC News today.

Her successor, Joseph Grant, is taking the fall for misdeeds at the scandal-plagued unit between 2010 and 2012. During at least part of that time, Grant served as deputy commissioner of the tax-exempt unit.”

Grant said Thursday he would resign as commissioner of the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division on June 3, TheBlaze reported. He was appointed to the post just eight days ago.

But here’s something really interesting: Ingram received more than $100,000 in bonuses between 2009 and 2012, slightly before and well after her office started targeting conservatives, the Washington Examiner’s Mark Tapscott reports:

“Ingram received a $7,000 bonus in 2009,” the Examiner report adds, “then a $34,440 bonus in 2010, $35,400 in 2011 and $26,550 last year for a total of $103,390. Her annual salary went from $172,500 to $177,000 during the same period.”

So Ms. Ingram, the ranking IRS official that headed the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division during the period the IRS was targeting Tea Party, conservative, libertarian, and even pro-Israel Jewish organizations, is not called accountable for her division’s criminal actions she gets a promotion, a raise, a bonus and gets to keep her house and life style in Lowden County, Virginia with the rest of her high-paid, under-worked government cohorts. This is a prime example of the “Peter’s Principle” that people rise to the level of their incompetence. This is big government in action!

According to Newsmax the IRS stalled conservatives while giving liberals a pass on tax exemptions:

“Evidence is mounting that the Internal Revenue Service gave far better treatment to left-wing groups than those on the right, with data showing the agency approved dozens of liberal and progressive organizations as tax-exempt while leaving conservative groups hanging.

No tea party applications were approved in a 27-month period beginning February 2010. But numerous applications from liberal and progressive groups were given tax-exempt status during the same period, USA Today reported.

In related news, another IRS scandal is brewing. A HIPAA-covered data management company is suing the IRS after agents seized the personal and confidential medical records of more than 10 million patients in 2011. The IRS had a search warrant to obtain financial information of a former employee of the data management company, but according to the legal complaint, "It did not authorize any seizure of any healthcare or medical record of any persons, least of all third parties completely unrelated to the matter. This is an action involving the corruption and abuse of power... No search warrant authorized the seizure of these records; no subpoena authorized the seizure of these records; none of the 10,000,000 Americans were under any kind of known criminal or civil investigation and their medical records had no relevance whatsoever to the IRS search." This is another opportunity for Ms. Ingram to violate the law and get another bonus!

Even Alexander Hamilton, one of the three authors of the 85 Federalist Papers along with James Madison and John Jay. At times Hamilton was at odds with Madison in his arguments for ratification of the new Constitution when it came to the powers to be given the executive branch But even former captain of artillery in George Washington’s Continental Army would be aghast at the size of government today

As Hamilton stated:

"If the federal government should make a tyrannical use of its powers, the people must appeal to the standard they have formed, and take such measures to redress the injury done to the Constitution as the exigency may suggest and prudence justify."

As Madison wrote in Federalist No. 48 pertaining to the powers of the federal government:

“IT WAS shown in the last paper that the political apothegm there examined does not require that the legislative, executive, and judiciary departments should be wholly unconnected with each other. I shall undertake, in the next place, to show that unless these departments be so far connected and blended as to give to each a constitutional control over the others, the degree of separation which the maxim requires, as essential to a free government, can never in practice be duly maintained. It is agreed on all sides, that the powers properly belonging to one of the departments ought not to be directly and completely administered by either of the other departments. It is equally evident, that none of them ought to possess, directly or indirectly, an overruling influence over the others, in the administration of their respective powers. It will not be denied, that power is of an encroaching nature, and that it ought to be effectually restrained from passing the limits assigned to it.”

Not Madison, Jay, or even Hamilton could have foreseen the fourth branch of government today — the administrative state. Since Woodrow Wilson this fourth branch has grown to a point where today no one seems to be responsible for anything. When Obama is asked about Benghazi he claims not to have known. He is either lying or has abdicated his responsibility as commander-in chief to a group of administrators in the departments of defense and state. When asked about the egregious actions of the IRS he claims he was not aware of what was going on — not even the report of the Inspector General. Once again he blames his appointed administrators and claims he fired the acting director of the IRS who was resigning in 30 days and the deputy who was resigning in 8 days. On the other hand he appoints the director of the offending division of the IRS, who was there the entire time the illegal actions were taken place to a better job.

When the Attorney General is queried by a congressional committee as to what he knew of the AP phone records search he replied over twenty times that he didn’t know what was going on in his Department of Justice. Not even Sgt. Shultz of the TV dhow Hogan’s Heroes was this unaware. He has even stated that he recused himself from the investigation, yet there is no documentation to prove this. Once again we have administrators who pass the buck as far down the line as possible. Any fisherman well tell you that the fish rots from the head.

