We had a great action on ! The
War Resisters League march from McPherson Square to the
got off to a late start. But the Rude Mechanical Orchestra was worth the
wait. The Bread and Puppet banners were held high above the street and (when
they were not getting tangled in Washington’s trees) were beautiful.
handed out probably one thousand
along the route.
The media was out in force, literally waiting for activists to get to the
A forest of TV antennas.
The police were waiting at the main entrance. They had done our work for us,
blocking the entrance there. But they had left the side entrance completely
open. So people blocked both sides. For about an hour, the group (maybe 100
people) chanted and sang along with Rude Mechanical as the
headquarters was surrounded by “war crime scene tape.”
We made war tax resistance part of the fifth “anniversary” story. We were
serious and committed and our message was easy to understand.
David Beito, who has written the book
on property tax resistance in the
U.S. during the
Great Depression, profiles one of the movers-and-shakers of that movement — John Morgan Pratt — on
History News Network.
John Morgan Pratt led probably the largest tax strike in the United States
since the Era of the American Revolution.
In , Pratt quit his newspaper job to take
the helm as executive director of the Association of Real Estate Taxpayers
(ARET), an organization of real-estate
taxpayers in Chicago and Cook County.… ,
ARET organized a major tax strike.…
ARET functioned primarily as a cooperative legal service.
Each member paid annual dues of $15 to fund lawsuits challenging the
constitutionality of real-estate assessments. The radical side of the
movement became apparent by when
called for taxpayers to withhold real-estate taxes (or “strike”) pending a
final ruling by the Illinois Supreme Court, and later the
Court. Mayor Anton Cermak and other politicians desperately tried to break
the strike by threatening criminal prosecution of Pratt and other
leaders and revocation of city services.
influence peaked in , with a
membership approaching 30,000 (largely skilled workers and small-business
owners.) By this time, it had a budget of over $600,000 and a radio show in
Chicago. But it suffered a demoralizing blow in
Court refused to hear a case it had brought. Buffeted by political coercion
and legal defeats, and torn by internal factionalism, the strike collapsed
Jim Henley, at Unqualified Offerings, posts one of
funniest responses to the flood of five-years-later war hawk journalist
semi-apologies we’ve been seeing lately. It starts off:
So many publications have expressed such overwhelming interest in the
perspectives of those of us who opposed the Iraq War when it had a chance of
doing good that I have had to permit multiple publication of this article in
most of the nation’s elite media venues — collecting, I am almost embarrassed
to admit, a separate fee from each. Everyone recognizes that the opinions of
those of us who were right about Iraq then are crucial to formulating sane,
just policy now. It’s a lot of pressure, so please forgive anything glib or
short you read herein: between articles, interviews, think-tank panels and
presentations before government agencies and policy organs I’m not permitted
to mention, I’m a little frazzled.
And it keeps getting better from there.
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