Concerto for blunt instrument

An irregular heartbeat from d.o. to you. Not like a daily kos, more like a sometime sloth. Fast relief from the symptoms of blogarrhea and predicated on the understanding that the world is not a stage for our actions, rather it is a living organism upon which we depend for our existence.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Joe blows his stack - everyone runs for cover

Yesterday's suicide attack on the IRS in Austin, Texas by a guy named Joe Stack has the blogosphere all abuzz trying to define the moment. Most interesting perhaps is elements of the far-right so-called Tea Party running for the hills to disassociate themselves from Stack's action. Once you read Joe Stack's rambling manifesto/suicide note (below) you realize that, yes he is an angry populist, but one who abhors corporations and the wealthy as much as he does government. Some Tea Party folks share that sentiment, but the ones associated with the neocons and Repugnicans, like the Faux News drones or Dick Armey's army, are all about the corporate takeover of these United States. God forbid THEY should be associated with real angry populism!

Likewise, folks on the Left seem quick to deny any semblance of equal ground with Joe Stack; at the same time that rightwing zealots like the unhinged Glen Beck are trying to brand the Left with Stack. It looks like everyone is either running for cover or pointing fingers or both at once!

Be that as it may, Stack's action was obviously not well thought out and murderous to boot. He may not have been crazy, but neither was he any kind of populist hero. Innocent people could have died from his action. Having said that, it is interesting to read of his thoughts in his own words.

Joe Stack's Letter

If you're reading this, you're no doubt
asking yourself, "Why did this have to happen?"
The simple truth is that it is complicated
and has been coming for a long time. The
writing process, started many months ago,
was intended to be therapy in the face of
the looming realization that there isn't
enough therapy in the world that can fix
what is really broken. Needless to say,
this rant could fill volumes with example
after example if I would let it. I find
the process of writing it frustrating, tedious,
and probably pointless. especially given
my gross inability to gracefully articulate
my thoughts in light of the storm raging
in my head. Exactly what is therapeutic
about that I'm not sure, but desperate
times call for desperate measures.

We are all taught as children that without
laws there would be no society, only anarchy.
Sadly, starting at early ages we in this
country have been brainwashed to believe
that, in return for our dedication and service,
our government stands for justice for all.
We are further brainwashed to believe that
there is freedom in this place, and that
we should be ready to lay our lives down
for the noble principals represented by its
founding fathers. Remember? One of these was
"no taxation without representation". I have
spent the total years of my adulthood unlearning
that crap from only a few years of my childhood.
These days anyone who really stands up for
that principal is promptly labeled a "crackpot",
traitor and worse.

While very few working people would say they
haven't had their fair share of taxes (as can I),
in my lifetime I can say with a great degree
of certainty that there has never been a
politician cast a vote on any matter with
the likes of me or my interests in mind. Nor,
for that matter, are they the least bit
interested in me or anything I have to say.

Why is it that a handful of thugs and plunderers
can commit unthinkable atrocities (and in the
case of the GM executives, for scores of years)
and when it's time for their gravy train to
crash under the weight of their gluttony and
overwhelming stupidity, the force of the full
federal government has no difficulty coming to
their aid within days if not hours? Yet at the
same time, the joke we call the American medical
system, including the drug and insurance companies,
are murdering tens of thousands of people a
year and stealing from the corpses and victims
they cripple, and this country's leaders don't
see this as important as bailing out a few of
their vile, rich cronies. Yet, the political
"representatives" (thieves, liars, and self-serving
scumbags is far more accurate) have endless time
to sit around for year after year and debate
the state of the "terrible health care problem".
It's clear they see no crisis as long as the
dead people don't get in the way of their
corporate profits rolling in.

And justice? You've got to be kidding!

