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More Than a Paycheck is the bimonthly publication of the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee, a clearinghouse and resource center for the conscientious war tax resistance movement in the United States. NWTRCC is a coalition of local, regional, and national affiliate groups working on war tax related issues.
NWTRCC Mission Statement: NWTRCC sees poverty, racism, sexism, homophobia, economic exploitation, environmental destruction, and militarization of law enforcement as integrally linked with the militarism which we abhor. Through the redirection of our tax dollars, NWTRCC members contribute directly to the struggle for peace and justice for all.
April 2003. HEADLINES IN THIS ISSUE:
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Imagine if the billions of hours yearly of American paid labor were dedicated to making our lives easier, rather than to enriching banks, utilities, agribusiness, insurance companies, chain stores, oil companies and government. We could be living in homes and transported in vehicles that need little fuel. We'd eat far more food grown without pesticides. We'd be responsible trustees of the natural resources of our regions. Our time and money would be used to make our neighborhoods friendly and beautiful.
This kind of job creation is called community economics. Capitalism, by contrast, says that jobs come from investors and bankers. And socialism says that jobs come from politicians and bureaucrats. They both say that they are the only ones with the money, authority and knowledge to create jobs. But good jobs are now coming from average people who work, raise children, and depend on the health of communities.
Here are some of the ways this is done:
It's important to note that local and regional self-reliance do not isolate communities. They give them added capability to reach to each other, with ecological export industry and travel.
Even today, thousands of high quality household goods are produced locally for internal markets, such as soaps, shoes, clothes, rugs, drapes, food, toys, and furniture. Communities are busy providing food & food processing, compost, garden tools, clothes, hats, gloves, shoes, wool & angora goods, plant fibers, recycled fibers, lamps, tools, forges, herbal medicines and healing. These are the basics.
There are thousands more products for which regional and national markets could be found, such as trolley components & cargo bikes, insulation, transit, compost toilets, cleaning supplies, scrap metal reprocessing. You name it; such products can be made and exported without waiting for external capital, and without further contaminating our environment.
All employers would end racial bias in hiring and invest in workers as assets rather than as costs. Research shows that labor productivity and yearly business growth are highest in countries where income is most equal.
Government would gradually cease providing welfare to large corporations, in the form of special tax breaks, bailouts and below cost sale of raw materials.
Bankers would learn that small loans are actually likelier to be fully and promptly repaid. Chicago's Southshore Bank and India's Grameen Bank have proven the superior safety of small loans to low income people. This requires an end to racial bias in lending.
Schools would teach all students how to become powerful community managers and creators of jobs, as well as active union and co-op members, rather than obedient drones.
Planning departments would become public resource & innovation centers, welcoming new ideas, serving the public, rather than developers.
We'll measure our worth as neighbors and citizens, rather than as consumers. Yet we'll own more of quality than before.
Best of all, we'd revive an American Dream - to earn enough money from one job to raise a child, to feed and clothe ourselves well, and even relax. We'd have work that's creative and interesting. We'd have more than jobs and money. We'd enjoy life, by putting love at the center of commerce.
Paul Glover, a wtr living in Ithaca, NY, is best known for starting Ithaca HOURS, the first bioregional money. His latest project is the Ithaca Health Fund, a grassroots insurance fund. This and other articles by Paul can be found at www.ithacahours.com/archives.html.
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War, the National Debt, Taxes, and the Creation of Money
This is the second part of an article submitted by Jay Sordean. The first part is found in the February 2003 issue of More Than a Paycheck. The first paragraph of the article is reprinted below by way of introduction.
WTRS are well aware of the relationship of taxes to war. Understanding the economics behind taxes and war can be simple or complex, depending upon the degree of analysis. The GDP/GNP; percentages of U.S. federal discretionary funds spent on military purposes; the history of national debt linked to funding wars; the creation and use of central banks; the history of the corporate and personal income taxes; tariffs, and other taxes are all components of the more complex analysis of how taxes are related to war. A couple of books I have been reading recently that shed some light on these and other issues are Secrets of the Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country by William Greider, Hamilton's Blessing: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Our National Debt by John Steele Gordon, and The Creature from Jekyll Island: A Second Look at the Federal Reserve, by G. Edward Griffin.
The comments in this article are based on information from these three books.
