Dusty Dettmer

Joe Stack's IRS Suicide

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If you haven't heard, Joe Stack flew his plane into an IRS building. You can read about the details of the crash here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_Austin_plane_crash

His suicide note was up on his website. The FBI had it taken down but you can read the letter here:

http://www.webcitation.org/5ndnnvvrP

Here is the end of the letter:

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)

02/18/2010

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Which indicates a terribly jumbled and confused state of mind. His note is meandering, non-essentialized, and emphatically is NOT a defense of freedom. HE IS NOT ONE OF US.

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Which indicates a terribly jumbled and confused state of mind. His note is meandering, non-essentialized, and emphatically is NOT a defense of freedom. HE IS NOT ONE OF US.

No, he was not one of us. He described no political philosophy at all, embracing instead a collection of populist complaints, exacerbated by an accumulation of bad personal experiences. He didn't understand the cause of them but he was by no means solely guilty himself of what happened to him in his life prior to his suicide mission. If he was driven crazy as part of the reason why he flew a plane into a group of people innocent of what happened to him, the IRS played a large role in putting him there. Few go off the deep end like he did, but he was not alone in accumulating unbearable frustrations of injustice at the hands of bureaucrats wielding arbitrary power. As statism increases there is bound to more of that, and more people exploding over it in one way or another, sometimes at the expense of the innocent. The statists and bureaucrats are bringing this down on all of us, although those of us who oppose it are the first to be blamed for it by the progressives themselves seeking self-righteous cover. No one condones his murderous suicide mission, but it is a shame that everyone seems to be morally intimidated by the left -- which is blaming it on "tea parties" -- into looking the other way and saying that he was only crazy, as if that popped out of a causeless vacuum.

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As statism increases there is bound to more of that, and more people exploding over it in one way or another . . .

I would sincerely hope so, if the statism continues to increase.

If "the system" does not work and these next elections do not result in substantive changes to our gov't's policies, what else is there but revolution or rebellion? That is, assuming you are not willing to live out the rest of your life as a sheep on a constantly shortening leash.

As Mr. Harrington pointed out in what I believe was the first article he posted here, there really are still some Americans who would rather die than live that way.

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There are two schools of thought with regard to Mr. Stack's actions:

1. Those who've never had a really bad experience with the IRS.

2. Those whose lives have been utterly destroyed by the IRS, both by physical injury and mental trauma.

Evidence seems to suggest that he was not quite yet at the 'nothing left to lose' stage, as he still had a home, but we don't yet know it it was days away from seizure, foreclosure or other eviction proceeding, so it's difficult to determine just the exact state of conditions that drove this man to the actions he took.

On the responsibility issue, it is unfortunate that this fuzzy target included innocent bystanders who were not IRS. However, the IRS staff are not innocent bystanders. They were not forced into their jobs--they voluntarily chose to engage in the government mafia activities.

I've frequently said on my blog that the revolution will come in pockets of rebellion. These will be spun and downplayed by the media to create the illusion that America is not falling apart. The marginalizing of Mr. Stack's actions in the mainstream news seems to bear this out. The day following, I spent 90 minutes running errands with the car radio tuned to talk and news stations. Not once did I hear so much as a mention of the story. Most people I spoke to didn't even know this event took place.

Joe Stack's actions could be looked at as desparate lone man's attempt to raise the cost of state-sponsored terrorism. Or, it may be looked at as a one-man revolutionary war against an oppressive tyranny. What constitutes a war? Does it require thousands of men fighting, or is it the principle of a conflict between a government and the People?

Whatever the answer is, I think we will more of this as the nation falls farther from freedom.

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As statism increases there is bound to more of that, and more people exploding over it in one way or another . . .

I would sincerely hope so, if the statism continues to increase.

If "the system" does not work and these next elections do not result in substantive changes to our gov't's policies, what else is there but revolution or rebellion? That is, assuming you are not willing to live out the rest of your life as a sheep on a constantly shortening leash.

As Mr. Harrington pointed out in what I believe was the first article he posted here, there really are still some Americans who would rather die than live that way.

For the context showing more fully what I wrote, which was not advocacy of this:

Few go off the deep end like he did, but he was not alone in accumulating unbearable frustrations of injustice at the hands of bureaucrats wielding arbitrary power. As statism increases there is bound to more of that, and more people exploding over it in one way or another, sometimes at the expense of the innocent.

It is not something you should look forward to. When the victims can't stand the abuse anymore they are hurt even worse when they emotionally lash out, and often take other innocent victims with them. It accomplishes nothing and causes much greater harm. Part of that harm is that the government uses it as an excuse to crack down on more innocent victims regarded as their 'political enemies' -- starting with those like us who speak out against the abuse.

