1984 was an interesting year. In part, due to George Orwell’s book by that title, coupled with the visible growth of the emerging, power-hungry American technocracy, an apocalyptic mentality was alive and thriving as 1983 came to a point of culmination. My personal world was in a bit of upheaval as well. In 1981 I had transferred with my employer (Belk Department Stores) from Miami, Florida to Rock Hill, South Carolina where I assumed the position of Operations Manager at the Belk Store at the Town Center Mall which was located in the downtown area of what was then the fifth largest city in the Palmetto State.
On July 4th, 1979 I had become a spiritually regenerate, “born again” Christian after years of running from and rebelling against the irresistible grace and specific calling upon my life at the hands of the sovereign God of Scripture. While I continued to go through the motions of my job and career...my passion had become the avid pursuit of truth since the very moment of my conversion to the Christian faith. As the scales of deception had been peeled from my eyes...I promptly became aware of an acute phenomenon of comprehensive deception that had long plagued our modern world. Satan...the father of lies who ironically masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14)...had successfully duped legions of misguided souls into unwitting service in his long-term agenda to establish an oppressive and tyrannical new world order. As I began to devour truth and information in the latter half of 1979, I quickly realized the following crucial components of the unfortunate reality I was living in the midst of. They were as follows:
The primary institutions of the nation and world (including the structured, organized church) had become thoroughly co-opted and subverted via the manipulation and wielding of monetary distribution and power.
Contemporary Christian believers have been uniquely and effectively targeted for a comprehensive brand of deception...the design and purpose of which is to render them impotent and ineffective in their primary assignment to function as the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
A momentous, sea-change type sequence of events would be necessary in order to jolt professing believers into sufficient awareness and understanding of the extraordinary deception that had encompassed them...as well as the actions and processes that would be required for the liberation and deliverance from the shackles of darkness and error in the days ahead.
As I began to assume my managerial responsibilities at my new South Carolina job location, I remained very much intrigued by the vast currents of truth that were being continuously revealed in response to my determined quest for knowledge. In Matthew 7:7-8 we read: “(7) Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you; (8) for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” Indeed...the extent to which we diligently seek after hard core truth happens to be the principle determining factor relative to the manner and measure to which God bestows understanding and enlightenment upon us.
In my own case and circumstances...I was quickly becoming so consumed by the fountainhead of truth I had tapped into that it was growing difficult, at best, to focus on anything else. Office politics and other typical workplace distractions were growing increasingly tiresome and tedious. My natural propensity was to be outspoken and opinionated...and before long I found myself in the position of providing leadership and inspiration for a growing number of fellow truth seekers who were seeking to put forth resistance to the control grid that was being constructed around their lives and circumstances.
The Law That Never Was
Shortly after my arrival in Rock Hill, I met an individual at a small church fellowship not far beyond the North Carolina state line in South Charlotte. Mark was a serious Bible student, a bachelor, and an animated investigator of subject matter that was suppressed and deemed to be “off limits.” Mark and I hit it off in a big way and I began attending weekly educational meetings with him in the Charlotte area. The subject matter being addressed at these gatherings was the U.S. Constitution and how it was being routinely violated by the very government sworn to uphold and defend the provisions and prohibitions it happened to embody.
Of particular interest to those meeting together was the matter of the federal income tax. All were agreed that this odious taxing mechanism was both unconstitutional and illegal. Some of the reasons for this conclusion were:
(1) It was the precise fulfillment of the 2nd Plank of Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto.
(2) The IRS acknowledged in their own publications and manuals that it was based on “individual self-assessment and voluntary compliance.”
(3) That the voluntary nature of the tax was necessitated by the fact that the individual “taxpayer” would be required to forfeit his Fourth Amendment right to privacy and his Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination were it compulsory;
(4) that Title 26 (the Internal Revenue Code) failed to define “income” or to set forth any statute requiring an individual wage earner to file a 1040 tax return;
(5) that, in fact, wages are not, by legal definition, “income” (which in reality amounts to business profit), but are, instead...an equal exchange of comparably valued labor for an agreed upon sum of remuneration; and
(6) the very 16th Amendment to the Constitution (upon which the IRS bases its ostensible authority to levy and collect the so-called income tax) was never lawfully ratified by even one single state among the 48 that comprised the Union in 1913. This single astonishing aspect of the income tax subject became the focal point of a massive research project that, in 1985, culminated in the publication of the book, The Law That Never Was, which was co-authored by two
devoted patriot freedom-fighters named Bill Benson and M.J. “Red” Beckman.
