Dave Ridley of The Ridley Report interviewed some demonstrators on various sides of the health care industry legislation debate in New Hampshire.
A pair of foes of the impending legislation had a remarkably sophisticated understanding of the history and use of tax resistance that I’m not used to seeing in protesters on the right-wing:
Here’s a partial transcript from where things get interesting (around 6:12):
Dave Ridley: Have you heard about this: I guess the IRS is going to be enforcing some of this possibly, and they’re going to be making you pay into [government-mandated health insurance].
Protester #1: Absolutely.
Dave Ridley: Will you do civil disobedience? Are you up for it? Are you willing to not…
Protester #1: Well, how do you do civil disobedience when they take it out of your check, when they take it out of a fine? It’s confiscatory — we practiced that word earlier today — confiscatory taxes. You don’t have a choice if you pay your taxes or not. It’s taken out of your check, it’s a parking meter, it’s a fee, fine, or a tax on everything that happens behind the scenes. The telephone tax was instituted during the war to pay for the war, and here we are 50 years later, we’re still paying for it — it’s one of the highest taxes we have on a percentage basis. So [gesturing at fellow-protesters] I think this is civil disobedience. I don’t know how you do civil disobedience out of confiscatorial taxes, when you don’t have them in your own possession to give. If we did, then it’s a decision you can make.
Protester #2: Up your deductions [W4 allowances]. Change your deductions.
Protester #1: Then they’ll get the money later.
Protester #2: Well, don’t pay it! That’s civil disobedience.
Protester #1: All right, there you go, she’s got an answer.
Protester #2: That’s civil disobedience. Gandhi said that’s the fastest way to end a government, is to withhold the payment of taxes to it.
Protester #1: She’s absolutely right. I’ve been reading stuff about the leading up to the [American] revolutionary war. That’s exactly what they did against Britain. They said, we’re not buying any goods against Britain, and anybody who buys them is going to be ostracized from the community. And that’s what they did in local towns like Concord, Mass. And anybody who didn’t sign the pledge, people didn’t do business with them. So they cut off Britain, they took off the life blood which was economic products and things like that, so… that’s… we have to think about that.
It’s fascinating to me to see this sort of lore starting to percolate through the American right-wing, and I’m curious to see whether or not it will emerge in actual tax resistance or whether it will remain mostly hypothetical.