, Congress approved some
pension legislation that will indefinitely extend the
Retirement Savings Tax Credit (which, as
originally enacted, was scheduled to expire this year). This is great news for
folks trying to stay under-the-line — I rely on this credit to keep my income
tax at zero while still bringing home a comfortable paycheck.
which Dubya is expected to sign soon, also indexes for inflation (starting in
) the amounts of adjusted gross income at
which the credit is reduced or eliminated — more good news, as otherwise
inflation would erode the value of the credit over time.
This week is the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Japan. Groups across the
country are stepping up their anti-war and anti-militarist actions
as part of a
campaign that includes another of
Casey” encampments in Crawford, which will then follow Dubya back to
Washington to become “Camp
Democracy”, and which will then culminate in the
Declaration of Peace campaign
and civil disobedience actions toward .
I went to a “spokescouncil”
where representatives of San Francisco groups were planning
an action focused on the war contractor
Bechtel, which is headquartered in the city.
The meeting, of about 25 people from about as many local activist groups, was
uncharacteristically efficient and on-topic. There was an agenda, which was
followed, and the meeting finished early, with everyone knowing what the next
step was and who would be responsible. Nobody sabotaged things by rambling
about the imminent arrival of the benevolent Andromedians, or by complaining
about their favorite minority being underrepresented and demanding
mea culpas all around.
Keiji Tsuchiya spoke for several minutes, through an interpreter. Mr. Tsuchiya
was a 17-year-old draftee training at a base across the bay from Hiroshima
. He saw the “boiling
cloud” rise from the city and was among the first responders who went over to
try to help.
As he spoke, he held up child-like drawings that he had made a few years ago
from his memories of the aftermath of the bombing. Here are people with skin
hanging from them like sheets walking like ghosts through the city as we clear
paths through the debris. Here is the corpse of a horse that smelled so bad we
stopped everything else to dig a hole and bury it, towels around our mouths to
block the stench. Here is a woman, so badly burned we did not know how she
could scream, trapped under the wreckage of a house.
Everywhere people yelling, “Soldier, give me water!” Two charred corpses along
the road, probably elementary school students from what was left of their
clothes. Everywhere, messages written on stones and walls and fragments of
buildings from people who were trying to find their loved ones. The soldiers,
who had been given horse meat earlier in the day to supplement their usual
rice and soybean meals, pulling corpses from the river (men floating
face-down, women face-up) and cremating them on makeshift pyres on-shore.
Here’s the river, and those are the corpses, and here are our fires. “One,
two, lift!” we would dump the body from a stretcher onto the fire.
On the last day before returning to base, Tsuchiya found a completely-charred
body but with a relatively-untouched lunchbox at its feet full of the same
food the soldiers usually ate — soybeans and rice (though lately it had been
hard tack and water). He cried out in anguish, desperation and anger at a God
that would allow such cruelty. Later he learned more about the horrible
injuries people had suffered and about the after-effects of the radiation. He
himself has had many health problems connected with the radioactive black rain
that fell on the city while he worked there.
Now Keiji Tsuchiya is the Vice-President of a chapter of
an organization of atomic bombing survivors that works for global nuclear
disarmament. He will be speaking at the Bechtel action as well.
After he spoke, the group began to discuss the possibility of a civil
disobedience action at the Bechtel protest. Questions like “do we want to do
an action where people risk arrest?” and “who here is planning to risk
arrest?” The discussion went on in this vein for a while, with getting
arrested seeming to be an end in itself, with no discussion at all of
what specific action would be leading to the arrest or what noble goal the
people being arrested were going to be thereby thwarted from accomplishing.
I’ve seen this before, this weird reverence for getting arrested doing civil
disobedience as if it were itself a magically powerful thing. I’m not sure I
fully understand the psychology behind it. I asked the group at that point — the only occasion on which I spoke up, actually — “what is the goal of the
civil disobedience action — to get arrested, or to inconvenience Bechtel, or
to get press coverage, or what?” The consensus seemed to be that
inconveniencing Bechtel — or “shutting down” Bechtel if you allow for
hyperbole — was the goal.
And then it got interesting. Two women at the meeting spoke up, saying that
they had tried, on their own, to deliver a message to Bechtel’s
one day. Bechtel’s security, realizing that some sort of protest action was in
the offing, started their standard procedure for such things — which was
to shut down the building and let nobody in or out (even employees).
Two people, not intending to be arrested, managed to shut down the Bechtel
home office for 45 minutes one day just by showing up and asking to speak with
the boss. A civil disobedience action, with a dozen protesters sitting down
and locking arms at a police cordon around Bechtel until they are arrested and
hauled away, might be just as effective at meeting the same goal.
Nonetheless, people remained enthused about doing the standard civil
disobedience action (about two-thirds of those in attendance planned to
participate), and the rest of the meeting was spent seeking volunteers for
various roles that are useful in such an action — police liaison, convener,
communicator, legal/jail monitor, follow-up coordinator.
Another month, another notice from the
Nothing new, really; just a few more dollars in interest & penalties and a
little more bold-face type in the preamble:
Original notice, :
According to our records, you have an amount due on your income tax. Please
compare your tax return against the figures below. If you’ve already paid your
tax in full or arranged for an installment agreement, please disregard this
Second notice, :
According to our records, you haven’t paid all you owe for tax period
. To avoid additional
penalty and interest, please pay the full amount you owe
. We can file a Notice of Federal Tax Lien if your balance owed
is not paid . If you already paid your balance in full or arranged for
an installment agreement, please disregard this notice.
Latest notice, :
We previously wrote to you about your unpaid account, but you haven’t
contacted us about it. Penalties and interest on the unpaid balance are
continuing to increase. Please pay the amount you owe
. If you can’t pay now, call us at the number shown below. You
may be qualified for an installment agreement or payroll deduction agreement.
We want to help you resolve this bill. However, if we don’t hear from you, we
will have no choice but to proceed with steps required to collect the amount
you owe. If you already paid your balance in full or arranged for an
installment agreement, please disregard this notice.
An odd choice of sentences to emphasize, methinks, but I don’t run that
asylum. I wonder how many increasingly-wordy and threatening messages some
author has composed and whether I can collect the whole set.
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