As 1983 unfolded I was naturally drawn to the forefront of what was evolving into a full-blown activist movement to expose the illegality of the federal income tax as well as the criminality of that most loathed and despised of governmental agencies...the dreaded Internal Revenue Service. Word was quickly spreading that Americans had been viciously deceived and plundered by their own government...men and women who had sworn a solemn oath to uphold and defend the Constitution but who, instead, were violating and assaulting the supreme law of the land at every turn!
In my own backyard of Rock Hill, I discovered a considerable number of individuals who worked for the regional electrical utility, Duke Power...and had only recently been made aware of these stunning truths regarding the income tax system by a disbarred South Carolina attorney named Robert Clarkson.
This colorful and flamboyant ex-attorney had formed an organization named the Patriot Network and was known to travel far and wide preaching the tax resistance gospel. Tax patriotism was the term coined by Mr. Clarkson and he was known to be highly persuasive in convincing average wage earners that it was their solemn patriotic duty to wage war against the tyrannical abuses of the IRS and its army of oppressive agents and gun-toting goons. After energizing the crowd with fiery and inspirational rhetoric, Mr. Clarkson would proceed to inform the audience that they could even go so far as to file a form known as a 1040 X with a Schedule C whereby they could apply for a refund of the taxes they had mistakenly paid over the past three years. His presentation typically included photo copies of refund checks that others had received after joining the Patriot Network and following his instructions. These facsimile check copies would typically reflect refund totals ranging from ten to thirty thousand dollars...an attention arresting amount to be sure! Mr. Clarkson would also depict the Patriot Network as an entity with a battery of attorneys on retainer...thus allaying concerns that potential recruits might have when contemplating membership. After a night of theatrics and rabble rousing Mr. Clarkson would typically sign up significant numbers of new members who would ante up a rather substantial fee for the vigorously touted privileges and benefits of joining the Patriot Network.
A majority of Clarkson’s new enlistees were blue collar construction workers who were skilled working men...sick and tired of seeing so much of their hard earned wages being stolen by a rogue, criminal government bent on spending the American treasury into massive deficits while simultaneously subsidizing every evil cause on the face of the planet. Mr. Clarkson would leave town and move on to his next venue...and before long it would begin to dawn on his new members that, in his zeal and exuberance...he had made the benefits of the organization out to be a bit embellished and exaggerated. While providing an undeniable foundation of truth relative to his subject matter...Mr. Clarkson was, unfortunately, guilty of rendering a false impression of the effectiveness and ease with which the average individual could make tangible application of this volatile information. Those who filed for retroactive refunds would eventually suffer the trauma and fate of being accused of submitting fraudulent claims...and Clarkson himself wound up being prosecuted and sent to federal prison for alleged crimes of assisting others in acts of criminal tax evasion.
In 1983 I began conducting meetings at which the intricacies of the income tax debacle would be explained and delineated. From the outset I experienced a large influx and presence of individuals who had jumped on the Patriot Network bandwagon only to realize that Robert Clarkson had failed to practice full disclosure in his eagerness to galvanize their participation in his organizational endeavors. My message, while laying out the absolute facts of the invalid nature of the income tax on wages, was completely grounded in the reality of how risky and dangerous it could be to take a principled stand against tyranny. I made continuous reference to the enormous sacrifice made by the founding fathers in 1776, as well as the Biblical precepts of being called and committed to paying any and every price that might be required in order to stand against the minions of evil.
The organization I formed was named CAUTION (Citizens Against Unconstitutional Trends In Our Nation) and I requested a nominal $35.00 per month donation on the part of those who formally joined the group. Along the way I became acquainted with an individual named Marc Kelly who had developed an Administrative Law Brief (ALB) that was based on Title 5 of federal law. This 42 page law brief cited Title 5 provisions that, in effect, required a timely response by the Secretary of the Treasury Department relative to the claimant’s assertion that he or she were in no way required to file returns or pay a so-called income tax. Each new CAUTION member would send, via certified mail, a filing of the Title 5 ALB to the U.S. Treasury Department. The design and purpose of this action was to show forth good faith and to establish with clarity that the individual filing the document in question was operating from a basis of complete sincerity with no hint, whatsoever, of criminal intent.
