I Impersonate an I.R.S. Agent

In the protest I joined, over at the Federal Building in Oakland, I got to play the part of a suit-and-tied IRS agent, coming to the lectern to bring balance to the otherwise anti-government proceedings. I told the crowd: “You seem like politically-savvy people. But do you realize that you wouldn’t have anything to protest here today if it weren’t for the things the government funds with your money. Your taxes make protests like this possible! You should thank us!

“That wooden protest sign you’re holding? Your tax dollars paid for the road into the lumber yards, uh, the timber fields, uh, those places where lumber grows… forests! Yeah, that’s it — we wouldn’t call them ‘national’ forests if the companies who harvest there had to buy their own roads.

“And all of that great stuff you see on the news — well, let me tell you: maybe lumber grows on trees, but cluster bombs don’t grow on trees, barbed wire doesn’t grow on trees! It takes your money to make all this possible. We can’t do it without you! We can’t do it without you! We can’t do it without you!

It was mostly-improvised professional-wrestler-style evil villain stuff (even the what-are-those-tree-places-called riff was just a brain-fart on my part that happened to be delightfully in character). I played it off legit, it seemed to go well, and I enjoyed myself. I like these sort of reverse-psychology techniques much more than the those of the chants-and-complaints school of protest, which is why I’m keeping an eye on the group “Billionaires for Bush” which held across the country this year:

“Corporatize the U.N.,” one man in black tie and top hat called out. “Let’s make some money out of this thing.” Another fellow cried, “We bought this president, and we want to extend his term four years.”

Other men in tuxes carried signs saying, “Taxes are not for everyone” and “Thank you for paying our fair share.”

No matter how many times they take to the streets — and they have become a noticeable presence in recent months — Billionaires for Bush can still stop you cold for the split second it takes the brain’s synapses to recharge. Are they for real?

More on tax resistance from the recent press:

The sit-ins and mass demonstrations don’t work anymore, said Utah Phillips who joined the war tax resisters after his military experience in Korea. It’s simply the right thing to do to not cause pain, he said.

Phillips recalls the unexploded land mines that farmers and civilian buses would run into following the Korean War. He also saw orphanages of abandoned GI babies rejected by both the Korean and American governments.

“There was stuff going on around me that I couldn’t stand. I don’t want to buy land mines,” he said. “I became a pacifist because I was so angry all the time.”…

Phillips said he lives a simple life and doesn’t offer much to be repossessed. “I don’t own anything. It’s me or my guitar,” he said.

For people who have more at stake, Phillips said a more organized tax effort would be a better alternative. He, for example, participated in a 1040 club where a group of community members withheld $10.40 and put it into a central fund for community projects or services.

The result is money that would have otherwise went to Washington conceivably for land mines is used right here in the community, he said.