Other than the power to prosecute, the taxing authority is the most awesome power the government has. It can ruin people and companies. When wielded for political purposes, it is a violation of the basic contract the American people have with their government. The abuse admitted by Ms. Lerner can’t be dismissed in a casual apology on a casual Friday as no big deal. It’s a very big and bad deal.
A bedrock principle of U.S. democracy is that the coercive powers of government are never used for partisan purpose. The law is blind to political viewpoint, and so are its enforcers, most especially the FBI and the IRS. Any violation of this principle threatens the trust and the voluntary cooperation of citizens upon which this democracy depends.
So it was appalling to learn Friday that the IRS had improperly targeted conservative groups for scrutiny. It was almost as disturbing that President Obama and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew have not personally apologized to the American people and promised a full investigation.
The problem is that this is exactly what you would expect of the United States of today.
On May 7, 2013 Toronto Globe and Mail editor-in-chief interviewed former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore. Mr. Gore has just published his most recent “The Future – Six Drivers of Global Change“. Although I haven’t had time to read the book, the interview was fascinating. Most of the discussion focused on climate change – he made a believer of me.
Confiscation of assets is a direct attack on the principle of saving!
If you haven’t heard by now, Cyprus has announced the direct confiscation of money in its citizens bank accounts. The announcement was made on a Saturday when the banks were closed. The banks remain closed for a bank “holiday” and the only issue is how and what percent of people’s “after tax” savings will be confiscated from them. As one commentator has suggested Cyprus appears to employing a (contextually) clever “divide and conquer” technique – turning citizens against each other. Those with fewer savings will have less stolen from them and those with more savings will have more stolen from them. What could be more just than that?
An internal Justice Department memo says it is legal for the government to kill U.S. citizens abroad if it believes they are senior al-Qaeda leaders continually engaged in operations aimed at killing Americans.
The document, reported Monday by NBC News, provides a legal rationale behind the Obama administration’s use of drone strikes against al-Qaeda suspects.
The 16-page document says it is lawful to target al-Qaeda linked U.S. citizens if they pose an “imminent” threat of violent attack against Americans, and that delaying action against such people would create an unacceptably high risk. Such circumstances may necessitate expanding the concept of imminent threat, the memo says.
ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - Ed. note: William Olenick has been active in Republicans Abroad in Switzerland, where he is a longtime resident. He sent the following email letter to friends 28 January; we reprint it in full as part of our coverage of the ongoing problems for US citizens in Switzerland.
As per the directive in the email/article, I am reproducing this extraordinary letter on this blog at the bottom of this post. A special thanks to Mr. Olenick for sharing his views.