And for your next step, if enough of the country does not understand what is being done and what direction to go in, how do you think a "revolution or rebellion" by a small minority would change that and make any practical improvement by being physically crushed, along with others who have nothing to do with the violence? If you do this, you will avoid "liv[ing] out your life as sheep on a constantly shortening leash", but you will "live it out" dead - for the rest of what would have been your life. If such a surge in government violence is to come, then let it come from them; don't give them any excuses to either accelerate it or cover it over with spin about why it was "necessary".

If there are no rules against using the Forum as an international public broadcast to encourage violence against the government and society at large then there should be.

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If there are no rules against using the Forum as an international public broadcast to encourage violence against the government and society at large then there should be.

I'm not doing that.

Nor do I "look forward to" acts of violence that harm innocent people (which is why I left off the part of your sentence about involving innocent people), nor did I imply that you advocate such acts. Apparently I left too much unspoken and assumed no one would think such a thing.

My point is the right of an individual to decide when he's had enough and refuses to continue living as a slave to others. This, of course, after he has exhausted non-violent means of protecting his rights. I say he has a right to make that determination, and whether it effects any "practical improvements" in a larger societal context is irrelevant to that issue.

Do you not think there is such a point, where an individual has a moral right to decide to fight back against those who violate his rights, whether it's futile or not?

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Do you not think there is such a point, where an individual has a moral right to decide to fight back against those who violate his rights, whether it's futile or not?

Fleeing is an option. In -Atlas Shrugged-, the productive folk fled from their oppressors.

Bob Kolker

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The day following, I spent 90 minutes running errands with the car radio tuned to talk and news stations. Not once did I hear so much as a mention of the story. Most people I spoke to didn't even know this event took place.
I noticed this also.

Have they tried to link the guy to the Tea Party group yet? I haven't paid attention, but I assumed somebody would do that.

I read Stack's letter. While I don't agree with his conclusion, the premise that the system is corrupt rang true. I vote for fleeing, instead of smashing a perfectly good airplane into a building.

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Do you not think there is such a point, where an individual has a moral right to decide to fight back against those who violate his rights, whether it's futile or not?

Fleeing is an option. In -Atlas Shrugged-, the productive folk fled from their oppressors.

Bob Kolker

True, but in reality where is someone going to go. If there was a country/government that really recognized individual rights and used that principle as their guide then I would probably not hesitate to move there. With that said, that leaves us as the creators of a society that will acknowledge and defend the principle of individual rights. And considering the nature of man, one cannot force another to think and then agree with the principle, so our fundamental battle is for the intellect as a rational person does not fly a plane into a building to prove a point.

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...so our fundamental battle is for the intellect ...
Well, then I think our country is in a lot of trouble. :D

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...so our fundamental battle is for the intellect ...
Well, then I think our country is in a lot of trouble. :D

I agree, we are in trouble, but that does not mean the enemy is guaranteed a win. The only thing that guarantees the enemy a win is a lack of engaging in the battle by the one's that have the insight to overcome the difficulties. And I would add that even after this battle is won there will still need to be a defense against the enemies intellectual ideas once again taking a foot-hold. In other words intellectuals must be forever vigilant against their intellectual enemies as the war never ends

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The day following, I spent 90 minutes running errands with the car radio tuned to talk and news stations. Not once did I hear so much as a mention of the story. Most people I spoke to didn't even know this event took place.
I noticed this also.

Have they tried to link the guy to the Tea Party group yet? I haven't paid attention, but I assumed somebody would do that.

I read Stack's letter. While I don't agree with his conclusion, the premise that the system is corrupt rang true. I vote for fleeing, instead of smashing a perfectly good airplane into a building.

They sure have. It got to the point where Beck had to go through the suicide note sentence by sentence in order to show that this man had serious leftist/progressive premises.

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Do you not think there is such a point, where an individual has a moral right to decide to fight back against those who violate his rights, whether it's futile or not?

Fleeing is an option. In -Atlas Shrugged-, the productive folk fled from their oppressors.

Bob Kolker

So what country do you propose he should flee to? Somalia, perhaps?

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So what country do you propose he should flee to? Somalia, perhaps?

High concentrations of socialist types (nowhere near as bad as Dems) in the French and Italian parts notwithstanding, Switzerland is close, if all you care about is property rights and freedom (and not the spirit of the people around you, which for me are more important to my happiness).

The other advantage of Switzerland is its checks on government strength, demonstrated time and time again. Helps that every grown man has an assault rifle at home.

But the US is the most fabulous country in the world, even today. I'll (semi-)happily give up 40% of my income (to come soon) and learn to speak deformed English :D to be around Americans, even Dems, because of their outlook on life.

Also, problem with Switzerland is unless you have a very high net worth, it is extremely difficult to obtain citizenship, and impossible to purchase property. This is part of why this country remains a good place to flee once you are attacked by the rabid US Statists (as Marc Rich makes the case for in his book) but does impede your ability to move there on a whim. There are less jobs and to an extent it is less meritocratic than the US. The culture is more conservative than libertarian, even if the Swiss understand and love freedom.

Still, the country is (now that HK is coming under attack from statists and increasing welfare programmes etc.) my second choice. It may well become first choice if Britain continues to destroy London so thoroughly as a world-leading trading centre and Obama manages to destroy the US for the next 10 years without being stopped by the likes of Scott Brown.

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So what country do you propose he should flee to? Somalia, perhaps?

High concentrations of socialist types (nowhere near as bad as Dems) in the French and Italian parts notwithstanding, Switzerland is close, if all you care about is property rights and freedom (and not the spirit of the people around you, which for me are more important to my happiness).

The other advantage of Switzerland is its checks on government strength, demonstrated time and time again. Helps that every grown man has an assault rifle at home.

But the US is the most fabulous country in the world, even today. I'll (semi-)happily give up 40% of my income (to come soon) and learn to speak deformed English :D to be around Americans, even Dems, because of their outlook on life.

Also, problem with Switzerland is unless you have a very high net worth, it is extremely difficult to obtain citizenship, and impossible to purchase property. This is part of why this country remains a good place to flee once you are attacked by the rabid US Statists (as Marc Rich makes the case for in his book) but does impede your ability to move there on a whim. There are less jobs and to an extent it is less meritocratic than the US. The culture is more conservative than libertarian, even if the Swiss understand and love freedom.

Still, the country is (now that HK is coming under attack from statists and increasing welfare programmes etc.) my second choice. It may well become first choice if Britain continues to destroy London so thoroughly as a world-leading trading centre and Obama manages to destroy the US for the next 10 years without being stopped by the likes of Scott Brown.

Here is the wittiest comment on Switzerland I have come across. It is from the motion picture -The Third Man-.

Harry Lime says:

Don't be so gloomy. After all it's not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock. So long Holly.

This quote is not entirely fair. Switzerland also produced one of the most scientifically gifted families that ever lived, the Bernouli family.

Bob Kolker

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Dr. Hurd's free Weekly Digest contains, as it usually does, some fine analysis:

The man who ran his plane into the IRS building operated on two faulty premises: That life is hopeless, because of our crazy big government; and that he has a right to take others down with him. Neither of these premises are correct.

Sign up at http://www.drhurd.com

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Frankly, all I want is to be left alone by the government. I'm tired of sheriffs at my door threatening me with tax foreclosures, liens, and notices to vacate. I just want to enjoy the property that cost me 44 years of my life to obtain and develop.

My family looked into Switzerland after WWII, but we soon learned the only way to get in is to be a top scientist, classical musician, fine artist, or other fine craftsman, or forget it. We settled for NYC and kepted moving further north, deeper into the woods, as buroacracy encroached on, and threatened our physical well-being several times over those decades.

I think Dr. Hurd's article lacks the understanding of the oppressed. Being a rich doctor, he can't contemplate on the hopelessness of losing it all and knowing you'll never recover your lifestyle, either because you obtained it by inheritance, fraud, or dumb luck never to repeat itself.

And what good is free speech if no one is listening? It all sounds so mainstream and nice... change things by voting, using free speech, etc.. but when 90% of your dumb countrymen are voting contrary to your objectives, you're powerless.

By crashing a stolen plane into the IRS building, Joe Stack seized power for himself--he took control of his situation in the only way that he could--for a brief period, and for him, that must have been tremendously-satisfying. I know that if I were about to lose my home, everything in it, and my family and face prison, I too would probably choose to go out in flames of glory, than to die slowly, an agonizing death on the street or in some prison cell. To me, Joe stuck up for his rights, when he had no other option but to bend over and let the IRS stick it to him. His life was probably over before that plane took off and he knew it.

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By crashing a stolen plane into the IRS building, Joe Stack seized power for himself--he took control of his situation in the only way that he could--for a brief period, and for him, that must have been tremendously-satisfying.

Puhleeeze! It was NOT the only way he could. Stack had a hissey fit on steroids. It was loss of temper, loss of reason and perhaps even a death wish that led him to crash his plane into a building and put innocent people in mortal danger. There were people in the building who were not salaried tax thugs working for the IRS. What Stack did was bad behavior.

There were other courses of action open to Stack. He could have taken an Oath of Poverty. He could have left the country. He could have bit the bullet and managed as best he could against the IRS. I have been where he was. I used to be a software contractor and I too fought the battle of provision 1706 of the tax code (I lost, by the way). What I did not do was shed blood.

Bob Kolker

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By crashing a stolen plane into the IRS building, Joe Stack seized power for himself--he took control of his situation in the only way that he could--for a brief period, and for him, that must have been tremendously-satisfying.

