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Anti-IRS Rant of Software Engineer who Today Flew Plane into IRS Building (embeddedart.com)
197 points by spudlyo on Feb 18, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 207 comments

The Department of Homeland Security released a statement calling this a criminal act, not terrorism. I am confused. A few years ago everything was considered terrorism and now nothing is.

This guy wasn't targeting individual people in the IRS, he was targeting the whole establishment. This is akin to the Oklahoma City bombing. If that was a terrorist incident and 9/11 was a terrorist incident, this is too. He even has an IRS hate manifesto.

I think it is a shame that the government uses certain words to its advantage, but I guess propaganda is just the nature of the beast.

You, sir, have obviously failed to memo that in this post-9/11-world, only brown people are terrorists.

Here's a key, in case it gets confusing again:

- Guy in an airport with a Koran and an accent: terrorist.

- White software developer who flies a plane into buildings for ideological reasons: not terrorist.

Actually, this guy's goal was not to incite terror, hence not a terrorist.

I'm not necessarily defending the way the government labels different crimes, though. AFAIK the Unibomber was pretty much like this guy.

He's absolutely a terrorist according to 18 USC 2331:

(5) the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that— (A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State; (B) appear to be intended— (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and (C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.

His explicitly stated goal was to affect the conduct of the government and coerce the civilian population via mass destruction.

I wonder at which point "domestic terrorism" is instead considered "rebellion/revolt?" [1] I guess it's a hard concept given the media's decisive unanimity on the topic, but I do believe Great Britain probably felt similarly when we started killing the soldiers they sent over.

I'm not confident to which side I am on: I think the government is mostly stupid, not draconian to the people at large. It's hard for me to believe they are innocent at times.

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States#Political_divisio...; sentence #2

I don't see how me meant to coerce civilians.

"I can only hope that the numbers quickly get too big to be white washed and ignored that the American zombies wake up and revolt; it will take nothing less. I would only hope that by striking a nerve that stimulates the inevitable double standard, knee-jerk government reaction that results in more stupid draconian restrictions people wake up and begin to see the pompous political thugs and their mindless minions for what they are."

If I worked for the IRS, my wife and I would not exactly be sleeping comfortably tonight. And I think it’s fair to assume that Mr. Stack intended to provoke that feeling in every IRS employee.

_Brown_ Islamist soldier who kills 13 soldiers and wounds 30 at Fort Hood: _not_ a terrorist!

While I agree with your point, I'd like to point out that McVeigh was white: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_McVeigh


I agree. I think it's reasonable to consider him a domestic terrorist. His actions and rantings are not materially different from those of Timothy McVeigh (OKC Bombing) or Ted Kaczynski (The Unabomber). Both of them were rightly considered terrorists at the time, and this guy should be considered a terrorist as well.

He may not be linked to the international Islamic terrorist networks, like the underpants bomber or the guy who shot up Fort Hood. But just because he's not a Muslim terrorist doesn't mean he isn't a terrorist.

I tend to agree with the cynic in me that says it's because the guy's name was "Joe Stack". Had it been Mohammed something then it would've been terrorism.

Agree, The way I see it is that if its a criminal act against the government it because terrorism. Had he been out to kill someone in that building it would have been a criminal act. This was terrorism.

Why is it terrorism? Are you now living in terror that it will happen again?

It's terrorism because it's directly in line with 18 USC 2331:

(5) the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that— (A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State; (B) appear to be intended— (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and (C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.

By clause A someone speeding on the highway could be considered a terrorist.

By clause B a person who writes his congressman and threatens not to vote/donate in the next election cycle is a terrorist (threat/coercion).

If the key is intent, then a poet who writes an anti-government poem is a terrorist.

  if a and (b1 or b2 or b3) and c
    terrorist = true

(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State

So an attack designed to destroy an unoccupied building would not be terrorism under the structure you describe above.

I think that the law would still hold detonating a bomb in an unoccupied building as 'dangerous to human life' if you didn't follow all of the safety precautions that a real building demolition would have to follow. If you put a bomb in an abandoned building at set to detonate in 2 hours and then flee the scene, there's not guarantee that someone won't enter the building in the interim.

You could make that same argument about someone driving above the speed limit...

How many people are breaking the speed limit in an effort to 'coerce the civilian popular and/or US government policy?'

That's not my point, my point is just that the logical structure attributed to the definition is not accurate.

The definition does not state that all of the clauses must be satisfied for something to qualify as terrorism, and as I showed above, satisfying a single clause is trivial (and clearly not terrorism).

I think that you should ask a lawyer about that before jumping to those conclusions. This may be some sort of gap between legal-speak and plain English. There are a lot of terms that diverge in meaning between common usage (even 'traditional' definition) and legal definition.

Logic would dictate that the meaning of that is "if A and (B[1] or B[2] or B[3]) and C", but it's not explicitly there.

It looks to me like the definition is intended to be intentionally vague while appearing narrow.

Ineffective terrorism is still terrorism.

Who was the attack intended to strike terror in?

Those who work for the IRS? Politicians and bureaucrats? Anyone who ever dismissed Joe Stack as a bitter has-been?

Politicians who put laws on the books at the whim of a monied few special interests instead of listening to their constituents, and who insist on ceaselessly driving the wedge between rich and poor in their own back yard instead of pursuing policies that would lift up the whole country?

Terror? No, but I'm reasonably sure that there will be a large number of off-balance nutters who are upset about corporations and taxes and the gubment who will use this event as a rallying call for further violence.

You hit on an important characteristic of asymmetrical conflict, which is the propaganda aspect of a particular campaign (contrary to the traditional military objective of capturing territory, causing large scale surrender, etc.)

I think the guy is nuts, and i think the best description is that he chose a really screwed up way of committing suicide.

personally no, but I wasn't for 9/11 either. But not sure if I can say the same for those people in the building.

By that definition there are pretty much no terrorists, anywhere.

I'm not in a state of terror about Osama, are you?

I'd argue that terrorism is largely a term to describe an opponent whose tactics go beyond what its adversary's population regards as appropriate... and so the term is mostly intended to marginalize an opponent and paint him and his cause as morally bankrupt.

The term can be used to describe asymmetrical warfare techniques whose objective is more to motivate fear in the target population than to achieve a classic military objective, but if you think about it, the neighbor kid being sent home from the front lines in a body bag also has that effect, albeit a bit more indirectly.

I think by definition an asymmetrical conflict that doesn't result in the weaker side quitting outright must include some sort of different moral standard about things like civilian life, soldier sacrifice, etc.

The most common definition of is usually along the lines of the one I found on google [http://www.google.com/dictionary?aq=f&langpair=en|en&...].

> Terrorism is the use of violence, especially murder and bombing, in order to achieve political aims or to force a government to do something.

This was a single, possibly mentally unstable, man crashing a plane into a building. He may have thought he was trying to achieve something politically or to force the government to do something, but without any larger organization behind him it seems silly to label this as a domestic terrorist attack. It's giving the guy far more credit than he deserves.

