Yesterday, on his wildly popular Fox News Acute Paranoia Revue, Glenn Beck laid out a plan to make millions of his viewers criminals. The fact that Beck spewed a tsunami of idiocy is not exactly a revelation. It is, in fact, what Fox pays him for. But now he may have scaled a new plateau that deliberately puts his audience at risk and further demonstrates his own hypocrisy and cowardice.
At issue is the commentary with which he opens his show, “The One Thing.” In yesterday’s installment he overtly made the case to his viewers that they should stop paying their taxes. He prefaced his remarks by referencing his guest from the day before. Craig T. Nelson (of Coach fame) confided to Beck that he is considering not paying his taxes anymore. Despite the fact that Nelson is just the sort of wealthy Hollywood elitist that Beck loves to dismiss as traitors, Beck was inspired by Nelson’s prospective felonious selfishness and believes that it touched a nerve with his audience. So Beck commences to reveal his scheme that he says is just “for argument’s sake.”
“I want to be clear on one thing, I am not advocating that people should not pay their income tax. This is a spooky, spooky area. [...] But what, if for argument’s sake, a million Americans intentionally did not pay their taxes?”
Fox News lawyers were probably responsible for the disclaimer with which Beck began this rant. As you’ll see, the remainder leaves little doubt as to where Beck’s intentions really lie. Regular viewers already know that he despises the denizens of Washington, whom he regards as irresponsible and corrupt (at least since the Republicans were voted out). His disciples are keenly aware of his position on deficits and bailouts (except for those implemented prior to Obama’s election). With that in mind, he starts to lay the groundwork for a criminal conspiracy that he hopes will take the nation by storm. And first on the agenda is a courageous stand against the Internal Revenue Service:
“Right now the IRS is already able to go through over 150 million tax returns and punish those (believe you me) harshly, who fail to pay, you know, their income tax. They fine them between 20-25 percent. They’ll collect about $30 billion in back taxes. And going forward, the Obama administration is preparing. They are devoting an additional $400 million of your money to get more money from you.”
Here we see Beck griping that the IRS is engaged in collecting tax revenue from people who failed to pay their taxes. Presumably he thinks that the IRS should just let them be. If they don’t want to pay their taxes, so what? Leave them alone. Unless, of course, you are Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, or anyone associated with President Obama. In which case you’re a sleazeball and the IRS should throw the book at you.
As for Beck’s complaint that the current administration is budgeting $400 million to recover $30 billion in unpaid tax revenue, I’m not sure what his problem is with that. Is he dissatisfied with a 7,500 percent return on investment? Not exactly. The truth is, he is setting up the argument that deliberately withholding tax payment would not present any risk because the government couldn’t prosecute or punish the offenders if there were enough of them. Beck literally advises his audience not to worry about the consequences:
“Still, most tax evaders don’t end up in jail. [...] Let’s just say a million people don’t pay – not because they’re cheap – but because they believe the principles that we were founded on have been violated. And they think this is wrong and they try to do something that they think is the only thing they can.”
Then Beck tells them to…
“Put aside the fact America’s federal, state, and local prisons are already overcrowded. They are packed 36% beyond their rated capacity. Overcrowded to the maximum. [...] All in all, it’s probably not worth the government’s time to toss you in jail.”
There you have it. Feel free to cease all payments to the government. Nothing’s going to happen to you if you do it. Well, at least you won’t go to jail. Beck doesn’t address whether or not you would have to go through the inconvenience of an audit. He doesn’t raise the possibility of your home, or other assets, being seized. It must not have occurred to him that your wages might be garnished. Even a conviction with a fine and probation, with no jail time, would still leave you with a criminal record.
But never mind any of that. Beck says that this sort of tax evasion would make you like Gandhi. Beck even quotes the famous spiritual and political leader who was fighting to secure India’s freedom from the English imperialists. Gandhi said: “Withholding payment of taxes is one of the quickest methods of overthrowing a government.” Of course, in our case we are not struggling against a foreign tyrant who is imposing their will on us. In fact, for better or worse, we voted for the people who drafted our tax laws. Beck’s battle is more like that of the Fox News Tea Partiers than Gandhi’s Swaraj. But that doesn’t stop Beck from overtly advocating mass criminality. Referring to Gandhi’s fight for independence, Beck says…
“And it makes common sense. Starving them out of trillions of your hard-earned dollars would literally put them out of business. But do Americans want to do that? Do Americans who want to do that have the guts to follow Gandhi’s example, in order to save children, our grandchildren, our great, great, great, great, great-grandchildren from all of this insane debt?”
It seems that after a challenge like that, Beck’s earlier disclaimer is irrelevant. He is virtually daring you to walk up the steps of the IRS and announce your defiance of their authority. Do you have the guts to do it? Do you love your great-grandchildren?
Here’s “The One Thing” (if I may borrow that from Beck): I don’t see Beck doing any of that. I don’t see him withholding his taxes, or even threatening to do so. I don’t see him making any sort of sacrifice on behalf of his great-grandchildren. Gandhi suffered every bit as much as the people he aspired to lead. The only thing I see Beck doing is giving dangerous advice that will bring great distress to anyone stupid enough to take it (and we are talking about Glenn Beck viewers here, so…).
Glenn Beck is proving himself to be a supreme coward and a hypocrite. He won’t for a minute consider assuming the hardships that he so cavalierly counsels for others. This is a man who begins every show with the exhortation of a cult leader to “Come on, follow me.” But he is leading from the rear where it’s safer. He is happy to let his devotees be slaughtered while he takes the limo back to his security-gated estate. Then he’ll go on TV the following day and weep for their loss. He will make martyrs of his legion of tax resisters and profit from their pain.
If you believe this country is great, but people like Beck make a mockery of leadership and integrity, come on, follow me.