Friday, February 19, 2010

The Breaking Point

Joe Stack fought the system, and lost. He fought the system again, and lost. He fought the system once more, and lost. Then he snapped, and Joe Stack flew his Piper Cherokee PA-28 into the first floor of an Austin, TX IRS office building.

Joe Stack was one of us. He had a job. He had a family. He had hobbies. He played in a band. He flew his airplane. His bandmates knew a normal man, not a creepy introvert, not an obsessive extrovert, just a normal guy.

His airplane mechanic couldn't believe the news of Stack's demise. An old business associate also claims he was just a normal guy.

His manifesto did not have the insane rambling quality that might point to a deeply disturbed mind, despite what the media may say about it. He laid out a reasonable case against a specific tax law that had repeatedly caused him and many like him much psychological and financial pain. He painted a broad picture of the corrupt American system that few can really disagree with.

Joe Stack was not the first person to question this particular tax law, SEC. 1706. No, this law had been questioned since its inception.

It was first proposed by Sen. Patrick Moynihan as a way to pay for a $60 million tax break for I.B.M. It raised funds by essentially requiring engineers like Stack to be attached to a company, rather than allowing them to work on their own through contract work.

One year after the bill's inception, Sen. Moynihan realized his mistake and proposed the bill be repealed. This proposal died before it could get a vote.

This tax law specifically affected Stack. According to his manifesto, he went through all the legal channels available to him to try to right this wrong, but his efforts amounted to nothing but legal bills and more taxes.

Joe Stack is one of us. After decades of IRS harassment, of banging his head against the wall, and seeing a government that only got worse, he reached his breaking point. Who among us could say we could go through what he went through and still maintain a peaceful demeanor?

After nearly 30 years of fighting peacefully, he came to one conclusion: "Nothing changes unless there is a body count."

Judging from what I know of our governance, I'm afraid he was right.


  1. Sorry but flying planes into buildings with the aim to kill people who are a best tangentially linked to your issue does not exactly endear in me a quality of sympathy.

    You make your point moot when you choose to kill people unrelated to your point.

  2. "There is something deeply sick about a society that manages to transform intelligent, successful, productive members of society into felons and murderous suicides. The irony is that the more a man genuinely believes in justice and law, the more he truly believes that America is the Land of the Free, the more shattered he is when he is forced to confront the reality that the entire legal system is a facade designed to conceal the complete absence of justice and rule of law in American society.

    A society whose leaders are foolish enough to willfully destroy its structural foundations should not be surprised when madmen increasingly begin to appear in its midst."