That definition says nothing about the perpetrator needing to be a part of an organization. If his act meets the definition - which I think it clearly does - then we have to call it terrorism.

I can see your point of view here, but if you're trying to "achieve political aims or to force a government to do something" it's implicit that there's going to be people around after your death to push your agenda, (or that you're going to survive whatever you plan is) to push it forward.

So which organization was behind the Oklahoma City bombing?

The militia movement in rural parts of the US, which the federal government more or less neutered after the bombing.

Really? On what terms are you privy to this information that the militias were behind the bombing?

... just another casualty to propaganda spreading disinformation.

yep. The mentality is that we are in a war against terrorism, most people understand you cannot actually attack terrorism so when you say "war against terror" most people really think "war against angry foreign influenced Muslims". If someone who isn't a angry Muslim commits a crime that invokes Terror (flying planes into buildings) it isn't terrorism.

It's simple. The goal of terrorism is to terrorize. If the perpetrator was part of an organization from which similar acts could be expected in the future, than that has a terrorizing effect.

The pants-bomber isn't a terrorist then, coz' he's just a lone suicide bomber. Yet what a commotion he did make.

"Terrorism" became an overloaded term once we coined the term "War on Terror".

While this is an act of terrorism for sure, this is not the Terrorism that originates from those we are supposedly fighting in the War on Terror, therefore we should not raise our country's alertness level, have reason to panic, or mobilize our armed forces in response.

(my 2 cents)

I tend to agree, but I'm a bit more cynical. These days governments use the word "terrorism" to describe acts against which they would like to retaliate with the backing of their citizens. The term has become a trigger word for prompting a particular reaction from the people. There's nobody to retaliate against here and using the word terrorism in this case would simply water down the trigger effect of the word in the future when the U.S. government wants to prompt a specific response from Americans.

Why can't he just be a crazy person who did something crazy?

Then we would have to ask which ones were not.

Labeling him a terrorist draws attention to his message.

This is it, government cannot accord him any attention overtly. Therefore, no labeling as terrorist.

His message is actually pretty valid and he has a similar situation to many Americans.

This is why the government doesn't want attention drawn to it.

The US Dept of State defined "terrorism" in its Pattern of Global Terrorism report (2004) as:

"premeditated politically motivated violence, perpetrated against non-combatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience."

I'd say it's clear he fits the government's own definition quite clearly.

How is this guy different than the Ft. Hood shooter? Both went on rants against the actions of the US Government; both apparently snapped; both wanted to inflict mass carnage. Senators like Joe Lieberman have insisted that the Ft. Hood shooter be labeled and tried as a terrorist.

Different administrations have different policies. My issue is the contradiction between this event and the Christmas underpants bomber. The only excuse I can come up with is that it would be politically impossible to not call that one terrorism.

Would you be so quick to assume the terrorism label if he hadn't used an airplane to commit his crime? I do think that's going to color a lot of people's perception of this wording issue.

I suspect they don't believe the term applies because he didn't claim to be acting on the part of an organized group or even a very specific ideology. His note made it pretty clear he thought of himself as some kind of lone warrior for justice.

Read the final two paragraphs of his screed (posted in this thread). He says that he wants his act of violence to initiate change - I assume in the IRS specifically, but also in American politics in general. That's the definition of terrorism.

Terrorism does not have to be initiated on behalf of a group or a specific ideology. The definition is "the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, esp. for political purposes."

In my mind the difference here is that he was alone, committed his crime in a singular act, and now he's effectively out of commission. There's no terrorist at large to further perpetuate the terror. There's no looming sense of threat from this guy personally, and since he wasn't part of an organization, there's no nebulous "other" threat from that, either.

Had he enacted a long term plan where he was shooting at people randomly for days and making demands or something like that, then that's different in my eyes. At that point it becomes about using the fear of further violence as a tool and that's when you cross into terrorist land.

But who knows. I think DHS decided it'd be called a criminal act for now - so I guess that's what it gets to be called. Perhaps that label was politically motivated, but I can certainly understand the decision. Everything need not be a conspiracy and every large scale crime need not be a terrorist attack.

I think that the point is that the government selectively applies the 'terrorism' label when it benefits them (i.e. using the 'terrorism' label to get records to bolster a case against criminals that are certainly not terrorists).

"He says that he wants his act of violence to initiate change - I assume in the IRS specifically, but also in American politics in general. That's the definition of terrorism."

Tell that to Thomas Jefferson and George Washington...

Terrorism is a strategy not a sin, just because you happen to agree with what they are saying does not mean they are not terrorist's. Also you don't need actually kill people to induce fear, setting fire to an empty building can also count.

I agree in principle, but that's not how society defines it. By popular definition, a terrorist is someone who commits atrocities for a cause that one does not agree with. If there was agreement, they'd be labeled a "freedom fighter" or something like that.

You use an apostrophe for possessives (and contractions). The word 'terrorists' is a plural; it's not a possessive; it's not a contraction.

Please don't use apostrophes for plurals. It makes my eyes bleed.

Good point, he could have used a truck filled with fertilizer!

The FBI's definition of terrorism: The unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a Government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.

He was angry and violent, but he didn't have any objective he was trying to achieve through the act. The objective in terrorism isn't the violence, it's a means to an intended end (such as changes in policy, release of prisoners, etc.).

He states in the final paragraphs that his goal is to affect change in the government and coerce the public to change the government, so he very clearly did have an objective.

And nor was he part of a group or even a sympathizer of a group looking to revolutionize or effect change. McVeigh was.

That definition includes almost all acts of force or violence which are not completely random.

I'm convinced that domestic terrorism is going to be a bigger problem over the next couple of decades than foreign attacks. The political discourse/tolerance in this country has gone downhill significantly even in my lifetime. I can only imagine at the extreme fringes these people have gone off the deep end. We see it over and over again. Probably the most disturbing sign of what to come is the 2008 election where the VP candidate for one of the two major parties was openly inciting hatred and smiling as people in the audience shouted horrible things.

How old are you? There's been plenty of political discourse all through time. That's how this country was founded and nearly split up. Just look at the 70's. I'm not that old and even I know how much protest was going on at that time. It's just that the fire is being fanned by mainstream media and the growth of the Internet, and that gives it more visibility than before. The Teabaggers are a perfect example of this.

I surmise his software ventures never succeeded because he hated the IRS more than he loved programming. In 1987 alone, he says, he spent at least 1000 hours railing against the tax code -- about 20 hours a week.

His obsession with, and resentment of, the IRS started when he and others tried to create their own religious organization, ostensibly to draw attention to the capricious laws exempting religious organizations from taxes. How this plan was supposed to work is unclear. L. Ron Hubbard saw the same opportunity and was better at exploiting it.

People don't respond well to acts of violence directed against them or those with whom they empathize. Timothy McVeigh's act caused shock and anger yet achieved nothing. Whatever message Stack wanted to convey has been utterly discredited by attempting to murder people going about their day. And if he wanted to give the government a way to dismiss him, he couldn't have made it any easier.

