There’s no excuse for taking an innocent life especially in the manner that has been attributed to Joseph Andrew Stack, the Austin pilot who rammed his plane into a seven story building in North Austin near Frontage road, where the IRS office was housed. By now we all heard the reports about him setting his house on fire. We heard about the rantings he left in what appears to be a suicide note of sorts that was posted on his now disabled website. We heard all these different things and at the end of the day what we have, is a disturbed man who was so angry at any number of things he decided to lash out. Is it wrong? Yes, Is it cowardly? No doubt.
Equally as cowardly is the fact that Stack has all but disappeared from mainstream news coverage. Well at least on Friday he did, the day after he committed his act of terrorism.. less then 24 hours after he flew his plane into the building, all of us from coast to coast were treated to the circus surrounding Tiger Woods and his staged apology. That was followed by one of his distraught mistresses a porn star who was upset and held a press conference of her own because she never got an apology and according to her she had quit her job in porn industry to mess around with a married Tiger Woods. It was a sight to behold as, regular news coverage was interrupted to carry wood’s apology. Urban radio stations including some owned by san Antonio based Clear Channel had live streaming of Woods while ignoring important easily, more impacting issues. News pundits and experts were brought in to speak to Tiger’s bad behavior and access whether or not he redeemed himself. We did all this before we even knew the name of IRS worker Stacks had killed in his attack.
What was also lost in the sauce were all the troubling questions around Stack’s actions. Why did he do it? Was his anger at the IRS and government isolated or is it part of a larger emotional trend being expressed by Americans but not playing itself out to such extremes-yet?
I found it interesting that no one wants to talk about Fausto Cardenas, the 24-year-old Houston man who was arrested just a month ago for shooting his gun off in front of the state’s Capital. He had just visited the office of a state senator Dan Patrick where he made members of his staff feel uncomfortable. Cardenas left the office and then busted off shots. Luckily no one was hurt due to the fact police pounced on him, but we’re still left wondering why he did it? Was Cardenas angry at the government? Was he guy who just had a bad day?
Say what you will, but when I see or hear of two incidents around government buildings I wanna first acknowledge them and see if there are any dots connected. After all, we do this all the time with shootings. We ask is it gang related? is there a connection? Is this the jump off for more things to come..
Stack’s so called rambling letter or manifesto can not be swept aside as some mumbo jumbo by a lunatic. He was quite clear that he had a lot of anger and felt the government that all of us are supposed to trust was out to get him. It’s the same type of anger I saw at early Tea Party rallies. It’s the same type of anger I saw at Healthcare Townhalls the past summer. It’s the anger I see and hear people expressing both from the political left and political right about everything ranging from bank bailouts and bonuses to fat greedy executives to the government doing too much to the government doing too little to protect folks at a time when we have a jacked up economy and high unemployment. People are angry-very angry. They’re so angry that a website was set up where several thousand people immediately joined praising Joseph Stack as a hero. Hell we, took a break from all the Tiger Woods coverage this morning to grant Stack’s daughter Samantha Bell a platform on Good Morning America where she praised her father as a hero for standing up to the system.
Meanwhile punk ass news pundits have been besides themselves debating whether or not to call Stack a terrorist. Nevermind the fact that we have gang members and undocumented workers sneaking into this country routinely being called terrorists by these same pundits as well as by some in law enforcement. But like I noted when it comes to Stack it’s a debate. Sadly many of these overzealous pundits have not been too besides themselves to call attention to Vernon Hunter, the 68 year Black man who was killed when Stack smashed his plane in the building. We didn’t hear a clarion call to even offer our condolences..
Nope, not too many of our esteemed news pundits and politicians were to quick to call for our country to honor a real hero-who served two tours of duty in Vietnam. He worked for 20 years at the IRS. Why didn’t we highlight this victim of domestic terrorism the way we did Tiger Woods? There was some local coverage here in the Austin area, but most people around the country who eagerly read Stack’s suicide note/manifesto and debated with folks about whether Stacks was a right winger or an Obama supporter, never heard of Vernon Hunter. One can only imagine how his wife and kids feel…
And still all the nagging questions remain..Was the Stacks incident isolated?
There are many that wish to dismiss this. I heard from them last week. They like so many of us here in this country want a neat ending to a messy situation. Many have been dismissive, when attempts were made to see if this anger Stacks was feeling was connected to the anger Cardenas may have been feeling when he fired shots on the Capital and if those two incidents of expressed anger were connected to the anger felt by Nidal Malik Hasan who wound up shooting and killing 12 people and injuring 31 on nearby Fort Hood. We also need to include the sentiments behind the rash of church burnings-11 in all since the beginning of this year throughout East Texas. Two suspects Robert Bourque, 19, and 21-year-old Daniel George McAllister were arrested over the weekend.. How angry do you have to be to burn 11 churches?
Looking over the recent events here in Texas, its hard not be concerned about exactly how much anger is out there. I can’t help but wonder if some of that angst was stoked when you have a sitting governor-Rick Perry calling for the state to secede from the rest of the Union. How much does that feed into the anger and angst that’s obviously festering out there?
Maybe those who like to have happy ending can brush all this aside and try to make it seem as all this is a series of strange coincidents. Such is not the case for Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitan. It was just yesterday that she announced that one of her main priorities is dealing with domestic extremism. She spoke at the annual governor’s convention where she said this problem needs to be ‘drilled down and analyzed’.
I’m not quite sure how Napolitan’s assessment will translate into policy. With so much anger, I worry that the government will use this concern as an excuse to clamp down on people versus trying to address core issues of concern and dissent. With anti-establishment politicos like congressman Ron Paul winning the straw poll for who the Republicans want for president this past weekend at the CPAC convention and Democratic voters crossing over to vote for a Republican Scott Brown over Democrat Martha Coakley in last month’s special election in Massachusetts senate race we definitely know people are making it clear they are not satisfied.
Adding to all that is the concern that this economy is weakening. Soon we will have troops returning home after doing 3 and 4 tours of duty which will definitely have left major impact in their thinking. We already know thats a concern from the Fort Hood incident. We also have a bunch of folks from jail that are steadily coming out only to find there’s no job or anything out here for them..With all thats going on, one has to wonder if there will be anymore Joe Stacks.
Below is his /suicide notemanifesto…
Sucide Letter from Joe Stack..
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 (http://www.synergistech.com/1706.shtml#ConferenceCommitteeReport) 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 (http://www.synergistech.com/ic-taxlaw.shtml).
SEC. 1706. TREATMENT OF CERTAIN TECHNICAL PERSONNEL.
(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.
Â· “another person” is the client in the traditional job-shop relationship.
Â· “taxpayer” is the recruiter, broker, agency, or job shop.
Â· “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 retirement.
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 XXXX XXXX, 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, XXXX 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 laws.
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 enough.
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)