At times it seems few in the federal government worry much about enforcing the law. Millions of illegal immigrants are evidence of that.
Then, out of the blue, a few bureaucrats decide to show just how heavy Uncle Sam's hand can be.
It happened at the Social Security Administration, which used the Internal Revenue Service to seize tax refunds owed to about 400,000 people. Why? Their relatives owed money to Social Security. Many of the debts were more than 10 years old. Some dated back more than half a century. Often, those whose refunds were taken had no idea they had relatives - most dead - who owed the government money.
Only after the press exposed the outrage did the government decide to forego collection of debts more than 10 years old.