"People have often been willing to give up personal identity and join into a collective. Historically, that propensity has usually been very bad news. Collectives tend to be mean, to designate official enemies, to be violent, and to discourage creative, rigorous thought. Fascists, communists, religious cults, criminal 'families' — there has been no end to the varieties of human collectives, but it seems to me that these examples have quite a lot in common. I wonder if some aspect of human nature evolved in the context of competing packs. We might be genetically wired to be vulnerable to the lure of the mob." ~ Jaron Lanier
Hannity Picks on a Real Fighter
'Pay up! Why don't you pay up?' the Republican half of Hannity & Colmes barked at his guest, Verny Kuglin. He turned to her attorney, Larry Becraft. 'Why don't you make her pay up?'  Hannity was agitated. This uppity lady, 58, who's been a FedEx pilot for almost 18 years, had dared to ask the IRS what law required her to pay the personal income tax. She had written to them twice in the mid-'90s, but got no reply. Having found nothing in the tax code that constituted a liability, she told FedEx to stop withholding taxes from her paycheck. The IRS caught up with her in 2001 and charged her with six counts of tax evasion. She pleaded not guilty. They gave her a chance to plead guilty for a lesser sentence.  She refused. The case went to court, and on Friday, August 8, a 12-member federal jury in Memphis acquitted her on all six counts. If they had found her guilty, she could have spent the next 30 years in jail and been forced to pay a $1.5 million fine. Becraft had built his defense around the letters Kuglin wrote to the IRS, which he claimed showed she was acting with sincere conviction and without criminal intent. The acquittal doesn't mean she won't have to pay taxes. That will likely be decided in a civil action. She faces a $250,000 tax bill on $920,000 of income over the six years she had nothing withheld. Earlier in the show, Alan Colmes established the background of the case. Then, armed with the flag, Sean Hannity jumped in: Hannity: All right, Verny, so basically what you're telling every American watching this program right now is, if they follow your interpretation, nobody should pay. There's no place that says any of us should pay taxes, correct? Kuglin began explaining, referring to sections 6001 and 6011 of the code, when Hannity interrupted. Hannity: Here's the point, Verny. You know what? We're overtaxed. I want to lower the tax burden on the American people. I agree it's almost, when you look at the code, I mean, it is so confusing, you can't even get tax experts to agree on it. We all agree on all of that. That's all true. But the bottom line is, all of us are paying. And you're not paying. You're getting the benefits of living in this country, and you're not ponying up your share. And I think you're doing ' you found a nice little technical way to get out of it, it's kinda cute, but your neighbors are paying for your roads, your neighbors are paying for your highways, your neighbors are paying for your defense, your neighbors are paying the burden of everything, and you get away scot-free. Kuglin tried to explain she was paying all the taxes for which she had been shown to be liable, but Hannity cut her off. Hannity: You're not paying any income taxes like the rest of us, are ya? Kuglin: I am not paying the individual income tax, that's correct. Hannity: Right. So you found a sneaky little way to get out of what all of us are doing. You know what? I mean, why don't you just fight to change the system as opposed to putting the burden on everyone else? 'Cause if we all follow your little model here, the government has no money, we don't defeat Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, we don't have a national defense. Aren't those things worth paying for? Kuglin: Well, let me back up. I am not a person who thinks that the 16th Amendment or that the internal revenue code is unconstitutional. I believe that they are both very constitutional ' Hannity: --Then pay up! Kuglin: --I believe, however-- Hannity: --Why don't you pay up then? Why don't you pay like the rest of us? Becraft asked politely to speak. Colmes told him to make it quick. Becraft: The issue in this case is why won't the government answer her questions. Colmes (Hannity mumbling, Becraft trying to talk): Are you going to advise her to pay her taxes? Becraft: I didn't hear you. Colmes: Are you going to advise her to pay her taxes? Hannity (mumbling): No, she's gonna go off'she's-- Becraft: Well, that's what we talked about last week in court. The reason why she got in this particular fight with the IRS is because in the fall of '95 she wrote two letters. Colmes: Right. Becraft: The American people have a right to ask questions of the government. She posed two questions to the government, and the whole problem could have been resolved at that stage' Colmes: And we'll, uh' Becraft: --and instead the answer did not come from the government. Colmes: We gotta take a break. Becraft: She was taking a stand. Colmes: We hope that the law is obeyed and taxes are paid. Thank you very much for being with us. I have never met or spoken with Verny Kuglin, nor does she have any idea I'm writing about her. Given that she and her attorney have to watch their words because of the likely civil court confrontation, I thought they handled themselves with poise against Hannity's assaults. And what can we say about his comments? Is Verny Kuglin really a lowlife because she dug up some glitch in the tax code that excuses her from paying taxes? Is she an immoral, unpatriotic person, as he tries to get us to believe? Speaking as one of Kuglin's neighbors to the south of Tennessee, I would like to respond. If I were hosting a show on which she and her attorney were guests, I would begin with a standing ovation. Why? Consider what she's taking a stand against. The income tax, like any form of slavery, is an obscene blight on a free society. The income tax: ' Turns government against us by criminalizing action we have a right to take ' which is, to keep our money. ' Allows the government to engage in massive theft without penalty and under cover of an alleged moral sanction. ' Funds bloated government, with its endless bureaucracies, corruption, waste, welfare, and war. ' Makes enemies by enabling government to meddle in the affairs of other countries, a practice our founders cautioned us to avoid. ' Requires a bully, the IRS, to make it work. ' Robs us of our financial privacy as well as our finances. ' Requires hundreds of billions of dollars in compliance alone. ' Lowers our standard of living by making less wealth available for taxpayers, entrepreneurs and investors. ' Penalizes effort, intelligence, and success, and rewards their opposites. ' Makes us subjects, slaves, and clients of petty bureaucrats. ' Corrupts morals by exempting government from standards of common decency and by tempting people to 'cheat' to keep more of what is rightfully theirs. ' Distorts our thinking, as we rationalize the existence of such a monstrosity in a free society. ' Substitutes the Communist Manifesto for the Declaration of Independence. Verny Kuglin represents the brightest hope we've had in a long time to 'awaken liberty from its long slumber.' Hannity accuses her of doing something 'sneaky' and 'cute.' How 'sneaky' is it to pour over ponderous and confusing tax codes and research court cases for years, then decide to step out alone and risk losing everything, including the next 30 years of your life, by not paying income taxes? I call that uncommon valor of the highest order. The only sneak in this issue is the government, and it's anything but cute. I don't know what defense she will use in her civil case, or even if she'll put up a defense, but I've found one I'm convinced would work. Larken Rose has put together a masterpiece 88-minute video called 'Theft by Deception,' which takes the viewer step-by-logical-step through the tax code to arrive at the legal tax liability for most working Americans.  And guess what? Most of us have none. He then presents compelling evidence showing how the government has cooked the books to deceive us into believing we have a liability. He tells me he's sent several copies of the video to the IRS, but like Verny Kuglin, he's heard nothing back. I agree with Alan Colmes: May the law be obeyed and taxes paid. And if the law is really obeyed, very few people will be paying.