Honestly, Why Is It Always the IRS?

Why do these murdering nut jobs so often target the IRS?[h/t Instapundit]

At first, one might presume they do so out of ideological resentment, but as I noted in my previous post, these nuts tend to pick and choose from various ideologies depending on what is best for them at the moment. If so, why do so many of them perform their final detonation at the IRS?

I think it is because the IRS is the one institution that no one can ever escape.

You can’t escape death and taxes, and the IRS is always the latter and sometimes the former.

Rightly or wrongly, the IRS has the power to make every citizen accountable for their taxes. Malignantly selfish people like Stack spend their entire lives avoiding blame and refusing to accept responsibility. Believing themselves to be always cheated and exploited, they rationalize that everyone else deserves to be cheated and exploited. When people complain, they just move on to another job, another business, another town or another family. They skate through a vast series of personal and economic relationships, leaving a trail of broken promises, lawsuits and sometime outright theft.

Quite often, they’re too inept to ever be actually economically successful, so they seldom make cost-effective lawsuit targets for private entities. Most people they cheat just write the cost off and go on…

…but not the IRS.

The IRS goes after everybody. (They may even target middle-class taxpayers because they are defenseless targets.) People like Stack who blame everyone else for their failures and dodge all responsibility eventually collide with an entity they cannot cheat, exploit or escape. All their craven manipulation and irresponsibility mean nothing to the cold iron heart of the taxman.

The IRS grabs them just like it does everyone else and it does not let go. Whereas the rest of us grumble and pay up, no matter how painfully, these jerks just can’t accept that they have hit an immovable object of responsibility and that they will have to suffer along with the rest of us.

In their own personal story of martyrdom, the IRS is the last in a long line of unjust persecutors and the one they cannot escape. Faced with either taking responsibility or going out in a murder/suicide, they choose the latter and they target the entity that finally brought them to account.

The IRS screws over a lot of people. The IRS justly and unjustly destroys thousands of lives every year. Honest mistakes in a byzantine tax code can destroy a lifetime of work. Small-business people live in constant fear that a mistake by themselves or their accountants will destroy their businesses, their livelihoods and possibly cost them their freedom.

Yet, those people don’t lash out violently at the IRS, because they have empathy and they understand that it’s not all about them. They understand that life isn’t fair and that you have to be responsible even for your honest mistakes. They understand they you pay up, you curse and then you go on.

Stark and others like him won’t do that. Rather than admit they made a mistake, that they are responsible for their actions or even that sometimes life just takes a crap on you, they choose murder and suicide.

These people are armed bombs their entire lives. They ram through people their entire lives, growing more and more angry. The IRS is just the immovable object that finally makes them detonate.

9 thoughts on “Honestly, Why Is It Always the IRS?”

  1. Why the IRS. They are pretty easy to hate. I file about 30 returns a year for family members, trusts and other entities that I manage. I don’t like to get extensions, but last year I had one return that needed some very complex calculations and we applied for the routine extension until October 15. It was ready by the 15th and we mailed it along with a big check. The 15th was a Thursday. In January I received a notice assessing a late payment penalty because the IRS had gotten the return on Monday Oct 19. I sent a copy of the proof of mailing to my accountant and told him to get it fixed.

    Stuff like that just makes you want to scream.

    Honestly, I think the real problem, other than the gob smacking idiocy of the internal revenue code, is that the IRS was set up with a 19th century mentality, and it has not gotten wind of the 21st century. The whole process needs to be re-engineered into something that gets taxes paid with out sweat and agony.

  2. Robert Schwartz,

    Why the IRS. They are pretty easy to hate.

    The IRS is a monstrosity but it’s like the rain, it screws over the just and unjust a like.

    If you look at the life history of the this types of killers, you find that their tax problems are just one of a large set obligations they have failed to fulfill. Based on his profile, if you look into Stark’s life I predict that you would find not only unpaid taxes at every level but also unpaid creditors, unpaid business suppliers, screwed over business partners etc. Ditto for his personal relationships.

    The only difference between those other obligations and the IRS is that the IRS has vast power to enforce its rulings. It has nothing to do with how right the IRS is or whether they act nice or not. It’s just that they have the temerity to force people like Stark to do something they don’t want to do.

    The IRS is just the final player in a life filled with irresponsibility. Since people like Stark are incapable of accepting responsibility for the consequences of their own actions, they have to blame external actors and the IRS is biggest external actor of them all.