The left— wing media finally began to understand — or at least to feel the brunt of — the problem when the Justice Department seized phone records on more than 20 separate lines used by the Associated Press in April and May of last year. Trafficking guns to Mexico that result in the deaths of two federal agents and hundreds of Mexican citizens? Not interested. Leaving four Americans to die in a terrorist attack in Benghazi and then lying about what happened to ensure re-election? Got better things to do. Listening in on AP phone calls? Outrageous!

Obama recently warned some college graduates against being all worried about government tyranny, and Obama has good reason to warn you against that because worrying about government tyranny is the exact sort of thing that will get you audited. Or, when ObamaCare is in full force, it will be the attitude that gets you denied lifesaving health care. So have faith in government. Or it will get you."

When scandal rocks any administration, its partisan opponents smell blood in the water and move in to inflict as much political damage on the president as possible. Consultants assure us it’ll “gin up the base.” It makes headlines. And it’s always easy to kick someone when he’s down. But for conservatives, especially in the case of the various scandals enveloping the Obama Administration this month, it’s also unwise.

For these scandals present conservatives a much greater opportunity than the chance to win a few news cycles or claim a few bureaucratic scalps.

The ballooning Obama scandals – IRS, HHS, DOJ, EPA – are not really about character or competence, but the danger of big government itself.

The more power any government has, the more power it will abuse. The more money it spends, the more money it will misspend. Dysfunction and corruption grow on government like mold on otherwise perfectly good bread. It has nothing to do with party or ideology – it has to do with human nature. As James Madison stated in Federalist 51:

“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.”

The problem is that men are not angles and government does not do God’s work no matter how hard the progressives attempt to convince you that it does. The city of God is to God and the civil society is to the people to be governed by their elected representatives.

This is one of the fundamental tenets of conservatism, and one of the hardest to communicate past the credulous liberalism of the mainstream media. Yet this week, the media and the Obama Administration are making the case for us.

President Obama’s political guru David Axelrod himself said yesterday that, “Part of being president is there’s so much beneath you that you can’t know because the government is so vast.” James Madison could not have said it better himself!

These scandals shine a light on the inherent flaw of the progressive ideology: the idea that government can and should be trusted with more and more power, because it alone can wield that power in the disinterested pursuit of the common good.

This week, the Obama administration’s words are being impeached by the administration’s deeds. With the possible exception of the Benghazi cover-up, all of the recent Obama scandals do not so much impeach the president’s character; they indict his worldview. And his agenda.

The president’s entire program is based on giving more and more power to the same executive branch agencies demonstrating themselves this week to either be criminally incompetent or tyrannically corrupt.

ObamaCare? Expanded gun background checks? Comprehensive immigration reform? They’re all based on competent collection and ethical use of personal information coerced from the American people by the federal bureaucracy. Today it’s your 501(c)4 application; tomorrow it’s your medical records.

Rather than chasing mid-level scapegoats, conservatives — especially elected conservatives — should be communicating the lessons of the Obama scandals to delay, defund, and repeal ObamaCare, and to cut the huge Gang of Eight immigration bill down to a series of smaller, manageable, incremental reforms.

Perhaps even more importantly, conservatives need to take this opportunity to communicate how civil society and the free market can and would do a better job delivering the services government monopolizes.

An America without HHS shakedowns and EPA cronyism would not only enjoy more honest government, but also better, more affordable health care and a cleaner environment. Congress should absolutely get to the bottom of these various scandals. And the American people should absolutely be outraged.

But we should not be surprised that a $3.7 trillion government is corrupt. What should surprise us is that anyone would expect a $3.7 trillion government not to be.

Conservatives — and elected conservatives especially — should recognize that these scandals aren’t about Republicans versus Democrats — they’re about Washington, D.C. versus everyone else.

They’re about entrenched, entitled political elite of masterminds protecting their unearned power and privileges from accountability, whether challenged by reformers or reporters.

This is what always happens when government gets too big. The Founders knew that over time, either the people would control the government, or the government would control the people. That’s why they bequeathed to us a constitutionally limited government — as Benjamin Franklin, the sage of the Constitutional Convention, stated to an observer when asked what form of government we would have he replied: “a republic, if we could keep it.”

Finally, we note again that it's no small irony that Obama delivered a commencement address at Ohio State University two weeks ago, where he counseled graduates, "Unfortunately, you've grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices.” Reject them, he says — because they're telling the truth.

As Frederic Bastiat sated some 165 years ago when writing about the abuses of government when it has control of the law:

“Sometimes the law defends plunder and participates in it. Thus the beneficiaries are spared the shame, danger, and scruple which their acts would otherwise involve. Sometimes the law places the whole apparatus of judges, police, prisons, and gendarmes at the service of the plunderers, and treats the victim—when he defends himself—as a criminal.”

No one could say it better. Let’s treat all federal employees like the military.

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