War Tax Resister Tamiko Beyer

Poet Tamiko Beyer sends a letter to her friends. Excerpts:

approaches and I’m preparing to protest the incredible amount of money being spent to fund war and occupation (close to $7 billion a month for military expenditures in Iraq and Afghanistan).

As a U.S. citizen, I’m outraged by the acts of aggression, war, and torture that are being carried out in my name — from the war in Iraq, to the atrocities documented at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, to the continued bombings and killings of civilians in Afghanistan. I’m also deeply concerned by the persistent attack on civil liberties here in the U.S. being carried out in this so-called “war on terror.” And I’m horrified that my tax dollars are helping to fund all of these acts.

, approximately 50% of federal taxes will be used to support current and past military expenses. In protest, I am refusing to pay 50% of the of the money I owe the IRS. I will donate that half to the People’s Life Fund, which makes grants to community organizations working for peace and justice. This act of noncooperation, as much as my marching and my chanting, is my resounding declaration of protest against a war that I am profoundly opposed to, and is an act that the government cannot ignore.

A statement of support for those who refused to pay for the war against Iraq and continued military aggression by the U.S. government, signed by over 900 individuals including Joan Baez, Noam Chomsky, and Howard Zinn, includes this thought:

It is clear that the U.S. government’s ability to threaten, coerce, and, if deemed necessary, make war on other nations is a direct result, not only of our economic might, but also the unprecedented size of our military arsenal, which is now far larger than that of all our allies and “enemies” combined. It is equally clear that the maintenance of this arsenal depends upon the willingness of the American people — through their federal tax payments — to finance it.

I will no longer willingly participate in financing this arsenal. I share this letter with you in hopes that you too will consider actions that you can take to voice your opposition to acts of war carried out by the U.S. government.

“I will no longer willingly participate in financing this arsenal.” ―Tamiko Beyer

There may be hope after all. Perhaps there is some sort of reverse psychology at work in the current political environment that may turn my pessimism on its head. Stephan Kinsella reports from the Mises Economics Blog:

In , the National Geographic Magazine published an article describing law reform under a Manchu emperor who reigned in . Emperor Kang-hsi decided that [government] courts should be as bad as possible so his subjects would settle disputes by arbitration. Responding to a petition about judicial corruption, he decreed as follows:

Lawsuits would tend to increase to a frightful extent if people were not afraid of the tribunals. … I desire therefore that those who have recourse to the courts should be treated without any pity and in such a manner that they shall be disgusted with the law and tremble to appear before a magistrate. In this manner … good citizens who may have difficulties among themselves will settle them like brothers by referring to the arbitration of some old man or the mayor of the commune. As for those who are troublesome, obstinate or quarrelsome, let them be ruined in the law courts.