Sicced on Citizens

Nowadays, the federal government is the closest thing many Americans have to a religion, with those employed by it regarding themselves as a priesthood.  Blind faith, if not dependency, tends to take over from observation.  But there are other likenesses: sanctimonious cardinals and government functionaries, grandiose department-cathedrals that suck up money from believer and infidel alike, and a series of truly shocking scandals of abuse.  Where our esteemed press is always eager to expose the least excess of the Church, however, many of these same guardians of the public welfare remain noticeably uncritical of a system of national and local bureaucracy run amok.  We are currently in the grip of several hysterias in this land of the free, but the greatest of these is surely the morbid attachment of many of our citizens to the dead hand of the state.

When you hear phrases such as U.S. government agency, let alone the potent words Internal Revenue Service, you perhaps think of an organization, offices, a reporting structure, and the like.  Those things no doubt all apply, particularly in a 154-year-old bureaucracy with some 85,000 salaried employees and an annual operating budget of $8.4 billion (more than the GNP of Rwanda), but in that world it’s easy to forget the most important element: people.  It isn’t an entity called “the IRS” with which I’ve found...

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