  3. Although I agree with Shannon’s analysis of the particular psychology of Stack and similar rampagers, I am disturbed by the passive acceptance of the degradation of the rule of law that everybody seems to be displaying. The IRS has more arbitrary power than any American institution ought to have. And they abuse it in a particularly arbitrary fashion, with small businessmen and the self-employed getting the worst treatment. It’s relevant that Stack also included a rant about the lack of universal health care in his diatribe, since bias against the self-employed in health insurance is part of a general structural bias against small business and self-employed that became embedded in American law and tax codes over the past century.

    This degradation of the rule of law, which is part of a larger pattern in American legal structures, is corrosive of the previous high levels of social trust and voluntary compliance with the law that was one of America’s great advantages in the world. No set of institutional reforms is likely to fix this; the whole idea of the government having perfect knowledge of individuals’ financial affairs, being able to define some portion as “taxable income” in a fair and impartial fashion, and guarantee payment is becoming increasingly undoable, at least doable consistent with the Bill of Rights as it has generally been understood.

    It is really time for sober consideration of a switch from income taxation to a system of general consumption taxation, with possibly a surtax on income for the highest category of earners. Merely eliminating the mechanisms of income-tax compliance for the great majority of taxpayers would lower transaction costs in our economy immediately. Black-market and grey-market income would come under taxation, finally. And special favors for select, well-connected taxpayers would disappear, removing at least one big motivator for corruption in our political system.

    The time is long past due to put this on the table for serious consideration. It won’t stop the Stacks of the world – -they will find some other target for their anger. But may reduce the vast level of cynicism and erosion of social trust that the current system breeds.

    In the coming restructuring of the American fiscal system, everything should be on the table — including our assumptions about income taxation.

  4. In the coming restructuring of the American fiscal system, everything should be on the table — including our assumptions about income taxation.

    Sure, but the political class haven’t gotten the message yet. They still think they’re going to be able to get away with another “deficit reduction” Kabuki act, followed by the reluctant discovery that only a massive tax increase can save us. Did you see the Fox interview with Simpson and Bowles? They have a different understanding of “everything is on the table” than we do.

  5. Jim Bennett,

    I agree. I think people are to accepting of the monstrous tax code that the IRS enforces. I do think people, including myself are beaten down. The IRS is terrifying. It is the one government body that can seriously destroy the lives of honest, hard working people. All it takes is one honest mistake.

    That is why everybody hates the IRS.

    My only point with Stark was that he was not special in this regard. He was stupid in the same way that someone who repeatedly pokes a rattlesnake on a hot day is stupid. The snake is a killing machine and if you irritate it is going hurt you badly. The IRS is the same way. It has way to much unrestricted power and to enforce a cryptic tax code if you do not take reasonable precautions in dealing with it, it will hurt you just as mindlessly as the snake. Not everyone who gets snake bit is stupid but I don’t have any sympathy for those who go out of their way to provoke the snake.

    Stark thought he was special. He thought it a cosmic injustice that the snake bit him. It was his arrogance in poking the snake more than the nature of the snake itself, that destroyed him.

    This is not the say the rest of us shouldn’t be contemplating swapping out the rattler for a cuddly bullsnake.

  6. It is actually useful to the system to have people get mad at the Service and its employees. It helps generate an “us vs. them” attitude on the part of its employees and make them more ruthless in squeezing out taxes. I try to be as nice as circumstances permit when I have to deal with the Service in person. Taking it out on the individual employees s a sucker’s game, not to mention a magnet for head cases like Stack.

    The important task now is to move ending income taxation from the fringe into the center of the political world. This will not be accomplished by screaming or arguing about whether the 16th Amendment was properly ratified. It would be useful for the Tea Party movement and fiscal conservatives to demand that ending income taxation be “on the table” in any budget discussions. Every group that is going to be asked to make a sacrifice (i.e., Boomers asked to work longer till retirement) needs to be saying, “Yes, maybe, but we want equivalent sacrifices from others, and we want real structural reform.”

    We are in a real sense, not merely rhetorical, approaching the bankruptcy of the USA. Everybody can see it coming, and everybody knows that some obligations will have to be liquidated or restructured. In commercial bankruptcy, this is the point when some creditors start to suspect that the debtor is cutting deals with selected other creditors and dissipating the assets. Bankruptcy law exists to protect such creditors — being able to put the debtor into involuntary bankruptcy, they can force all cards out on the table and prevent or reverse such side deals. Obligations are then reduced in the fairest and most generally acceptable manner possible.

