Good morning, readers! Please pardon my relative silence over the past few weeks. I have been far too busy to really irked by anything. Even the things that should have sent me into fits of righteous indignation have gone uncommented. But this IRS “Scandal” has me so baffled that I have to ask you, my readers, to explain something to me.
First-off, let’s get the scandal firmly in mind before we all fly off into odd and unintended tangents. I am not asking about the unconscionable use of their position to selectively enforce rules to promote a specific cause over another. If it is proven that this is something that happened head should roll (figuratively speaking as I am opposed to capital punishment) at the IRS. Personally, I think that this is yet another illustration that the US Tax Code is too convoluted to really be enforced – period!
No. I am talking about this stupid tape that keeps showing-up on every newscast for the past few days. You know the one. It shows IRS staffers who were at some retreat dancing, singing, and basically making fools of themselves. Now, I would have called that event a “Corporate Retreat” but the IRS is not a corporation and therein lay my point.
Had Harris, my former employer, done the exact same video at one of their corporate retreats they could have written the thing of as an expense of doing business. For all I know they have. I have been on a number of these corporate retreats and have seen (and much to my chagrin even participated in) few of them. They are justified as being “Team Building” and many corporate management strategies hold these as valuable tools for increasing the happiness and productivity of their staffs.
The argument that I keep hearing is that “tax payers paid” for these videos. To which I almost invariably yell at the Television Set “SO WHAT!?” Tax payers pay a lot more for things that are a lot less useful than a tool that might arguably make some government agency more efficient. No, I think that there are much more important things to consider when thinking about this story. For example, remember Harris – from the past paragraph? They are one of the largest US Government contractors. Just who do you think is paying for all those corporate retreats (replete with the silly videos of the ilk so oft shown over the past few days) that Harris throws for its employees?
Let me tell you, Mr. and Ms. Taxpayer. It is you! According to the way that government contracts are written anything that can be considered (or rationalized) as a part of the expense of delivering on the contract can be expensed back to the government. And according to the explanation my manager gave me of why the Government Services Division always flies First Class when we in the broadcast division were relegated to cattle class – not only do we pay the cost of the silly videos, Government Contractors are allowed to make a profit on the expense of doing business as well as on the products they sell the governemtn.
Think of the hundreds – or more likely THOUSANDS – of silly videos you’re already paying for (at government contract mark-up) that will never be seen on any newscast. No the IRS video is nothing to be angry about. The whole tax code and government contracting process is what you should be seething over.
That being said, I will step off the soap box and retire back into my busy schedule – hopeful that I have inspired ire in at least one of you, my dear readers, with this screed.
Wherever you are today, I hope that you will take a moment to think about what your check to the IRS is REALLY paying for.
Don Bergquist – 04 June 2013 – Kensington, Minnesota, USA
“There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him.”
― Robert A. Heinlein,
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress