Audit the IRS!
When certain unusual items pop up in the news that appear to point to a Democrat craftsman or underlying Big Government agenda, we're told that the events are merely isolated anomalies or coincidences that imply no such intentional design.
An opposite assertion forms the basis of an argument for the Intelligent Design of the universe -- the "watchmaker analogy": a person finding a watch lying on the ground would naturally assume it was created not by accident or series of coincidences, but by the intentional craftsmanship of a watchmaker.
In the world of politics, though, "coincidences" abound, and even if a craftsman was involved -- intelligence, good design, or design of something good is certainly a matter of opinion. (However, as suggested by the alternative "infinite monkey theorem" -- the larger our government becomes, it should be a greater possibility that something in thousands of typed pages of legislation, if not as stylish as a line from Shakespeare, might make sense.)
The Democrat Media Complex reports that the coincidences prove nothing more than the existence of "rogue" field offices, "dysfunctional" employees, overzealous volunteers -- or a biased misinterpretation, cherry-picking, or "obsession" by political opponents to turn events into "phony scandals." Usually the Complex manages to deflect criticism of the events into criticism of the skeptics, whose inquiring minds earn the label of "paranoid," "obstructionist," "anarchist," or "conspiracy theorist."
Examples are plenty:
- We're assured that instances of voting fraud are "extremely rare."
- Government spying on reporters covering certain stories just "got a little out of whack."
- The fact that unions received favored treatment in the GM bailout is incidental. There is "little or no documentation" to prove that Republican-leaning dealerships were targeted for closure.
- Questioning whether IRS audits targeted individuals for political reasons is "crazy talk." Certain non-profit applications were not "intentionally singled out" by the IRS. Darrell Issa's investigation into illegal communications between the IRS and FEC is politically-motivated "fishing for more IRS scandals."
- Security flaws in the Obamacare rollout are "minor details." As the ACA begins to affect a "wildly inflated" number of small businesses, it's the "losers who will get most of the attention," and the law simply needs "tweaking." Illegal activities of Obamacare navigators, caught on tape, were "anomalies," and we should "stop freaking out about" navigators who could "possibly" be felons.
- "Improper conduct" in calculating unemployment data just before the 2012 election was not "widespread." And it was "coincidental" and "without regard to politics" that thousands of controversial rules were not issued until after the same election.
Another interesting item we're supposed to dismiss as coincidence: IRS audits initiated, within days, of two people who so happened to have been interviewed on Fox News about their negative experiences with Obamacare.
That news pushed the venerable blogger Ace of Spades to declare that the audit assignment "can simply not be attributed to chance. It is deliberate. It is, in fact, conspiracy."
Columnist Daniel Greenfield wondered:
Would the IRS actually go after a cancer patient, who had voted for Obama initially, just for appearing on FOX and now being sharply critical of Obama and suggesting that he resign for his health plan lie?
Under the current insane state of affairs, where the IRS was used to silence the opposition, it's unfortunately entirely possible. The fact that we are even having this discussion shows how badly Obama has undermined confidence in government institutions and the rule of law.
But these kinds of discussions -- at least in private institutions -- are absolutely necessary.
Shareholders and lenders expect more than feelings of "confidence" in a company -- they demand proof of merit. Internal and external audits of operations and financial statements are key elements of successful corporations. Allowing dishonest management, wasteful practices, or errors to go unexamined and unchecked is unthinkable. The slightest hints of fraud are investigated and taken seriously, and questioners are not brushed aside as paranoid conspiracy theorists.
Auditors are trained to suspect unusual items or events, identify the underlying cause, evaluate the implications, and then to offer solutions.
Auditors rarely believe in coincidence.
To an auditor, it's more than ironic to note that this latest "coincidence" involves audits, following a "long line of conservatives targeted by the IRS." Especially considering that, on average, most individuals have a "better chance of being abducted by aliens" than being audited by the IRS. The very existence of such a pattern of coincidences points to the need for an external, independent audit of the IRS.
As in other professional fields, audit expertise encompasses a wide range of specialties. The purpose and methods of IRS and external audits differ substantially, and attitudes are obviously most affected by the place at the table -- as the auditor or the audited.
Contrary to popular belief, IRS auditors are not paid commissions on what they collect, but a taxpayer's sweaty palms at the table are often completely justified. This "confession" written by a former IRS agent, although several years old, recounts a revealing picture of the agency's tactics. The practically unlimited power of the IRS to seize assets adds, understandably, to the tension.
IRS audits are supposedly initiated in several ways: by automated math or matching programs, the secret "Discriminant Index Function" system, or randomly (these audits are extremely comprehensive). In another convenient coincidence, the controversial practice of random selection was suspended for a few years, then reinstated in 2007.
External audits are performed by CPA firms, hired by a company's management, lenders, or shareholders. A typical audit program includes the preparation of flowcharts of key procedures, in order to identify potential weaknesses or critical elements. Statistical samples of transactions, as well as specific items that, for example, are of a minimum dollar amount or exhibit other key characteristics, are examined.
If even one item in the sample or targeted list shows signs of anything unusual, the sample size is increased. "Close enough for government work" is not an option for a CPA. Additional items are tested until the exception can be established as an isolated incident or system weakness.
Such a conclusion cannot be reached until the audit is expanded -- not because of a hunch or intuition -- but because statistical math requires it to establish "reasonable assurance." Assurance that shareholders and lenders deserve; the same kind that we should demand, as routine, from our government.
Auditors trace to the source of the problem -- perhaps finding breakdowns in controls at the bottom, or subtle rule-breaking hints from the top. The audit team produces a "management letter" containing suggestions for improvement, to hopefully prevent headlines like this: "Climate Change Expert Bilks EPA out of $1 Million," or this: "IRS vendor owes $575 million in back taxes." Unlike hearings or reports on government waste that never seem to change anything, external auditors follow up to ensure that solutions are implemented.
Just as auditors estimate the impact of identified errors or issues, the "coincidental" news items listed above also have serious implications -- affecting the integrity of our electoral process, free speech and privacy, and wastefulness and fraud in government spending.
Note also the characteristics some of the "coincidences" share: biased media reporting of what appears to be politically-motivated targeting of citizens, carried out by Big Government bureaucrats -- and therefore paid for by you.
With your taxes, while over three billion dollars of taxes are owed yet unpaid by over 300,000 federal employees, many of them actually working on Capitol Hill. But apparently the IRS is too busy "using Google maps to spy on taxpayers" to see the delinquents who work right in front of their noses (including around 40 Obama staffers and over 1,000 in the Treasury Department), since the same group was reported as owing around one billion two years earlier.
Although Congress has not completed its investigation into the targeting of Tea Parties (which coincides with a "strange" Justice Department-ordered FBI investigation that's "impeding" Issa's inquiries), the IRS recently proposed rules that "essentially eliminate an entire class of advocacy groups that just happens to be used by far more right-wing activists than left-wingers."
"Just happens?" An auditor would never believe that one. And since the Complex describes Obama's "Organizing for Action" as a "non-partisan advocacy group," the amply-funded, massive database that's an "extension" of the White House needn't worry about new IRS restrictions.
It's time for Congress to demand an audit of the IRS to prove whether our "paranoid" friends were right -- not only about the NSA's ability to snoop over shoulders, but also that impending IRS knock at the door -- just because, coincidentally, they voiced contrary views.
If the audit proves not coincidence but craftsmanship -- that this administration really has employed the IRS as its thugs -- it will be doubly ironic to find that just as in the case of another famous Chicago boss, taxes would be the source of the downfall.