Some bits and pieces from here and there.
- A recent outrage-of-the-week was the Obama administration’s attempt to require employers to provide coverage of contraception-related treatment in employer-provided health insurance plans.
Some employers, you see, think contraception is immoral, and don’t think the government ought to be able to force them to violate their consciences by providing a benefit to an employee that an employee might use to do something they think is wrong.
To which many folks said: “Seriously? Of all the things the government forces us to bloody our hands with, you’re getting bent about this?” For example:
- “Catholic Bishops’ Contraception Coverage Argument Ridiculed By Pacifist Activists” by Zach Carter, HuffPost, quotes war tax resisters Ruth Benn, Karl Meyer, and Bradford Lyttle
- “Pacifists’ ‘Conscience Objections’ to War Taxes Never Get Same Notoriety as Opposition to Funding Birth Control” by David Dayen, FireDogLake, who includes this depressing remark about the collapse of war tax resistance in the Society of Friends: “I went to a Quaker secondary school for a year, and I’m quite sure that many of the believers in the weekly meeting for worship sessions had strong religious objections to their money being used to kill other people, even in self-defense. And yet I don’t remember a single controversy in my lifetime about ‘conscience protections’ for taxpayer funds and their use in war. I don’t even remember any accounting accommodations made for that.”
- “A modest proposal regarding religious liberty” by Mark Gordon, Vox Nova: “The principle being upheld is that as a matter of religious liberty no one ought to be forced to pay for something that violates their conscience. If that is true of government-mandated private insurance policies, and I believe it is, then it is equally true of government-mandated taxes.”
- “Obama’s Big Government Mandates: Why no one should be forced to act against his conscience” by Sheldon Richman, reason.com, who says “Americans have been forced, without their consultation — much less permission — to finance mass murder. It’s called war, invasion, occupation, and special operations. U.S. military missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and elsewhere have directly or indirectly killed over a million people who never threatened Americans at home. Those missions have ruined the lives of hundreds of thousands more through injury and the destruction of their homes and societies. The president of the United States refuses to take war with Iran off ‘the table’ … War against Iran would constitute mass murder. The U.S. government should be stopped from engaging in such brutality. But short of that, those with a conscientious objection should be free to opt out of financing these crimes.”
- Resistance to the “Household Tax” continues in Ireland. For some reason, the government is requiring citizens to actively register themselves prior to paying this tax, which is a convenient point of leverage for the resisters, who are encouraging their neighbors to simply refuse to register. “The Household Tax can be defeated by mass non registration and mass non payment but this does mean organising every street and road in the country. The first step in opposing the tax is to refuse to register yourself but to win you must organise with your neighbors — if we all stand together we will win.” Irish parliament members are among the supporters of the Campaign Against Household and Water Taxes, whose spokeswoman explained: “This is not a charge to fund your local community, it is a tax to fund private speculators, bondholders and the bailout. Our incomes and services are being decimated to pay this private debt. Now people have a chance to register their opposition by not registering for this tax. By not registering, we can make this a referendum on the bailouts for the rich and the cuts for us.”
- This is similar to the argument by the “won’t pay” movement in Greece, whose government is nickle-and-diming the citizens by raising rates on utility bills, road tolls, transit fees, and so forth, to try to raise money to pay off international lenders who are openly threatening to abolish representative government in Greece entirely and instead run the country as though it were a bankrupt corporation in receivership. When the government electric power monopoly cut off power to a family of seven with a disabled child because they were unable to pay the hike, members of the “won’t pay” movement reconnected the power themselves in defiance.
- The IRS is being swamped by identity theft cases in which fraudsters use someone else’s social security number to file a tax return that qualifies for a big refund, then cash the check before the victim knows about it. The IRS then pursues the victim for having perpetrated tax fraud and tries to force them to pay back a refund they never saw. The agency’s focus on trying to get more people to file their tax returns electronically has made it easier and faster for the identity thieves to process fake returns wholesale. In Tampa, Florida, where the practice had become so widespread that local tax fraud entrepreneurs even taught classes in how to use the technique, the local news reported a few days back on “hundreds of frustrated people [who] were lined [up] at an IRS building…” waiting in long lines for hours only to find that the IRS personnel they talked to were unable to help them.