Of course...it was readily apparent that, unlike Mr. Clarkson, I was sacrificially motivated...and determined to stand shoulder to shoulder with my followers...come what may. Before long I was lecturing five nights a week at local steakhouse meeting rooms. A rapidly growing number of individuals were joining the organization and telling others about the inspiring truths they were learning. In an effort to maximize exposure of this pivotal information, I was publishing newsletters, dispensing educational literature, appearing in media interviews, and dabbling in the political arena. Organizational growth was accelerating at a rapid pace and I was bracing myself for the likelihood of some manner of reprisal on the part of the abusive and usurpatious governmental powers, even though none of the CAUTION members had received any response questioning the validity of their ALB filing.
Not surprisingly...the corrupt system did retaliate. The nature and specific manner in which that reaction was forthcoming was where I was surprised and caught off guard. And...I must acknowledge that, while maintaining their penchant for unscrupulous and diabolical action...the enemy was nevertheless cunning, if not brilliant, in their tactics.
At the time these events were transpiring I was quite the young whippersnapper...being in my mere mid-twenties. Much of what I had done was the outgrowth of instinct coupled with the crash course in hardcore truth that I had undertaken since becoming a born again, spiritually regenerate Christian believer on July 4th, 1979. In certain respects, I was naïve and idealistic to the point of overestimating the potential, on the part of my fellow citizens, for reacting properly to the earth shaking truths I was introducing to them. Yes...I was driven by an enormous faith and confidence in the power of truth, to the extent that I faltered, somewhat, in calculating the very real significance of treachery and ignorance in the determination of how men will respond to those truths that threaten to destabilize their own personal circumstances and sphere of existence.
While it seemed cut and dried to me that we should be capable of leveraging empirical evidence to the point of overthrowing monumental deception and its corresponding institutional corruption...I was gradually being introduced to the grim reality of the power that exists via the acceptance of lies in the hearts and minds of men. In short, it is exceedingly difficult to persuade people to defy the traditions and constructs to which they have grown accustomed throughout the protracted passage of time. Pious rhetoric notwithstanding, men are very reticent to act in such a manner as to adversely affect or alter their respective comfort zones. As a rule, they are very resistant to embracing any belief or opinion that seems likely to spawn opposition...or even possible persecution. Thus, when you explain to your fellow citizens that their own government is thoroughly engaged in arch-criminality that is being systematically and actively waged against the Constitution...the supreme law of the land...their tendency is to downplay, if not outright overlook, the seriousness of such a charge, regardless of the degree of evidence that has been marshalled against such wholesale corruption. Despite this growing realization, I remained hopeful that sufficient numbers of supporters and participants...actively engaged in taking a stand against the illegal, unconstitutional income tax...might bring about a point of critical mass that would, subsequently, engender an opportunity to induce reform and restoration of justice within the once great American system.
And then, suddenly and out of the blue, the enemy retaliated in an effective, albeit highly unexpected, fashion. I knew we had major problems on our hands when the CAUTION headquarters phone began ringing off the hook with calls coming in from alarmed members who all shared in common their employment with Duke Power at the Catawba nuclear power plant near York, South Carolina. I was frantically informed by the avalanche of callers that they had each been fined $500.00 by the IRS and that Duke Power had confiscated that sum from their most recent paychecks. Furthermore...the workers were also being instructed that from henceforth, per IRS instruction, maximum withholding from subsequent paychecks was being implemented by the payroll division of the company. Initially...many of the disgruntled callers expressed hope that I could produce a silver bullet-type remedy to the problem at hand. When I proved incapable of effecting a rapid, magic wand-type solution...a majority percentage of these members (and many of their wives) began to grow very hostile and threatening in their demeanor!
Never mind the fact that I had always stressed the fact that we were up against a ruthless foe...and that we might ultimately be called upon to make great sacrifices such as those exhibited by our founding fathers...men who pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor in defense of liberty! No...that was of little consequence to my rag-tag army of sunshine patriots...who on the first occasion of adversity were now collapsing in a heap.
