In Defense Of The IRS: Why Single Them Out?

A good friend of mine repeated his desire that Congress abolish the IRS. The latest scandal, reported by the Associated Press, runs under the headline, “IG: IRS credit cards used for wine, pornography.”

“investigators found that one IRS employee spent $2,655 on diet pills, romance novels, steaks, a smartphone and baby-related items, including bottles, games and clothes. The case was referred to the IG’s office that investigates employee misconduct, the report said. Among other “improper” purchases identified by the inspector general:

— $3,152 to rent a popcorn machine and to buy prizes for an employee event, including bandanas, stuffed animals, sunglasses and stovepipe hats.

— $418 for novelty decorations and swag at managers’ meetings, including kazoos, bathtub toys and “Thomas the Tank Engine” wristbands.

— $119 for Nerf footballs that were never used and were found stored in a filing cabinet.”

An even more scandalous accusation:

“Two IRS credit cards were used to buy online pornography, though the employees said the cards were stolen. One of the workers reported five agency credit cards lost or stolen.” I realize our employee is innocent until proven guilty, but losing five cards to be found and used for porn is an amazing anomaly.

But so what?

The IRS is a government agency. So shouldn’t they be compared and judge by the same standards as other government agencies?

Here’s a story from 2010, “Spending sprees: Federal employees’ credit card habits might surprise you.”

“federal employees are using government credit cards to pay for ‘lingerie, gambling, iPods, Internet dating services’ and, in one case, a $13,000 dinner to entertain ‘customers’ of a federal agency.”

And, about the porn charge, remember the SEC?

“The 33 Securities and Exchange Commission employees and contractors reprimanded last year for accessing pornography on agency computers worked in the District and in six regional offices, according to documents released as part of a lawsuit.”

The Daily Caller reported in 2010 that, for “two years, high-ranking government employees making between $99,000 and $220,000 have been looking at a lot of pornography on their work computer.” This included a “senior attorney” who spent eight hours a day, uh, occupying himself with porn while pulling down a tax-fed salary.

What about the Pentagon? From 2010:

“The Boston Globe’s Bryan Bender reported Friday that federal investigators ‘have identified several dozen Pentagon officials and contractors with high-level security clearances who allegedly purchased and downloaded child pornography, including an undisclosed number who used their government computers to obtain the illegal material.’ Employees under investigation have included individuals from ‘the National Security Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency – which deal with some of the most sensitive work in intelligence and defense – among other organizations within the Defense Department,’ the Globe reported, citing investigative reports. Many of the cases date back several years. Some of them remain open.”

Or the FBI? “FBI battling ‘rash of sexting’ among its employees.” Among many other cases:

“More FBI employees were disciplined for their transgressions, including one woman who — according to the reports – ‘used (a) personal cell phone to send nude photographs of herself to other employees’ which “adversely affected the daily activities of several squads.’ Another FBI worker e-mailed a ‘nude photograph of herself to ex-boyfriend’s wife.’ Both employees received 10-day suspensions… And an employee who used a government-issued BlackBerry ‘to send sexually explicit messages to another employee’ was suspended for five days.”

So don’t unfairly single out the IRS as a sleazy, thieving, unaccountable bureaucracy. If they need to be abolished, they are one of a long line of federal departments that also deserve the same fate.