According to Hamilton's Blessing, at the beginning of the United States of America, Alexander Hamilton promoted the idea of having a central bank. Hamilton observed that governments had a history of printing more money than they could support. This was also the case of colonial governments. Thus he suggested, and it was decided after considerable debate by the young Congress, that a central bank be chartered and that it be a private bank. Thus, in 1791 the first central bank, called the Bank of the United States, was chartered for 20 years. However, the current Federal Reserve (Banks & System) began in 1913 and has persisted since.
During the Revolutionary war, the confederation of states, and the colonial states or commonwealths themselves, paid for weapons and soldiers to fight. They didn't have enough gold or silvers in their coffers, so they had to borrow money. This put the colonial governments in debt to investors and creditors. At the same time, the weapon makers made money on the sales. The creditors (buyers of debt paper, ie. IOUs) are paid interest on their loans by the people who pay off the government's debt by their labor. In short, taxpayers pay off the debt while those who purchase debt paper (they invest in the government's promise to pay) and sell weapons make a lot of money off war. This is the way it has always been in the history of war making. The "spoils of war" and plundering are also ways that assets are acquired by governments to pay off or avoid greater debt.
It is interesting to note that by even as early as 1801 Europeans held $33 million worth of United States notes. Foreign investment in the United States has always been important for its survival and prosperity. At any rate, the first Bank of the United States lost its charter in 1811. The Second Bank of the United States was chartered on April 10, 1816 and its charter expired in 1836. Between 1836 and 1913 there was no central bank.
By 1866, the first year of peace following the Civil War, the national debt stood at more than 42 times what it had been in 1860. War sure can be expensive! But, by the turn of the century the Civil War had been largely paid for. While the people were willing to endure very high taxes during the war, peacetime was another matter altogether (Hamilton's; p 81) and income taxes, as well as the excise taxes in the North were being challenged.
The federal government has a budget and spends money. If it decides to spend more than it takes in, that is called deficit spending; the government thus decides to go into debt and must sell its debt paper to someone. It is the Federal Reserve-through its Open Market Desk, with its affiliated commercial banks and brokers, that markets the debt paper. The Fed takes all the government bonds which the public doesn't buy and writes a check to Congress in exchange for them...the money created for the bonds is spent by the government, and these bonds become reserves that the Fed can loan out, with 9 new dollars created from 1 dollar worth of bonds. This expansion of federal government debt increases the monetary aggregate ( the M1, M2, and M3)- the amount of money in the system. This money aggregate is something the Federal Reserve controls and tries to track carefully. So, this is how that money is created; in fact, it is made out of thin air. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say that money is created out of debt-but instantly at the moment the debt is incurred. Like Monopoly money, fiat money is only worth as much as people are willing to value/trust it during the game (of commerce).
Furthermore, "wars are seldom funded out of the existing treasury, nor are they even done so out of increased taxes. If governments were to levy taxes on their citizens fully adequate to finance the conflict, the amount would be so great that many of even its most ardent supporters would lose enthusiasm. By artificially increasing the money supply, however, the true cost is hidden from view." (Creature from Jekyll Island, pp. 160-161). For example, the total money supply from 1775 to the end of 1779 expanded by an estimated 5,000%. The paper Continentals were traded for one dollar in gold in 1775 but were worth less than a penny in 1779, thus the well known phrase "not worth a Continental." That is also called hyperinflation.
WTRs view the telephone tax historically as associated with the funding for the Vietnam War. This is why it is a target of resistance. Interesting to note also is that the personal income tax was created by Lincoln to fund the Civil War. It was reinstated in 1913 to pay for World War I. Because it has always been used to pay for war, like the telephone tax, one might just as correctly call the personal income tax intrinsically a war tax.
This concept of the personal income tax being a war tax is above and beyond the usual thought in WTR circles that somewhere around 50% of federal discretionary funds go to war related activities and thus at least 50% of your income taxes go to those activities.
After the Civil war, the income tax was retired in 1872, only to be reinstated by the 16th constitutional amendment declared to be adopted February 3, 1913. In 1913, there was an exemption for income under $3,000 - 98% of American families were exempt. Other exemptions to income tax instituted at that time included the proceeds of life insurance policies. One year later World War I began and "government revenues and outlays moved to a new, permanently higher plane as they have after every great war in U.S. history." (Hamilton's Blessing; p. 103). The Federal Reserve, as you recall, was created in 1913 as well. It is a private banking cartel. The national government possessed the unique power to create credit and money, yet it delegated the power to a select group of private corporations that were licensed as commercial banks.
For the complete article, with citations, contact Jay at DrSordean@cs.com with "NWTRCC article" in the subject heading, or contact the NWTRCC office.
