Authorities continue to investigate why Joe Stack of Texas flew his small airplane into the Austin offices of the IRS, but based on early reports and a tirade the attacker posted on the Internet, it had something to do with taxes, big government, corporate crime and bailouts.

Some of what Stack wrote in his online screed actually sounds quite reasonable. For instance, “in my lifetime I can say with a great degree of certainty that there has never been a politician cast a vote on any matter with the likes of me or my interests in mind.” That’s a bit extreme, but the basic sentiment is shared by many Americans. According to Gallup, 78 percent of Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing.

Stack assailed corporate “gluttony” and indifference to the health care mess: “[T]he joke we call the American medical system, including the drug and insurance companies, are murdering tens of thousands of people a year and stealing from the corpses and victims they cripple, and this country’s leaders don’t see this as important as bailing out a few of their vile, rich cronies. …”

But the principal object of his anger is that demon we’ve heard so much about during the rise of the tea party movement: big government.

This line captures something of Stack’s point of view: “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.”

And later: “Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let’s try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well.” The IRS and taxes in general take up much of Stack’s rant. Indeed, in the eyes of this killer it seems that working for the government — or in the same building where the government had an office — was a crime that called for execution.

He was clearly a disturbed individual — he appears to have set his house on fire and flown a plane into a building. But what’s really disturbing about Joe Stack and his rant is that so much of what appears to have driven him over the edge is so familiar. Clean it up, slim it down, and you could see some of Stack’s rant on the signs held above an angry crowd railing against big government and talking about revolution. — PZS

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