The Tragedy of Joe Stack (1956-2010)

Posted by Larry Miller on February 21, 2010 under How | Be the First to Comment

austinirsWhen Joe Stack piloted his small, single engine plane into the Austin, Texas IRS building, it was the culmination of half a lifetime of fighting the organization and the government that controls it. Mr. Stack was not the only one to work at building something for himself and his family, then have it snatched away through ill-conceived government actions and policies. Yet he is the only one who acted on the impulses many have when dealing with an isolated, uncaring bureaucracy.

Reading his final thoughts, (available at, one can’t help but feel the anger and frustration of a man who feels his life has been wasted and his dreams thwarted by a system designed and run by the powerful and self-indulgent. Some of his thoughts are beyond comprehension, but for the most part, one can sympathize with this man, while not agreeing with his solution. I, too, was hurt by Section 530 of the Revenue Act of 1978 that singled out computer programmers and engineers to not receive the same favorable tax treatment given to other professionals.

Regarding his treatment by the Internal Revenue Service, one can only look at the philosophy behind their charter. They, and their congressional masters, believe that the taxpayers money is their money and it is by their good will, that the taxpayer can keep any at all for themselves. Men of good will could argue that because of their possessive attitude and hostile treatment of the taxpayers, that there is not a single IRS office around the country that is undeserving of such an attack. Yet, we need to look at what was accomplished.

In doing so, we’ll do something the private sector does time after time… conduct a cost-benefit analysis. Unfortunately, this is a concept that seems to be used by the folks in Washington only when looking into the health care they want to take from the aged and infirm. What did Mr. Stack’s actions produce? He destroyed one of the agencies functioning offices and he took the life of a 67 year old employee who was nearing the end of his career. The agency is still running. They are still hurting families and ruining lives while funding an out of control, ever expanding government.

What did it cost Joe Stack to yield this result? He gave up his life. He gave up any future happiness he may have had… a life God had given him, for a symbolic strike at an agency with a heart of stone and a dearth of compassion. He obviously felt it was worth the sacrifice when he wrote, “violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer.” How awful it must have been to come to the conclusion that he had to die to make his point.

He struck out at the organization causing him the most pain, but never got near the root cause. The IRS is just the enforcement arm of the government… much like the thugs assigned to be sure “protection” clients pay to keep their legs from breaking. They are the goons their beltway masters send to collect tribute and manipulate the unsuspecting (until now) populace into jumping through the hoops their “betters” design for them.

Too often a soldier will lay down his life for the good of other in his unit, or a parent would for his child. But in this case, he could have made his point and still be around to continue the battle. His cause may have been just, but his tactics were ineffective. We need more people with Joe Stack’s dedication, but with a vision that will see them through the prolonged conflict so they, too, may enjoy the fruits of victory when we regain control of our country and reduce its government to a more manageable size.

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