What was most interesting to discover was the fact that out of 6,000 workers at the Catawba facility, 4,500 had filed for exempt status on their W-4 withholding forms...thereby eliminating, in totality, the taking of future income tax monies from their bi-monthly paychecks. Needless to say, Duke Power had been sorely missing the usage of those significant funds that, customarily, would have been tendered to the IRS on a quarterly basis. Of course...out of the 4,500 workers who had stopped the withholding from their pay...the majority were merely bandwagon jumpers who had decided to cash in on an opportunity of enormous appeal...namely, the keeping of their own hard earned money!
Interestingly...approximately 1,000 of the affected workers were, in fact, CAUTION members...and from among their ranks I quickly sought out 6 of the most dedicated individuals to enter into a multi-million dollar law suit against Duke Power. This litigious maneuver grabbed headlines, but I realized quite quickly that the staying power and expertise needed to effectively pursue the action was very much lacking. Eventually, we were forced to drop the lawsuit for the aforestated reasons...and over the ensuing months organizational activities sputtered and effectively ground to a halt.
About this same time, I received a phone call from an associate who worked for IBM in Raleigh, NC and who, like myself, was a declared Libertarian candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives. Marshal was highly intelligent and was probably 15 years my senior. He had impressed me as being very level headed and, without question, to be on the up and up. Therefore I had no reason to doubt his truthfulness and sincerity when he told me about an anonymous phone call he had just received wherein the caller informed him that the two of us...along with a group of truck drivers with Yellow Freight and a black musical group called The Melody Makers were on the verge of being criminally indicted on income tax-related charges. No other details were known, other than the notion that the purported action was imminent and intended to spawn fear and trepidation leading up to the forthcoming April 15th tax filing deadline. As I concluded my conversation with Marshal, I began contemplating what my most appropriate response, if any, might consist of.
Of course, it was very much possible that the entire matter was a ruse or hoax. Overall, however, it rang true to my ears and I was inclined to believe it was a viable and realistic prospect that warranted a calculated, pre-emptive response on my part. Bear in mind...that I had done nothing wrong whatsoever. Unfortunately, though, when dealing with the evil, criminal usurpers of the federal government...it matters not whether one is genuinely innocent or guilty. America’s prisons house a burgeoning quantity of political prisoners who are selectively prosecuted and railroaded through a corrupt criminal “justice” system. If you happen to find yourself in their menacing crosshairs, they are notorious and infamous for their oppressive and unscrupulous tactics.
As I gave consideration to the matter at hand, I decided to engage in the following actions. For starters, I called a press conference to be held at the CAUTION headquarters building in Rock Hill. Of notable significance were two recent developments that were tailor-made for the occasion. Only recently, the America Party (a lingering offshoot of the George Wallace movement of the early 70’s) had held its national convention in Charlotte, NC. Coverage in the local media had brought about interaction with their membership and I had already made the determination as to the wisdom of changing my political affiliation from the Libertarian Party to my newfound American Party friends. Part of the appeal for the prospect of such a change was rooted in the fact that, unlike the Libertarians, the American Party was very Christian and Bible-centered in their beliefs and platform. For this reason, the new affiliation promised to be a good fit.
The second timely factor revolved around two new affiliations I had established with an Athens, Georgia attorney named Scott McLarty and his associated black University of Georgia law professor, Larry Blount...as well as a nearby tax shelter promoter that operated under the auspices of Charlotte Financial Services. These two entities offered the prospect of fighting the income tax via the safer method of avoidance achieved through strategic investments that exploited existing loopholes in the Title 26 Internal Revenue Code.
At the ensuing press conference (which was well attended by both print and broadcast media) I announced that, based on the sobering experience engendered by the raw and brute force meted out by the IRS/Duke Power alliance...I had consulted with sympathetic legal counsel and decided to opt for the alternative tax shelter strategy. My second announcement pertained to my intention to switch party affiliation to the American Party who happened to have full ballot position in South Carolina. The press conference resulted in good exposure, the nature of which was most favorable from a public relations standpoint. If the federal government was truly planning on trumping up charges and falsely portraying me as a radical criminal, my media event went a long way toward shattering such a bogus caricature and narrative...and, instead...reinforced the true profile of a selfless devotee to urgently needed reform within a hopelessly corrupt and abusive system of confiscatory taxation.
