April 12, 2008, 10:30am – noon
WSTC/WNLK 1350/1400 AM
Lisa Wexler: Zak Maymin is a Russian immigrant to this country who believes in freedom. He is a committed libertarian. In fact, he is the dad of Phil Maymin, who has been on as guest many times, who ran as the Libertarian Candidate for Congress in 2006.
Lisa: Against Congress Shays and Diane Farrell.
Nick: Run twice, wasn’t it?
Lisa: Did he win…did he run twice? No -
Nick: He’s been on the show twice.
Lisa: Oh yeah, he’s been on the show, absolutely, a lot of times. He’s one of my favorite guests. And Zak is also the dad of Senia Maymin, who’s been on this show, who’s a prominent local psychol…well she’s taking psychology, and she is interested in the study of positive psychology, and she’s great. So you had two great kids, Zak.
Zak Maymin: Yes.
Lisa: You have four great kids, but I haven’t met two of the four.
Lisa: …I know the two of the four. Zak has just published his first novel, “Publicani.” It’s a thriller. It asks questions about how far the government can go to invade individual privacy in pursuit of its own interests. Zak Maymin, welcome to “Live! With Lisa,” today.
Zak: Thank you.
Lisa: Sure. So let me just ask you to tell us the shorter version, if you can, because I know every story has its twists and turns. But when did you come here and why?
Zak: Well, I came here in 1980, at the point when I realized that there wouldn’t be many opportunities for my children left in Russia and the Soviet Union. And frankly, I believed that the Soviet Union was a dead body at that point and time, where it was. And I was very much surprised about how things happened. And you know, now it’s alive, and well, and kicking.
Lisa: And how did you get here in 1980, under what basis?
Zak: It was a part of the Jewish immigration.
Lisa: Oh, okay.
Zak: For Russia.
Lisa: So the Jewish community -
Zak: They -
Lisa: Sort of helped the immigration.
Zak: Yeah, the Soviet Union didn’t like…didn’t want Jews in Russia at that time too much, because of the relationship with Israel and many Jews worked in some companies related to defense industries. And when they immigrated, it created some headaches for the Russian government, so they didn’t mind when Jews were leaving.
Lisa: So, okay. So they were happy to say goodbye for a short period of time.
Lisa: All right, and so you and your family came. Where did you settle, by the way?
Zak: When we came here?
Zak: In Lynn.
Lisa: In where?
Zak: In Massachusetts.
Lisa: In Lynn, Massachusetts. You know where that is? That is very close to where my husband’s family settled from Romania, like 50, 60 years ago -
Lisa: From Massachusetts. Isn’t that interesting?
Zak: Everybody comes to Lynn.
Lisa: And they came to Lynn, and they…they had a factory eventually in Leominster. Isn’t that sort of not too far from that area, that whole area in there?
Zak: I don’t…I don’t really know.
Lisa: Yeah, yeah, that’s very interesting. And Lowell…Lowell, Massachusetts.
Zak: Lowell, Massachusetts, it’s near Andover, Massachusetts.
Zak: That’s where we lived also when our kids went to Andover.
Lisa: Yeah, that’s part of where they settled also.
Zak: Yeah, when Phil and Senia went to Phillips Academy, we moved to Andover, so they would be day students there.
Lisa: Yeah, we should talk about that off the air, actually.
Lisa: Because my husband to Andover, and my daughter’s…well all right, we’ll talk about that off the air.
Lisa: Okay. So now, you’ve written this book, “Publicani.”
Lisa: And I want you to tell me what the book is about.
Zak: It’s a thriller. It’s an action thriller about a family fighting against the government. There is a certain procedure that the government invented in the near future, and this procedure affects this family, and they’re against the wall, and they’re fighting back.
Lisa: Okay and this procedure that you talk about is something…well, tell us what the procedure is. Do you not want to tell it; you want people to read the book so that they know what it is?
Zak: Well…I can tell it. It’s in a way, the government comes to a person, and takes part of his intellect, and wants to share it with other people.
Lisa: That’s right.
Zak: Because, for the good of the society and for the good of this person. And actually, this book, is anti-income tax.
Lisa: I -
Zak: I wrote it with the goal of fighting against income tax.
Lisa: So …Zak, I don’t get that. I don’t get…I read the book. I like the book. The book is a great thriller on its own. It’s a real thriller, but I don’t see anything about income tax in the book.
Zak: I’m so happy. It means I did such a good job. I never mentioned income tax in the book. I wanted it to be entertaining. I didn’t want it to be a moral lesson, a lecture, “income tax is so bad,” which is I think is the root of all evil in the United States.
Lisa: You think income tax is the root of all evil?
Zak: The root of all evil, yes.
Lisa: The root of “all” evil, Zak?
Zak: All evil.
Lisa: Has <laughter> -
Zak: If you give me time, I’ll prove it to you like a mathematical theorem.
Nick: So you like Weicker [sarcastic]. Isn’t Weicker the one that introduced income tax in Connecticut?
Lisa: Yeah, you wouldn’t like Weicker.
Nick: No, I was just joking, sarcastic <laughter>.
