Back in the late ’80s, Leona Helmsley was brought to trial and convicted of multiple tax violations. During the trial a former housekeeper, Elizabeth Baum, testified that she heard Helmsley say, “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.” Helmsley denied having said that, but she will own that quote for as long as she is remembered.

And I remembered that quote when I read a distressing news report out of the Los Angeles Times this morning:

But we do know that as of the end of 2009, 41 people inside Obama’s very own White House owe the government they’re allegedly running a total of $831,055 in back taxes. That would cover a lot of special chocolate desserts in the White House Mess.

In the House of Representatives, 421 people owe a total of $6,524,892. In the Senate, 217 owe $2,774,836. In the IRS’ parent department, Treasury, 1,204 owe $7,670,814. At the Labor Department, where Secretary Hilda Solis’ husband had some back-tax problems before her confirmation, 463 owe $7,481,463. Eighty-one workers for the Federal Reserve System’s board of governors owe $1,076,733.

Over at the Justice Department, which is so busy enforcing other laws and suing Arizona, 1,971 employees still owe $14,350,152 in overdue taxes.

Then, we come to the Department of Homeland Security, which is run by Janet Napolitano, the former governor of Arizona who preferred to call terrorist acts “man-caused disasters.” Homeland Security is keeping all of us safe by ensuring that a Dutch tourist is aboard every inbound international flight to thwart any would-be bomber with explosives in his underpants.

Within that department, there reside 4,856 people who owe the tax agency a whopping total of $37,012,174.

And why should they worry about paying their taxes when the department in charge of gathering taxes is led by Secretary of the Treasury Timothy “Oh, you mean this $42,000 in unpaid taxes” Geithner?

As one of the little people who pays his taxes on time and in full, I object to having thousands of tax scofflaws in government. They are not our betters; they work for you and me, and they should obey the same laws we do. Anyone who can’t should be fired immediately and see what it’s like to work in the real world.