Puhleeeze! It was NOT the only way he could. Stack had a hissey fit on steroids. It was loss of temper, loss of reason and perhaps even a death wish that led him to crash his plane into a building and put innocent people in mor . There were people in the building who were not salaried tax thugs working for the IRS. What Stack did was bad behavior.

There were other courses of action open to Stack. He could have taken an Oath of Poverty. He could have left the country. He could have bit the bullet and managed as best he could against the IRS. I have been where he was. I used to be a software contractor and I too fought the battle of provision 1706 of the tax code (I lost, by the way). What I did not do was shed blood.

Bob Kolker

Exactly. His last act was the act of a coward. It takes no courage to kill yourself and unknown innocents. He did not "take control of his situation". He gave up 100 per cent.

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Toward the end of John Wayne's life and after his doctors had found cancer for the second time and had to remove almost all of his intentines, stomach, part of his one remaining full lung and some other parts of his body he was complaining to Olive Carey (Harry Carey Sr.'s widow).

Johh Wayne: They gutted me, they have left me with nothing.

Olive Carey: You still have your balls and your brains don't you?

John Wayne: Yes.

Olive Carey: Then your still alive, stop whinning.

Man must either "get to living or get to dying," your choice. I choose to get to living.

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By crashing a stolen plane into the IRS building, Joe Stack seized power for himself--he took control of his situation in the only way that he could--for a brief period, and for him, that must have been tremendously-satisfying.

Puhleeeze! It was NOT the only way he could. Stack had a hissey fit on steroids. It was loss of temper, loss of reason and perhaps even a death wish that led him to crash his plane into a building and put innocent people in mor . There were people in the building who were not salaried tax thugs working for the IRS. What Stack did was bad behavior.

There were other courses of action open to Stack. He could have taken an Oath of Poverty. He could have left the country. He could have bit the bullet and managed as best he could against the IRS. I have been where he was. I used to be a software contractor and I too fought the battle of provision 1706 of the tax code (I lost, by the way). What I did not do was shed blood.

Bob Kolker

Exactly. His last act was the act of a coward. It takes no courage to kill yourself and unknown innocents. He did not "take control of his situation". He gave up 100 per cent.

Lines from Kipling's poem "IF":

IF you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

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And what good is free speech if no one is listening? It all sounds so mainstream and nice... change things by voting, using free speech, etc..

Freedom of speech is quite powerful and I find often underestimated. One of the keys to fighting an intellectual battle is to remember that you are not alone. There are other people out there, who are changing peoples minds all the time to be more rational.

If you fail to convince someone in a discussion, it isn't the end of the world. You aren't condemned to always have that person voting against your rights for the rest of your life. Someone else with different techniques of communicating, and different facts to illustrate the same principle might just convince him tomorrow.

As a result, often in an intellectual discussion, I tend to not focus on a big goal of trying to convert someone into a capitalist in a single day or night. I don't believe it is possible for me to know the entire intellectual makeup of someone that led to them reaching their conclusions and calculating a swift antidote that will change them in that conversation.

Instead, I go for small goals. Like how reason helped a situation I was in the other day by thinking things through a certain way, or self interest is the only way that success can be guaranteed in another situation, carefully targeting mutual hobbies in which I know my arguments, but which would also be of value to both people to discuss. If you win small concessions on the value of reason or self interest in a discussion, even if it is just 1 concession which they will act upon in future, then you have expanded the role of reason in that persons life and society is that little bit more rational as a result. By limiting the conversation to mutual interests, it also keeps the conversation fun and of value to both people.

If they find it useful in their values, then they are likely to tell the people they know and it will spread out from that person like ripples from a stone being thrown in a pond.

I think that someday there will be a critical mass of rational thoughts going on, that people simply just talking to each other and passing on the things they find of value or of use to them, that the culture will rapidly change that it will seem like it did almost over night, as each person cultivates arguments that spread their little piece of reason, and get convinced by good arguments towards reason themselves. :D

If you wish to see evidence to support that view of my prior paragraph, look at Climate Gate. For the first time in a decade, people claiming that man doomed the world with global warming are on the defensive, and everyone is asking questions in Australia, the UK and the US. In January 2009, would any of us have predicted that early 2010, that those doom sayers would be on the run and the irrationality that they cultivated, is receding?

It is with great interest that I watch the tea party movement, wondering if it will lead to a just as swift renaissance of freedom appearing in the US.

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The IRS is a violent organization. This may be easy to forget but it is true nonetheless. They incarcerate and have an army of 2,700 armed agents.

To pretend that it is the "non-violents" versus a "violent" is silly. The threat of violence is core to what makes the IRS work.

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If they find it useful in their values, then they are likely to tell the people they know and it will spread out from that person like ripples from a stone being thrown in a pond.

I believe irrationality and insecurity ripple much faster and effectively than rationality and confidence. I have found the slow and mild approach to be ineffective.

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