Lisa: Exactly. You’re being sarcastic, right. Oh, I agree, yeah.
Nick: That’s right <laughter>.
Lisa: Did you move to Connecticut before we had the income tax in Connecticut?
Zak: We were already here…
Lisa: We did. We moved the year before it came in.
Lisa: <Laughter> We always have great timing.
Zak: I don’t mind that much State Income Tax, by the way. I mean, I…I’m sure it will disappear once Federal Income Tax is gone, but Federal Income Tax, that’s the evil.
Lisa: Why do you say that?
Zak: That State Income Tax is okay and why I -
Lisa: No, why do you say that Federal Income Tax is the root of all evil?
Zak: It’s the clearest example of violence against a group of people that I can think of -
Zak: In the modern times, yes.
Lisa: Why do you say it’s violent to raise money? Tell me.
Zak: What do you mean “raise money”? You don’t raise money. You don’t ask people for money. You come to people with a gun, and tell them, “I want so much of your money, and this you can keep for awhile.”
Lisa: Well, yeah.
Zak: It’s -
Lisa: The gun –
Zak: Right, yeah but it -
Lisa: The gun meaning the implicit threat that if you’re not a law abiding citizen, you go to jail. I understand that.
Zak: Not implicit. And it’s…it’s stealing. You don’t look it as stealing.
Lisa: No, I don’t look at it as stealing.
Zak: Well let’s see, what does stealing mean? It means to take something forcefully from a person that belongs to him. Would you agree with this?
Zak: Okay. Do…how is income tax different from this?
Lisa: I’ll tell how I disagree with you.
Lisa: I think that the reason – one of the main reasons – that people in this country are so prosperous and earn what they earn is based on our system of government. And if our government needs some money to run to keep that system in place, that there’s an element of fairness to pay that back for the common good.
Zak: Okay. Is…do you believe in the concept that there is something that is yours? That is yours to the degree that you can kill it, burn it?
Lisa: Yes, I think your book hits at that.
Lisa: Yes, I think my intellect is mine.
Zak: Okay. Your body, is it yours?
Zak: Okay. The money in your pocket, is it yours or not?
Lisa: Not…I don’t feel the same attachment to it that I do to my body and my intellect.
Zak: But how come? You use your body to make this money. You give away…suppose you -
Lisa: Money is a commodity.
Zak: Suppose -
Lisa: Money is not my soul.
Zak: Suppose you sold part of your kidney to get the money.
Lisa: Yeah, well if I did -
Zak: The money is yours?
Lisa: Yes, ah…yes, the money is mine.
Zak: Okay, suppose you use your intellect to make money. The money is yours?
Lisa: Yes, it’s mine, but the money – the money is – the money is mine, but money…you know money, Zak, is meant to be shared with the universe. I mean is not…money is a commodity. Money is not meant to horded.
Zak: I can say that your body is meant to be shared with the universe.
Lisa: No, you can’t.
Zak: Why not?
Lisa: Because -
Zak: What’s the difference?
Lisa: You…I…because I think there is a diff…I think money is separate than the essence of me.
Zak: What if you sell part of your body to make the money?
Lisa: But I don’t.
Nick: Or you go to a blood bank and you donate your blood.
Zak: But you do.
Lisa: I would donate.
Nick: Okay, yeah.
Zak: But you do. Lisa, you do. You…you know, you come here…I…you…I supp…I suppose that you’re making some money from it or -
Lisa: Don’t suppose it, but we’ll go into that on another…another -
Zak: Okay <laughter>.
Nick: When you’ve assumed <laughter>.
Zak: <Laughter> Ok…bad example. Let’s assume that -
Lisa: Exactly, bad example.
Zak: For the purpose of this discussion <laughter> -
Lisa: <Laughter> You can assume I want to.
Zak: Okay, let’s assume -
Lisa: Assume I want to, that’s for sure <laughter>.
Zak: No, for – I need … to make my conclusion, I need to assume <laughter> that you’re making money.
Nick: I make…I make money here.
Lisa: <Laughter> All right.
Nick: Very little, but yes.
Zak: You’re making…you’re making money. You’re using part of your body, your intellect, your nervous system to make this money. It’s not that you use… something else. It’s not that you’re making some miracles of getting this money out of thin air. You work. You could have…you know, you could have watched TV, basketball, or, you know, just taken a nap, or something. You work, not necessarily – even if you want to, for the purpose of the discussion, suppose you hate it.
Zak: But you have to make money. Many people have to make money.
Lisa: Of course, most people.
Zak: And the only thing you can make your money is by using your body. There is nothing else that you have.
Zak: Maybe if you have capital in some situations, but this capital also was created by somebody using his body, and the body is his. How come the result of this is it doesn’t belong to you? How come $5 bucks that you have in your pocket, somebody can come and say, “You know, it’s fair – it belongs to the society. We’ll give you a quarter.”
Lisa: All right, wait, Zak, we’re going to have to go to a commercial, but I want to come back with this afterwards and ask you what you think about things like sales tax. In another words, do you think that that’s reasonable when you buy as a consumer that you should have to pay a tax on that because…or do you not believe in any tax whatsoever? I want to ask you that question after we go commercial. This is Lisa Wexler. You’re listening to 1400 WSTC/1350 WNLK.
