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
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
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
SEC. 1706. TREATMENT OF CERTAIN TECHNICAL
(a) IN GENERAL - Section 530 of
the Revenue Act of 1978 is amended by adding at the end thereof the following
(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 relationship.
"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 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 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 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
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)