Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Jack Bauer? Move over. I have a new hero.
Ed’s the guy who has locked himself inside his Plainfield, N.H., home and ain’t-a-comin’ out. He was convicted earlier this month for federal tax evasion. He hasn’t paid taxes for 10 years. He contends that the country’s tax laws are bogus. Oh, from Ed’s lips to God’s ears.
Go Ed, go. If this stand you’re taking works out for you, I’m climbing onto your bandwagon. There is a warrant for his arrest, and Ed says he will stay inside his home for as long as it takes. He has a private well, about two-dozen truck batteries hooked up to a generator. He has enough food to last him several months and his small and mighty band of supporters are coming and going freely, bringing everything from Dunkin’ Donuts to KFC. His house is heated with solar panels. This guy thought of it all.
No doubt, he is preaching the anti-tax gospel inside while armed militia members surround the building, eager, perhaps, for another Ruby Ridge or Waco. Ed’s wife, Elaine, is not with him. She was in court on Jan. 18 when the conviction came down. The couple are expected to be sentenced in April. Probably April 15, but who knows? Some say the feds have not allowed Elaine to go back to the house. Others say Ed told her not to come back. Whatever, it’s going to be interesting to see how this situation plays out. I just hope there is no bloodshed.
And I hope Ed Brown’s crusade calls attention to the fact that the general populace is overtaxed.
I have been waiting 25 years for someone smarter than me to stand up to the government and ask the basic question: How did the voluntary income tax, instituted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, morph into a mandatory income tax? I’m not willing to go to jail (Call me cowardly, that’s OK.), but if someone comes up with a foolproof method to stop the government from picking my pocket every two weeks, I am firmly behind them. I might even kick in the money I save toward their legal defense fund.
I might just drive up to Plainfield with a Box O’ Joe and a dozen doughnuts. (Make that 10 doughnuts. It’s a long ride to Plainfield.) I have a friend who has not paid taxes in 30 years. Really. He’s probably sitting in Ed Brown’s living room right now. Over the years, he has given me all the Irwin Schiff books telling me how to get the IRS off my back, but I really don’t have the time to read all that.
All I know is that in 2006, the state and federal governments took about 25 percent of my pay right off the top, before I could see it or even think about how I’d like to spend it. And I wouldn’t mind so much if I didn’t see where my hard-earned cash is going. For starters, the current rank-and-file members of the U.S. House and Senate pull down $168,000 a year and get this, they don’t pay income taxes. If you’re a committee chairman, you can make about $185,000 a year. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi gets to take home every cent of her $212,100 yearly salary. Tax Freedom Day gets later and later every year. This year it’s sometime around the end of April. You know what Tax Freedom Day is, don’t you? It’s the first day of the year in which the average taxpayer has theoretically fulfilled their tax obligation to the government. Think about it this way, everything you earned up until April goes to the government. Everything after that is yours.
A bunch of fringe groups have made their way up to Plainfield, N.H., including the Constitution Rangers of the Continental Congress of 1777 and the Liberty Guard of New America. I don’t know why, but I’m guessing a lot of them drive motorcycles and have long, white beards. Not the same group you’d see, say, protesting the war in Iraq outside of U.S. Rep. Marty Meehan’s office in Lowell. Different crowd. So I got my map, a full tank of gas, a large regular and a dozen (make that nine) doughnuts. I’m thinking about heading north to say hello to my new hero.
If this column space is empty next week, you’ll know why.
Dennis Shaughnessey’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.