Woman Follows Through on Threat, Abandons U.S.

Maybe you’ve heard people threaten to leave the U.S. rather than continue to support and be embarrassed by its government. “Katchita,” who blogs at sexless berlin, made good on her threat. I thought her story was an interesting one:

…[I]t’s been a long path, difficult at times. In I took a leave of absence from work to go back to school, which helped me put my name on a few less bombs earmarked for Iraq. But that wasn’t enough, so in I became a war tax resister, diverting the 30+ percent “current military” expenditures to deserving non-profits, including the Center for Constitutional Rights for its work against torture. But that was not enough, because in the U.S. Internal Revenue Service began coming after me in earnest, and seized money from my U.S. bank account (fortunately very little was left). I decided to leave my job in California because the IRS would have proceeded to garnish money from my wages. I managed to stay one step ahead, having earned a U.S. grant to come to Germany for the academic year. So far I’ve been able to stay in Europe. I’m happy that I’ll meet goal #1 and manage to stay “out” at least until George Bush leaves office . My second goal, which stretches into the unknown, but hopefully not interminable, future, is to stay out until the war ends. Every year is a struggle for economic survival coupled with the need to renew that all-important residency visa.

Wendy McElroy, continuing her series on the “frugalista” philosophy, shares some of her tips on living frugally.

Here are some of my favorites from her recommendations:

  • Prepare food from raw materials, including bread. Bread makers are inexpensive, easy and pay for themselves quickly.
  • Put in a vegetable garden, even if it is only container gardening. Friends speak well of “square foot gardening.”
  • Can, dehydrate, freeze or otherwise preserve what you grow or what you buy cheaply in bulk when it is in season. In summer, you can dry fruit in the sun. For example, slice up apricots, tomatoes, pineapple, apples and place them in a sunny spot with a wire mess with cheese cloth over top to keep out insects. I use a dehydrater myself.
  • Check to see if there is a freecycle network in your city. It will be an invaluable source of free goods. If there isn’t one, consider starting one…
  • Try to trade or barter for services. Many areas have barter networks; google your area/city and the word “barter.” If you need to pay for a service, offer cash and don’t expect a receipt.
  • Generally speaking, use the library instead of buying books and movies.
  • Turn down the thermostat and put on a sweater.
  • Use your oven to make more than one thing at a time; for example, when you cook a roast, also bake potatoes and make muffins.
  • Save bones in one container (e.g. a former margarine tub) and keep vegetable peelings and scraps in another. Keep both in the freezer. Make soup stock by just putting these together in a pot with water; heat and walk away for a few hours.
  • Unplug most devices when you are not using them; turn lights off when you leave a room. Unless they bother you, use compact florecents in place of regular lightbulbs.
  • Wash in cold water and use the short cycle unless the clothing is really dirty. Use a drying rack instead of a clothes dryer. In warm weather, use a clothes line.
  • Declutter your house/life and sell your discards at a garage sale.

Santa Cruz, California’s Good Times weekly carries an article about tax resistance.

“I was particularly drawn to this out of my frustration for not being able to do anything about this situation,” says Aptos resident Samantha Olden. “I am too busy trying to make ends meet to march on Washington or organize rallies. This is a way that logistically every American can protest.”

That’s a good point. The war tax resistance movement often struggles with how to convince activists to take on the difficult task of war tax resistance — but in reality, once you eliminate all the useless things like marching around with a sign, chanting slogans, voting, or writing to politicians, the potentially useful things you’re left with are almost all difficult, dangerous, time-consuming, or at best have little hope of immediate success. That’s just how it is. If you want a quick-and-easy battle, play Parcheesi instead.

Of the useful, practical, effective things you could be doing to fight the good fight against war & empire, tax resistance is one of the easiest and one of the most accessible. You can resist taxes from your living room, sitting on the couch in your jammies watching teevee, and the government will even send you the forms to do it with free-of-charge.