Friday, February 19, 2010


Digby has an interesting post up about Joseph Andrew Stack and the anti-tax scam he wrote about in his manifesto. There have been several of these groups, I even had a couple friends/acquaintances who at one time waxed enthusiastic about books which claimed to hold “the secret” to not paying taxes and how it’s all perfectly legit.


By the way, did I mention I have a bridge to sell you folks?

Digby digs through the memory hole and reflects:
IIRC, this group was one of those "common law" groups that set up mirror governments and declared that the "sovereign" state of wherever didn't have to abide by the US Constitution. They are also loosely affiliated with the Posse Comitatus white supremacists, militias and other garden variety Anti-government fringers. It's all part of that great American wingnut tapestry.

Obviously, I'm just guessing that one or both of these scams are what this guy was referring to, but it fits. If it was, then this fellow was not only an anti-tax loon, he was a victim of anti-tax loons, which makes him a double dupe.

This is the prosperity gospel for the non-religious. I don’t know if there are more of these kinds of groups out there than there used to be, but it sure feels like it. Maybe America’s loony bin just seems bigger because the internet has given greater visibility to their crackpot ideas. Plus, our mainstream media has given some of these nutters a platform they never used to have (yes Orly Taitz and Jerome Corsi I’m talking about you.)

Last month’s Harper’s Magazine wrote about a similar group of anti-government nutters who bought snake oil in the form of “100% inflation proof” Liberty Dollars hawked by “Monetary Architect” Bernard von NotHaus. Here’s the story of serial sucker Dr. Ned Van Valey who fell under NotHaus' spell::

Since the 1970s, Ned had hitched his train to a succession of maverick economists and doomsday prophets. He had once made a pilgrimage to Jekyll Island, cradle of the Federal Reserve, and in the late Nineties spent his savings retrofitting his house in New York’s Hudson Valley to survive the Y2K computer bug. He installed a diesel generator and a cistern for fuel; in case of an oil shortage, he rigged the place for solar; he stockpiled bullets and guns, precious metals, and a year’s supply of food, which arrived one day, to Ruth’s amazement, in a tractor-trailer. “We expected the world to come to an end, you know,” she told me. “You name it, he did it.”

Lately they had spent some of their gold and silver survival cache on more quotidian needs, and they were slowly eating through their rations. Whatever these measures cost him, Ned retained a good-natured regard for his past obsessions, as if they were old flames who had run off with his wallet but whom he still remembered fondly. Now he hoped a quorum of survival-minded Americans would stock up on Liberty Dollars so that a Weimar-style hyperinflationary crash could be avoided here at home. (“They had paper currency with a thousand zeroes on ’em!” he said.) When the Monetary Architect got around to the couple’s order, eight troy-ounce Libertys, Ned accepted the silver gingerly, as if handling a chunk of uranium.

And how did that work out for Ned and his fellow hard money advocates?

The world had changed in ways that von NotHaus had not forseen. For nineteen weeks, the thirty-day moving average of silver had hovered below $15, and so the Liberty Dollar was forced to return to the $20 base, the first such reversal in its ten-year history. Patriots who had bought silver or eLiberty Dollars during the prior ten months saw their inflation-proof cache lose half its trade value overnight.

Oops. Well, the stock market didn’t do too well during that period either.

Last June Von NotHaus was arrested and is facing multiple criminal charges. He was forced to shut down the Liberty Dollar operation in July. And no one could have anticipated any of this [/sarcasm].

I have to wonder about people who buy every apocalyptic piece of fear-porn out there. This is a unique brand of American loon, embracing both right and left: not just the anti-U.N. black helicopter crowd but also the Peak Oil doom-and-gloom folks, the anti-banking folks, the “martial law is coming soon” folks. We mock the religious nutbars who see the End Times with every politically expedient interpretation of the Book of Revelation and we recoil in horror at the bigots who talk of a coming race war, but are these anti-tax, anti-Federal Reserve, money-cult folks any different?

You'd think after Armageddon didn't happen and Y2K was a big bust, and the race war didn't happen, and Jesus didn't come back to Rapture you and your ark up to heaven that you'd have figured out there is no big boogey man out there after all. You aren't privy to special information, you aren't going to be saved while everyone else is doomed, and this world is the way it is not because of some cabal or conspiracy but just because.

But they don't. It's like a drug of some kind.

I don't get it.