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Mr. Neff flunks.

In his piece on Spartacus and withdrawal from Social Security, he has failed to understand what Spartacus undertook.

He writes:

I can't help you with the payments you make into the system. They are required by law, and I know of no legal way to avoid paying them. As far as I know, the state requires that you keep that foot in the circle.

Mr. Neff evidently has not understood this, but I'm here to tell you that Spartacus did not wait for the state to make it "legal" for him to remove himself from slavery.

Spartacus was certainly "required by law" to remain a slave; the state certainly required that he keep his "foot in the circle."

Nevertheless, Spartacus acted as any freeman would and decided he was going to take his liberty for himself. He did not wait for the state to make liberty legal, and he evidently understood that liberty was his by right.

Mr. Neff's version of the way a freeman held in bondage should act is that he should cower in the corner and say "yes, boss."

That is pathetic.

Mr. Neff, you're not Spartacus.

And there's something else: Mr. Neff lectures his readers about honor, yet I wonder how honorably he is behaving.

His text indicates — and I hope he will correct me if I am mistaken — that he is one of those who file, and pay, federal taxes. That is, he is one of those funding the beast through his express payment.

I ask Mr. Neff to please consider:

When the DEA, ATF, INS, FWS, FBI, JTF, his local police with federal training and equipment, Special Forces in unmarked uniforms and unmarked vehicles, etc., etc., ad summam nauseam, bust down people's doors and murder, burn and pillage, frequently without warrants or with a "sealed" warrant, some of his money is paying those creatures.

When the bombs drop and the rockets fly on innocent people in Germany or Vietnam or Iraq or Serbia or Colombia or Palestine, he has surely helped pay for them.

When the last and the next OBE or multi-culti indoctrination program gets funded and is imposed on the schoolchildren in Mr. Neff's neighborhood to the detriment of their intellectual and moral health, has he not paid for part of it?

When people are held incommunicado in federal prisons for months and years on end without arraignment or hearing, and "special" (that is, political) prisoners such as Leroy Schweitzer or George Hansen are brutalized in those same prisons, guess who is supporting that.

When it is notorious that federal prosecutors can get a grand jury to "indict a ham sandwich," that their prosecutions are politically driven, and that the only people who stand a chance of defending themselves in federal court are those who are inordinately wealthy, Mr. Neff should remember that he is feeding those folks lunch.

When money is allocated to a federal medical payments program that makes involuntary bureaucrats out of medical doctors, and bureaucratizes, restricts, and corrupts the medical care they can provide, and when money is allocated to a band of federal medical regulatory thugs whose stranglehold on medical research results in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people each year, whose tax payment made possible these activities?

When the federal government creates and operates, under the name "Social Security," a system of transfer payments that dissolves family ties, creates dependence by individuals on a bureaucratic regime, undermines their prosperity and desire to work, and deprives them of the right to arrange for a plan of old-age annuity that suits their needs, is not Mr. Neff one of those who is helping to perpetuate all of that?

Is Mr. Neff going to tell me that he is honorable in paying to support this scheme of things? Is he going to whine and whimper that he is required to pay?

Is it not crystal clear that when enough of us refuse to submit, specifically by refusing to pay into their filthy system, that the system will crumble?

I do not think Mr. Neff can claim to be an honorable man and pay into that system, or fail to at least make a full-blooded effort to resist paying in.

Today there are millions of people who have stopped contributing, by taxes, to the ghastly, slavering horror that calls itself the federal government. The IRS has said at various times in the last few years that 10 million to 40 million supposed American taxpayers are not filing or paying.

However many there are, each one of them is Spartacus.

My question to Mr. Neff is: Why have you not joined us?

Michael Humphrey
April 8, 2002


Ronn Neff replies

Mr. Humphrey makes four points:

(a) That I am misappropriating the phrase "I'm Spartacus."

(b) That my proposal is pathetic because I propose that one should cower in a corner and say "yes boss."

(c) That refusing to pay taxes is true rebellion.

(d) That paying taxes is not honorable.


(a) While it is true that Spartacus did not wait for the state to make him a free man legally, his revolt was not the context in which the cry, "I'm Spartacus," arose. The rebelling and battling slaves did not run around shouting, "I'm Spartacus, I'm Spartacus."

That particular cry arose in this context: They were defeated and they were given a choice — by a Roman official who (presumably) had the authority to offer it. That is, the choice they were given (to identify Spartacus) was legal, and there was a benefit attached to their taking it, viz., not being crucified.

The defeated slaves effectively rejected the offer, each of them shouting, "I'm Spartacus!"

Each of them refused to accept a dishonorable but legal offer that would materially benefit himself.

