Indian Revolutionaries Move from Salt Raids to Tax Resistance

Excerpts from the Pittsburgh Sentinel


Far More Serious Menace Now — Tax Resistance

BOMBAY, (AP) — In Peshawar, beset by a three-fold threat of civil resistance, wild tribesmen and communism, Britain made the outstanding move in the strategy that is advancing her arm across the map of India.

…Peshawar City itself today was quiet, as was most of the rest of India, in nearly every center of which Mahatma Gandhi’s “day of silence” was as usual made the order of .

Salt raiding came to a virtual end with ’s enmasse attack upon the Wadala depots, in which police and military charged 15,000 volunteers and 150 or more persons were injured. There were no reports of the use of firearms. The officers belabored the raiders with their bamboo staves. Troops stood by but did not charge the raiders. This kept the casualties to a minimum.

Some of the congress members were turned back, others broke thru the embattled salt zone and made off with handfuls of the contraband product.

the coming of the rainy season ended salt raids.

The raiding was succeeded by a far more serious menace, tax resistance. To meet its eventualities, the government put forth a new regulation providing grave penalties not only for refusal to pay taxes, but for inciting to tax disobedience.

Government agents began at once to attempt tax collecting, but in most cases found the natives had departed from their lands. The situation was viewed with great anxiety, as continued maintenance of the tax strike would seriously hamper government revenues at the end of .

Over at the The Volokh Conspiracy, guest-blogger Kirk Stark has been writing up some posts based on the book War and Taxes that he co-wrote along with Steven Bank and Joseph Thorndike.

This is only tangentially related to tax resistance, but gives some insight into the politics behind the puzzle of why the Iraq War was accompanied by tax cuts, whereas other American wars have been accompanied by tax increases. Some commentators have called this unprecedented and outrageous.

  1. War and Taxes
    “The basic objective of our book is to evaluate the historical claims implicit in these comments. Is it in fact true that ‘President Bush is bucking history’ and that ‘we have always accepted heavier burdens as the price those at home pay to support those under fire on the front?’ Unafraid to make bold, daring historical claims, our answer is… yes and no.”
  2. The Evolution of GOP Attitudes toward Wartime Taxes
    “For more than a century — from the founding of the Republican Party through the war in Vietnam — Republican leaders consistently supported high wartime taxes. Indeed, support for higher wartime taxes was a defining feature of being a military hawk among the GOP faithful.”
  3. Taxes and Defense Spending as a Percentage of GDP
    “…in my view there is a strong parallel between Lyndon Johnson and George Bush with respect to the war financing question.… Johnson refused to pursue a tax increase to help pay for the war in Vietnam in and , despite the urging of his economic advisors, because he feared doing so would endanger political support for his cherished Great Society programs. Similarly, President Bush has no interest in paying for the war in Iraq out of new taxes because doing so would necessarily involve repudiating his own chief domestic priority — the and tax cuts. Thus, in both cases, we see an administration seeking to preserve its own domestic policy agenda at the expense of future taxpayers.”
  4. Is Rangel’s Call for a Draft Tax-Driven?
    “House Ways and Means Chairmen Charlie Rangel has been one of the few politicians to dare call for reinstituting the draft during the current Iraq conflict. A veteran of the Korean War, Rangel has long advocated the draft as a way to supplement the troops in Iraq and elsewhere and to spread the sacrifice more equally. He also has said that it would have kept us out of the war in the first place. Nevertheless, a draft — and in particular a controversial draft — arguably would also serve another purpose: It would help advance Rangel’s tax policies.”
  5. Are the Renewed Inflation Fears a Harbinger of War Taxes?
    “…can [we] expect politicians to justify the adoption of war taxes as a response to inflation if the rise in energy and food prices spreads more generally? Highly doubtful. One big change in the past quarter century since Vietnam has been the increased importance of the Federal Reserve Board…. to a large extent, it has been successful in keeping inflation relatively low even in the face of rising deficits. Tax is now considered too crude an instrument for the job. Nevertheless, it would not be surprising to see at least some anti-inflation rhetoric used in support of tax increases if the Fed falters and to see renewed support for more narrowly-tailored measures such as tax indexing as a general response.”

The Volokh Conspiracy is a conservative group blog with a focus on legal issues. It’s one of the last conservative blogs I can still stand to read. Even so, it has its awful moments. I find it less-exasperating if I filter out David Bernstein (whose commentary on the Middle East is a predictable and uninformative litany of why Israel is good and those who disagree are evil), Jim Lindgren (who seems determined to post the daily Republican talking point about Obama from now until they run out of spin), and their annoying “Sunday Song Lyric” (why do people do this?).

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