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America: From Freedom to Fascism (Unrated)

Release Date: July 28th, 2006 (Village East Cinemas) by Cinema Libre Studios.
Directed by Aaron Russo.

BASIC PREMISE: A documentary about the corruption of the IRS regarding income tax.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Aaron Russo tries his best to prove that the IRS has no Constitutional right to require American citizens to pay income taxes. According to the 16th Amendment, “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.” However, does this amendment in any way require citizens— by law— to pay income taxes? Russo realizes that after examination of this Amendment, the government can only tax corporations rather than individuals. What follows is a very engaging documentary full of interviews, historical quotes and footage which makes the U.S. government look like a bunch of corrupt, greedy dodos. All Russo simply wants from the IRS is for them to show him evidence of the specific law requiring citizens to pay income tax. However, the answers he gets are not quite simple. After initially being ignored by his inquiries and treated like a terrorist by Homeland Security, he finally gets an interview with an IRS representative. Not surprisingly, this representative gets defensive at Russo’s important questions and seems intimidated—perhaps because Russo’s approach is a bit angry and intimidating just like Michael Moore’s approach. Eventually, the approach gets a bit annoying and too exaggerated. It shouldn’t be surprising that money is the root of all evil, yet this point gets redundant after it’s repeated over and over in different ways. The last 30 minutes go off on a tangent with discussions of the National ID card, the corruption of electronic voting, and one incident where police officers use strong force (a tazer gun) which physically harms its victim. What does all of this have to do with income tax? This is when the film becomes very unfocused. Russo wants the audience to believe that the American government is fascist because most of the power comes from the police and judges rather than from its people. This is a whole other thesis that belongs in another documentary. He ultimately fails to make that direct connection with too many generalizations, too many quotes, and over-the-top conclusion with solutions that make this film less powerful than it could have been.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: For the most part, this documentary does include some critical thinking about something that people often take for granted. Is something right because the government says so or does the government say so because it’s right? In other words, is there some greater truth or guide—i.e. the Constitution—that the government specifically derives its mandates from? There should be one in order for the income tax to be justified as a law. Basically, everyone has the right to question authority, but to a certain degree without intimidating. Nobody who is to blame would want to hear an inconvenient truth no matter how truthful it is because it makes them look bad. This film won’t cause any change, but it certainly might change the way you think without taking anything for granted.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Too one-sided with excessive quotes and an over-the-top conclusion.


IN A NUTSHELL: Thoroughly compelling. A wake-up call to every American taxpayer. However, it’s ultimately too one-sided with an over-the-top conclusion.


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