Friday, May 24, 2013


It’s said that confession is good for the soul, so I guess I’d better fess up. I admit to a feeling of guilty pleasure as I watched I.R.S. Commissioner Steven Miller squirm his way through several hours of Congressional testimony last Friday. I felt almost as good as I did when my beloved Red Sox came back from a three to nothing deficit to defeat the Yankees in 2004.
I suspect anyone who’s ever endured an I.R.S. audit shares my sense of guilty pleasure. There aren’t many experiences in life that can compare with the pain being grilled by the tax man. I’ve been through a couple of visits to a urologist and still cringe when I hear the snapping sound of a rubber glove being fitted on a human hand. I’ve had double bypass surgery. I had the wind knocked out of me once when I was playing hockey. I’ve been through a divorce. I did a one year tour of duty in Vietnam. I’ve even been to some of our city and county commission meetings. I can assure you that none of these things can compare to the pain and agony of an audit.
The old adage says that there are two inevitable things in life – death and taxes. I haven’t crossed the threshold of death yet, but I know that a Celestial City awaits on the other side. I have been through an I.R.S. audit and I’ve learned that it’s an experience filled with pain, grief, frustration, and loss. There’s no Celestial City to be won. In my case it was made worse when, in answer to the auditor’s question about whether or not I was a wealthy man, I responded, “In a manner of speaking I guess. I own shares in missiles, atomic submarines, tanks, guns, nuclear warheads, and a lot of other stuff I don’t have much use for.” He didn’t find my answer very amusing and by the time he was done with me it had cost me another two hundred bucks.
But it’s alright now. The auditors are being audited and I’m as happy as a clam. I’ve even added any Congressional hearings on the I.R.S. to my “must see” TV viewing list, along with “Doc Martin,” Call the Midwife,” “As Time Goes By,” and the Stanley Cup playoffs.
I don’t think the President finds the I.R.S. crisis and its counterparts very amusing. One crisis is plenty, but having to simultaneously juggle the I.R.S. targeting of Conservatives, Benghazi, the Associated Press subpoenas, and Kathleen Sibelius’s national shakedown tour is more than even a leader with self-described messianic qualities should be expected to manage.
Some of my fellow Conservatives are prematurely ascribing sinister motives to the President in this mess. Not me. I think he really believes he’s leading us to Utopia and he’s built a team that shares his Progressive vision. They believe they’re right about everything and see nothing wrong with using the machinery of government to ensure that the narrative harmonizes with the vision.
It all has a theological quality to it. Jeffrey Rosen recently observed in “The New Republic,” that the undergirding rationale for what’s going on in Washington these days is “based on the technocratic over-confidence that a progressive administration must, by definition, be on the side of the angels.”
What does this mean when the rubber meets the road? It means edits, audits, subpoenas, and a shakedown tour to fund Obamacare.
One of the things I’ve noticed about the President as the scandals mount is that he’s getting annoyed. That would be good, except that I think he’s only annoyed because he believes some folks (think Tea Partiers, pro-lifers, Conservatives like me, Libertarians like Steve Corbin, etc.)  just refuse to understand that his intentions are good. After all, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of skullduggery if the goal is noble. Right?
It’s strange, really. I do get it. I think the President’s intentions are good. I just think that the flowers and petals of good intentions being strewn along the winding road are actually leading us down the primrose path to tyranny. It’s a philosophy that seems very noble on the surface, but once you dig to its roots, you can see that it’s dangerous beyond imagination.
So, I’m all for good intentions, but I’m dead set against tyranny, because, as Christian apologist C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

No comments: