What Ever Happened to Fairness?

Michael Schaus
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Posted: May 24, 2013 12:01 AM

Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, was placed before a Kangaroo Court (AKA: a Senate hearing) to explain his company’s practice of “tax avoidance.” It was somewhat strange timing, given the IRS’s current scandal of inappropriately flexing their muscle at conservative oriented non-profits. Nonetheless, John McCain and a number of other senators attempted to shame Apple into admitting there is something wrong in minimizing a businesses’ tax burden.

As if maximizing profits (which benefit employees, shareholders and consumers) is a bad thing, the hearing attempted to demonize Apple for utilizing the very loopholes that McCain and company put in the 74,000 page tax code. To the extent that Apple is doing something “wrong”, it is the fault of an overly complex tax code.  It would also seem curious, given the Benghazi scandal, the DOJ’s oppression of reporters, and the IRS’s inappropriate profiling of conservative groups, that the hearing was little more than a waste of time.

This brings us to another point: The recent hat-trick of scandals seem to be making life pretty difficult for President Obama. When the administration decides to begin talking about drone attacks on American citizens in an effort to assuage the persistent reporting on the other three scandals. . . Well, it can’t be a good sign.

President Obama read from the teleprompter at length today about “reframing” our war on terror. In a major address, the president read:

 “Our systematic effort to dismantle terrorist organizations must continue. But this war, like all wars, must end. That’s what history advises. That’s what our democracy demands.”

Right. . . Why don’t we just drone strike it? Buried deep within the otherwise uncomfortable topic of killing American citizens abroad, the subject of DOJ intrusion on first amendment rights was touched on. (It seems questions about the scandals just aren’t going away.) ABC reported:

President Obama is a little uneasy with the way journalists have been dragged into the Justice Department’s aggressive pursuit of national security leak investigations. In fact, he has ordered Attorney General Eric Holder to conduct a 45-day review of the department’s guidelines on the issue.

So. . . Eric holder is going to be responsible for investigating the impropriety of his own actions? The man signed off on the seizure of a Fox News reporter’s emails, and the President has the audacity to ask that he investigate the department’s guidelines?

The recent scandals, combined with the Senate’s feigned outrage at Apple’s tax practices, underscores the fundamental issue with our current regulatory and legislative bodies. . . Something about it seems arbitrary and coercive. Why are we bringing Tim Cook before the Senate? Why not trudge one of the millions of Americans who utilize the mortgage interest deduction, or take a standard deduction? Both of those practices are designed to minimize the tax burden, and maximize personal profits.

Free markets operate under the presumption of agnostic indifference. Oddly enough President Barack Obama got elected by catering to an overwhelming feeling that the game was rigged. He promised fairness, transparency and equal opportunity. However, under his watch, government has invasively entered ever more of our daily life. And unlike the agnostic hand of relatively free markets and private sector incentives, it is becoming increasingly apparent government is run by ideological prejudices. The gravity of the IRS scandal, or the DOJ scandal, is the dawning realization that government likes to pick winners and losers. The hearing on Apple’s tax practices only served to bolster the argument that government would rather run the economy than encourage it.

America has traditionally been the beacon of hope in an otherwise bleak world of government autocracy. The more our government demonizes the successful, punishes the critics, and operates in an insulated world of unaccountability, the more that beacon will fade. Favorability, and arbitrary outrage, does little to bolster the general public’s faith in our economic system.

The IRS should be decried for their authoritarian nature. The DOJ should be held accountable for their egregious violation of First Amendment rights. And Apple should be encouraged to create tax accounting software for the rest of us.