In those places are the real villains, not the IRS. Stack’s manifesto explains why:
• “Why is it that a handful of thugs and plunderers can commit unthinkable atrocities? In the case of the GM executives, when their gravy train crashes under the weight of their gluttony, the full force of the federal government comes to their aid.”
• “Thanks to the fine backroom efforts by the sleazy executives of Arthur Anderson, the same folks who brought us Enron and other such calamities … we saw the passage of the 1986 Tax Reform Act.”
(Hardly a reform: The top tax rate was reduced from 50 percent to 28 percent and the bottom rate increased from 11 to 15 percent. It doesn’t take a math prof to figure out that this was “tax relief” for the wealthy and a burden on the lowest earners.)
• “The joke we call the American medical system, including the drug and insurance companies, who are murdering thousands of people a year.”
• “We in this country have been brainwashed to believe … our government stands for justice for all. ... The incredible stupidity of the American public who swallow hook, line and sinker the crap about their ‘freedom.’ ”
• “Elections are a joke.” (Yup. Parties change but nothing fundamental changes.)
• “I have had enough. I can only hope … that the American zombies wake up and revolt.”
The manifesto closes with a Marxian creed: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” It is followed by Stack’s capitalist creed: “From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed.”
As a judge of the duel in “Hamlet” said: “A hit, a very palpable hit.” Stack made many papable hits.
Stack was a tad unbalanced but hardly a madman. One online headline proclaimed after the crash: “The Insane Manifesto.” It is not an insane man who pointed out the many ills of America.
Henry Giroux of online Truthout, no madman he, recently wrote a scathing indictment: “Democracy in the United States is experiencing both a crisis of meaning and legitimation … more and more the corporate and military interests rule … and democratic practices have been reduced to market relations.
“Democracy offers the empty rituals of elections largely shaped by corporate money … the illegalities of the Bush-Cheney regime are being perpetuated by President Obama … democracy is now used to invoke rationalizations for invading other countries, bailing out the rich and sanctioning the emergence of a national security state.”
Paul Roberts of CounterPunch newsletter, no madman he, complained recently that “millions of good jobs that were the backbone of the middle class have been outsourced to nations with pitiful wages. … Wall Street and investor advocacy groups pressured U.S. companies to ‘enhance shareholder returns,’ which means to drive up share prices.
“Policymakers in Washington abetted this process by pushing legislation limiting company tax deduction for executive pay -- unless the execs drove up share prices.”
A blogger wrote about Stack: ”I was left with the impression of a person who had spent years systematically trying to avoid paying taxes … in particular the paragraph about the year in Austin when he didn’t file a return.”
Probably true. But that does not gainsay the suggestion that the proper target of Stack’s wrath was the triple centers of power, not the innocent folks at IRS.
Stack was, in essence, saying the same things that socialist Michael Foot did in Britain. Foot, leader of the Labor Party in the 1980s who died recently, attacked “the outrages and infamies which this government (Conservative) is inflicting on our people.”
He was the conscience, not just of Laborites, but of Britain. He urged higher taxes on the wealthy, nationalization of the banks and abolition of the farcial and archaic House of Lords.
Campaigning in 1983 for the premiership, Foot declared: “We are here to provide for all those who are weaker and hungrier, more battered and crippled than ourselves. That is our only certain good and great purpose on earth.
“If you ask me about the economic problems that may arise if the top bracket is deprived of their initiative, I say ‘to hell with them.’ The top is greedy and mean.” (Naturally, Foot lost the election to Margeret Thatcher, warmonger and reactionary.)
In his crude way, Joe Stack was crying out for justice in America.
Jake Highton teaches journalism at the University of Nevada. Reno. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.