Irwin Schiff was the ultimate political prisoner for his work in educating the American people on their legal rights regarding the unlawful taxation practices of the United States government. And after spending 10 years in prison simply because he refused to stop talking about the Constitution and people’s rights, on Oct. 19 the father of well known financier Peter Schiff died while being shackled to a prison hospital bed.
Schiff had done nothing to harm the American people, nor did he commit any crime that was detrimental to the nation, but instead was imprisoned because he became a threat to the fascist state the U.S. had become, and threatened the illegal financial schemes of a government that relied upon the fleecing of its citizens to protect its own power.
My father had a life-long love affair with our nation’s founding principals and proudly served his country during the Korean War, for a while even having the less then honorable distinction of being the lowest ranking American soldier in Europe. While in college he became exposed to the principles of Austrian economics through the writings of Henry Hazlitt and Frederick Hayek. He first became active in politics during Barry Goldwater’s failed 1964 presidential bid. His activism intensified during the Vietnam Era when he led local grass root efforts to resist Yale University’s plans to conduct aid shipments to North Vietnam at a time when that nation was actively fighting U.S. forces in the south. Later in life he staged an unsuccessful write in campaign for governor of Connecticut, then eventually lost the Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination to Harry Brown in 1996.
In 1976 his beliefs in free market economics, limited government, and strict interpretation of the Constitution led him to write his first book The Biggest Con: How the Government is Fleecing You, a blistering indictment of the post New Deal expansion of government in the United States. The book achieved accolades in the mainstream conservative world, receiving a stellar review in the Wall Street Journal, among other mainstream publications.
But my father was most known for his staunch opposition to the Federal Income Tax, for which the Federal Government labeled him a “tax protester.” But he had no objection to lawful, reasonable taxation. He was not an anarchist and believed that the state had an important, but limited role to play in market based economy. He opposed the Federal Government’s illegal and unconstitutional enforcement and collection of the income tax. His first book on this topic (he authored six books in total) How Anyone Can Stop Paying Income Taxes, published in 1982 became a New York Times best seller. His last, The Federal Mafia; How the Government Illegally Imposes and Unlawfully collects Income Taxes, the first of three editions published in 1992, became the only non-fiction, and second and last book to be banned in America. The only other book being Fanny Hill; Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, banned for obscenity in 1821 and 1963.
His crusade to force the government to obey the law earned him three prison sentences, the final one being a fourteen-year sentence that he began serving ten years ago, at the age of 77. That sentence turned into a life sentence, as my father failed to survive until his planned 2017 release date. However in actuality the life sentence amounted to a death sentence. My father died from skin cancer that went undiagnosed and untreated while he was in federal custody. The skin cancer then led to a virulent outbreak of lung cancer that took his life just more than two months after his initial diagnosis. – Peter Schiff
The story of Irwin Schiff is now seen daily in many forms in how the government treats Constitutional loving Americans, with notables like Edward Snowden being excoriated for simply daring to educate and make aware the illegal actions of their government. And for anyone who today tries to take on ‘City Hall’, there are few sanctuary’s available, and even fewer men and women who are willing to stand with them against the State.
Few people in America have ever heard of Irwin Schiff, and even fewer have the courage to do what he did and be willing to pay the price his legacy will remember him for. But if there is any memory of Schiff’s life that is of vital relevance, it is that doing the right thing today will require one to become a martyr, and even then the American people seem no longer to be worthy of that type of sacrifice.
Kenneth Schortgen Jr is a writer for Secretsofthefed.com, Examiner.com, Roguemoney.net, and To the Death Media, and hosts the popular web blog, The Daily Economist. Ken can also be heard Wednesday afternoons giving an weekly economic report on the Angel Clark radio show.