How can any rational individual explain that
white elephant conundrum in the middle of our
tax system and, indeed, our entire legal
system? Here we have a system that is, by
far, too complicated for the brightest of the
master scholars to understand. Yet, it mercilessly
"holds accountable" its victims, claiming that
they're responsible for fully complying with laws
not even the experts understand. The law
"requires" a signature on the bottom of a tax
filing; yet no one can say truthfully that they
understand what they are signing; if that's not
"duress" than what is. If this is not the measure
of a totalitarian regime, nothing is.

How did I get here?

My introduction to the real American nightmare
starts back in the early '80s. Unfortunately
after more than 16 years of school, somewhere
along the line I picked up the absurd, pompous
notion that I could read and understand plain
English. Some friends introduced me to a group
of people who were having 'tax code' readings and
discussions. In particular, zeroed in on a section
relating to the wonderful "exemptions" that make
institutions like the vulgar, corrupt Catholic
Church so incredibly wealthy. We carefully studied
the law (with the help of some of the "best",
high-paid, experienced tax lawyers in the business),
and then began to do exactly what the "big boys"
were doing (except that we weren't steeling from
our congregation or lying to the government about
our massive profits in the name of God). We took
a great deal of care to make it all visible, following
all of the rules, exactly the way the law said
it was to be done.

The intent of this exercise and our efforts was
to bring about a much-needed re-evaluation of the
laws that allow the monsters of organized religion
to make such a mockery of people who earn an
honest living. However, this is where I learned
that there are two "interpretations" for every law;
one for the very rich, and one for the rest of us.
Oh, and the monsters are the very ones making and
enforcing the laws; the inquisition is still
alive and well today in this country.

That little lesson in patriotism cost me $40,000+,
10 years of my life, and set my retirement plans
back to 0. It made me realize for the first time
that I live in a country with an ideology that
is based on a total and complete lie. It also
made me realize, not only how naive I had been,
but also the incredible stupidity of the American
public; that they buy, hook, line, and sinker,
the crap about their "freedom". and that they
continue to do so with eyes closed in the face of
overwhelming evidence and all that keeps happening
in front of them.

Before even having to make a shaky recovery from
the sting of the first lesson on what justice
really means in this country (around 1984 after
making my way through engineering school and still
another five years of "paying my dues"), I felt I
finally had to take a chance of launching my dream
of becoming an independent engineer.

On the subjects of engineers and dreams of
independence, I should digress somewhat to say that
I'm sure that I inherited the fascination for
creative problem solving from my father. I realized
this at a very young age.

The significance of independence, however, came
much later during my early years of college; at the
age of 18 or 19 when I was living on my own as
student in an apartment in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
My neighbor was an elderly retired woman (80+
seemed ancient to me at that age) who was the
widowed wife of a retired steel worker. Her
husband had worked all his life in the steel
mills of central Pennsylvania with promises from
big business and the union that, for his 30 years
of service, he would have a pension and medical care
to look forward to in his retirement. Instead he
was one of the thousands who got nothing because
the incompetent mill management and corrupt union
(not to mention the government) raided their pension
funds and stole their retirement. All she had
was social security to live on.

In retrospect, the situation was laughable because
here I was living on peanut butter and bread (or
Ritz crackers when I could afford to splurge) for
months at a time. When I got to know this poor
figure and heard her story I felt worse for her
plight than for my own (I, after all, I thought I
had everything to in front of me). I was genuinely
appalled at one point, as we exchanged stories and
commiserated with each other over our situations,
when she in her grandmotherly fashion tried to convince
me that I would be "healthier" eating cat food
(like her) rather than trying to get all my substance
from peanut butter and bread. I couldn't quite
go there, but the impression was made. I decided
that I didn't trust big business to take care of me,
and that I would take responsibility for my own
future and myself.

Return to the early '80s, and here I was off to a
terrifying start as a 'wet-behind-the-ears' contract
software engineer... and two years later, thanks
to the fine backroom, midnight effort by the sleazy
executives of Arthur Andersen (the very same folks
who later brought us Enron and other such calamities)
and an equally sleazy New York Senator (Patrick
Moynihan), we saw the passage of 1986 tax reform
act with its section 1706.

