When my friend the Biking Brewer recommends something to read, I take notice — and not just because he is accomplished at creating fine malt beverages and has a discriminating sense of Belgian ales.
The BB sent along a link to this article from Salon, entitled When the IRS targeted liberals, that seeks to add a little context to the current story about the IRS actions with respect to conservative groups. President Obama has called the IRS actions “outrageous” and he’s right about that — but the Salon article usefully points out that the IRS has been embroiled in political issues before.
The key point here is not which groups are being targeted by the IRS, or who is the President at the time the targeting occurs, but rather the fact that IRS employees think they have the right to target specific groups at all. Our federal government has become so colossal in size, and so removed from interaction with average citizens, that many government employees think they can do just about whatever they damn well please because they are from the government and, well, they just know better than we do.
This isn’t a political issue — or , at least, it shouldn’t be. When agencies like the IRS can become politicized, no one at any point on the political spectrum is safe. The question is how to change the culture of these bureaucratic leviathans, where employees have jobs for life and have little accountability to anyone who isn’t their direct line supervisor. Shrinking the size of the bureaucracies, and establishing performance standards that don’t give every employee a lifetime job, would be a good place to start.