The Death of an American Political Prisoner

by Thomas L. Knapp…….

Irwin Schiff spent much of his later life in prison. He died in prison on October 16, blind and suffering from lung cancer, having been denied “compassionate release” to die at home with his family. So, who was this Schiff fellow? A mass murderer? Perhaps a serial rapist? Well, no. Irwin Schiff’s “crime” was saying and writing things the federal government didn’t want you to hear.

He thought the income tax was an illegal scam. He refused to pay it. Based on what were obviously his genuinely held beliefs, he urged others, in several books (including one that the federal courts ordered him to stop selling — apparently they don’t teach the First Amendment in law school any more) not to pay it either.

In theory, he went to prison for “tax evasion” and “filing false tax returns.” But that dog won’t hunt. If it was about money he allegedly owed the government, he’d have been left free to generate wealth that could be seized.

Irwin Schiff was a political prisoner. Period. No ifs, ands, buts or maybes. His legal entanglements were about two things, and two things only: Shutting him up and making an example of him. If people listen to Irwin Schiff, they might emulate him and stop sending money to Washington. QED, Irwin Schiff must be silenced and caged.

At some point I guess I’m expected to assure you that I don’t agree with Schiff’s theories. I can’t say that, because I’ve never studied them thoroughly enough to form an opinion on them. I never bothered because, unlike Schiff, I’ve never operated under the illusion that it matters whether or not the income tax is “legal.” Since when does the US government (or any other government) follow laws when following laws is inconvenient?

Whether or not you or I agree with Irwin Schiff’s ideas is irrelevant to whether or not he should have been imprisoned. Suppose he was wrong six days a week and twice on Sunday. If so, so what? Let me say this again: He was imprisoned for publicly — and apparently persuasively, at least to some — disagreeing with the US government and for no other reason.

In acknowledging Irwin Schiff’s unjust imprisonment and untimely passing, take a moment to ask: Is this the America you thought you lived in? Is this the America you WANT to live in? Answer — and act accordingly.

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9 thoughts on “The Death of an American Political Prisoner

  1. I met Irwin Schiff at a national taxpayers meeting in DC in the 1990s.
    A very intelligent and compassionate person he was. He explained that the Income Tax was created when in effect the vote of two thirds of the States was required to create the tax and this never happened . A group of elected people in DC lied to the people about the vote and we have been paying the piper ever since. If anyone has a chance to locate any of Irwin Schiff’s books buy them . It might be time to refresh the peoples’ minds seeing that Mr Schiff has paid the ultimate price for his beliefs. The depths of his convictions were apparent when you talked to Mr Schiff.

  2. Mr. Knapp, I wonder, would you do away with all forms of taxation, or just the income tax? Also, in some hazy kind of way, all prisoners of the state are political prisoners. Everyone behind bars has done something codified as something the culture doesn’t want them to do. Everyone would like to do exactly as they please, but we’ve come to understand that allowing that to happen would make the world a horrible place to live in. For me, taxation is a logical part of an organized society. Who pays what for whatever reason is always up for debate. You might be simplifying a complex issue. What if I decided I didn’t want to respect zoning laws. Should I not be sanctioned for that? I appreciate your article, it raises a lot of cogent questions. Thanks, Jerome

    1. jerry the constitution bars a direct tax and the income tax is ‘direct’ and also not apportioned to the population another bar constitutionally. income tax is a ‘progressive’ tax and right up any progressive’s alley and only beneficial to collectivist trough feeders including the too big to fail banks who have nothing in common with capitalism but everything in common with ‘crony capitalism’. the fed reserve was created in 1913 and the income tax effectively the same time frame for the purpose of paying a steady stream of interest to the banking bandits now that they had a central bank that could create currency out of thin air and charge interest on their loans to the government. free money to the banksters was the purpose of central banking.
      the so called 1% for the most part are there thru political favoritism and oligarchy.
      taxes are a plague unless there is limited taxation as in balanced spending not the 20 Trillion in current deficit and the 200+ Trillion in unfunded liabilities this once great nation now is plagued with and will never be repaid and shall be defaulted on.

      remember what Jefferson said and what it means:

      “I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around [the banks] will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.
      Thomas Jefferson, (Attributed)”

  3. Wanker, I appreciate your comments. If there is such a constitutional problem with how taxation is levied in this country, I’m sure there are legal recourses to follow in trying to bring them down. As for banking institutions being dangerous, I couldn’t agree with you or Jefferson more. Recent events bare this out, and they happened because the state was not doing its job, not the other way around. I’ll say this Wanker, I would totally support your point of view if the market system paid its workers enough to live a minimally dignified existence. It doesn’t. Health care, retirement possibilities. etc., are just a few examples of how the wage structure of our market system does not do this, not to mention the ability to feed and house properly a family of 4 or 5. What you always leave out is the fact that no matter how menial the job might be, it is essential for the wealth making machine to function, and essential for those who are good enough to make lots of money to enjoy their wealth. I appreciate your comments and the chance to respond, ciao, Jerome (PCM)

