My father Irwin A. Schiff was born Feb. 23rd 1928, the 8th child and only son of Jewish immigrants, who had crossed the Atlantic twenty years earlier in search of freedom. As a result of their hope and courage my father was fortunate to have been born into the freest nation in the history of the world. But when he passed away on Oct. 16th, 2015 at the age of 87, a political prisoner of that same nation, legally blind and shackled to a hospital bed in a guarded room in intensive care, the free nation he was born into had itself died years earlier. – Peter Schiff via LewRockwell.com
Dominant Social Theme: The US is a fair, equitable and just country.
Free-Market Analysis: Irwin Schiff made his reputation trying to debunk and remove the US income tax system. He considered it illegal and immoral and went to jail three times for his beliefs.
We knew him several decades ago. He promised us several "scoops" when he came to New York and then called us one evening from Las Vegas where his apartment was being raided. It might have been the IRS and he exclaimed that they were carrying guns even though this was apparently illegal.
He wasn't really fearful or upset, though he was certainly indignant. But that is the impression that sticks with us – of a happy warrior who was determined to confront a system he considered immoral.
Even when Schiff went to jail for a final time we got the feeling that he relished the battle leading up to his incarceration and was hoping against hope that he would be able to present his evidence in open court. He didn't really get that chance, of course.
When we heard of his death we were sad. When we read his son Peter's article, we moved on from sadness to anger and disgust.
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.
… At the time of his diagnosis in early August of this year, he was given four to six months to live. We tried to get him out of prison on compassionate release so that he could live out the final months of his life with his family, spending some precious moments with the grandchildren he had barely known. But he did not live long enough for the bureaucratic process to be completed.
When his condition deteriorated to the point where he needed to be hospitalized, government employees blindly following orders kept him shackled to his bed. This despite the fact that escape was impossible for an 87 year old terminally ill, legally blind patient who could barely breathe, let alone walk.
Whether or not you agree with my father's views on the Federal Income Tax, or the manner by which it is collected, it's hard to condone the way he was treated by our government.
The US has surely lost its way. The institutionalized violence of US society is a poison that seems to seep into every corner of the culture. An out of control penal system, an increasingly militarized civilian police force and an increasingly corrupt monetary, political and fiscal environment are creating an untenable environment for many.
US warfare never seems to end. Soldiers are still in Iraq and now Barack Obama has decided to leave 5,000 more troops in Afghanistan rather than pull out entirely. The Federal Reserve is more incompetent than ever and the US dollar is an increasingly shaky reserve currency. If the greenback doesn't collapse on its own eventually, the crushing national debt will ensure the final debasement.
One can engage Leviathan, as Schiff courageously wished to do. One can also try to protect oneself and one's family as best one can in order to live an honorable and productive life within – or outside of – current social and economic constraints. The liquidity of holding physical metals, the lifestyle flexibility of a non-domestic home and a second passport; access to farmland along with healthy food and potable water as one can arrange it – all these are key.
None of this need be exceptionally expensive. But the result may be to gain or retain some of the independence that Schiff was fighting for.