Do you occasionally find yourself clicking through the cable channels that specialize in the really cheesy reality shows?
You know the ones we're talking about - the ones that feature spouses catching their mates cheating or women who are the worst possible brides-to-be screaming, "This is MY DAY and I will not have that b**ch (the future mother-in-law) at my wedding!"
Well, we happened to notice while flipping through the channels the other night that as bad as these programs are, sometimes their sponsors are worse.
Specifically, we noticed a couple of ads advising patrons of these programs that if you owe the Internal Revenue Service back taxes, the advertisers were there to help you cheat Uncle Sam out of what you owe him.
Screens blared: "Owe the government over $10,000? Call us - we'll successfully negotiate a settlement that will save you thousands!"
The commercial goes on to give examples of what the company has saved other clients - including one tax bill for over $400,000 that was settled for a midfive-digit number.
Now, no matter what that advertiser may think, if someone owed the federal government $400,000 in back taxes and got off with paying under $100,000, that is theft. And not only from Uncle Sam, but also from the rest of us who pay our tax bill.
How can these advertisements be legal (let alone, moral)?
We have no problem with people who get behind in their taxes working out payment plans with the IRS. The simple act of trying to pay what you owe indicates honesty.
But, hiring a firm to try to get what you truly owe forgiven, lessened or forgotten? In our parents' day, that would have been deemed treason. The firms that offer such a service would have been convicted as abettors and enablers and hung right along side the traitors. At least on the gallows of public opinion.
Today, though, it is perfectly OK to advertise a completely immoral, treasonous service. How proud these businesses must be of the service they provide.
Hey, we screwed our country out of thousands of dollars - but we kept a third of that money for our own pockets.
(A version of this editorial has appeared previously in The Maui News.)
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.