So what do people respond well to? I'm not seeing any changes even though the guy's sentiments are shared by many.

A conflict of some type is necessary to bring in change. The people who benefit from the tax code will fight tooth and nail to keep the status quo. Luke warm sentiment will not change things.

I can't justify his method of protest but have some understanding of his frustration...

In behavioral economics there's the game called the "Ultimatum Game"

Essentially it's when one side thinks the deal is so biased and unfair he'd rather tip over the board and have both get nothing than accept what he considers to be a rip-off offer.

This guy decided to tip over the board...

There's another concept in communication called "no acknowledgement"... which arise when you are trying to get someone's attention and they just don't seem to notice you're there... which causes people to essentially start pulling their hair out with frustration.


It makes sense for politicians to be very nervous about citizen anger over perceived favoritism to the wealthy... and feeling like they're not being listened to.

This isn't political conclusion...

It's a scientific one!

PDF if the site goes down: http://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://celes.niran.org/~ni...

The site's been holding up surprisingly well. Not bad, T35 Hosting.

EDIT: It looks like it's gone now. Here's the home.htm that was on the site as well: http://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://celes.niran.org/~ni...

It helps that it's 33K of static HTML. Looks like it was converted from Word, some interesting metadata:

  <o:Author>Joe Stack</o:Author>

Most static pages still get pulled by hosting providers when faced with that kind of traffic. That might be what happened here, or the authorities could've asked them to pull it.

I could understand for dynamic pages, but static? Do they think they are getting attacked?

Accounts usually have bandwidth limits that get tripped by this sort of thing. 33 kB * millions of viewers = gigabytes of data.

I'm surprised that no one's commented on what Jon Stack was talking about — the laws affecting Indie Contractor's tax status.


"20 Questions" of the IRS to determine status http://synergistech.com/20qs.shtml

Has anyone had any trouble with this? As an early indie contractor, I'm pretty damn concerned about this.

It looks like the note was originally found by a redditor who Googled the guy's name after it was released: http://www.reddit.com/r/reddit.com/comments/b3nte/plane_cras...

The site was pulled down, here's the copy of the rant:

If you’re reading this, you’re no doubt asking yourself, “Why did this have to happen?” The simple truth is that it is complicated and has been coming for a long time. The writing process, started many months ago, was intended to be therapy in the face of the looming realization that there isn’t enough therapy in the world that can fix what is really broken. Needless to say, this rant could fill volumes with example after example if I would let it. I find the process of writing it frustrating, tedious, and probably pointless… especially given my gross inability to gracefully articulate my thoughts in light of the storm raging in my head. Exactly what is therapeutic about that I’m not sure, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

We are all taught as children that without laws there would be no society, only anarchy. Sadly, starting at early ages we in this country have been brainwashed to believe that, in return for our dedication and service, our government stands for justice for all. We are further brainwashed to believe that there is freedom in this place, and that we should be ready to lay our lives down for the noble principals represented by its founding fathers. Remember? One of these was “no taxation without representation”. I have spent the total years of my adulthood unlearning that crap from only a few years of my childhood. These days anyone who really stands up for that principal is promptly labeled a “crackpot”, traitor and worse.

While very few working people would say they haven’t had their fair share of taxes (as can I), in my lifetime I can say with a great degree of certainty that there has never been a politician cast a vote on any matter with the likes of me or my interests in mind. Nor, for that matter, are they the least bit interested in me or anything I have to say.

Why is it that a handful of thugs and plunderers can commit unthinkable atrocities (and in the case of the GM executives, for scores of years) and when it’s time for their gravy train to crash under the weight of their gluttony and overwhelming stupidity, the force of the full federal government has no difficulty coming to their aid within days if not hours? Yet at the same time, the joke we call the American medical system, including the drug and insurance companies, are murdering tens of thousands of people a year and stealing from the corpses and victims they cripple, and this country’s leaders don’t see this as important as bailing out a few of their vile, rich cronies. Yet, the political “representatives” (thieves, liars, and self-serving scumbags is far more accurate) have endless time to sit around for year after year and debate the state of the “terrible health care problem”. It’s clear they see no crisis as long as the dead people don’t get in the way of their corporate profits rolling in.

And justice? You’ve got to be kidding!

How can any rational individual explain that white elephant conundrum in the middle of our tax system and, indeed, our entire legal system? Here we have a system that is, by far, too complicated for the brightest of the master scholars to understand. Yet, it mercilessly “holds accountable” its victims, claiming that they’re responsible for fully complying with laws not even the experts understand. The law “requires” a signature on the bottom of a tax filing; yet no one can say truthfully that they understand what they are signing; if that’s not “duress” than what is. If this is not the measure of a totalitarian regime, nothing is.

How did I get here?

My introduction to the real American nightmare starts back in the early ‘80s. Unfortunately after more than 16 years of school, somewhere along the line I picked up the absurd, pompous notion that I could read and understand plain English. Some friends introduced me to a group of people who were having ‘tax code’ readings and discussions. In particular, zeroed in on a section relating to the wonderful “exemptions” that make institutions like the vulgar, corrupt Catholic Church so incredibly wealthy. We carefully studied the law (with the help of some of the “best”, high-paid, experienced tax lawyers in the business), and then began to do exactly what the “big boys” were doing (except that we weren’t steeling from our congregation or lying to the government about our massive profits in the name of God). We took a great deal of care to make it all visible, following all of the rules, exactly the way the law said it was to be done.

The intent of this exercise and our efforts was to bring about a much-needed re-evaluation of the laws that allow the monsters of organized religion to make such a mockery of people who earn an honest living. However, this is where I learned that there are two “interpretations” for every law; one for the very rich, and one for the rest of us… Oh, and the monsters are the very ones making and enforcing the laws; the inquisition is still alive and well today in this country.

That little lesson in patriotism cost me $40,000+, 10 years of my life, and set my retirement plans back to 0. It made me realize for the first time that I live in a country with an ideology that is based on a total and complete lie. It also made me realize, not only how naive I had been, but also the incredible stupidity of the American public; that they buy, hook, line, and sinker, the crap about their “freedom”… and that they continue to do so with eyes closed in the face of overwhelming evidence and all that keeps happening in front of them.

Before even having to make a shaky recovery from the sting of the first lesson on what justice really means in this country (around 1984 after making my way through engineering school and still another five years of “paying my dues”), I felt I finally had to take a chance of launching my dream of becoming an independent engineer.

On the subjects of engineers and dreams of independence, I should digress somewhat to say that I’m sure that I inherited the fascination for creative problem solving from my father. I realized this at a very young age.

The significance of independence, however, came much later during my early years of college; at the age of 18 or 19 when I was living on my own as student in an apartment in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. My neighbor was an elderly retired woman (80+ seemed ancient to me at that age) who was the widowed wife of a retired steel worker. Her husband had worked all his life in the steel mills of central Pennsylvania with promises from big business and the union that, for his 30 years of service, he would have a pension and medical care to look forward to in his retirement. Instead he was one of the thousands who got nothing because the incompetent mill management and corrupt union (not to mention the government) raided their pension funds and stole their retirement. All she had was social security to live on.

