Feb 18 2010

RIP Joe Stack (1956-2010)

, Opinion , ,

I find it hard to imagine what drives someone like Joe Stack, an obviously successful man with a wife and son to burn down his home and take his own life in an act of mass-destruction - and what I would call terrorism - if he had not left an extended note explaining his position. You can read it at The Smoking Gun.

My problem is, after reading it, I feel absolutely no sympathy for him.  I, too, have had debt problems, tax problems, and especially IRS problems.  But I solved them.  I've been reset to $0 once in my life (a life I might add that is only 8 years less than Mr. Stack's as of yesterday) and I am now living comfortably with manageable (and reasonable) deb, legal tax status and am building my retirement once again.

I keep reading his rambling manifesto and thinking "Dude, you dug this hole yourself!".  He and his buddies played at "religious tax shelter" and failed.  He didn't report his own income (like you are supposed to) and got burned.  He hired an accountant and didn't get the accountant to open a tax case first (which halts fines). And he rails agasint things that are out of his control (mega corporations and churches making more money than he).

I empathise with his frustrations at the iniquity of the world. I agree with some of his observations about "the way of things" in this country - especially in recent years.  But none of that in any way would lead me to agree with the actions he has taken today.

If the tone of his suicide note is any indication of the tone he has when dealing with people, I'm not surprised he got shafted all those times.  The entire diatribe stinks of entitlement, selfishness and materialism. I understand the urge to hold on tight to things as people try to take more and more from you, but that just makes it harder to let go when you need to. 

The dude owned an airplane and a $500,000 home (In Austin, TX!  Median Home Price: $188,600).  I have owned my own businesses, worked as a contractor, own two homes and two cars, and have a wife.  Where I live, that's pretty well off but I can not afford a plane and the IRS has no beef with me (any more).  So ultimately the impression I have is: "wah!  get over it."

I want to say that his futile gesture won't make a difference, but unfortunately he has made himself a martyr to the "teabagger" cause. And that, unfortunately is a lot more damaging to this country than his plane crash.  The Hannitys and Becks and Limbaughs will hold him up as some sort of hero for striking at this country when they should be pointing out the problems of his arguments. They will paint him as a soldier in a fight against this country and it will destroy whatever balance and order is left in our society as the lemmings run to the cult of personality that tells them to dance.

I am sorry he has taken his life and that people were hurt while he did it.  I am sorry his family will suffer (and they will suffer badly, I'm afraid) for his inability to be reasonable.  And I am sorry he has left this legacy in the wake of his actions. Ultimately he has crashed a lot more than his plane and damaged a lot more than the IRS building in Austin.

I predict it will be about three months before the first "copy-cat" froot-loop does something similar and cites Joe Stack as his inspiration.