U.S. War Tax Resisters Get Unusual July Media Attention

I did two more radio interviews : WOR in New York and KIRO in Seattle (I haven’t found podcasts for either yet).

Bill Ramsey was on KHOW’s “Caplis & Silverman” show , fielding reactions to the Associated Press war tax resistance article. Here’s the audio from that show.

And other tax resisters across the country have been fielding requests from various branches of the news media — mostly print and radio. It’s “Tax Day in July” for the war tax resistance movement, which usually doesn’t get this kind of attention outside of mid-April.

The CommonDreams News Center reprinted the article on their site, and this has attracted many comments from their left-leaning readership debating the tactic of tax resistance. For instance, “cvan” writes:

For tax non-payment as a form of protest to work, it must be done en masse. I would commit to such action if it could be organized and thousands or millions of us rose up in protest together.

This is encouraging, since NWTRCC is hoping to get some momentum behind just such an organized campaign.

A baby-photo-filled message board at families.com is talking tax resistance over, too. Someone there even got curious enough to Google their way to my FAQ and defend me against the charge of accepting government handouts to subsidize my protest.

We’ve even gone into español:

Con mi dinero no se paga la Guerra de Irak

Parece que no sólo volvemos a con la conmemoración en San Francisco. Ahora parece que se vuelve a extender un movimiento de protesta contra la guerra que siguieron entre otros la cantante Joan Baez en tiempos de la Guerra de Vietnam: dejar de pagar impuestos. La “War Tax Resistance” fue mucho antes popularizada por Henry David Thoreau ilustre anarquista estadounidense decimonónico que se negó a pagar impuestos por su oposición a la Guerra de México y a la esclavitud. Según la coordinadora del Comité que coordina el movimiento, entre 8.000 y 10.000 americanos ya habrían dejado de pagar al menos parcialmente los impuestos estatales. Otros activistas pacifistas están preparando una campaña masiva para para acabar con la guerra e incluso en algunos casos, la gente está renunciando a parte de sus salarios hasta dejarlos por debajo del mínimo exigido para pagar impuestos.

Meanwhile, James Taranto, who commands, I hear, at least one of the nine circles of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page hell, weighs in with a Randy reference. And Michael Patton follows that cue at the Issues & Opinions blog — sure that I’ve miscalculated by breaking out of deep cover to reveal my tax resistance secret in the press: “this particular non-Rhodes Scholar allowed the AP to write a story about him evading taxes. Nothing like calling out the IRS by name to get them to leave you alone.”

A frequent challenge to conscientious tax resisters whose resistance leads to fines and penalties is “won’t the government just end up with more in the end?”

Here’s how Gandhi answered this objection :

All the readers of Young India may not know that Ahmedabad came under a heavy fine for the misdeeds of the . The fine was collected from the residents of Ahmedabad but some were exempted at the discretion of the collector. Among those who were called upon to pay the fines were income-tax payers. They had to pay a third of the tax by them. Mr. V.J. Patel, noted barrister, and Dr. Kanuga, a leading medical practitioner, were among those who were unable to pay. They had admittedly helped the authorities to quell disturbance. No doubt they were satyagrahis but they had endeavoured to still the mob fury even at some risk to their own persons. But the authorities would not exempt them. It was a difficult thing for them to use discretion in individual cases. It was equally difficult for these two gentlemen to pay any fine when they were not to blame at all. They did not wish to embarrass the authorities and yet they were anxious to preserve their self-respect. They carried on no agitation but simply notified their inability to pay the fines in the circumstances set forth above. Therefore an attachment was issued. Dr. Kanuga is a very busy practitioner and his box is always full. The watchful attaching official attached his cash box and extracted enough money to discharge the writ of execution. A lawyer’s business cannot be conducted on these lines. Mr. Patel sported no cash box. A sofa of his sitting-room was therefore attached and advertised for sale and duly sold. Both these satyagrahis thus completely saved their consciences.

Wiseacres may laugh at the folly allowing writs of attachment and paying for the collection of fines. Multiply such instances and imagine the consequence to the authorities of executing thousands of writs. Writs are possible when they are confined to a few recalcitrants. They are troublesome when they have to be executed against many high-souled persons who have done no wrong and who refuse payment to vindicate a principle. They may not attract much notice when isolated individuals resort to this method of protest. But clean examples have a curious method of multiplying themselves. They bear publicity and the sufferers instead of incurring odium receive congratulations. Men like Thoreau brought about the abolition of slavery by their personal examples. Says Thoreau, “I know this well that if one thousand, if one hundred, if ten men whom I could name, — if ten honest men only — aye, if one honest man, in this State of Massachusetts ceasing to hold slaves were actually to withdraw from this co-partnership and be locked up in the country gaol therefor, it would be the abolition of slavery in America. For it matters not how small the beginning may seem to be, what is once well done is done for ever.” Again he says, “I have contemplated the imprisonment of the offender rather than seizure of his goods — though both will serve the same purpose, because they who assert the purest right and consequently are most dangerous to a corrupt State, commonly have not spent much time in accumulating property.” We, therefore, congratulate Mr. Patel and Dr. Kanuga on the excellent example set by them in an excellent spirit and in an excellent cause.