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community building | economic justice

Conscience in Action

April 15th is a day of national referendum on the US policies - there is yet another way to withdraw your consent by directing tax funds to groups that benefit the common good.
April 15th in the United States is the day when we must ask ourselves: will I participate in my nation's violence against others - or not? In effect, April 15th is a day of true national referendum on America - yet few seem to realize this.

From any perspective - moral, environmental, economic (et al) - state-sanctioned violence is simply wrong. It is against all forms of the Golden Rule, utterly squanders and lays waste to our earth, and decimates real wealth everywhere.

The poverty we inflict on ourselves is in direct proportion to the violence we commit on others.

Sure, Congress controls this purse. Some believe that the Fed simply prints whatever money the purse lacks. Regardless, your vote on April 15th is the permission Congress needs to continue "business as usual."

The question is: Why do I hand my taxes over to the IRS? The most usual answers I get - from well-meaning, even liberal, people - refer to fear: "I'll go to jail." Or to supporting the troops: "they need equipment."

I am powerless to control the bolt of lightning that has my name on it, but I refuse to concede power to the IRS. Put another way, the present government simply does not have my consent to use me or my efforts to kill people and destroy the planet in pursuit of empire.

As a conscientious objector I refuse to cede one cent to a murderous Congress that continues to fund these violent invasions and military products.

I'm not saying we shouldn't pay taxes. I AM saying that our taxes must be used to improve life, not destroy it. I do choose to pay directly for our collective good because that is what my heart tells me is right and necessary.

Have my actions yet quelled war? I doubt I've withheld payment for more than a few bullets, much less a guidance system or one minute of a Boeing CEO's pay. Why continue to so little real effect? And why be open about dis-obeying the law?

I often ask myself both of those questions. I can only say that I must, that this daily, quiet, nonviolent civil disobedience is necessary to inform and validate anything else I do. It is not a perfect choice - but it's the only one I can live with. I do believe that refusal and redirection is a very necessary step in setting this nation on a better path than the one that began with Columbus.

I'm neither a "tea party activist" nor a pacifist. Publicity will never seek me, or my fellow redirectors, on anything like a regular basis. Marginalization, after all, is what keeps the marginalized ineffective.

Before there was a Tea Party with it violent imprecations against civil society, there have been persons of conscience who refused participate in war, both with their bodies and their material resources, usually quietly and without fanfare or mainstream publicity, and pretty much absent from history books. (I suggest "We Won't Pay" and other books edited by David Gross for a historical overview of tax resistance.)

Tonight (6PM, April 15th) at the First Unitarian Church at 1211 Main there will be a public event featuring General Strike!, the Portland premiere of a short film, pooled tax dollars given directly to Food not Bombs and to the IVAW's Coffee Strong (a GI coffeehouse outside of Fort Lewis), and featuring a presentation by S. Brian Willson.

homepage: homepage: http://www.nwtrcc.org

right livelihood 15.Apr.2010 15:15

Pam Allee

Actually, Right Livelihood - also known as "living below the taxable level" is but one of the methods covered in our free (!) workshops given every third Monday of each month (except December) at In Other Word Books.

The first suggestion for tax resistance is to take every available legal option, and proceed from there.

War tax resistance (or refusal or redirection) in fact is a form of nonviolent civil disobedience - or obedience to conscience. No one can tell you what you "should" do in this regard. To begin with, conscientious objection requires as thorough a knowledge of the consequences of one's actions as possible - before one undertakes the action. In the case of the IRS, penalties seem to follow the amount resisted in direct proportion (with the exception of their "frivolous" category, but that's another story).

Come to the First Unitarian Church tonight (1211 Main) between 6 and 7 PM - or come to our next (free) basic workshop this Monday, April 19th, at In Other Words books.