Our Corporate Media Glosses Over The “Stack Attack”

February 25, 2010

This Altenet column tells us the following…

I have to admit, if Joe Stack had flown his plane into the new headquarters of Goldman Sachs, it would be tempting to label him a hero. His political leanings notwithstanding, his act clearly falls within the FBI definition of a Domestic Terror attack. And while the rope a dope the right wing is playing with this political hot potato as they cajole more Tea Party momentum out of this act is despicable, it is but one more distraction in the false fight between right and left in this country.

OK, before I say another word, I should state up front that I think it is every bit as repugnant for anyone on my side of the ideological fence to hope that Stack had hit a favorite target of ours as it is for any wingut to feel any kind of sick sense of gratitude over the fact that Stack ended up hitting a right-wing target. I can’t think of a punishment prescribed by a court of law that is appropriate enough for Lloyd Blankfein and his G-S pals, but I certainly don’t recommend a physical attack against them. And this also needs to be pointed out, after all, because two people died in the attack (including Stack) and thirteen were injured.

And this article tells us how airline pilots have reacted…

“General aviation is a small community, mostly misunderstood by the general public and more unfortunately, our government,” said one pilot in an e-mail.

“We are perceived as a bunch of rich people with expensive toys that now can be used to kill people,” he wrote. “Frankly, we’re tired of it.”

Many pilots are quick to compare the perils posed by any large truck loaded with a bomb – witness the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.

“We saw two people rent a truck and blow up a federal building but no call to require more restrictions on truck rental,” wrote another in a different e-mail.

I think that’s a silly comparison. In the event that someone goes nuts and decides to employ a transportation vehicle to try and hurt someone, there are a lot more ways to regulate vehicle traffic than there are to regulate aircraft in flight.

I have some questions about Stack that I’m sure will be answered in future news reports, such as, how many hours of flight time had he accumulated? When was he last certified? Are pilots required to take some kind of a psychological test periodically in an effort to detect and future aberrant behavior? If not, why not?

Also, as noted here, where are the calls for profiling the individuals of Stack’s race, job occupation, or religious affiliation (yes, I know the answer to those questions, but I believe they must be asked). And this Media Matters post argues that our corporate cousins with initials for names dropped the ball by not linking Stack to the teabaggers; I don’t know that Stack associated directly with that group, but his actions do seem to dovetail with the teabagger boilerplate of anti-government threats.

We do know this much, however, based on this…

Stack’s writings suggest he was part of a loosely organized movement that stretches back to at least the 1950s. Some believe the 16th Amendment to the Constitution, which authorizes Congress to levy income taxes, was not legally ratified; it was ratified in 1913.

Others believe that paying taxes is purely voluntary. Still others believe in fictional loopholes that would exempt large groups of Americans from paying taxes if they were only in on the secret.

Believers aren’t limited to anti-government militia members living off the land out West. Stack was a 53-year-old software engineer in Austin. Other followers include movie star Wesley Snipes and a decorated police detective in the nation’s capital.

“They’re fairly prevalent,” said Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project for the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist groups. “We’ve had a right wing tax protest movement going back several decades now. They were very hot in the 1990s, but they are very much still out there.”

The most bitter irony to me, though, is that Stack may actually have had a point in his protest. I hasten to add, though, that he should have sought a remedy through constructive political action instead of a murderous act of terrorism (full disclosure: I do not work as a contractor, and I have a feeling the main culprit here is the depression of wages due to the recession and offshoring, but I cannot imagine how some congressional hearings on this subject in the wake of this story could be a bad thing).

This tells us that the Tax Reform Act of 1986 ended up encouraging companies to hire computer programmers (Stack’s occupation) instead of retaining them as contractors out of fear that companies wouldn’t withhold tax revenue from these people (less money for the government), though they would work as salaried employees did (with taxes deducted from their paychecks, of course).

However, as Wikipedia tells us, “A 1991 Treasury Department study found that tax compliance for technology professionals was actually among the highest of all self-employed workers and that Section 1706 would raise no additional tax revenue and could possibly result in losses as self-employed workers did not receive as many tax-free benefits as employees.”

I skimmed over Stack’s manifesto from The Smoking Gun, and for a guy who plainly was tormented and should have undergone counseling, I should tell you his writing is fairly lucid. Maybe a thoughtful examination of it as part of a wider story on Stack and the forces in this country that espouse anti-government violence would be enlightening to us all, to say nothing of possibly preventing future attacks.

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