Despite the silence of the IRS regarding Bob Schulz’s hunger strike – undertaken as a desperate means of getting answers from his government – other observers have had plenty to say about the now 12-day-long fast.
Schulz has vowed to eat nothing and drink only water until the IRS gives him a list of government officials that will meet this fall in a public forum to discuss a theory that income taxes are illegal and the 16th Amendment was fraudulently ratified.
The IRS has refused to comment on the hunger strike, referring only to agency statements condemning money-making tax schemes. Additionally, the IRS says courts have determined the 16th Amendment to be the law of the land.
Schulz has spent the week in Washington hand delivering copies of his “redress of grievances,” as he calls it – referring to the First Amendment – to government officials, including Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Staff for Clinton said the senator could not comment on the hunger strike by press deadline. But other onlookers have spoken out, some encouraging Schulz in his fast.
“If the government cannot dispute Schulz’s contentions, then the country is in deep trouble,” wrote David J. Willmott, senior editor and publisher of Suffolk Life Newspapers. “It will have lost its power to impose upon the people a form of taxation that had not been legally approved. The government will be forced to find a legal way to fund itself. This is why those in power are attempting to subvert the Constitution.”
“If the government continues to stonewall and refuses to meet with Schulz and his associates, Schulz will die and the government will win. The people of the United States will lose and our Constitution will be rendered worthless,” Willmott’s June 27 column continues.
In Schulz’s home state of New York, the hunger strike is being closely watched by the Daily Gazette. Responding to the news of the fast, New York resident Donald R. White wrote a letter to the editor that appeared in Sunday’s edition.
“That an American citizen in good standing who has an apparently valid grievance is unable to have an important constitutional question addressed by any representative of his, and my, government is a matter which should concern us all,” the letter states.
White believes Schulz’s arguments “deserve to be considered seriously and either refuted, or studies be initiated on how best to go forward from a new and sound legal base.”
The Gazette, however, has taken a less-than-supportive position on the protest, saying Schulz “has gone too far. In declaring his willingness to keep fasting until death, he undermines his own credibility. Nor is Schulz’s latest cause worth any such devotion.”
Using life-and-death tactics in political and legal disputes is wrong, the paper asserts, “except in extreme circumstances which do not exist in this country.”
“Threatening to kill yourself to get your own way is better than threatening to kill someone else, but that doesn’t make it defensible. Nor will it do to try to make out that the government is responsible for Schulz’s death if it fails to comply with his demands. He is responsible for his own actions,” the editorial continues.
Printed on July 6, the Gazette’s opinion is that Schulz should continue his two-decade-long history of engaging in the judicial and political process, even though the paper admits “that system does not always deliver justice.”
“But bad court decisions do not mean he should abandon the legal process, or the unglamorous political activism that innumerable other campaigners have engaged in throughout the history of this country, without falling prey to extremism,” the editorial concludes.
Even some who agree with Schulz’s arguments that income taxes are technically illegal say the fast is unwise. Columnist Carl Strock, who calls Schulz an “old friend,” heard about the protester’s hunger strike and paid him a visit at his “very comfortable house, situated on 150 acres of rolling meadow and forest.” Strock wrote in his July 1 column that he hoped to dissuade Schulz from taking what the protester deems the next “logical step” in his effort to get answers on the income-tax issue.
Schulz began suing government agencies 20 years ago after he determined to keep government operating only within the boundaries set by the people. With more than 100 lawsuits under his belt, which the retired engineer argued himself, he has “won a few significant victories and suffered a few significant losses,” wrote Strock.
Now Schulz’s battle is over income taxes. His principal argument is that the 16th Amendment was never properly ratified since many of the states purporting to adopt it in the early 20th century did not follow proper legislative procedure.
“I have a high regard for him as a result of his principled battles in Albany, and I wasn’t about to see him commit suicide over some silly thing like whether Tennessee’s vote on the income-tax amendment a century ago was properly undertaken,” Strock states in his column.
Responding to Schulz’s musing that “the eyes of the world will be on this, hopefully,” Strock remarked, “It’s a pretty big ‘hopefully’ in my view.”
But perhaps the most compelling plea for Schulz to call off his hunger strike comes from columnist Gary North, who wrote on LewRockwell.com that the activist’s decision to fast “reveals a dedication that few people possess. But you have made a bad decision. I pray that you will reverse yourself, not out of fear or discomfort, but out of principle.”
“You are not Gandhi. This is not India,” he wrote.
North tends to agree with Schulz’s points that the 16th Amendment was not properly ratified. He also agrees that income taxes are immoral, if not illegal. But he calls the hunger strike irrational and even suggests it may be a sin if the strike results in Schulz’s death.
“All branches of the church throughout history have placed suicide in the category of a mortal sin or its equivalent in the particular denominational tradition. Suicide is seen as murder: the deliberate destruction of God’s image in man. The church has always said that each man belongs to God, and God therefore places limits on killing. This includes self-killing,” he wrote. “Your decision to place your life on the line, on your own authority, will be regarded by Christians who hear about your stand as morally wrong and tactically misguided. You do your cause enormous harm by adopting such a tactic.”
North claims the real culprit to taxation is not the IRS but a voting public that has put its collective “national faith in the power of the State to redistribute wealth by force.” In a country where public schools are “America’s only established church,” Schulz “should not waste [his] efforts in a vain hope of shutting down the IRS until after the worship of the State in these secular churches ends,” North continues.
Additionally, legal technicalities will not win the argument of the evils of taxation, North wrote.
“You may have found an ancient glitch in the letter of the tax laws, but the spirit of these laws is universal,” the column reads. “The spirit of the law is our problem. The letter of the law may protect this or that person from a specific act of government tyranny, but it should not be expected to protect taxpayers from themselves.”
“I implore you to continue your struggle by other means. Call off your fast,” North continued. “Move your argument from the verifiable facts of illegal acts by politicians and their appointed bureaucrats to the broader issue of immoral law and immoral voters, who believe in a rewritten Mosaic commandment: ‘Thou shalt not steal, except by majority vote.’”
Purchase “The Law that Never Was,” a two-volume set about the controversy surrounding the 16th Amendment.