This is basically the starting point of the nightmare scenario for me with regards to government.
I understand the position that government exists to solve problems. And I agree that there are plenty of problems that the government can solve more efficiently than the private sector / markets.
I also certainly understand that the IRS is absolutely something that can’t be realistically privatized.
And, most importantly, this isn’t an issue about Obama specifically – this is just as problematic with any president.
So, look at the facts – Lois Lerner is suspected of deliberately targeting audits of non-profits that were politically rivalrous.
Ok. Not the end of the world, in and of itself – again, I agree that tax collection is a core competency of government, and, since the government is run by humans, not angels, you can expect that people will be seduced into doing unethical things for political purposes. The right thing to do here is to investigate and see if there’s a problem here, and if so, punish it as a warning to others.
But then it turns out that her hard drive crashed, and is wiped, eliminating all of the emails. Conveniently, only from the period under investigation. OK. This is bad – the IRS claims to destroy them to avoid publishing taxpayer data. Which makes sense, if they have a decent backup policy for emails, etc. But they don’t. Which is insanely incompetent. Or deliberately designed to protect the organization from accountability.
And then, to discover that also, incredibly conveniently, many of the people whom she corresponds with also had hard drives fail???
This is a perfect example of why I don’t like expanding the scope of government – because the bureaucracy protects itself against accountability. It becomes a political agent, with a specific political goal – not to support the life, liberty and happiness of the citizens of our country, but to protect itself and to support any other political agent that will help it grow larger and more influential.
Normally, when I comment on government agencies growing large and corrupt and abusing power, the response from liberals is “we just need good oversight”. In theory, this is true. In practice… Well, here’s an example of where we see corruption and abuse, and oversight has utterly failed. In my opinion, this will only happen more and more as time goes on, and we continue to increase the scope of what problems government is expected to solve.
When I show preferences for markets over governments to solve problems, it isn’t necessarily about efficiency. I get that there are scenarios where top-down solutions are more efficient than markets. But if a private organization being investigated “just happened” to lose the hard drives of the key people in a congressional investigation, there would be a significant amount of jail time involved. If the VA was private, its leadership would be in jail. If the BATF was private… again, jail for much of its leadership. Again, I’m not saying the IRS or the VA or the BATF needs to be privatized – I’m saying that our government has problems with accountability and oversight, and if we can’t get the oversight we were promised, we need to remove some of these functions. Private organizations are routinely punished for mistakes and cover-ups. Government agencies, apparently, are not.
As an aside, if this was a Republican administration, and Lois Lerner was a Republican appointee, there would probably be Occupy Wall Street-style protests out there because of this cover up. Which is, frustratingly, a reason to vote Republican – apparently Republican administrations are held accountable to the people and the press, while Democratic administrations are not.