Ken Coffman's Personal Anarchy


by Ken Coffman and Adina Pelle

A new collection of short stories by Ken Coffman and Adina Pelle.

Beardsley Ruml, Public Enemy #1?

Beardsley Ruml at Work

We all know the names of notorious gangsters like Al Capone and Lucky Luciano (and famous movie characters like Don Vito Corleone, Tony Soprano and Tony Montana), but who remembers Beardsley Ruml, one of the most evil and destructive ‘gangsters’ in American history? Don’t know him? Well, let’s correct that situation.

First of all, let’s take a sideways arabesque and look at payroll deductions for a minute by comparing two paychecks. We’ll dream up entrepreneurs named Polly and Kathy—both want to create a company that makes gadgets. They spend every available hour developing their ideas and pour in every penny they can lay their hands on. Surely we agree that entrepreneurs and innovation are engines that drive our economy, don’t we? Both ladies are going to file a federal income tax return and follow the law rigorously. The difference? Polly works as a regular employee for a big company while Kathy works as a contractor and gets paid without any deductions. They make the same wage and have the same living expenses.

How much money does Polly have to invest in her business?

Polly makes $100,000 and takes home something like 2/3s or $67,000 after Federal Taxes and Social Security are deducted. Displaying remarkable fiscal discipline, she lives off $30,000 which pays her rent, utilities, state and local taxes and a morning cup of Starbucks coffee. She is left with $37,000 to invest in her business.

Kathy makes $100,000. As a contractor, she gets the whole amount paid via invoice. Like Polly, she lives off $30,000 and must pay federal taxes on this amount by April 15 the following year. She needs to pay 10.4% of this for Social Security and 2.9% for the Medicare tax. With a low income of $30,000, she does not pay federal income tax. This is $10,400 and $2,900 respectively for a total of $13,300. She has $56,700 to invest in her business which represents fully deductable business expenses with no tax impact. Plus, she gets the use of her money all through the year and until her tax bill is due on April 15.

Kathy has a $19,000 advantage over Polly. That’s an incredible 55%.

It might surprise you to know that paying taxes via payroll deduction and the related damage to our economic engine is a relatively new phenomenon which can be placed at Beardsley Ruml’s feet.


In the summer of 1942 Ruml proposed that the U.S. Treasury start collecting income taxes through a withholding, pay-as-you-go, system. He proposed an abatement on the previous year’s taxes, making up the revenue by immediately collecting on the current year’s taxes. In 1943 Congress adopted the withholding system[1].


Reportedly, Beardsley Ruml was a jovial and bright man[2]. I’m sure he was a great guy to share a joke and drink with. He certainly was not stupid.


…if federal taxes are too heavy or are of the wrong kind, effective purchasing power in the hands of the public will be insufficient to take from the producers of goods and services all the things these producers would like to make. This will mean widespread unemployment[3].


Like all meddlers, he thought he was an agent of goodwill—a wise shepherd guiding the human flock with benevolent wisdom, but you might ask yourself if anyone asked you if this is the way you want to run your finances. Contract jobs are difficult to find and you need a certain amount of courage to forego the benefits and “security” of full-time employment. Both Polly and Kathy’s tax returns are completely legal and kosher, but the government decided on your behalf that you should have much less of your own money with which to create the future.


I don’t recall them asking for my permission to do this, do you?


Ken Coffman


Ken Coffman is an electrical engineer, writer and publisher. His latest novel is called Fairhaven.

[3] Taxes for Revenue are Obsolete, Beardsley Ruml, American Affairs, January 1946.


by Ken Coffman

Retired cop Jake Mosby wants a quiet, simple life selling old books in an inherited bookstore, but serial killer Charlie Fairhaven is running around Skagit County. There’s a grandson no one wants, an old flame rekindled and endless complications.

Ken Coffman is the master of unique characterizations and Fairhaven delivers a rich reading experience.

Toxic Shock Syndrome

by Ken Coffman

Glen goes on tour with the shock-metal band Toxic Shock Syndrome. Sex, drugs and rock-n-roll? Of course. But, band leader and guitarist Razorblade Smith seems to be up to something else too…and it’s not what you expect.

Volume 5 of the Continuing Adventures of Glen Wilson.

Twisted Shadow - A Cynical Novel of Politics

By Ken Coffman, with Mark Bothum

Glen, with the help of his motley team of misfits, runs for Congress in the wild state of Alaska. Can he win? Can he survive winning? Glen’s methods are unconventional, but that goes without saying, doesn’t it?

Volume 3 of the Continuing Adventures of Glen Wilson.

Steel Waters

by Ken Coffman

Here’s where it all begins…Glen Wilson goes to Bolivia and is drafted into the drug trade. Get your copy and get on board with the excitement…you don’t want to be the only person in America who has not experienced the wild ride.

Note: We put a low price on the first book to get you hooked! These books are addicting!

Endangered Species, The Great North American Sasquatch Novel

by Ken Coffman

In a fast-paced and multi-faceted adventure, three groups head to British Columbia to uncover the secrets of the mysterious Sasquatch.

Real World FPGA Design with Verilog

By Ken Coffman

It took too many years, but in the new paperback printing of this best-selling book, all known errors are corrected. That makes this informal reference book an invaluable and necessary addition to your technical library.

Glen Wilson’s Bad Medicine

By Ken Coffman

Glen has hit bottom and he needs a job. He tries selling time shares, but that doesn’t work very well. Then he gets the call. Would he take a million dollars to clean up the streets of Seattle. Let’s think about that for a moment. Sure, why not?

Volume 4 of the Continuing Adventures of Glen Wilson.