    The ruling elites want to resolve the problem by having the creditors give more money to the debtor (i.e., a VAT) so that it can continue its profligate ways . Screw that. The Boomers would do the nation a favor by, in effect, putting the nation into Chapter 11 — i.e., operations continue, but there is an all-parties restructuring of obligations. This means civil government pensions at all levels, elimination of wasteful practices for favored groups (e.g., repealing Davis-Bacon Act), selling off government assets and putting the proceeds into debt reduction (interstate highways all sold to investors to become tollways; all airports privatized, etc.). Then and only then would benefits reducton via raising retirement age be on the table.

  7. Two quotes from past seem appropriate for Stark’s action:

    Dave Barry: Every now and then, when I write my annual tax column, some ex IRS agent will complain, There you go IRS bashing again. They’re always saying that they’re just doing their job. Someone I know once said, You could get another job.

    Joseph Conrad: The way of even the most jusitifiable revolution is prepared by personal impulses disguised into creeds.

    “The IRS is just the final player in a life filled with irresponsibility. Since people like Stark are incapable of accepting responsibility for the consequences of their own actions, they have to blame external actors and the IRS is biggest external actor of them all.”

    Absolutely. That’s why millionaire revolutionaries like Ayres are free, famous, prominent, and influential; and Stark is dead. Ayers was responsible. He knew who to pay off and how. He has no psychological problems based on failure or resentment. He’s not dead, not in prison, not a failure, and an advisor the president. His ideology is selfless, altruistic, and, probably, correct. QED. Were all our revolutionaries so rational, so handsome, so rich! We’d be socialist paradise filled with praise from coast-to-coast for the IRS.

  8. Stark and Ayres are basically the same variety of sociopath. Of the two, Stark was the less evil and the less dangerous they both offered the same type of justifications for their actions.

    With Ayres, he claimed to struggling to stopping the Vietnam war but his true goal was to trigger race war and the collapse of America which would have been followed the invasion of the continental US by the Soviet Union and China. He then fantasized about exterminating 25 million recalcitrant Americans in Gulags in the Southwest.

    Yet even that was all smoke screen. Ayres was nothing but a thrill seeking sociopath. His entire life leading up to the weathermen was nothing but a life of sex, street fighting and drugs in an ever escalating pursuit of a higher thrill. Ayres ego was such that he saw himself as the next Stalin or Mao.

    It is a great travesty of American justice that Ayres is a free man. It is an indictment of American far left that he is considered a respected member of their subculture. I have written here extensively on just that very subject.

    However, none of that has anything to do with Stark.

    Two things to keep in mind when you think about Stark:

    (1) His killings were personal revenge not political statement: He started his attempted mass murder by trying to kill his second ex-wife and her 12 year old daughter by another marriage. If the IRS was what pushed him over the edge why try to kill them? If his act was largely political, why harm anyone that wasn’t connected to the IRS or the government? For that matter, why did he attack the small satellite office when the IRS has a large facility on the south side of Austin. He clearly attacked the office because that office had handled his case.

    (2) Everything you think you know about Stark’s motivation comes from his own self-serving statement. You don’t actually know what misfortunes befell him or what role his own actions played in bringing them on. He spun a story that made his actions seem desperate but not selfish and personally vengeful. Yet per (1) he clearly was out for personal revenge.

    Don’t get sucked into Stark’s pity party self-justification just because the IRS does royally suck.

    If you have not studied criminal psychology, the story Stark told might seem genuine. Yet people like Stark are not rare. Every year several dozen or several hundred similar events of disguised personal revenge occur. These are the same kind of people who shoot up court rooms, kill judges and lawyers, burn down public buildings, shoot up work places etc. Without exception, every one of them spins a self-serving, self-pitying rationalization just like Stark.

    Stark was nothing more than an utterly self-absorbed and self-glorifying sociopath. He attacked the IRS because he couldn’t beat them and his massive arrogance would not let him admit error or defeat. If some other institution such as the courts or bank had finally called him to account, he would have attacked them just as viscously and his self-pity rant would have read almost exactly the same with only the names changed.

    I loathe and despise sociopath like Stark because they make tax reform so much harder. The media has already settled on a narrative in which Stark is associated with the Tea Party and other non-leftist reform groups. He sat back the cause of reform by months or years.

    Don’t make matters any worse than they are by trying to pretend Stark acted out of any motive than bitter personal revenge.

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