For you who are unfamiliar, here is the core text
of the IRS Section 1706, defining the treatment of
workers (such as contract engineers) for tax purposes.
Visit this link for a conference committee report (
regarding the intended interpretation of Section 1706
and the relevant parts of Section 530, as amended. For
information on how these laws affect technical services
workers and their clients, read our discussion here


(a) IN GENERAL - Section 530 of the Revenue Act of 1978
is amended by adding at the end thereof the following
new subsection:

(d) EXCEPTION. - This section shall not apply in the
case of an individual who pursuant to an arrangement
between the taxpayer and another person, provides
services for such other person as an engineer, designer,
drafter, computer programmer, systems analyst, or other
similarly skilled worker engaged in a similar line
of work.

(b) EFFECTIVE DATE. - The amendment made by this section
shall apply to remuneration paid and services rendered
after December 31, 1986.


·"another person" is the client in the traditional job-shop

·"taxpayer" is the recruiter, broker, agency, or job shop.

·"individual", "employee", or "worker" is you.

Admittedly, you need to read the treatment to understand
what it is saying but it's not very complicated. The bottom
line is that they may as well have put my name right in
the text of section (d). Moreover, they could only have
been more blunt if they would have came out and directly
declared me a criminal and non-citizen slave. Twenty
years later, I still can't believe my eyes.

During 1987, I spent close to $5000 of my 'pocket change',
and at least 1000 hours of my time writing, printing,
and mailing to any senator, congressman, governor, or
slug that might listen; none did, and they universally
treated me as if I was wasting their time. I spent
countless hours on the L.A. freeways driving to meetings
and any and all of the disorganized professional groups
who were attempting to mount a campaign against this
atrocity. This, only to discover that our efforts were
being easily derailed by a few moles from the brokers
who were just beginning to enjoy the windfall from the
new declaration of their "freedom". Oh, and don't forget,
for all of the time I was spending on this, I was
loosing income that I couldn't bill clients.

After months of struggling it had clearly gotten to
be a futile exercise. The best we could get for all
of our trouble is a pronouncement from an IRS mouthpiece
that they weren't going to enforce that provision
(read harass engineers and scientists). This immediately
proved to be a lie, and the mere existence of the
regulation began to have its impact on my bottom line;
this, of course, was the intended effect.

Again, rewind my retirement plans back to 0 and shift
them into idle. If I had any sense, I clearly should
have left abandoned engineering and never looked back.

Instead I got busy working 100-hour workweeks. Then
came the L.A. depression of the early 1990s. Our leaders
decided that they didn't need the all of those extra
Air Force bases they had in Southern California, so
they were closed; just like that. The result was
economic devastation in the region that rivaled the
widely publicized Texas S&L fiasco. However, because
the government caused it, no one gave a shit about
all of the young families who lost their homes or street
after street of boarded up houses abandoned to the
wealthy loan companies who received government funds
to "shore up" their windfall. Again, I lost my

Years later, after weathering a divorce and the
constant struggle trying to build some momentum
with my business, I find myself once again beginning
to finally pick up some speed. Then came the
.COM bust and the 911 nightmare. Our leaders
decided that all aircraft were grounded for what
seemed like an eternity; and long after that,
'special' facilities like San Francisco were on
security alert for months. This made access to my
customers prohibitively expensive. Ironically,
after what they had done the Government came to the
aid of the airlines with billions of our tax dollars
. as usual they left me to rot and die while they
bailed out their rich, incompetent cronies WITH
MY MONEY! After these events, there went my business
but not quite yet all of my retirement and savings.

By this time, I'm thinking that it might be
good for a change. Bye to California, I'll
try Austin for a while. So I moved, only to
find out that this is a place with a highly
inflated sense of self-importance and where
damn little real engineering work is done.
I've never experienced such a hard time
finding work. The rates are 1/3 of what I was
earning before the crash, because pay rates here
are fixed by the three or four large companies
in the area who are in collusion to drive down
prices and wages. and this happens because the
justice department is all on the take and doesn't
give a fuck about serving anyone or anything
but themselves and their rich buddies.