I submit that refusing to collect one's Social Security is to refuse a dishonorable but legal offer that materially benefits one's self. And therefore I am not misappropriating the phrase "I'm Spartacus." It is true that the sufferings to be endured by a person who forswears receiving Social Security payments are as nothing compared to those endured by crucified wretches. But I think the situations are roughly parallel.

(b) Cower? I propose no such thing. While I have suggested a course of action, I by no means believe or suggest that it represents either the only course a free man might take or even the best course he might take.

I name it merely as a course for addressing a specific problem, namely how one might respond to the Social Security system legally. I said that I knew of no legal way to avoid making payments. It does not follow that I do not know of any nonlegal ways to avoid making payments. But surely they are well known to everyone. No one needs me — or Mr. Humphrey, for that matter — to tell him how to do that.

It is worth noting that Mr. Humphrey at no point asserts that I am wrong in my recommendations. Essentially, he is taking me to task for not addressing a subject he thinks I should have been addressing. I'm here to tell Mr. Humphrey that free men choose their own subjects.

(c) I agree completely that refusing to pay taxes — including the payroll tax — is both just and honorable. It is also true that it is dangerous. I do not say that by way of discouragement, but merely by way of noting something that is indisputable and worth keeping in mind.

If I were to advocate a strategy of refusing to pay taxes — or, for that matter, if I were to discuss the merits of violent revolution, or even mere underground resistance — I'm pretty sure I would not do it in a discussion with a stranger or in such a public place as the World Wide Web. Maybe that suggests a certain diffidence on my part.

I recommend that anyone who wants to demand of others that they say whether they pay taxes — or anyone who wants to discuss the merits of tax rebellion or violent revolution or who wants to direct others to a discussion of such things — be prepared to supply some evidence that he is who he says he is and that he is not a police spy. The latter will probably take some doing.

(d) Paying taxes is something a free man does under duress, if he does it at all. And in so doing, yes, it may be said that he pays for the various outrages Mr. Humphrey has listed — and many others, some worse. He does not do it willingly, but — objectively speaking — he does do it. But it is done in response to threats. It is done under duress.

Am I going to "whine and whimper" that one is required to pay? No. I am going to insist that what one does under duress carries little, if any, moral demerit. What is moral or immoral is what is freely chosen. I no more despise a man who pays his taxes than I despise a man who hands over his wallet in an alley during a hold-up.

The duress a taxpayer faces includes the dread of losing his home, perhaps his career, perhaps his family. It certainly includes the dread of having to deal day after day with bureaucrats, policeman, courts, and possibly rape (if he allows himself to be sent to jail) or murder by the state (if he does not). Or possibly the dread of living underground as a fugitive.

Those things are not the worst that can befall a man, and certainly there have been — and probably are — heroes for liberty who have dared and suffered much worse.

My point in mentioning them is merely to remind my readers that we are not dealing here with a game in which you can be tagged and then you are "out." The dangers are serious ones, and I will never blame any man who chooses not to take the risk. Neither should Mr. Humphrey. It is not up to a free man to go around telling other free men what they should dare. And my sense of what makes a man a true hero is that he does not condemn his fellows who cannot follow his lead. I have known one hero. He did stand against the State when it attempted to register him for the draft, and he was made a political prisoner as a result. In the nearly 20 years I have known him I have never heard him utter one word against the young men who did not take his stand.

During the early persecutions of the Church, there were many (the "traditores") who betrayed Christ and handed over holy books, and there were those who forswore Christ. Later, when it was safe again to be a Christian, many did not want to readmit traditores to the Communion. They were overruled — by those martyrs who had not suffered death, but who had suffered maiming or blinding or mutilation and who still bore the marks of their suffering on their bodies. It was their voices that were the loudest in calling for forgiveness of the weaker brethren and their readmission to the Communion.

I think the example of the martyrs is a fine one.

But there is another point to be considered:

It may take a hero to do something dangerous of the kind that Mr. Humphrey implicitly suggests. But I was calling for my readers to do something that is not dangerous. It may impose a hardship, but it carries no risks.

What I have found so astonishing is that there are many who are unwilling to do even this safe thing; there are many who dispute with me that there is any honor in doing it and certainly many who dispute whether it is even a smart thing to do.

And that reminds me: Mr. Humphrey is pretty blustering about those who have stopped paying taxes. (Why he even imagines that the IRS would tell the truth about such a thing, when to exaggerate such numbers would get them a larger budget, I cannot fathom.) He swaggers and implies that he is among their number.

Well, I do not particularly want to know whether he is or not. But I would like to know this. Mr. Humphrey: are you prepared to forswear your Social Security benefits or not? without waiting until there are "enough of us"? I think I would like an answer to that question before we carry the discussion any further.



I enjoyed Mr. Neff's article greatly, and I'd like his thoughts on this proposal, please: Instead of not cashing the SS checks, why not cash them and give the money to one's children and grandchildren, under the table? That would get the money back to the robbed — and stick it to the IRS.

April 1, 2002


Ronn Neff replies

Thanks for the good words. The reason not to keep Social Security money and give it to your children and grandchildren is that it's not yours.

Yours no longer exists. It has been spent. It has been given to some cabinet official to spend on junkets with his staff to Ground Zero for photo ops; or to a dictator to suppress domestic insurgents; or to Israel to blow up the homes of the families of dead terrorists; or to the Department of "Education" to propagandize your children and grandchildren. Or to the well-to-do Libertarian geezer living down the street, who thinks he's being slyly revolutionary by cashing his Social Security check and giving the cash to the LP or to FEE or to FFF or to one of the Objectivist outfits, and who says to me, "So I use it to fight them. That's how I show them." Wouldn't you agree that a better fight would be for him to use his own money instead of yours?

Your money is gone. It is not in a passbook savings account with your name on it. And the proof is this. There is only one way that you will ever get a dime of "your" Social Security, and that is for the state to tax some neighbor of yours who has done you no harm and to give you some portion of the proceeds.

One of the reasons that Social Security is so wicked is that in addition to the essential robbery that is necessary to its functioning, it fosters belief in the lie that when you take Social Security money you are taking your own money. It is bad enough that it pollutes the recipient's income; it also pollutes his sense of what is his and what is not, and withal his mind.



I think that Neff is crazy.

I was screwed by the government, and this was just another way of getting what I earned along with tons of taxes, and they never get enough.

Maybe the politicians and the United States Supreme Court should be forced to live on Social Security instead of the big pensions that they get of my tax money and pay nothing into; and I bet Social Security benefactors would be able to live well on what they got or the thieves would figure out a way to pad their pockets and leave ours empty.

Neff, tell the politicians and the United States Supreme Court the same feeble story that you just tried to feed me.

Ida Hennesey
February 25, 2002


Ronn Neff replies

Miss Hennesey certainly has just grievances against the government. I have similar grievances: I paid a fair amount in taxes last year that I would like to get back. Unfortunately, it turns out that the government no longer has any of it; it gave it all away!

I was wondering where I might go to get it back, and I am indeed obliged to Miss Hennesey for coming forward. It seems they gave it to her!

I am willing to settle for the return of a small portion of the money stolen from me. If Miss Hennesey will send $500 to The Last Ditch, she and I can call it even.



I read Mr. Neff's article with great interest. What he says about social security is true, but I see his take on honor as a bit backward. The way I see it is that the honor is in the young giving up some of their hard earned dollars (and we know that it is because SS is still regressive, thereby sparing the rich) to care for the old or infirm. There is honor in a society that cares about its less fortunate citizens.

Now I have a better and more honorable suggestion: anyone who retires making more than 80K/year (where SS tax stops) refuse the benefits. I personally know people who would be out on the street without SS. I realize that it is my money going directly to them, and that I may never see it. But I feel honorable that our society has seen to it that there is a modicum of financial security for the elderly now, today.

I may not be Spartacus, but there is also honor in those who died on the battlefield before they got defeated, no?

Bill Burke
March 3, 2005

Ronn Neff replies

I agree that there is honor in a society that sees to it that there is a modicum of financial security for its elderly.

We do not live in such a society. Our society makes no such provision. A gang of organized criminals calling itself the U.S. government sees to it.

It is imperative that we not confuse society — a network of voluntary relationships and interactions — with organized crime.

I am confident that if organized crime could be overthrown in all its forms and disguises the resulting network of voluntary relationships and interactions (i.e., the resulting society) would make provision for their elderly.

But there is nothing to stop what remains of society from making provision for the elderly immediately. Let everyone refuse the loot (i.e., what Mr. Burke calls the "benefits") at once — this very day — and rely on society to assist them if they need assistance. We need not wait for the collapse of organized crime.

There is no law, no police force, and no army stopping any of us from mounting this form of peaceful revolt. I urge Mr. Burke to join it: he can himself forswear ever receiving any Social Security payments; he could help unfortunates who he knows would be out on the street see the honor of refusing the "benefits"; and he could show his neighbors and friends what honor there is in freely assisting unfortunates.

It would be honorable for all the elderly to refuse the loot — not just the rich elderly. Honor is not a luxury for the rich; the poor need honor, too.

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