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Does anyone have any more information about this?
"Here's something from outside the Internal Revenue Code:
Every act of peaceable refusal and support for refusal is a deduction from the spirit of silence and the spirit of collaboration with warfare! That's a deduction we make all the time. And every act of redirection of energy and money is an augmentation of the peace spirit!
Shall we call that Peace Accounting?"
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Thank you to all the groups who have given since our last issue. Your support is very much appreciated!
Friends Meeting at Cambridge (MA)
Washington Area Alternative Fund (DC)
Oregon Community for War Tax Resistance
Coalition for Peace Action (NJ)
War Resisters League (NYC)
St. Louis Covenant Community of War Tax Resisters
Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet (MO)
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War Tax Resistance Ideas & Actions
Whether or not the U.S. military attacks Saddam Hussein and the people of Iraq, the amount of money being spent on the military and being siphoned away from real human needs in this country is astronomical, in the hundreds of billions of dollars.
Where does that money come from for all these weapons of mass destruction? A lot of it comes from those of us who pay federal income and excise taxes.
As Tax Day approaches, the possible war, the outrageous and excessive military spending, a sinking U.S. economy, and people's realization of what their tax money is going for can be combined into an effective Tax Day or pre-Tax Day event.
We urge your group to sponsor an event during that time around our messed up spending priorities.
There are many possible choices:
Contact the NWTRCC office for many WTR action resources.
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You should have received a copy in mid February. If you would like to sign on and have lost track of your copy, you can read it on our web site, or call the office for a copy. For those of you who signed the statement that NWTRCC put out last fall (we got 281 signers), we will assume that we can carry your name over to this new petition unless we hear otherwise. If you know of anyone who would like to sign it, please pass it along to them. Signers do not have to be war tax resisters.
Also please let us know if you can do some of the legwork for this project. Thanks!
"Rekindling Connection, Realizing Strength During the Reign of W" will be the theme of the weekend. Friday evening and Saturday morning will be devoted to building connections with each other, Saturday afternoon will offer a panel and discussion groups, and Saturday evening, there will be a concert open to the public. NWTRCC will hold its business meeting on Sunday morning. People are welcome for all or part of the weekend.
This will be the first meeting for the new coordinator, and Mary Loehr will be present also, so it may be a bigger meeting than usual. Consider joining us!
Flyers about the weekend should have arrived already to folks on the west coast. For more information, or for a registration form, contact the NWTRCC office.
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Chapters include: Whys and hows of war tax resistance; IRS collections and resistance; frequently asked questions; global and national campaigns;personal stories; legal options and organizing tactics; plus network listings, and more.
You can order one from the NWTRCC office or from WRL. WRL Phone: 212/228-0450 To order online, go to: www.warresisters.org.
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Local Group Reports
They go on to encourage people to withhold some amount of federal tax dollars owed and to redirect that money to local public schools.
For more information, write Schools Not Bombs at PO Box 2066, Santa Cruz, CA, 95063, or call Anita at 831/426-1626, extension 307, or go to this web site: www.schoolsnotbombs.tk
The day held two sets of workshops, with one on war tax resistance in the second slot.
A WTR support group was formed and met about a month later.
Please remember to send news of your war tax resistance events in to More Than A Paycheck. Ideas from your group may spark other groups. Thanks!
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In December of 1990, I became a war tax resister. Shortly before the Persian Gulf War (#1), I attended a peace rally on the Boston Common. Despite the impassioned speeches given by Howard Zinn, Daniel Ellsberg, and others that day, I had a sinking feeling that standing out in the cold for a few hours, chanting slogans, and marching through the streets of downtown Boston was not going to stop the war from happening. After all, why should President Bush care that my toes were frozen and my voice was growing hoarse. But sometime during that afternoon, a young woman handed me a half sheet of paper. On one side was a quote from Alexander Haig, Secretary of State, during the Reagan administration-"Let them march all they want, as long as they pay their taxes." That quote hit me; it really hit me. On the other side of the paper was an announcement for a meeting to discuss how one could refuse to pay for the upcoming war and redirect the money to organizations that work for peace. The idea seemed so simple, so elegant, a child could understand it: don't pay people to do bad things; pay them to do good things. I had been groping for a way to step up my level of resistance to US military violence, and this seemed to be exactly what I was looking for. I was determined not to be a mere bystander with respect to the impending war with Iraq, and WTR seemed to be a way to say "No!" in a manner the Al Haigs of the world would understand.