    1. jerry firstly we’re not in jolly ole England so wankajm is a far cry and part of one of my email addresses I used when signing up not knowing any better at the time and
      secondly and far more important is where the fault lies for the mess we’re in.

      imo the fault lies square in the lap of the voter for pulling the levers on the past ‘made people’ and voting these lying interlopers into office to fleece the populations slowly but surely thru the years to this day….especially this day.

      do you realize the deficit has doubled under the manchurian candidate Obama in his short 7 years to date! it went from 8 Trillion to current 19 Trillion. all that interest has gone yearly to the banksters for their expansion of totalitarian rule while they create money out of thin air. make no mistake they feel and think and act as ‘owners’ of this world. they own governments and the politicians who make the ‘laws’ we peons are forced at gun point to follow while they and the political class are insulated and surrounded by armed bodyguards for protection all the while scheming to pull the stops out on the 2nd amendment directly effecting the safety of us peons. ever wonder why?

      ever wonder why all the ramifications of new laws make us peons more and more dependent on the government as taxes and fees rise?

      also don’t put too much faith in ‘legal recourse’ since the courts also are splattered with politics galore. remember a judge is just another lawyer who wears a robe. some honest and some not.

      no the voter is the one I hold to blame. the voter is mostly uninformed in general and votes for stupid things like the ‘party’ for instance or the color of his or her eyes or Obamaphones! these voters were known as ‘useful idiots’ to Marxism. or ‘dumb dogs’ to fascists like rockerfeller’s man kissenger when speaking of our military servicemen to be used for expanding the ‘influance’ worldwide.

      as for the ‘wealth making machine’ paying a proper wage I proffer if it didn’t then the individual needs move on to another form of employment to better oneself.
      the rich as your saying rich got that way maybe because they had a better mousetrap or idea or more energy and stamina to work multiple jobs and save and invest either in their own business or the market etc.
      sorry but all too often the bars and fun and games get the cash not investments. blaming the ‘market system’ I think is misdirected. if i was a business owner wanting great employees then I sure as hell will pay for them properly if not they should not work for me would be my thought on the matter.

      you said you drove a taxi and in an earlier post you worked for maxi-taxi …did you make a good wage there and how long did you work for them? why didn’t you get an independent license and have your own business?
      cheers always jerry

  4. Mr Schiff was convicted and put in prison for a long time in order to shut him up. Very few books have been censored by our grand government but what was expressed by Mr Schiff in his books and speeches was, in the eyes of our government, dangerous. I do not think that even Hitler’s and Stalin’s books were censored. When government stymies free thought it is no longer a free country. We should enthuse our children to always be wary of our government when that government stymies free thought. In order for our government to ensure the collection of personal income taxes it , in the 1930s, created Social Security supposedly to keep poverty from our elderly. People do collect Social Security but they do not pay attention to the numbers being stamped on the buns of our newborns. This is the new Gold Backing that backs all of this randomly printed paper currency . When one thinks “inflation” think about the fact that the dollars you earn today are worth less tomorrow because of the new currency printings.
    But schools do not teach this to the ” Stamped Young Ones” .

    1. 3 cheers and ditto nyminuteman
      nor do our schools teach history of our constitution and bill of rights unless its the revised abridged re-written kind…
      the one condition of today which I think is quite healthy in our society is the constitution is being focused on with all the corruption in the government coming out constantly. we’re seeing some real eye openers on campus like ‘free speech zones’ WHAAAAAA??? IS THAT NUTS OR WHAT????
      shows the central control by the fed dept of edu which needs be abolished and schooling returned to the purview of the states and communities. common core is another obamanation. pun intended.
      best to you.

  5. Wanker, Maybe if you’d sign your real name I’d use that. If you want to protect your identity, then accept the consequences. As for the rest … I make special mention of the next to last paragraph, which is a pathetic way to describe how our system actually works. In truth, we haven’t done completely bad in this sense, there is a certain degree of social mobility in our society, but it is FAR from being a level playing field for all. If, by denying the obvious, it is a way to congratulate yourself, then so be it. As for taxis and such, I still work part time and am not that interested in making more money than that with which I can live comfortably, which I do only because I am not a consumer, by choice, most of the stuff for sale in our culture does not interest me. But that is a whole other story, something you’d be unable to get a handle on, being how you seem to consider material wealth as the only measure of worth or happiness in life. Mr. Wankajam, you are a very narrow thinker, something probably brought on by your own sense of insecurity. You seem to need to feel better than whoever you can feel better than, or superior to. One more thing: my attitude is not a “bleeding heart” one. It is premised upon the well being of the most people being essential for the individual’s well being, even yours. It might make you less paranoid about those below you. Best wishes, PCM

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