The Internal Revenue Service targeting “patriotic” organizations as well as those focused on smaller government and constitutional constraint is downright tyrannical. But even if politicians abolish the IRS or radically simplify the tax code, that won’t “fix” the underlying problem. Will anyone call for the real solution, one that would “kill” the IRS?
Having been a politician, I know that politicians like to “fix” problems. I also know that it is easy to fix the symptom rather than address the underlying disease. For example, the fight over the Internet sales tax legislation is the latest example of political “fixing.” Civil government has strangled free enterprise through excessive regulation, creating alleged inequities and artificial markets. However, rather than restore free enterprise to health by reducing regulation, some politicians “fix” things with more regulations. But I digress.
The problem with the IRS is that it is a result of an idea, an idea that flowered with promise but has now produced its poisonous fruit. The idea is that of Thomas Hobbes, published in 1651.1 Unless we, as a nation, deal with his idea, future generations will find themselves back where we are today; only the names will have changed.
At the risk of great oversimplification, Hobbes tried to explain where the power of civil government came from such that it could legitimately and authoritatively govern men, and men would obey its edicts.
The supposed “greatnesses” of his idea was that he broke from the past. Prior to Hobbes, God was viewed as the basis for civil government’s authority even though there were great disputes as to whom that authority had been delegated.
Hobbes, however, grounded his theory on reason divorced from revelation (the Bible). Specifically, he believed that men, by mutual consent, agreed to come together to create the power of the state. The concept of the “consent of the governed” comes through to this day.
That does not mean that the “consent of the governed” is evil or bad per se. It also doesn’t mean that “consent of the governed” is irreconcilable with the principle that the authority of civil government comes from God. But it does mean the authority God has delegated to us, the “power of the ballot box,” is subject to God. That means it is subject to His “rules” for justice and righteousness. It also means God prescribes the extent of civil government’s power, not a majority of men who consent together to do whatever their hearts desire.
While many object to any attempt to inject God into politics, the fact of the matter is civil government, divorced from God, isn’t too pretty, as evidenced by the IRS scandal and Benghazi-gate. Civil government, untamed by God, becomes god. Even a god created by man will not be easily tamed by its creators, for it is the nature of every god to rule over others.
Hobbes summed it up pretty well:
“This is the generation of that great LEVIATHAN, or rather, to speak more reverently, of that mortal god, to which we owe under the immortal God, our peace and defence.” (emphasis in original)
The surest way to solve the problem of big, tyrannical, oppressive government is for all men to humbly submit to the governance of God. As a nation, we don’t seem willing to do that, but anything less is just fixing the symptom, not the disease. William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania, said it well, “If men will not be governed by God, they will be ruled by tyrants.”
Because we have not been self-governed under God, but have thrown off every natural restraint, we have a bloated civil government with a voracious appetite that only an IRS can fill.
To slay today’s Leviathan, the IRS, that we created, we will need to re-introduce our nation to our forgotten exercise in self-government under God. It’s the only true remedy for tyranny.
1The book, commonly known simply as Leviathan, is actually entitled, Leviathan or the Matter, Forme and Power of a Common Wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil.