I.R.S. Seizes Car from War Tax Resister

From the Victoria Advocate:

Student Loses Car For Not Paying Tax

Arnold Cuba, who lost his car to tax men after he refused to pay a telephone charge in protest against the Indochina War, says he will try to buy the car back at a public auction.

Cuba, a University of Texas junior, said Direct Action, the antiwar group that encouraged him not to pay the tax, also is going to try to raise money to get the car back.

Cuba returned from classes last Wednesday to find his yellow Volkswagen missing and a notice from the Internal Revenue Service that his car — which he bought new for $2,400 — had been taken because he refused to pay a $2.44 telephone tax.

The bill has now grown to $5.53, and he also owes $29.50 for hauling and storage of the car and said he will be charged for other “incidental” fees by the IRS.

An IRS spokesman said the car will be sold at public austin [sic], and the $2.44 will be deducted from the amount paid for the car and the remainder given to Cuba.

If Cuba’s bid is the highest, however, he will get the car back by just paying the $2.44 and fees.

“I plan to bid what I think it is worth… if someone else bids higher, I will make a profit,” Cuba said.

Reading about another IRS office evacuation caused by a “suspicious package” received in the mail, I mused a bit on how formidable authoritarian bureaucracies can be successfully damaged by small acts that induce large, costly, and crippling reactions. Like in an autoimmune disorder, the body’s own protective mechanisms are hijacked to attack the body itself.

Kevin Carson at the Center for a Stateless Society found a quote to this effect from Julian Assange, the current spokesman and editor-in-chief for Wikileaks, which has been doing a bang-up job of freelance declassification of U.S. classified war documents:

The more secretive or unjust an organization is, the more leaks induce fear and paranoia in its leadership and planning coterie. This must result in minimization of efficient internal communications mechanisms (an increase in cognitive “secrecy tax”) and consequent system-wide cognitive decline resulting in decreased ability to hold onto power as the environment demands adaption.

Hence in a world where leaking is easy, secretive or unjust systems are nonlinearly hit relative to open, just systems. Since unjust systems, by their nature induce opponents, and in many places barely have the upper hand, mass leaking leaves them exquisitely vulnerable to those who seek to replace them with more open forms of governance.

So when you hear people discussing the value of the leaks, remember that the value may not only be in what specifically was leaked, but in the leakage itself, and in subsequent efforts to plug the leaks.