In retrospect, the situation was laughable because here I was living on peanut butter and bread (or Ritz crackers when I could afford to splurge) for months at a time. When I got to know this poor figure and heard her story I felt worse for her plight than for my own (I, after all, I thought I had everything to in front of me). I was genuinely appalled at one point, as we exchanged stories and commiserated with each other over our situations, when she in her grandmotherly fashion tried to convince me that I would be “healthier” eating cat food (like her) rather than trying to get all my substance from peanut butter and bread. I couldn’t quite go there, but the impression was made. I decided that I didn’t trust big business to take care of me, and that I would take responsibility for my own future and myself.

Return to the early ‘80s, and here I was off to a terrifying start as a ‘wet-behind-the-ears’ contract software engineer... and two years later, thanks to the fine backroom, midnight effort by the sleazy executives of Arthur Andersen (the very same folks who later brought us Enron and other such calamities) and an equally sleazy New York Senator (Patrick Moynihan), we saw the passage of 1986 tax reform act with its section 1706.

For you who are unfamiliar, here is the core text of the IRS Section 1706, defining the treatment of workers (such as contract engineers) for tax purposes. Visit this link for a conference committee report (http://www.synergistech.com/1706.shtml#ConferenceCommitteeRe...) regarding the intended interpretation of Section 1706 and the relevant parts of Section 530, as amended. For information on how these laws affect technical services workers and their clients, read our discussion here (http://www.synergistech.com/ic-taxlaw.shtml).


(a) IN GENERAL - Section 530 of the Revenue Act of 1978 is amended by adding at the end thereof the following new subsection:

(d) EXCEPTION. - This section shall not apply in the case of an individual who pursuant to an arrangement between the taxpayer and another person, provides services for such other person as an engineer, designer, drafter, computer programmer, systems analyst, or other similarly skilled worker engaged in a similar line of work.

(b) EFFECTIVE DATE. - The amendment made by this section shall apply to remuneration paid and services rendered after December 31, 1986.


· "another person" is the client in the traditional job-shop relationship.

· "taxpayer" is the recruiter, broker, agency, or job shop.

· "individual", "employee", or "worker" is you.

Admittedly, you need to read the treatment to understand what it is saying but it’s not very complicated. The bottom line is that they may as well have put my name right in the text of section (d). Moreover, they could only have been more blunt if they would have came out and directly declared me a criminal and non-citizen slave. Twenty years later, I still can’t believe my eyes.

During 1987, I spent close to $5000 of my ‘pocket change’, and at least 1000 hours of my time writing, printing, and mailing to any senator, congressman, governor, or slug that might listen; none did, and they universally treated me as if I was wasting their time. I spent countless hours on the L.A. freeways driving to meetings and any and all of the disorganized professional groups who were attempting to mount a campaign against this atrocity. This, only to discover that our efforts were being easily derailed by a few moles from the brokers who were just beginning to enjoy the windfall from the new declaration of their “freedom”. Oh, and don’t forget, for all of the time I was spending on this, I was loosing income that I couldn’t bill clients.

After months of struggling it had clearly gotten to be a futile exercise. The best we could get for all of our trouble is a pronouncement from an IRS mouthpiece that they weren’t going to enforce that provision (read harass engineers and scientists). This immediately proved to be a lie, and the mere existence of the regulation began to have its impact on my bottom line; this, of course, was the intended effect.

Again, rewind my retirement plans back to 0 and shift them into idle. If I had any sense, I clearly should have left abandoned engineering and never looked back.

Instead I got busy working 100-hour workweeks. Then came the L.A. depression of the early 1990s. Our leaders decided that they didn’t need the all of those extra Air Force bases they had in Southern California, so they were closed; just like that. The result was economic devastation in the region that rivaled the widely publicized Texas S&L fiasco. However, because the government caused it, no one gave a shit about all of the young families who lost their homes or street after street of boarded up houses abandoned to the wealthy loan companies who received government funds to “shore up” their windfall. Again, I lost my retirement.

Years later, after weathering a divorce and the constant struggle trying to build some momentum with my business, I find myself once again beginning to finally pick up some speed. Then came the .COM bust and the 911 nightmare. Our leaders decided that all aircraft were grounded for what seemed like an eternity; and long after that, ‘special’ facilities like San Francisco were on security alert for months. This made access to my customers prohibitively expensive. Ironically, after what they had done the Government came to the aid of the airlines with billions of our tax dollars … as usual they left me to rot and die while they bailed out their rich, incompetent cronies WITH MY MONEY! After these events, there went my business but not quite yet all of my retirement and savings.

By this time, I’m thinking that it might be good for a change. Bye to California, I’ll try Austin for a while. So I moved, only to find out that this is a place with a highly inflated sense of self-importance and where damn little real engineering work is done. I’ve never experienced such a hard time finding work. The rates are 1/3 of what I was earning before the crash, because pay rates here are fixed by the three or four large companies in the area who are in collusion to drive down prices and wages… and this happens because the justice department is all on the take and doesn’t give a fuck about serving anyone or anything but themselves and their rich buddies.

To survive, I was forced to cannibalize my savings and retirement, the last of which was a small IRA. This came in a year with mammoth expenses and not a single dollar of income. I filed no return that year thinking that because I didn’t have any income there was no need. The sleazy government decided that they disagreed. But they didn’t notify me in time for me to launch a legal objection so when I attempted to get a protest filed with the court I was told I was no longer entitled to due process because the time to file ran out. Bend over for another $10,000 helping of justice.

So now we come to the present. After my experience with the CPA world, following the business crash I swore that I’d never enter another accountant’s office again. But here I am with a new marriage and a boatload of undocumented income, not to mention an expensive new business asset, a piano, which I had no idea how to handle. After considerable thought I decided that it would be irresponsible NOT to get professional help; a very big mistake.

When we received the forms back I was very optimistic that they were in order. I had taken all of the years information to Bill Ross, and he came back with results very similar to what I was expecting. Except that he had neglected to include the contents of Sheryl’s unreported income; $12,700 worth of it. To make matters worse, Ross knew all along this was missing and I didn’t have a clue until he pointed it out in the middle of the audit. By that time it had become brutally evident that he was representing himself and not me.

This left me stuck in the middle of this disaster trying to defend transactions that have no relationship to anything tax-related (at least the tax-related transactions were poorly documented). Things I never knew anything about and things my wife had no clue would ever matter to anyone. The end result is… well, just look around.

I remember reading about the stock market crash before the “great” depression and how there were wealthy bankers and businessmen jumping out of windows when they realized they screwed up and lost everything. Isn’t it ironic how far we’ve come in 60 years in this country that they now know how to fix that little economic problem; they just steal from the middle class (who doesn’t have any say in it, elections are a joke) to cover their asses and it’s “business-as-usual”. Now when the wealthy fuck up, the poor get to die for the mistakes… isn’t that a clever, tidy solution.

As government agencies go, the FAA is often justifiably referred to as a tombstone agency, though they are hardly alone. The recent presidential puppet GW Bush and his cronies in their eight years certainly reinforced for all of us that this criticism rings equally true for all of the government. Nothing changes unless there is a body count (unless it is in the interest of the wealthy sows at the government trough). In a government full of hypocrites from top to bottom, life is as cheap as their lies and their self-serving laws.

I know I’m hardly the first one to decide I have had all I can stand. It has always been a myth that people have stopped dying for their freedom in this country, and it isn’t limited to the blacks, and poor immigrants. I know there have been countless before me and there are sure to be as many after. But I also know that by not adding my body to the count, I insure nothing will change. I choose to not keep looking over my shoulder at “big brother” while he strips my carcass, I choose not to ignore what is going on all around me, I choose not to pretend that business as usual won’t continue; I have just had enough.

I can only hope that the numbers quickly get too big to be white washed and ignored that the American zombies wake up and revolt; it will take nothing less. I would only hope that by striking a nerve that stimulates the inevitable double standard, knee-jerk government reaction that results in more stupid draconian restrictions people wake up and begin to see the pompous political thugs and their mindless minions for what they are. Sadly, though I spent my entire life trying to believe it wasn’t so, but violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer. The cruel joke is that the really big chunks of shit at the top have known this all along and have been laughing, at and using this awareness against, fools like me all along.

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)


I disagree with his methods, but I kind of sympathize with the guy. He is disgruntled that 1. The rules are different for different entities. (big companies get bailed out but individuals don't) 2. The law isn't consistently applied. (i.e It is arbitrary) and 3. When he got audited he felt like being mummified by red tape. He feels that a confusing bureaucracy is similar to a corrupt one. But, as someone said his text is a like a 'shell' people can fit into. In that case it might be just me, then.

If you can't live with the IRS or other parts of the US system, there are 194 other countries out there. Many of them are good places for English speakers to live and work. Vote with your feet, not with violence against helpless government workers.

Unfortunately that solution doesn't work so well in practice. The United States is one of the few countries in the world to tax income earned by US citizens in other countries. (The only other ones of which I am aware are North Korea and, while it was in existence, the Soviet Union.)

Furthermore, any US citizen who decides to renounce his or her citizenship is assumed to have expatriated for tax reasons if the tax liability is over $127,000 or the individual's net worth is at least $2 million. (Though those, of course, are not the only reasons that an individual will be assumed to have expatriated for tax purposes.) An individual who has expatriated for tax reasons must pay US taxes on all US-derived income for 10 years and if the individual returns to the US for 30 days in those ten years, all income earned abroad is taxable by the US government. If such an individual has the misfortune of dying during any year in which he or she spent at least 30 days in the US, the entire estate is taxable by the US government.

I'm not sure Stack's tax liability was $127,000, but given his problems with the IRS, I wouldn't be surprised if the IRS would have declared him expatriated for tax reasons had he tried to leave the country. Escaping the long arm of the IRS can be easier said than done.

An individual who has expatriated for tax reasons must pay US taxes on all US-derived income. True, and they're fairly effective at collecting it too by withholding at the source. So if you don't want the IRS in your life, you can't get paid by US companies. Billions of people manage to do so.

10-year rule was replaced in 2008 with "exit tax" - you have to pay taxes on all gains (realized and unrealized) and then you can go about your own business. Realizing gains to pay tax is a pain, but it only gets unbearable if your assets are illiquid.

Not being American, this is incredible for me to hear, especially since the Boston Tea Party was staged over a tax of just 2%.

easy to say, not so easy to do. for an american to legally live and work in another country is not trivial unless you have citizenship in that country. trust me, i would have been out of here years ago if it were less complicated.

Errrrmmm. If you're an American with a degree, it's pretty trivial. It's certainly trivial when compared to what people have to go through to get into the US.

I know a lot of people who have relocated to NL (me), UK, DE, or FR.

1. Americans can travel freely to most countries in Europe, for business or vacation, no visa required. Once there, you can go on job interviews, and firms with many internationals will have no problem arranging a work visa for you. Alternatively, you can arrange the work visa yourself, which is also pretty easy.

2. Many countries (Holland, for example) have agreements that American entrepreneurs can start their own businesses. You just have to show that you will not be a drain on society (i.e. you buy health insurance and have some money in the bank), and that you will be making a 'substantial investment' in your company (usually less than $10k)

3. I studied here, a one-year M.Sc. (which cost less than $15k and was of a surprisingly high quality), and they gave me a green card for a "job-seeking-year", during which I can work anywhere... but have switch my visa to a normal work permit before it expires. It took me 5 days from getting the permit to switching it to a regular permit.

4. Or you can just find a foreign partner, you don't even need to marry them in some countries. Sometimes that's enough, other times they need to show that they earn enough to take care of you both (in case you can't find work), but the threshold is so low it's a joke ($30-35k yearly salary).

Bad news is: Americans living abroad still have to pay US-income tax, if you make a lot of money. You'll have to stay in your new home for a while and get citizenship (5+ years), renounce your US citizenship, and even then they can come after you for a while...

I know so many US expats over here, and only a few have had visa-related issues (all resolved well). Most of those were because someone didn't do their homework, or didn't take it seriously. All of them pale in comparison to the visa-issue that I've heard from expats living in the US.

I know so many US expats over here, and only a few have had visa-related issues (all resolved well).

survivorship bias

Funny, but no. :)

I met most of my expat friends at the beginning of their visa processes (vacationers or students who want to stay, or fell in love with someone here), so I don't think survivorship bias plays a role in my own observations.

It's a shame that you can't send your suicide/murder note out to friends for feedback. He really could have used a little editing.

The deck is stacked everywhere, but so what? Get over it. An engineer has the ability to improve the world by building better things without resorting to destruction.

Easier said than done. In the long run, I don't see humanity surviving if it doesn't figure out how to keep smart, disgruntled people in check.

That's rather defeatist. I'd say humanity doesn't have a chance of surviving if it doesn't figure out how to address the concerns of smart, disgruntled people.

Keeping them in check just delays the inevitable meltdown.

I'd say smart, disgruntled people aren't as smart as they think they are.

The societal problem is convincing everyone that they're a genius. When life hands them less than the best and they have to overcome it, they just get disgruntled, because "they're too smart" to deal with it.

Parents, remind your children that there's always going to be someone smarter/faster/stronger/etc than them, and that they should focus on doing as well as they can with the circumstances they're given. There's more good in being the best you can be than there is in being the best; for a lucky few, those things are identical, but for the rest of us they aren't.

> there's always going to be someone smarter/faster/stronger/etc than them

However in this country (the US) the gaps are wider and the deck is stacked more than in any other industrialized nation in pretty much every category.

Don't pretend America is the worst nation in the world. A lot of people want to go there because it's better than where they came from.

Try complaining against the state in an industrialized nation like China.

Why don't we hear more about people flying planes into buildings in China? Or students (or even teachers!) losing it and shooting up their schools?

