It was no fun to watch Acting IRS head Steve Miller testify before the House Ways and Means Committee last week. Miller simply had no real explanation for the troubling actions at IRS.
Even his terminology induced cringes. Miller’s mea culpa was for “horrific customer service.”
Customer service? That’s a stretch.
A customer holds a position of honor in a free society. Businesses spend billions on advertising — just to gain our favor. We have the power to make a business succeed or fail according to our decisions.
We don’t have to be well connected or part of the political or social elite to share this power. The most ordinary of customers can have a powerful impact. When I was a kid, customers in my state helped build a small business, Wal-Mart, into the envy of the retail world. In 1956, ordinary bus riders in Montgomery, Alabama, used their “buying power” to help change the world.
As customers, we make demands. We make sure we’re satisfied. Sometimes we negotiate price; when no negotiation is possible and we don’t like the deal, we walk away. We have a choice. We decide.
Does this same type of empowerment exist when dealing with folks at the IRS?
Not so much. They tell us the price. We submit or go to jail. That’s no customer.
Cowering serf might sadly serve as the more apt moniker.
As the IRS grows bigger and more intrusive each year, and as its agents shake us down for ever larger sums, we should at least be able to keep the word “customer” away from them.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.