VITA: Retake Money from the Government to Give to the Poor

I’ve volunteered in the VITA program on a couple of Saturday mornings this tax season. , I have helped nine families take $15,253 back from the U.S. Treasury. It’s a feather in my cap, Robin Hood style.

If you’d like to get involved, it’s not too late. You can take an on-line training course from the IRS at http://www.irs.gov/app/vita/index.jsp. The real trick may be trying to find a VITA site in your area — I don’t know of any central list of nationwide sites. You’ll just have to Google around, or call your local United Way chapter or maybe your local IRS office.

My next VITA day is . So I’ll miss the annual Bay Area Anarchist Bookfair and the protest-themed parade that is being held to mark the one-year anniversary of the protest-themed parade which was thrown on the one-year anniversary of the protest-themed parade that also failed to stop the Iraq War.

I recently went to a planning meeting of a local coalition that was hoping to bring the floundering local anti-war movement together to do something. The “steering committee” itself was over a hundred members large, and still its members (scarred by previous encounters with the hammer-and-sickle crowd) nervously begged for the maximum of democratic inclusiveness.

All of these people, representing almost as many groups — labor unions, leftish and greenish third-parties, liberal peace advocates, would-be Mumia freers, and so forth — testing the limits of compromise and patience to try to come to agreement on the wording of a “Statement of Purpose” and to organize a “Mass Antiwar Conference/Rally” featuring:

  • Opening keynote speeches
  • A large assortment of workshops designed to include the broad range of groups and constituencies working against the war
  • A plenary opportunity to hear reports from the constituent workshops
  • A plenary session(s) where major decisions about the future of the coalition-in-formation and proposals for future activities would be democratically presented, debated and decided. These would include a proposed mass mobilization against the war.
  • A mass concluding rally with major speakers and popular antiwar political entertainment and music

Maybe I’m too impatient. Maybe this is the sort of slow, deliberate, democratic decisionmaking that effective mass movements require. To me it seems more like a bunch of well-meaning people putting in a bunch of time and effort to finally decide to all meet up and talk at each other some more in the shadow of “major speakers” and such at yet another failure rally.

The Dubya Squad went from recovering from the shock of to capitalizing on it by bringing the government and the media and the people on-board with their Iraq War agenda in . , the anti-war movement is still holding massive meetings to draft statements of purpose and plan more meetings to consider proposals for some sort of “mass mobilization against the war”.

All individual dignity and power
Engulfed in Courts, Committees, Institutions,
Associations and Societies,
A vain, speach-mouthing, speech-reporting Guild,
One Benefit-Club for mutual flattery…

I’m for unengulfing that “individual dignity and power” myself. More of these righteous rallies will not stop the war, no matter what sort of “popular antiwar political entertainment and music” is on the playbill.

The other day I imagined how much worse things would be here (and quite possibly in Iraq as well) if Kerry had won the election. Half of the people now despairing over the war in Iraq and the U.S. torture policy would instead be making excuses to ignore it, while Kerry, true to his campaign promises, would keep blundering right along, nervously looking for opportunities to demonstrate the testicular fortitude-by-proxy of Democrats in power ties.

Even now, a sad percentage of the alleged opposition are wasting their energies on trying to depose Dubya via impeachment, as though it were in the least likely, as though it would be in the least useful.

For never can true courage dwell with them,
Who, playing tricks with conscience, dare not look
At their own vices. We have been too long
Dupes of a deep delusion! Some, belike,
Groaning with restless enmity, expect
All change from change of constituted power;
As if a Government had been a robe,
On which our vice and wretchedness were tagged
Like fancy-points and fringes, with the robe
Pulled off at pleasure. Fondly these attach
A radical causation to a few
Poor drudges of chastising Providence,
Who borrow all their hues and qualities
From our own folly and rank wickedness,
Which gave them birth and nursed them.


Thanks to wood s lot for pointing me in the direction of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Fears in Solitude.


Ted Roberts writes at the Ludwig von Mises Institute about the phone tax — “The War Tax That Never Went Away”:

We Americans are far too generous with Uncle Sam. Why do we yield to his pleas for funds so readily? He’s the spendthrift uncle who’s flat broke, but still likes to dress well and drive a Mercedes to his bankruptcy hearing. So, he drops by at suppertime, has a free meal, and hits you up for a hundred or so.

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