Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The IRS Targeting Scandal and Libertariansim

WaPo is now reporting that Internal Revenue Service officials in Washington D.C. and at least two other offices were involved in the targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, making clear the effort reached well beyond the branch in Cincinnati that was initially blamed.

IRS officials at the agency’s Washington headquarters sent queries to conservative groups asking about their donors and other aspects of their operations, while officials in the El Monte and Laguna Niguel offices in California sent similar questionnaires to tea party-affiliated groups.

This comes as little shock to me. When pockets of central power are created by the government, the government's subjects can be abused by those in control of these pockets of power and, of course, this abuse goes on to varying degrees by every government agency.

But what needs to be cheered in the revelations of these type scandals is that it muddies the view of government as pristine savior, a view held by many.

Murray Rothbard loved these kinds of growing scandals. With regard to Watergate, he wrote:
Sub specie aeternetatis, one set of politicians spying upon and sabotaging another is hardly of cosmic significance. But oh the deliciousness as the whole sleazy, robotic crew, even unto the highest reaches of the White House, gets its comeuppance! Every morning's news brings further revelations. further scandal, as the network of the corruption of power extends upward and outward. One by one they topple, as the President becomes so short-handed that some have to double up on jobs. One thing is certain: it couldn't have happened to a nicer or more deserving bunch of guys. or to a more deserving institution. 
Rothbard in Watergate saw an opening for libertarians:
[...]the Watergate crisis (my particular favorite) destroyed the trust of the American masses in the Presidency. For the first time in over a hundred years, the concept of impeachment of the President became, first thinkable, and then a living and glorious process. For a while, I feared that Jimmy Carter, with his lovable cardigan sweater, would restore Americans’ faith in their president, but soon that fear proved groundless. 
Surely, it is no accident that it was precisely in this glorious and sudden anti-government surge that libertarian ideas and libertarian scholarship began to spread rapidly in the United States.
 Rothbard then pointed out that Ronald Reagan took the helm and killed the anti-government surge:
So libertarianism was on a roll in the 1970s. And then Something Happened. 
What happened was Ronald Wilson Blithering Reagan[...]
It is generally agreed by political analysts that the ideological mood of the public, after eight years of Reaganism, is in support of economic liberalism (that is, an expanded welfare state), and social conservatism (that is, the suppression of civil liberties and the theocratic outlawing of immoral behavior). And, on foreign policy, of course, they stand for militaristic chauvinism. After eight years of Ronnie, the mood of the American masses is to expand the goodies of the welfare-warfare state (though not to increase taxes to pay for these goodies), to swagger abroad and be very tough with nations that can’t fight back, and to crack down on the liberties of groups they don’t like or whose values or culture they disagree with.
It is a decidedly unlovely and unlibertarian wasteland, this picture of America 1989, and who do we have to thank for it? Several groups: the neocons who organized it; the vested interests and the Power Elite who run it; the libertarians and free marketeers who sold out for it; and above all, the universally beloved Ronald Wilson Reagan, Who Made It Possible.
The IRS scandal and the Benghazi cover-up are not yet of Watergate proportions. But every day, as in the Waterate era, we wake up to new revelations that chip away at the the naive beliefs of those who stand proud and wave tiny flags at every opportunity they get to support, always and everywhere, the government of the United States of America and its expansion of power domestically and abroad.

The least dimwitted in these crowds may soon get that central power is not about great good,  but great evil, as news of scandals here and there cover frontpages. And so libertarians always and everywhere should  cheer on further revelations of government doing evil. Let's hope the IRS scandal, the Benghazi cover-up and the government spying on AP reporters are all scandals that have long legs and eventually lead right into the White House itself, not because better people will than occupy the White House, that won't happen, but because the scandals will start to shake and rattle the masses out of their government induced stupor.

Former White House chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel infamously remarked, "Never let a crisis go to waste." Libertarins should throw these words back at the government and call for exposure of more scandals. We must never let a good government scandal g to waste. We should cheer it on and egg it on. We should never fail to realize that a front page government scandal is like a huge billboard in Time Square that flashes in super neon, Don't Trust the Government, It Is Evil.


  1. Sorry... But Obama kinda told me I should ignore this sort of thing.

  2. Going after Obama/impeaching him is probably a waste of time. They should go after Clinton and ruin her name for 2016.

    1. Clinton as well as Rand/Rubio

    2. telfon wears thin after a while, Hil will not need any help in getting people pissed off at her, that was her job for 4 years, just that it was foreigners.