Lisa: We’re back. It’s Lisa Wexler and I’m speaking with Zak Maymin, author of “Publicani,” which is a great thriller, and I encourage you to read it. Actually, you can get it on Lisa’s Amazon Bookstore on livewithlisaradio.com. It’s right there on the front page. It’s a great book, but we’re talking about the philosophy behind the book. Zak Maymin is a committed freedom fighter, a freedom lover.
Lisa: But you are a law-abiding citizen, even though you don’t -
Zak: Yes <laughter>.
Lisa: So…so, you pay your income tax?
Zak: Yes, and I don’t even take practically no deduction. I am very conservative.
Zak: I’m afraid of government, very much.
Lisa: I can understand that with you -
Lisa: So growing up in the Soviet Union, that would make sense.
Zak: Coming…you know observing things that are happening in United States…
Lisa: Without question.
Zak: …right now, that also makes sense.
Zak: And coming from Soviet Union, I feel like I came from your future.
Lisa: Yeah, well that’s really a frightening thing to hear.
Zak: Okay, you understand? You do…you obviously understood why I said that, right?
Lisa: Yeah, I do.
Zak: Because -
Lisa: We’ve been doing a lot of shows on that in fact.
Zak: Because we have…we had free health care, we had free education, we had happy and smiling people, we had total political participation of all people in the election process. Something you probably want -
Lisa: But it was -
Zak: As American you can -
Lisa: But it was mandatory and they didn’t really have choices.
Zak: Well, but how can you get health care, which is not mandatory? …The government doesn’t have any money. Government has to take this money from somewhere, from somebody.
Lisa: So do you think that…so let’s…let me ask you the question I asked before the break. Do you think any kind of taxation is appropriate, for example, sales tax on goods?
Zak: Yeah, there is such notion – are you familiar with direct taxation and indirect taxation?
Lisa: Go ahead, explain.
Zak: Direct…direct taxation – it means the government comes to you, personally, and tells you to pay, to give money. Indirect taxation – it’s a process, a procedure that government establishes, that if you do something, you pay taxes. Like sales tax or like lottery tax.
Lisa: Well what about business taxes? You’re in business. You’re doing something.
Zak: Yeah, I’m doing something, but business tax is okay. It’s not…it’s not important. I mean if…if you get rid of Federal -
Lisa: Do you know how…do you know that I have to pay $450 in Connecticut and $300 every other year in New York just to sustain my law license? Do you know how offensive I find that? I worked very hard for that license. Why should I have to pay a licensing fee?
Zak: Yeah, I -
Lisa: It’s very onerous to me.
Zak: I even…I even go a step further; I don’t think people…only licensed people should be able to conduct a law, to be attorneys and stuff like that. Anybody should be able to do this. People should…you know, bar exams should be abandoned. All of this is created so that people – other people -it will be harder entry to this profession for other people.
Lisa: Well, that’s true.
Zak: So it’s protection. It’s like union protection.
Lisa: Well, so Zak, um, looking at this world right now, and telling us that the Soviet Union’s our future, which from someone like you, is very frightening – and cannot be dismissed – to hear. Is there a country in the world right now that if you had to chose to immigrate to, you would go?
Zak: Ah <sigh>, no, United States is still the best country.
Lisa: Yeah, what about like a country like Iceland?
Zak: What about…Iceland is…?
Lisa: It’s a free country, transparent, not socialist. It’s smaller.
Zak: It’s not socialist? I think they have some…they have private health -
Lisa: They probably have free health care.
Zak: Yeah, well -
Lisa: But -
Zak: How could they – it may look peaceful for a while, like Russia was peaceful, like Germany was peaceful. You know because middle class, when you rob somebody else and create an…an illusion that everything is okay, then it could last a long time.
Lisa: So do you think -
Zak: But sooner or later, you know, it’s…it’s burning inside.
Lisa: So…so, you think this country is evolving in the wrong direction?
Zak: Yes, and it’s very dangerous right now – especially now. You know, I read a book about a bird – a big bird, Lawrence probably wrote it – it had a huge beak, and when [Lawrence] put his eye near it, the bird would move [his beak] away, so as not to hurt him. So, even nature created some mechanism for big animals so that they wouldn’t hurt others.
But we – you know we’re becoming stronger and stronger everyday. Look at the weapons of mass destruction. I can imagine that in 30 years, 10 years, maybe we’ll have small briefcase H-bomb, that every…that will be freely available to everybody. We are becoming stronger and more dangerous, but our software, our mind, is still the same that we can do something to violate another person because we feel it’s better for the society.
Lisa: The time is 11:00. We’re going to go to the news with Kathryn Grant. Zak Maymin you have intrigued me with lots of different political philosophies. Your book, “Publicani,” is an indirect reference to those. It’s a good thriller. It stands on its own. I wish you great success with the sale and thanks so much for producing all these wonderful kids out in the world.
Zak: Thank you.
Lisa: And we’ll…you’ll be back on the show to talk more about what you believe and why you believe it. This is Lisa Wexler.