To survive, I was forced to cannibalize my savings
and retirement, the last of which was a small IRA.
This came in a year with mammoth expenses and not
a single dollar of income. I filed no return
that year thinking that because I didn't have any
income there was no need. The sleazy government
decided that they disagreed. But they didn't notify
me in time for me to launch a legal objection so
when I attempted to get a protest filed with the court
I was told I was no longer entitled to due process
because the time to file ran out. Bend over for
another $10,000 helping of justice.

So now we come to the present. After my experience
with the CPA world, following the business crash I
swore that I'd never enter another accountant's
office again. But here I am with a new marriage
and a boatload of undocumented income, not to mention
an expensive new business asset, a piano, which I had
no idea how to handle. After considerable thought
I decided that it would be irresponsible NOT to get
professional help; a very big mistake.

When we received the forms back I was very optimistic
that they were in order. I had taken all of the years
information to Bill Ross, and he came back with
results very similar to what I was expecting. Except
that he had neglected to include the contents of
Sheryl's unreported income; $12,700 worth of it.
To make matters worse, Ross knew all along this was
missing and I didn't have a clue until he pointed it
out in the middle of the audit. By that time it had
become brutally evident that he was representing
himself and not me.

This left me stuck in the middle of this disaster
trying to defend transactions that have no relationship
to anything tax-related (at least the tax-related
transactions were poorly documented). Things I never
knew anything about and things my wife had no clue
would ever matter to anyone. The end result is. well,
just look around.

I remember reading about the stock market crash
before the "great" depression and how there were
wealthy bankers and businessmen jumping out of windows
when they realized they screwed up and lost everything.
Isn't it ironic how far we've come in 60 years in
this country that they now know how to fix that little
economic problem; they just steal from the middle
class (who doesn't have any say in it, elections are
a joke) to cover their asses and it's "business-as-usual".
Now when the wealthy fuck up, the poor get to die
for the mistakes. isn't that a clever, tidy solution.

As government agencies go, the FAA is often justifiably
referred to as a tombstone agency, though they are
hardly alone. The recent presidential puppet GW Bush
and his cronies in their eight years certainly
reinforced for all of us that this criticism rings
equally true for all of the government. Nothing changes
unless there is a body count (unless it is in the
interest of the wealthy sows at the government trough).
In a government full of hypocrites from top to bottom,
life is as cheap as their lies and their self-serving

I know I'm hardly the first one to decide I have
had all I can stand. It has always been a myth
that people have stopped dying for their freedom in
this country, and it isn't limited to the blacks, and
poor immigrants. I know there have been countless
before me and there are sure to be as many after.
But I also know that by not adding my body to the count,
I insure nothing will change. I choose to not keep
looking over my shoulder at "big brother" while he
strips my carcass, I choose not to ignore what is
going on all around me, I choose not to pretend that
business as usual won't continue; I have just had

I can only hope that the numbers quickly get too
big to be white washed and ignored that the American
zombies wake up and revolt; it will take nothing
less. I would only hope that by striking a nerve
that stimulates the inevitable double standard,
knee-jerk government reaction that results in more
stupid draconian restrictions people wake up and
begin to see the pompous political thugs and their
mindless minions for what they are. Sadly, though
I spent my entire life trying to believe it wasn't so,
but violence not only is the answer, it is the only
answer. The cruel joke is that the really big
chunks of shit at the top have known this all along
and have been laughing, at and using this awareness
against, fools like me all along.

I saw it written once that the definition of insanity
is repeating the same process over and over and
expecting the outcome to suddenly be different.
I am finally ready to stop this insanity. Well, Mr.
Big Brother IRS man, let's try something different;
take my pound of flesh and sleep well.

The communist creed: From each according to his
ability, to each according to his need.

The capitalist creed: From each according to
his gullibility, to each according to his greed.

Joe Stack (1956-2010)



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