Is it just that they have better control of their media (so we don't hear about it), better control of the people (so they don't get a chance to do it), or something else?

Less guns per citizens (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_gun_owners...) and less access to planes?

By the way, there were also some incidence of pupils shooting up their schools in recent years in Germany. I guess you are just much more exposed to American incidents than to the rest of the world. (E.g. have you heard of the whole ugly neo-nazi stuff in east Germany in the 90ies? It still goes on, though at a much lower level of intensity. It's quite hard to find English language sources on the anti-asylum-seekers riots in Hoyerswerda in 1991 but http://www.jstor.org/pss/4146935 is on.)

There have been smart, disgruntled people forever. On the whole, I think they're less violent and therefore less dangerous than dumb, disgruntled people.

There was probably nothing like 9/11 1000 years ago. Technology is a lever, improving it increases the power of small groups.

In terms of death toll, I'd probably disagree. It seems that 20 men from the upper classes (on horseback, armed and trained to use weapons) could destroy an 11th-century town of 1000-3000 inhabitants (although suffering heavy losses on their end) if they were so inclined. A powerful nobleman could assemble the knights.

In terms of impact, you're probably right. I think it's likely that 9/11 is the first news story to have reached half the world's population in a few hours. However, there are pre-modern events that rival it in terms of potential impact. I can't think of any from the 11th century, but the Defenestration of Prague comes to mind, as would the Gunpowder Plot had it succeeded.

If the Gunpowder Plot had succeeded, it wouldn't have been the destruction of parliament that would have been the issue, it would have likely been a full out campaign to kill every catholic in Briton by the most gruesome methods possible. The public reaction to the Gunpowder Plot was very 9/11 in terms of public opinion against the Catholics. In fact the Gunpowder Plot likely delayed the Catholic Emancipation by potentially two-centuries and increased intolerance towards Catholics quite dramatically.

Honestly if the Gunpowder Plot had succeeded, I have little doubt it would have turned into a massacre of Catholics in Briton and likely devolved into a full out war. Ireland would have received a full massacre for the guerilla war it had waged against Briton, and Spain would have likely come under full attack for supporting the Irish Catholics during that time.

It would be hard to see any result that isn't total war for a successful bombing. Ironically the plot was the worst thing to happen to Catholics but simultaneously the best outcome for the situation.

if the "smart, disgruntled" were so smart, they would figure out how to get what they want so as to be no longer disgruntled. getting frustrated with life and throwing your hands up isn't smart.

Do you have any concrete suggestions other than "building better things" that might actually lead to change that would address the issues like systemic injustice and economic subjugation in the face of endless corporate welfare?

Empower the people with global democracy in the form of an open web-based voting system, show them what's possible and they may force laws to be enacted globally similar to the NI4D, become lawmakers, and end corruption. Many don't believe that the people are ready for that much responsibility, and it's better for them to be managed by the various elites, but the price for this will always be systemic injustice, economic subjugation, etc.

I really respect this guy. Once you realize your life is over, you might as well take a few other people with you.

Can I invoke Poe's Rule on this statement?

Taking innocents down is not the way to go, but I otherwise agree. Once people realize healthcare reform is not going to happen and health insurance execs start getting knocked off over rescissions and life caps, I'll secretly be smiling. (Of course, a public option would be a better and nonviolent option.)

Oh, for god's sake: irony. He was being i-ron-ic. Fuck.

That just means that they would get company paid bodyguards.

Yet more of people's hard-earned money going to perks for jerks rather than health-care for those paying the premiums.

Problems that this creates:

1) Because of how governments deal in collective punishment, private aviation is likely to suffer further regulatory decimation even though events of this type are extremely rare, statistically speaking.

2) His rambling, narcissistic screed will be broadcast widely, and his immature and senseless actions used to paint those with legitimate and sensible criticisms of our tax system or systems of governance.

> rambling, narcissistic screed

Maybe to you. Most of his rant just sounded honest and true to me.

Maybe you are a rambling narcissist?

Maybe. Then again, maybe extreme actions cause people to unconsciously try to discredit the beliefs (no matter how rational) behind those actions to distance themselves from being exposed to uncomfortable truths.

The reaction might change, but I'm mainly seeing the opposite effect on #2 so far: there seems to be a sympathetic undercurrent of "collusion of big-government IRS and greedy corporate capitalists drove hardworking man to kill himself" in some of the coverage.

I can't help but be swayed somewhat myself. While I can't agree with his methods, I'd be surprised if there wasn't a lot of truth in his message.

So, was this related to the changes reported in today's front-page New York Times story, "U.S. Cracks Down on ‘Contractors’ as a Tax Dodge," or is the timing just a coincidence?

"Federal and state officials, many facing record budget deficits, are starting to aggressively pursue companies that try to pass off regular employees as independent contractors. President Obama’s 2010 budget assumes that the federal crackdown will yield at least $7 billion over 10 years."


What are people's thoughts on the hosting company pulling the site so quickly at the request of the FBI?

Would they legally be required to? IANAL but I can't think of any reason.

I suspect they were not legally obligated to take it down (without a court order or a National Security Letter, anyway). But they also, of course, had no obligation to keep it up. I'd probably take it down if I worked there.

It seems quite obvious he wasn't going to be paying his hosting bill anymore.

And if had my servers hosted there, I might consider moving them.

Why? This isn't the hosting company's fault.

I think, for the most part, free speech is a right people expect to keep after they're dead. If you say something, the government isn't allowed to censor it, even when you're no longer around to stop them. I would want a host that would support that ideal.

Ah, I thought that someone was suggesting changing hosting companies because the host was also used by Stack, not because the host took his page down.

I would also want a host to keep sites online for as long as they'd been paid for.

Don't you think the FBI is going to be looking through his website? I wouldn't be surprised if they poked around in other servers while they were at it.

I certainly can't say I know the law in this respect. His rant did include the names of a few people which could possibly be bad for them, but it's too late now - it was posted online, cached by lots of spiders, copied by lots of people... Pulling it down now doesn't seem like it'd much matter.

They have a link to the copy at the Smoking Gun, right where it's down; I'd say this was a question of keeping the FBI happy without actually impeding the flow of information.

Taking it down anyways does, however, show that they explicitly disagree that the information should be published for the reasons you state.

cnn even has a copy posted on their site.

It was pulled even before the FBI request. The original pull text said something along the lines of "This page has been removed in light of the events in Texas earlier today". Later it was changed to mention the FBI request and gave the link to the smoking gun mirror.

Tragically naive, but naive in a self-serving and narcissistic way. Childish, I guess one would say. Hard to sympathize with for that reason. It's one thing to take a naive and idealistic look at government with the intent of improving it; it's another thing to take that approach to your own taxes.

I think it is interesting that the IRS treats certain workers differently:

"This section shall not apply in the case of an individual who pursuant to an arrangement between the taxpayer and another person, provides services for such other person as an engineer, designer, drafter, computer programmer, systems analyst, or other similarly skilled worker engaged in a similar line of work."

(this was cited in the letter)

Here's a little bit of background about that provision:


I'm highly amused that the last name of the guy who wrote that piece is "Henchman."

