Friday, February 19, 2010

A Death in Austin

Joe Stack flew his aircraft into the IRS building in Austin, Texas. His suicide manifesto has been published on the internet and is something of an eye opener to read.

The right is calling him a socialist and just about everyone else a Tea Party type. Some Tea Party supporters are even claiming it’s all a government plot to discredit the party.

I call him paranoid.

That he got screwed on a number of occasions by the bureaucracy I have no doubt. I’d say welcome to the club. Was he right about the cozy relationships between the corporate and banking fat cats and the government? Probably, but not for the reason he thinks.

Like the Tea Party types he’s looking around for someone to blame for his hard times. The government is to blame; the politicians are to blame; the IRS is to blame. It’s everyone’s fault but his own.

In his litany of woes I see at least four catastrophic errors that he made himself.

-- He tried to “work the system” by getting some of the same tax benefits built into the code specifically for organized religion.

-- Rather than adjust to the realities of the 1986 tax code update, he tried to buck the system which is usually an effort in futility

-- He moved to Austin despite it being a poor area for the type of work he wanted to do.

-- He assumed he didn’t have to file a tax return because he felt he had no income.

Note that I say “the type of work he wanted to do.” He doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy that understood the meaning of the word “compromise.” He clearly wanted things to be his way or no way at all.

Clearly some professional help was in order to help him cope. By the way, where did he get the plane?

Bailouts are a tough nut to swallow. One wants to take the position “you screwed up” so “you pay the piper.” The problem is it’s usually NOT the people who actually screwed up that pay for it.

Trust me, the CEO and CFO have their asses covered and even if a relatively high placed executive here or there gets the ax, they’re just the current sacrificial lamb and probably have enough of a severance package that the pain gets dulled.

The folks who pay the penalty are the rank and file workers as the company makes “painful cuts” in order to “get costs under control.” So, saving the neck of the fat cat executives is usually a side effect of a bailout. The real objective is to protect the jobs of the rank and file employees.

Even with all that being said, it can be hard to watch your hard earned tax dollars being used for the bailout while you’re getting the shaft yourself.

For all those idiots on the internet praising Stack as a hero, I say grow up already. Stack’s suicide isn’t going to change anything.

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