I don’t like to admit I have role models, but, well, in Bill’s case, maybe just a little.
That’s “Wild” Bill Kaysing.
He lives in a camper, writes really odd things, and no one knows where he is, what he’s writing or when he’ll show up next. That’s probably where the “Wild” came from.
So Jimmy calls and wants Larry and me to go with him to a meeting with Hank Greenspun, legendary maverick ground-floor Israeli freedom-fighter and owner and publisher of The Las Vegas Sun, the smaller of the two major Las Vegas newspapers at the time.
This is seriously unusual. Larry and I’ve been doing a lot of the Nevada L.P. media work and Mr. Greenspun is unavailable except to V.I.Ps, crack feature writers, and star reporters, which we aren’t.
“How did you manage that?” I ask Jimmy. That’s James Libertarian Burns, by the way. He added the middle name because that was the only way he could get “Libertarian” on the ballot.
“I didn’t. He called me.”
Jimmy had met both Kaysing and Greenspun before. This was my first exposure.
Both men struck me as sincere. Greenspun had a certain smoldering but controlled fire going on somewhere. Part of it at least was an old grudge against the I.R.S. from when they’d interfered with his freedom-fighting.
As far as the I.R.S. goes, join the crowd.
Wild Bill came complete with scruffy western boots — riding heels — and a bolo string-tie with turquoise. He was extremely informal, relaxed, and personable. And dangerous. He didn’t like the I.R.S. either — and knew what to do about it.
The short version is that, as a flesh-and-blood American individual, you are NOT required to pay corporate income tax, which is what the I.R.S. collects from you. Or, I should say, which you volunteer to pay.
Even today you can stop if you have the right algorithim and can put up with the intimidation and have your ducks in order. They almost never take anyone to court anymore — unless you’re a high-profile celebrity — because they lose most jury trials now.
Greenspun had commissioned Bill to write a series of columns under the heading “How To Stop Paying Income Tax.” They were scheduled to run leading up to April 15.
Greenspun wanted to know if the Nevada Libertarian Party agreed and if Mr. Kaysing had it right. And if we would support the project.
We all agreed the concept was sound and the LP would support and promote the series, shook hands, and from then on, were eagerly awaiting Bill’s first column.
Bill’s set-up column was published on time, which committed The Sun to follow through. But instead of Wild Bill’s second column, Greenspun published a teaser saying the follow-up columns would be written by Greenspun’s son.
To his credit, we got a call. Greenspun wanted to meet with us again.
Wild Bill wasn’t there. Greenspun was clearly ticked-off and sincerely apologetic at the same time.
“Look,” he told us, “I don’t like the I.R.S. I hate the I.R.S. but I just can’t publish Kaysing’s stuff. It’s accurate, but I can’t publish it.”
He couldn’t miss our looks of disgust and disappointment.
“I don’t blame you, but my choice was either pull the columns or lose The Sun.”
A short period of baffled silence.
“I know you don’t understand, but The Sun survives on advertising, not on subscriptions. My main advertisers are the corporations, mostly the casinos. Every one of them except Sarno’s Circus Circus sent written notification that if I ran those columns, they’d pull all their advertising. Also a few of my other corporate accounts.”
“The Sun or Kaysing’s columns. That’s the choice, and don’t think I didn’t consider it. But in the long run, I’ll do more good staying in business. I’m really sorry.”
“Why would the casinos do that?”
Greenspun thought a minute, shrugged. “Well, I don’t think it has anything to do with patriotism. It’s probably just a knee-jerk to keep the status-quo.”
He didn’t really owe us an apology or an explanation. Seriously disappointed but with new respect for Greenspun, we left.
The Sun ran his son’s non-radical columns in Kaysing’s stead. They amounted to watered down advice on how to increase your deductions and structure your transactions etc. Things to which Mr. Greenspun’s corporate clients couldn’t object because they did them too.
We later discovered the real reason the casinos threatened Greenspun: This was the period when the dealers, cocktail waitresses, valet parkers, etc., largely due to Irwin Schiff and our local Libertarian Party efforts, were becoming aware they weren’t corporations and couldn’t be taxed as such. They were refusing to declare or pay taxes on their tips, which was by far the main source of their money.
This was also the period when the first iteration of Nevada’s version of California’s Prop 13 property tax limitation initiative was on the ballot.
One of the Casino Association lawyers thought the tax rebellion might spread and the casino corporations would end up being taxed for the difference. That may have been right.
The bottom line is that any online or off-line publication that depends on advertising for a noticeable part of it’s income must take its advertisers into account — and so they’re always in the background — which is one reason stylebooks or their equivalent exist.
And that’s one very obvious in-your-face example of how corporations control Main Stream Media, even hostile Main Stream Media in this case.
Thing is, newspapers and electronic media can’t consult their advertisers all the time on what’s acceptable so they’re constantly guessing. When in doubt, they err on the side of caution, which means on the side of what the editor(s) think corporate culture may or may not like. Their writers learn to do that too, partly through the stylebook and/or rejection slips.
That process is always in the background and amounts to 24/7 self-censorship in favor of the rich and powerful. It’s why Main Stream Media Almost Always Sucks — and how the Las Vegas Casinos eclipsed The Sun.
HERE for updates, additions, comments, and corrections.
AND, “Like,” “Tweet,” and otherwise, pass this along!