But for businesses across America — in industries such as energy, health care, pharmaceuticals, and automobiles — the administrative state is a force of nature they must deal with every day. The big federal agencies that regulate their part of the market are their IRS. And all across America, general counsels of companies that do business with the EPA, DOJ, FDA, and others are at the mercy of bureaucrats who can grind their businesses to a halt, fine them, accuse them of misdeeds, and make a general mess of their day-to-day operations.
Sometimes, the corporations deserve the scrutiny. But just as often, they don’t. The calculation innocent companies must make is this: Is fighting the bureaucrats who rule over your business every day, and who hold sway over your reputation, worth the legal battles? Is the loss of money and time — and the potential damage to your reputation — worth it?
To many general counsels of American companies, the answer is a resounding no. So they agree to settlements even when their clients are innocent. And they do it because it’s easier, cheaper, and more practical than facing the uncertainty of a prolonged, expensive legal battle.
That’s power the Mafia wishes it had, the kind of fear a Tony Soprano wishes he could instill.
Too many bureaucrats have too much power over the day-to-day lives of ordinary, law-abiding citizens. When the administrative state comes knocking at your door, it is the worst day of your life. And it is because you know — and the bureaucrats know, too — that they have the power to make your life miserable. They can make you an offer you can’t refuse.
Out of expediency and plain old common sense, too many Americans reluctantly submit to that power. So they pay — only to live the next day a little poorer, a lot more timid, and much more cynical about government and its ability to tyrannize its own people.
That is the real story behind the IRS scandal: the power faceless bureaucrats have to ruin the lives of ordinary Americans, and with little oversight or accountability.
Americans have every right to ask some fundamental questions about this sad state of affairs: Who polices this administrative police state that David Axelrod described as so vast as to be unmanageable? And who punishes it when it commits crimes against its own citizens?
Where are the new Woodward and Bernstein valiantly digging to expose this kind of story? Where are 60 Minutes and Frontline? And the rest of the fourth estate? Where is the Innocence Project? Will John Grisham write a novel about the silent victims of the ever-growing and ever-more-powerful administrative state?
It would make for a great piece of fiction. If only it weren’t so real.
— Lee Habeeb is the vice president of content at Salem Radio Network. Mike Leven is president and COO of the Las Vegas Sands.