To be fair, it's not that the IRS has decided to treat these workers differently, it's that Congress has instructed them to through the laws it has passed.

I was considering going to SCALE this weekend, but maybe I'll take the train or not go after all.

Like many people on HN, I am pretty close to the guy's profile. I've been negatively effected by SEC. 1706 - now, I'm far to cynical to think such things can be changed, and I'm not really the murder/suicide type but, uh, I certainly fit the profile.

In 2008 somebody in Germany got fed up with the high taxes on fuel. He couldn't afford to run his business (which required a car) any more. So he parked the car on a lawn in the city centre of Frankfurt, wrote "Fuel Profiteering http://www.acidware.de/ in big letters on it, and put it on fire.

I just want to say that there are other routes to explore before taking it this far.


> I just want to say that there are other routes to explore before taking it this far.

Yes, but they are much less effective. E.g., I have never ever heard of him or his protest before.

There aren't that many 24-hour cable news stations in Germany that are broadcast around the world in a language that a fair number of people internationally can speak.

I would say that is an unlawful and violent act intended to influence a government or civilian population and therefore a terrorist act.

Unauthorized protest ? Unlawful and possibly violent. Definitely trying to influence government and the civilian population. Therefore, terrorist. See how that goes ? The definition is so ambiguous it can be applied to anything.

As far as I know they fined him for pollution or something. He said that he had some clothes and a toothbrush with him because he expected to go to jail for this. But the police set him free on the same day. It would have been different if he had lit the fire on the road though.

If he couldn't pay back taxes on $13K, I'm curious how he acquired the plane.

Rental? He still would've had to have a pilot's cert, which costs about $6-10k USD to acquire.


Not according to reports.

Initial reports said it was stolen, actually, but it seems they've taken that back.

thats what they had said earlier I guess it has changed.

It was not stolen.

This blog would hold no value if it were not pinned to this story of "terrorism".

If you look deep and examine what is happening here, 106 comments later, you see that people are thinking. A great thing.

Another question I stop to ask myself: His method was poor and for a lot of people that disqualifies his perspective. But should it?

Maybe he should've used google to do some research about how to avoid being classified as an employee.


Wasn't that kind of his point? With guidelines like "Don't ask for instructions from the hiring firm about how to do your job." it's just silly and you never know on which side of the line you are currently... There's just no way to be sure and even if you are right, you might be notified too late to protest.

the discussions about the IRS employees reminds me of clerks.


how innocent are people who work for evil empires?


Guy dicks around with forces he doesn't have the free cash available to dick around with, blames IRS.

Later finds himself losing work due to working in aerospace as Air Force bases are closed in the 90's, leading into 9/11 and a meltdown in his ability to generate personal revenue. Blames IRS.

Runs out of money, blames IRS.

Flies plain into IRS building with the intent to indiscriminately murder anyone who happens to be in the building at the time, ending his pathetic life. Doesn't even garner a headline on the Huffington Post. Forgotten two weeks later.

I tell you, I can be sympathetic to a letter such as his, to some of the things any of us can easily see are wrong right now in the USA, but of course I do not condone his extreme by any means.

However, here was the kicker for me: "But here I am with a new marriage and a boatload of undocumented income". Let me get this straight -- he was in love and married. Forget all the money stuff, tax liens, unemployment, whatever it was. He was so in love that he just got married. And then what does he do? He pilots a plane into the IRS building. I also read somewhere that he burned his house down before doing that. It's probably anyone's guess that his wife was at work while all this was going on. So this troubles me that a man focuses so myopically on purity principles such as anti-corruption, that he would block out one of the purest principles at all, which is love.

Meanwhile, local television in Austin, the Texas capital, said Stack's house was fully engulfed in flames this morning just before the crash into the IRS building, and that Stack's wife and 12-year-old daughter had been pulled out distraught but unscathed.


Last I checked marriage does not always proceed from love.

I think he has a point about the sloppiness and unresponsiveness of the government -- although the sloppiness and unresponsiveness of a large, bureaucratic organization hardly justifies carrying out his own miniature September 11th! Doubly painful in that the people he killed probably liked the IRS no more than he did -- few workers in government bureaucracy _enjoy_ what they have to put up with...

Killing others and committing suicide are both very serious matters, so I hate to say this, but his rant on the IRS reminded me of nothing so much as Timecube. What have we done wrong in this society, that we get people like this, especially the deadly ones? I don't think it's a political, moral, or social-outlook problem; but I hardly know what it is. A more honest and competent government would have removed this man's particular grievance, but it wouldn't have fixed the root problem; someone in his mental state is probably going to find something to be aggrieved with regardless...

It's just a bug in our design as humans, IMO, but it's that same bug which allows us to occasionally do monumentally amazing things. It just depends how you spin your perceptions to yourself, I suppose, and if you can accept that greatness is, more or less, a large scale way of turning a frown upside down. :)

Oh, I'm a nut too, and humanity would be much worse off without its nuts, but what concerns me is that particular, Timecube-esque variety of nut -- not particularly creative or ambitious, but turgid and cramped. Why do people end up like that...?

I can't really say why, but I think the common thread they share is they get lost following a path of information that becomes self-referential - and rather than seeing that as a flaw, they apply a kind of naive mathematical reasoning and assume that because they ended up back where they started it proves the whole system is consistent - and that's therefore a good and universal truth.

If you've ever listened to any significant amount of Coast to Coast AM, you've probably heard any number of conspiracy theorists and paranormalists justify and build their books and beliefs upon the books, beliefs, or incidents of others. My untested hypothesis is that if you unraveled all those interdependencies and book citations, references, etc. you'd end up with an entirely self-contained cloud of "evidence" that is disconnected from objective reality.

Whatever it is in a culture that leads desperate people to decide to kill strangers before commiting suicide has far more to do with the culture than with human DNA.

Culture is a byproduct of humanity and therefore it's quirks are a reflection of our quirks.

Spoke too soon!

You forgot the parts where he blames the Catholic Church.

The general feeling I get from this is that the guy cares way too much about money and tit-for-tat.

This is currently the only story the TV news networks are covering.

cache removed at google but bing still has it:


Sorry, buddy. Trying to kill people and destroy property doesn't get me to listen to you. I'm not going to read this.

apparently the "site" was written in Office 2000, at least according to the HTML file

I find it laughable that he suggests that the solution to this problem is somehow Communism.

That's not what he says. He just quotes the creed in order to play off of it regarding capitalism.

and that would be why I said "suggests".

Except that without any editorial text accompanying the two quotes, two readings are possible: "here's the motto of a good system and a bad system," OR: "everyone's heard of the moronic motto of this system, but the current system is just terrible in its own different way." Reading the whole thing my impression was that the second interpretation was what he was getting at.

