Here’s a treat: the documentary Karl Hess: Toward Liberty is now available on YouTube.
This movie, which won a Best Documentary Oscar in , lets Hess informally narrate his own evolution from being Barry Goldwater’s speechwriter in his presidential campaign, to his fleeing the corridors of power for life on a farm advocating small-scale “appropriate technology” — and there’s a brief stop along the way to visit his tax resistance:
Right after the campaign the Internal Revenue Service went into its quadrennial song-and-dance of auditing and otherwise harassing everybody who lost. One of the worst things about losing a presidential campaign is: they get ya!
I went through an experience with them that I found sort of unbelievable. And I got to thinking, and I got angry, and I read the Declaration of Independence while I was angry. And I sent them a copy and I said “this document calls to my attention the fact that when you guys exceed all of your authority, begin acting like a bunch of colonial troops, that I should abolish you.”
And so I said “I hereby abolish you — I won’t pay your taxes anymore.”
Well, they don’t think that’s very funny. And they certainly have no interest in the historic significance of the statement.
One thing about being dispossessed of income and possessions is that you begin to understand that there’s a difference between money and the economy, or an economy. Money may be part of an economy, but it’s not the whole thing. An economy involves exchanges of goods and services, and that means barter.
For more on Karl Hess’s tax resistance, see The Picket Line for: