War Tax Resister Juanita Nelson on Voting

A reporter for the Greenfield Massachusetts Recorder had the good sense to interview civil rights veteran (and long-time tax resister) Juanita Nelson in the wake of ’s inaugural hoopla.

Here’s what she had to say. (Excerpts):

For all of the celebrating in the nation’s capital and around the country as the nation’s first black president was sworn in, Juanita Nelson’s reaction was, well, reserved.

The 85-year-old African-American woman, who has been active throughout her life in civil rights, anti-war, tax refusal and other social justice movements, has a skeptical outlook on the Obama presidency as a watershed event.

“I think it’s interesting, but it doesn’t necessarily warm the cockles of my heart,” said Nelson. “He’s going to be presiding over something that’s the same old, same old. He’s only one person.”

Nelson says she didn’t even vote for Obama — or for anyone else, in fact. The only election in which she’s cast a ballot, for that matter, was for Franklin Delano Roosevelt in . The same holds true for her late husband, Wally, who died in at the age of 93, and who[m] she had first met as a newspaper reporter covering his imprisonment as a conscientious objector — he’d walked out of a Civilian Public Service Camp that felt like “slave labor.”

“There’s not anything to vote for,” said Nelson. “I vote with what I do or don’t do. I have to do what I believe in, you have to do what you believe in.”

What a rare and heartwarming surprise it is to hear Thoreauvian echoes in the hills this cold .

The fate of the country does not depend on how you vote at the polls — the worst man is as strong as the best at that game; it does not depend on what kind of paper you drop into the ballot-box once a year, but on what kind of man you drop from your chamber into the street every morning.

is approaching, and so you’re probably starting to get those W2s and 1099s and such in the mail, showing any money you brought in in the above-ground economy, and how much taxes were withheld.

And so you can probably get started in making some back-of-the-envelope calculations of how much you gave Uncle Sam last year, how much you still owe (or maybe you overpaid like so many do and you’re looking forward to getting some back). At least you’ve got a ballpark figure, right?

Wouldn’t it be nice to know what that money went for? You worked hard for it. Those dollars represent hours of your time.

Did you send in enough, do you think, that you can take credit for the $46,790 the Defense Department spent to have a portrait painted of the former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld? Maybe not the whole thing, but you can certainly claim to have put in your hours for a brushstroke or two. The nation thanks you.

I noted that struggling farmers in Argentina were organizing and engaging in nonviolent direct action campaigns such as strikes and blockades.

The latest news suggests that they may be adding tax resistance to their arsenal (excerpts translated by me, and my Spanish isn’t all that hot so caveat emptor):

Leaders from the Córdoba district of the Argentinian Agrarial Federation (FAA) felt the concern of numerous rural producers from throughout the province in launching a tax rebellion to start in . So, with all of this forcefulness, Agustín Pizzichini, head of the FAA’s Córdoba district, explained to La Voz del Interior that the proposal to halt national and provincial tax payments was launched by independent producers in various locations in the province during a meeting that took place on at the federation’s headquarters. The meeting also took stock of the presence of the future head of the provincial council of Coninagro, Marco Giraudo.

The revolt is a reaction to the lack of “concrete measures” from the national government to confront the drought in the affected regions, the fall in profitability, and the increased tax burden from provincial mandates. The drastic situation will be conveyed for consideration by the central council of the FAA on in Rosario.

While a group of directors of Agrarian Federation subsidiaries held a meeting in Oncativo, the head of the Pilar subsidiary, Juan Pivetta, said, as for himself as regards to the decision of a tax revolt, “not participating.” However, he indicated that producers are willing to engage in other methods of protest, like a suspension of sales. “The situation today is more serious; it is one thing to have problems, volatile prices, and it is another not to have a harvest; it will motivate a different reaction,” he argued.

Leonardo Ferrero, a producer and contractor from Hernando, said that the idea of halting tax payments “is what you hear from people who are desperate. The credits (that the government announced) only work if the productive economy is well,” he argued.