There were other, deeper, more personal reasons why WTR seemed "right"-right for me. Because of my family history, I feel that I have a special debt to pay to people of conscience, people who choose not to cooperate with state sponsored murder. My parents, grandparents, and other relatives were forced to flee Nazi occupied Europe during W.W.II. Being Jews, their lives were in danger, and on numerous occasions their lives were saved by people who protected and hid them, who warned them of raids and round-ups by the Gestapo and their collaborators, who provided them with false identity papers, and who eventually helped them enter Switzerland illegally and thus to relative safety. The people who did these things for my family took great risks. Some of their names I know from stories my grandparents told me; others remain anonymous. Their acts of compassion were strictly illegal: if they had been caught sheltering Jews, they could have been sent to the concentration camps along with the captured Jews, or even killed then and there. I cannot thank these people-most of them are probably dead by now, or very old. But to honor them, I can strive to be a little bit like them. I, too, can choose not to cooperate with murder, even if such non-cooperation is deemed illegal by the state-which it is in the case of WTR. Today, I am confronted by the same choice that confronted the gentile bystanders of Europe: Do I remain silent? Do I look the other way? Do I say "It's not my problem"? Do I obediently pay war taxes so that others can kill in my name? Or do I say, "No!" and break the law in the hope of saving someone's life? I owe it to the people who saved my family to choose this last option.
To become a war tax resister is, in some sense, to step into another world. "It will change your life," a fellow resister said to me early on, "but it will be a blessing." He was right. WTR has forced me to think about what is meant by the word "security." In a society as heavily monetarized as ours, security often translates as "financial security." Examining security has led me to ask the questions, what do I really need? What is truly my share? Are there ways of obtaining the things I really need without recourse to money?
What if the absolute "worst" happens and the IRS seizes my income and my savings?-not likely, because they are supposed to leave you with something to live on. But supposing it did happen. Would I be destitute? Homeless? Hungry? I think not. Friends and family would not let me live on the street, just as I would not let a friend or family member of mine become destitute in this way. People would help me out until I could get my life back together again. One would discover under such circumstances that security is not predicated by how much money one has in the bank or whether one has invested in various "insurance companies." Rather, real security, to the extent that it exists at all, has more to do with mutual aid, with friends, family, community helping and supporting one another.
Furthermore, it must be acknowledged that, whatever the bad consequences are that could conceivably happen to me as a result of WTR, they are nowhere near as bad as what happens to people who are on the receiving end of U.S. (or U.S. sponsored) militarism. The risks of not paying war taxes are overshadowed by the risks of paying them. I've decided that I would rather suffer than be complicit in the suffering of others-or worse, be an accessory to murder. Still, even as a war tax resister, my hands are not clean...
Indeed, WTR has made me think about the violence inherent in our economy, the myriad connections between money, greed, and violence. The more aware I become of the violence connected with economic activity-virtually all economic activity-the more I strive to live outside the mainstream economy-a difficult struggle, to say the least. This awareness, I feel, is the greatest gift, the greatest blessing, of WTR. If I have the courage to act on it, it brings me closer to the type of nonviolence that Gandhi lived and talked about: what my friends the Nelsons have termed "the nonviolence of daily living." WTR has helped me to live a more examined life, to seek out the root causes of war and violence and not just react to its ugly, outward manifestations. This has led me, more recently, to conclude that WTR, though necessary, is not enough. War taxes indeed constitute one of the principal resources of war, but they are not the source of war.
The true source of war in our time, as I see it, is none other than the American Way of Life - a way of life founded on and maintained by taking through force things that do not rightly belong to us, whether that be Native American land, or the labor of people of color, or 50% of the world's resources (used up by less than 5% of the world's population), or access to the markets, and thus the money, of other nations worldwide. Many in the peace movement are familiar with the slogan, "no justice, no peace," but if they really thought through the meaning of those words, they would have to confront the reality that we in this country cannot go on living the way we do. A mode of living dependent on exploitation and injustice cannot add up to peace, no matter how many streets are "taken to," slogans chanted, songs sung, sit-ins sat, or even taxes redirected.
My understanding of nonviolence also forces me to admit that I am relatively powerless when it comes to changing the behavior of other people. My influence on others, while not zero, is quite limited. However, I have considerable latitude when it comes to changing my own behavior, and as far as this is concerned, I will have my hands full for a loooong while yet. But I credit WTR, and individual resisters I've met, for setting me on this long, fascinating, difficult, risky, arduous, rewarding, surprising, and ultimately liberating journey.
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National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee
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