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Lois Lerner not sorry?



The IRS administers Obamacare and made a rule the Supreme Court might have to strike down.

This morning, Politico released their “exclusive” with Lois Lerner. (See also these secondary reports at The Daily Caller and from UPI.) She once served as Director for Tax-exempt Organizations at the IRS. While so serving she selectively applied the law. Tax collectors have done this since the first kings and emperors formed the first tax agencies. And she puffs herself up with pride for this.

Lois Lerner should be sorry

Middle East irony: plaque describing Zacchaeus' sycamore tree. Will Lois Lerner pay soe of the price he paid?

PA plaque describing the sycamore tree that Zacchaeus climbed to get a better look when Jesus came to Jericho (Luke 18:1-10). Credit: James Emery (Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0 Generic).

Lois Lerner rocketed to fame by pleading the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution:

No person shall be…compelled to be a witness against himself…

Never mind that the IRS routinely compels taxpayers to be witnesses against themselves. Never mind, either, she first said, “I did not do anything wrong.”

What did she do? Delayed people’s applications for tax-exempt status. And for one reason only: to stop them taking part in the 2012 election. She even talked about how horrible she found some of the applicants, and about how to hide correspondence. So she knew she was breaking the law – by applying it selectively.

Tax collectors have often selectively applied the law. The United States Tax Code applies itself selectively. It specifically singles out some people for harsher taxes than others. That’s a bill of attainder. Or it would be if Congress passed it.

But more than that; Lois Lerner did not “target progressive organizations, too.” She threw two or three of them under the bus, to keep up appearances. (They probably were so brazen in their application materials that she knew they’d never get away with it.) But most of the time, if she was going to deny the application of a left-wing outfit, she didn’t dawdle. But she did with the Tea Party and Patriot groups. Why? Because she knew she had no grounds to deny the applications. So she delayed them.

An application delayed is an application denied. Justice works that way, too.

It’s happened before

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The ancient Greeks knew all about corrupt government agents. They even came up with a special word for it: sycophanteo. (Most Greek lexicons give the first-person singular present indicative of a verb, not the present infinitive.) The word literally means “I show the fig.” In a year when Corinth, a Greek city-state, had a fig famine, the city fathers slapped a heavy tariff on figs. Customs agents liked to plant figs on travelers, accuse them of smuggling figs out of Corinth, and demand heavy fines on the spot. So “I show the fig” means “I’m from the government. I make you look guilty when you are not. Then I demand money to make the charge go away quickly.”

This sort of practice went on for centuries. Then Jesus of Nazareth passed through Jericho one day. He singled out Zacchaeus, the local “tax farmer” (a private tax collector under contract with Rome) for attention. And Zacchaeus famously offered to give half his wealth to the poor and pay back fourfold any taxpayer he had cheated this way.

How about it, Lois Lerner? Don’t you think you’ve “shown the fig” on a lot of people? People who were just trying to make this a better country? Maybe you don’t see it that way. I get that. But selective application is still cheating, the same as when Zacchaeus did it, as the Corinthian customs agents did before him.

Let’s see: you get $100,000 a year in a pension from the IRS. And you complain you can’t get a job. You want to do something about that? Pay some of the price Zacchaeus paid!

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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