Friday, February 19, 2010

Another take on Joe Stack

It's interesting how many strong views are exposed in the wake of anarchy. Joe Stack was a self-admitted victim of the IRS and the tax laws they enforce through intimidating behavior.

"Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them." - Thoreau

The issue had gone beyond just money and had become spiritual to him. I don't mean spiritual in a religious sense, but that his experience with the government had systematically torn his soul.

"Lack of money is the root of all evil." - George Bernard Shaw

Some people are saying he should have sold his airplane and house to pay off the IRS. But they seem to miss a few facts in Joe's story. His continual encounters with the IRS and with bad accountants were life-sapping. Those who call him a hero are likely the same ones who have had bad encounters with the IRS. Those who call him insane are likely people who are filled with anger for other political or social reasons. Most of America, as I see in the posts from various sources, are merely sympathetic. They are sad that this happened, but also disappointed at the situation that drove him to this point.

Those I know, myself included, have no problems with giving money to the government when the money is accounted for and well spent. As my local city council discovered, however, is that when the money isn't budged and there's no accountability then people refuse to write a blank check to the same government. I've voted for taxes and voted against them. I'm not bipartisan, I'm nonpartisan. And in that mindset, I agree with Joe that it doesn't matter if you're Democrat or Republican, the tax code should be simplified and parts of the law, such as those harming small business owners as he mentioned in section "D", should be tossed out.

In a simpler tax system more money will be passing hands and each time it does so is another opportunity for the government to make money. In other words, I think the government would make more money by simplifying the tax laws and the tax laws would, therefore, also be more fair to all citizens rich and poor alike. However, as the saying goes:

"A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." - Miguel de Cervantes

Which means that if the government can consolidate all money to a few key businesses then they have a better way to ensure it gets its taxes. But the risk of that, as we're starting to see, is that the government starts working for the businesses rather than the people.

Protecting big businesses will protect the government's income, which is likely the root cause of the trillions of dollars of debt we recently accrued. And that leads us back to Joe Stack. He knew what he wanted to do, but the government kept holding him back. He noticed that the government didn't treat everyone equally and that through the facade there really is a caste system in place. Instead of the government making an example out of him, he apparently turned it around to make an example out of himself and the government.

He didn't catch his house on fire with his family inside as some people are saying. His wife and daughter drove up to the house after it had already gone up in flames.

Even his attack at the IRS building didn't appear to be an attempt to take anyone's life but his own. He didn't talk about killing anyone in his manifesto. Nor did he talk about bringing anyone down with him as Eric Harris did in the Columbine massacre.

It appears that Joe had felt berated and violated by the government and wanted to make others understand the damage that can happen when a government stops protecting the people it was built to serve. Joe's letter mixes anger with a type of martyrdom; he would have compared himself to Dr. Alfred Lanning in the movie iRobot where he felt he had to die in a high-profile accident to make the nation wake up in time for the imminent tragedy. He apparently felt there was no other way.

"If one truly has lost hope, one would not be on hand to say so." - Eric Bentley

In closing, my heart goes out to those injured and even to Joe's family. There's more to life than money, but the government has forgotten that money is a spiritual influence. Someone traded his time - his life - to earn that money. I think that's the message Joe intended to spread.


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