Prior to the scheduling of the press conference, I had been informed of the alleged, specific timing of the likely forthcoming government strike. To play it safe, on the morning of that date, I left town for a brief, yet much needed vacation. I happened to be well acquainted with a common methodology employed by the feds wherein they like to lay hold of political dissidents in a manner designed to undermine their image and perceived credibility via the manipulation of optics. Thus...it was my intention to be in the proverbial driver’s seat in the event of actual charges being levied. Under such a scenario, I would proceed to turn myself in through the intervention of legal counsel, having already secured bond arrangements as well as any other matter subject to negotiation.
I proceeded to make a leisurely drive to Florence, SC where I checked into a modest motel accommodation and commenced working on paperwork and assorted writing projects. It was a very cold, clear night and as I worked into the wee hours in my warm, cozy room, I was suddenly startled by a loud pounding on my door. Fleetingly, I contemplated the possibility that the goons had surveilled my activities and had trailed me to this out-of-town location. As the pounding continued, I spoke through the closed door and called out, “Who is it?” The voice on the other side queried, “Is this your Chevette with the hatch open?” With great amusement I opened the door and beheld the motel security guard who, in making his rounds, discovered my vehicle and its open hatch. It seems that earlier in the evening I had darted out, barefoot and in shorts, to retrieve materials from the car. In my haste to return to the warm room, I inadvertently left the hatch in a gaping, open position.
In the days that followed, nothing ever came of the assertions that had derived from the phone call from Marshal. To this day I have no idea whether the whole matter was a contrivance...or if my timely, tactically savvy actions staved off intended governmental action of an abusive nature. In the wake of this situation I decided to file a Freedom of Information Request with the Justice Department to specifically inquire as to the possibility of them having me under investigation. After a few months of back and forth haggling and my threat to sue them in federal court...they finally sent me a fairly thick manila envelope full of documents confirming that I had, indeed, been the target of criminal investigation. Although various lines were blacked out and redacted...many interesting revelations were explicitly set forth. Probably the most interesting of these related to a CAUTION member who, from the very inception of the organization, had functioned as an informant and infiltrator. Steven K. Powell had always impressed me as being one of the most attentive and devoted members of the group. He was almost always to be found perched on a front row seat with his micro-cassette recorder in hand. He listened attentively and seemed to epitomize commitment to the cause. But now...as I read my newly received government documents, I was startled to learn that he was present on behalf of the federal government...recording my every word. In addition...the documents established that he was now in the process of becoming the would-be star witness for the feds in a future prosecution to be carried out against my person!
Taking it in stride I continued about my business but soon concluded that the ongoing effort was being waged against horrendous, uphill odds. The wind had been effectively taken out of our sails, and one evening my father called from south Florida asking if I would be interested in moving to Fort Myers to live in the house of my recently deceased paternal grandfather. I quickly decided to accept his overture and relished the prospect of a fresh start. The past few years had given me a world class education with some immensely valuable lessons learned.
As I turned the corner into 1984 I prepared to move to where I could capitalize on this new vista of opportunity. I proceeded with the relocation of my small family to sunny south Florida and quickly made contact with a modest, but seasoned, group of individuals who had long been fighting the battle for Constitutional restoration.
Working with a handful of my stalwart assistants in the Charlotte, NC area, I continued to maintain a modicum of activity with the remaining remnants of the CAUTION group. For a period of time, I would make trips to Charlotte and meet with Andy, Jerry, Tom and Bob at a Howard Johnson restaurant close to an I-75 exit in south Charlotte. After arriving at one of these rendezvous encounters with my patriotic associates and dispensing with the formalities of greetings...Jerry suddenly was overtaken with a somber countenance as he asked if I had heard what happened to Steve Powell. My eyebrows raised as I inquisitively responded with the words, “No...what are you referring to?” Jerry then produced a newspaper clipping providing the details of a fatal, head-on collision that had killed Steve, his wife, and their two children. I was stunned by this revelation but was immediately reminded of the scriptural warnings as to the dangers of engaging in treachery and subterfuge against those who are seeking to carry out the work of the God of scripture and his never ending crusade for truth and justice.
Needless to say...I was both shaken and humbled. Cynical observers might claim mere coincidence...but I know better. Little did I know that this was only the beginning of what would become a pattern of unusual and timely tragedies befalling those who sought my destruction.
To be continued.