Suicide & Redemption: Joe Stack’s Last Words

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A suicidal man crashed his small plane into an IRS building located in Austin, Texas.

According to CNN, Andrew Joseph Stack III, 53, an Austin resident with a hatred for the Internal Revenue Service, set his house on fire Thursday and then crashed a Piper Cherokee PA-28 into AN IRS office building. The building is the site of 200 employees.

Two people have been found dead, although their identities have not yet been established. Two others were injured, and 11 others were treated for minor injuries.

A cryptic, chilling suicide note was found on his website: “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 website was for Embedded Art, a site for a software company which he owned.

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Joe Stack, seen here, recently flew his small engine plane into an IRS building in a showing of contempt for the US government.

In the lengthy suicide note, he shows contempt for the government’s bailout of major corporations and the fact that the medical system kills thousands a year all for greed and gluttony. He goes into great detail and pulls no punches, something it seems he had been doing all his life.

So what brought him to this unfortunate ending?

He goes on to explain:

“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.”

He stated that that “lesson” cost him more than $40,000, ten years of his life and set his retirement back to 0. He then set his sights on becoming an independent engineer. Before that, he spoke of living next to an elderly widowed woman whose husband worked at a steel mill for 30 years at age 19. The couple, among thousands of others, saw nothing for all of their hard work. Stack said he’d no longer rely on big business to take care of him – just himself.

The note gets more contemptuous and his message becomes clearer.

“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 losing 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.”

Clearly, his frustration with the government came to be at an early age. He felt as if the powers that be, who are supposed to hear your concerns and consider your ideas, were ignoring him. The rage crept closer and closer to boiling point.

He gives another anecdote of how big government screwed him and thousands of others during the L.A. Depression:

“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 s*** 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.”

This anecdote tells of yet another swing of the mighty government axe against his weakened roots, but not as financially draining. Things, for a moment, seem to be improving somewhat (that is, if you ignore the outcome of this message.)

“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.”

He then picks up and moves to Austin, TX, where he finds that his meager pay rate would be fixed and that finding work to begin with was difficult. His anger seems to keep building, and once again he blames big government for his less-than-usual salary. To make ends meet, he had to dig into his savings and retirement money – however, the IRS would again ram its ugly head.

“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.”

He then swallowed his pride and sought the services of a CPA to get his taxes in line. He uncovered thousands in unreported income from Stack’s wife, however failed to mention it to him until it was too late. Stack had been screwed again.

He gives this dark, harrowing harangue about businessmen meeting their demise:

“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 f*** up, the poor get to die for the mistakes… isn’t that a clever, tidy solution.”

He finally gets to the reasoning for wanting to take his and other lives, and summarizes the effects of the government’s handling of his life. Here’s where it really gets ugly:

“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 s*** at the top have known this all along and have been laughing, at and using this awareness against, fools like me all along.”

He then sends the IRS his well-wishes:

“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.”

And, what would a suicide note be without a quote from history?

“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.”

He then signs off his note with “Joe Stack (1956-2010)”, with no clear indicator of how he expected to end it all.

This note and subsequent turn of events is the ultimate cry out for help for millions who have suffered the same financial crises as Stack has. Many suicides related to the economic downturn go unpublished, and he realizes this – so he made sure that the entire world was listening. I can only wonder what was going through his head as he descended upon that building, but I know for sure that HE knew for sure that his story would be heard.

This note is the story of a man who was pushed to his absolute limit. A man who gave up all hope in a country that failed him. A man who let his anger and subsequent lack of interest overtake his better judgment. Sad to say, this is the plight of millions in this nation; some versions are abridged and modified, some versions are much worse. However, if the test of a man is how he handles the pressures of an unforgiving world, this is a test that he failed miserably. In the end, he got his wish – the whole world has eyes on him. We are all eyes and ears for your painful story.

He couldn’t force anyone to listen to him. He raised his hand to be called on many times but in the end, cruel fate called on him.

In no way am I condoning his actions, not at all. However, maybe this latest tragedy will get politicians of all parties to open up their ears and shut their pocketbooks long enough to give the little guy a chance to speak. Not only speak – but BE HEARD.

Once again, I will pass along the Suicide Prevention Hotline for those of you who are considering or know of someone considering ending their own lives: 1-800-273-TALK. Don’t become a page in history this way.

Full suicide note here: http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2010/0218102stack1.html

John Danz Jr is a serious writer with a penchant for poetry and building a foundation in every form of writing. He is motivated by a never-ending thirst for informed knowledge and the feeling of accomplishment that comes with every completed poem or story.

A drummer drawn to classic and modern rock/metal music, John is deeply interested in meteorology, psychology, sociology and philosophy. Weather has always fascinated him, he wants to know why people do what they do, understand the cultures of the world, reflect on great minds and gain a better understanding of this world and our place in it.