By Jessica Szabo

Joe Jacob has a lot to say. Over the past several years, his forum has been the Utica Phoenix and other area publications, where he has been a longtime contributing writer. 

Jacob began his path to writing many years ago, in his original hometown of Beiruit, Lebanon. While he did not work as a writer, writing about taxes is one of his favorite activities, and Jacob began his professional life as a Cost Accountant in Beirut in 1961. He worked for a company called McDermott International, Inc. 

“My boss at McDermott offered me a job in New Orleans,” Jacob said. “But the girl I was going with at the time didn’t want to move south. When we came to New York in 1968, she wanted to stay in New York, so I stayed here for her.” 

Jacob may not have moved to New Orleans, but his move to the United States would turn out to be a permanent one, as he not only stayed in Utica, but adopted it as his hometown. In 1976, he would become a United States citizen. By July 2, 1976, Jacob had been presented with a key to the City by then Mayor Hanna and proclaimed that day Joseph J. Jacob Day in the City of Utica. 

From September 1968 to October 1970, Jacob worked as a self-employed Consultant-Accountant. He then went on to work as Financial Analyst for General Electric in Utica from January 1969 to March 1971. Jacob went on to work as a Cost Accountant, and then a Senior Accountant in the city Comptroller’s Office from January 1972 until April of 1977, when he became Capital Projects Coordinator, a position he would hold until July, 1978. 

By the early 1980s, Jacob would go on to work as a Financial Analyst, and by the end of 1981, he would become the Assistant Budget Director in the Budget Office. He worked for the City until the end of 1981, when he would go on to work as Corporate Controller for Hamilton Digital Controls until 1990, and then return to consulting work in accounting until retiring in 1995. 

His professional accomplishments brought many accolades over the years, including being a former president of the National Association of Accountants in the Mohawk Valley, former president of the Upstate NY Regional Counsel of NAA, and former national director of the NAA. And as presidnet of the NAA of the Mohawk Valley, 40 years ago, he had the first Black woman, Betty Jones, on his board of directors as an accountant. 

In a column dated April 13, 2016 in the Observer-Dispatch, Jacob detailed a position that this extensive background in finance has led him to develop, that of replacing the income tax with the value added tax. In the column, Jacob notes that he has been advocating the value-added tax for thirty-seven years. He explains that the VAT is “an indirect tax imposed on consumption, paid by the consumer.” In the column, Jacob details the many benefits of the VAT. 

“I have been writing about the Value Added Tax since 1979,” he noted during a recent interview for The Utica Phoenix. “This is how they do it in so many other countries. In Europe, and in Japan, everybody pays the tax. There is no loophole.” 

In addition to finance, and calling for the United States to bring the European and Japanese practice of the Value Added Tax to our country, Jacob has spent a great deal of time thinking and writing about language. While working in the field of accounting, Jacob also spent the Spring term of 1973 tutoring in the Arabic language at Syracuse University.

In a column dated January 3, 2016, Jacob advocates for the adoption of English as the official language of the United States. He asks, “Why, in Utica, New York, are over forty-two languages spoken in our public high school?”

“People come to America to assimilate into the American society to become part of a new culture,” he further states in the piece. “The naturalization oath completely renounces all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign state and to support and defend the constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Instead,they come to America and demand that we adjust to their languages, cultures, values, and heritage. If they want to keep their heritage, they have to go back to their own countries.” 

Jacob’s interest in language even paired with his background working for the government, as he wrote extensively on the need to change the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. 

“You shouldn’t be allowed to insult people,” he explained to The Phoenix. “You shouldn’t be allowed to call people names or to insult the president. In other countries, you can go to jail for that.” 

In a column published in the Rome Observer on June 14, 2007, Jacob describes further speech that he believes should be outlawed in the United States. 

“We need an amendment to permit restrictions in the interest of morals and the protection of the reputation and rights of others,” he writes. Racial slurs, vulgar swear words, and insults against the Prophet Mohammed are just a few of the things Jacob feels should be against the law in America. 

“We need good shepherds to monitor the media and airwaves to stop the poisonous lava dumping into our society,” Jacob writes.

Other issues that Jacob has written about over the years include abolishing the Electoral College, imposing a time limit on Supreme Court Justices, and making over the United Nations. 

“We need to abolish the Security Council,” he explained. 

Jacob’s writings reveal charisma, boldess, vision, and strength in his message; and his drive is to defend the oppressed. 

Jacob has taken some time off recently, but he hopes to write for local papers, particularly The Utica Phoenix again soon. 

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