How sad, one guy has guts to spend his life and others can't even keep a letter online.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised at how many people look down on these actions, but I am. No american is "innocent" when they legislate thievery so they can continue eating nachos while wanting to expense thier medical costs to the rest of us, have us pay for their poor judgment with money. Ignorance of the consequences isn't an excuse. Most Americans are vanilla enough that they never find themselves outside the american comfort zone, otherwise they would find just how small the room is. Cryptic and meaningless to most but I couldn't stand reading all of these other comments. Downvote away.

> Most Americans are vanilla enough that they never find themselves outside the american comfort zone

Most Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck (about 60% last I heard).

Wonder how many of those still have cable TV. Give me a break.


Of course a conservative policy center will tell me that poor people are wasteful and/or lazy. However, the same Americans that are mostly living paycheck-to-paycheck are also the same Americans that work more hours than a lot of countries with much better situations. It's also not just about what you have... it's about where you can go and how far you are from outright financial ruin. In the US you are probably not mobile and probably just a serious illness or injury away from bankruptcy.

It's not like the amount of the cable bill would go very far to pay for things that other civilized nations take for granted, like medical care and education.

What do you think this even has to do with my original statement? People are in better situations in other countries because they support more of a welfare/legislative based system? Do you live there? Why not?

"Of course a conservative policy center will tell me that poor people are wasteful and/or lazy."

An excellent way to write off an opinion without consideration. Come back when you have a valid reason to write their numbers off (not that there isn't one, just don't parrot "conservative" or "republican" at me because that puts you in the majority of people who cite the same BS over-generalizations).

The next guy that does this will learn from his predecessor's mistakes, and use a bigger plane.

And write a shorter rant.

Or at least a clearer rant. I was surprised at how well written Kaczynski's "Industrial Society and its Future" was. I don't like that he got it published by mailing people bombs until the New York Times promised to publish it, but it's still worth reading.

I doubt any future rants will get clearer. Rants of these types are big, sprawling, disconnected tales of tragedy and woe with the point heavily obfuscated or altogether absent. This makes it very easy for other people will similar unbalances, but possibly unrelated motives, to write their own motives into the gaps. The problem is, to these types of readers, their own motives are blindingly obvious in what they're reading, so they don't even perceive the lack of clarity that you and I do. They can just hold it up and say "this is exactly what I've been saying!" not because the post says anything, but because it doesn't. It's big and empty, which makes it a great echo chamber.

I urge everyone not to read this. We should not reward murderers (or attempted murderers) with out attention.

Fortunately - and not surprisingly - it's barely readable anyways. I read most of it and I still don't have a clear picture of what made this guy so mad.

[Edit: While I don't agree with lliiffee, I think it's a valid point of view and I wouldn't vote it down. I wavered between wanting to understand this person's state of mind, and not wanting to "reward" him with attention. But even if he were alive I don't think he'd get any satisfaction from people's reactions to this meaningless, incoherent screed.]

did you actually read it or just skim it?

It made perfect sense to me. I see exactly where he is coming from, and why he did what he did. I have been wondering how long until someone did something like this. I would bet this will be the first of many things similar, where people start to rebel against the government. The less violent the better however.

It made perfect sense to you? Did we read a different note or something? The one I read seemed to ramble and drift and eventually lose the thread of logic by the end. I saw no great injustice perpetrated that necessitated the need to fly a plane into a building.

It did ramble and drift a bit but it all added to his story.. just very slowly. I don't think he should have flown a plane into the building. However I believe he did it because he tried the proper way spending over $5k of his own money and months of his time to change it. No one listened/cared (which is the main problem) about his problem. So when push came to shove and the government and businesses took everything he had by taking advantage of him, he had to finally stand up and say no more. Thus we have this event today, which is his way of raising enough commotion about the problem to hopefully get them changed. Honestly I cannot believe its not more common (not the plane part but the people rebelling part).

He spent $5000 lobbying dozens of government officials, but what was he trying to change? Does it really all come down to the rule determining whether programming consultants are treated as employees for tax purposes? Was he even able to explain his case to them coherently, without using phrases like "declared me a criminal and non-citizen slave"? And then he makes ludicrous choices like taking an IRA distribution (which in most cases results in taxable income and/or early distribution penalties) without reporting it or paying taxes on it:

"I filed no return that year thinking that because I didn’t have any income there was no need. The sleazy government decided that they disagreed..."

Why is he just assuming that there's no need to file, rather than looking it up himself or asking someone for advice? Oh yeah:

"After my experience with the CPA world, following the business crash I swore that I’d never enter another accountant’s office again."

...because he once had a bad experience with accounting (which as far as I can tell he never actually describes), he decided that all accountants are frauds and there is no way to find an honest person to help him. It sounds like he was an antisocial crank long before flew a plane into a building.

Yes, and after he expresses his reluctance to ever enter an accountant's office again, he says that he did, out of desperation, and then got screwed again.

But what, really, was his problem that no one was listening to? I couldn't really figure that part out. It seemed to me that he was just pissed off the government wanted to collect taxes and annoyed that some people were a lot richer than he was.

It looked to me like he was complaining specifically about sec. 1706 forcing independent contractors to go through body shops.

It sounded to me like he made a lot of really stupid money choices in his life and blamed all his losses on the IRS, the government, and anyone else of "power" that happened to be nearby at the time rather than taking personal responsibility and manning up.

I think his distaste was that when he made some mistakes, he got caught and shafted by arcane laws, yet when some richer folks deliberately committed fraud, the government barely did anything about it or rejigged the laws for them.

I'm in no way condoning fraud or corruption or entitlement or whatever, but I think the reason "the rich" often appear to get away with a lot more stuff than "the rest of us" is because, in some sense, as much as you might not like to admit it, they did somehow became rich - and that usually involves years of work and contributions to society either by the person him/herself or their family. So, in some small sense, being rich is a sign of having done something significantly important or useful at some point in their history, and so maybe they are worthy of more benefit of the doubt because of that? Maybe being rich is like a credit against future mistakes? Maybe it shouldn't be that way - but it seems kind of like it is. Perhaps this is some second order effect of humanity itself.

I agree. Life isn't fair. That doesn't stop us from seeing a small percentage of people who believe everything should be fair and just going postal, though.

they can also have more money to buy off and strong arm irs agents.

government employees are just people.

here's a book about this:


Did he not hear about Bernie Madoff?

The concern is in setting a precedent that anyone can have a wide hearing of their ideas by killing people, which creates copycats in the future. (We have seen this happen with, e.g., school shootings.)

Well the fact is that every time something like this happens there's a huge media splash about it, it's analyzed to pieces, and (as far as I'm aware) there's almost never copycats of the same magnitude or scope.

If you're looking to take some kind of memorable action to get people to notice you, probably the least effective way is to do the same thing someone else just did.

I disagree, it is information (although poor quality information tbf) about what motivated this guy to do this. The information should be public so people can come to their own conclusions about the event, otherwise the story is one sided.

HOWEVER due to copycats and the general suggestability of the public, organisations who broadcast should think twice before broadcasting this text. This is because it provides a "reward" for people contemplating doing this kind of thing, fifteen minutes of fame. Unfortunately this is exactly what news channels typically fail to do. E.G. High school shootings

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