If you think no one is paying attention when
you leaflet on tax day, think again. On April 17, 2003, the
NWTRCC website received more than 30,000 hits on our website.
Compare that to the average hits per day for the first eight
months of 2003:
April 2003 hits on the NWTRCC website
Equally striking, in July the statistics take a jump on the
26th when 2,813 people visited the site and then on July 27
there were 5,589 hits. What happened just before that? The news
broke that the Justice Department was suing Philadelphia Yearly
Meeting, and appearing in papers around the country was an Associated
Press story that included mention of NWTRCC.
The statistics available about visitors to our site also show
the most popular pages. During the first two weeks of September,
the home page received 874 visits, and the next most popular
page is about the telephone tax. After that publications, contacts,
statement of purpose, projects, what is war tax resistance,
the August 2001 issue of More Than A Paycheck, latest
news, links, and meetings received 60 visits or more.
What is a hit? In reality it is anyone who opens the page
even for a second. It includes all of us who look at the site
regularly for one reason or another and can be a few hits by
the same person. However, it certainly includes hundreds of
new people-around in the world-who have some interest in war
and taxes (some more friendly than others, judging by the NWTRCC
The exciting thing about the web is the broad outreach that
is possible, and we have taken some time this summer to make
changes to the NWTRCC site that we hope will keep more of those
visitors engaged. The homepage got a makeover, we added a downloadable
order form for literature, and have a "latest news" banner with
links to articles or helpful counseling information. We are
open to your suggestions and hope to add more photos (please
send them in to the NWTRCC office) and update news items regularly.
Our webmaster is Peter Smith, Michiana War Tax Refusers, who
keeps things up-to-date, uploads the latest newsletters, and
generally watches over the site. You can contact Peter through
the webmaster address on the website. His volunteer assistance
is invaluable. The website is an important outreach tool, but
as most small organizations have found, it is also a time-consuming
addition to our already long lists of tasks.
[Return to List of Headlines]
By Priscilla Adams
In July 2003 the U.S. Justice Department on
behalf of IRS filed a lawsuit against Philadelphia Yearly Meeting
(PYM) of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). PYM had
earlier received a levy to garnish my salary for taxes I have
refused to pay during the time period of 1986-1996 and PYM,
following its 1988 policy, refused to honor the levy. The lawsuit
seeks to collect about $42,000 in taxes, interest and penalties,
and, in addition, asks the court to impose a penalty of 50%
of that amount on PYM for refusing to garnish my paycheck.
IRS/Justice Department took similar action against PYM in
1988 in regard to two other employees. In that case the court
reluctantly agreed with IRS that PYM should pay the tax and
its associated interest and penalties. However, the court refused
to enforce a 50% penalty on PYM. That case was decided in 1990,
just after the issuance of the Supreme Court's most restrictive
decision on free exercise of religion and prior to the passage
of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was designed
to overturn that decision.
On September 18, the governing body of Philadelphia Yearly
Meeting, which includes representatives of over 100 Quaker Meetings,
made the decision to challenge the Justice Department's lawsuit
in court. They will argue on the grounds of religious freedom,
and it may take some months for argumaents to be filed, responses
made, and a court date set.
PYM's attorney on these matters is the gifted, skillful, and
conscience-led Peter Goldberger. He has done an excellent job
of working with the Yearly Meeting's staff and leadership to
inform Friends of the facts and issues, as well as keeping Friends
focused on discovering what actions the corporate body of Quakers
could take in light of the governing legal rules and the Meeting's
The case has received significant publicity, appearing in
local newspapers and an Associated Press story was picked up
in other parts of the U.S. (including the New York Times) and
in international press. There has also been radio and television
coverage. Several schools have asked me to speak. Email and
telephone inquiries (mostly supportive but some not) have come
from all over the country. It is clear that through the media
and presentations, many people have for the first time heard
of conscientious objection and war tax resistance. For others
it has been a way to find similar thinking people when they
did not have contacts before.
There has been a tremendous outpouring of support for Philadelphia
Yearly Meeting and myself. Many Quakers and others have asked
what they can do. PYM's Conscience, Militarism, and War Tax
Concerns group (CMWTC) sees that the legal actions initiated
by the U.S. government create openings which are not normally
available for educational, lobbying and fundraising projects.
CMWTC has begun exploring these projects.
In addition to this lawsuit, IRS is sending frequent letters
to PYM demanding taxes that PYM has withheld from my paycheck
but not forwarded to the government. IRS can seize this from
PYM bank accounts and has done this sporadically, but not for
several years. IRS is also sending me many letters threatening
levies for other years of resisted taxes.
Please contact me if you would like more information: Priscilla
Adams, 609-835-4285 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Return to List of Headlines]
As most readers know, the United States Justice
Department is a busy place these days (see story above and Voices
letter also). Attorney General John Ashcroft has been running
around the country lobbying for his PATRIOT Acts - I and II.
(The first was passed by Congress in October 2001; the second
is still a series of proposals that have not been introduced
to Congress.) On the happy side, protests have followed Ashcroft
from coast to coast. Still, the U.S. continues to hold hundreds
of prisoners in Guantanamo with no access to legal advisors,
and U.S. forces add daily to the prisoner count in Afghanistan
and Iraq. While the government talks constantly about "national
security," the actions of the Justice Department have led to
further insecurity for immigrants in this country, especially
those of Arab descent.
Do war tax resisters also have new worries? At this point
it would appear that wtr's do not stand out any more than do
other persons active in civil disobedience and protest. The
PYM case has been brewing for some time. The other new activity
we are seeing as war tax resisters, the warnings about frivolous
fines, could reflect a glitch in the IRS bureaucracy and are
probably most related to IRS efforts to crackdown on what they
refer to as "schemes" for not paying taxes. The IRS has been
especially focused on some of the most visible proponents of
constitutional arguments against taxation in general. But it
is still too early to be certain on this score.
Last May, Legal Aid Attorney Steve Bingham spoke on "The PATRIOT
Act and War Tax Resisters" at the NWTRCC conference, sponsored
by Sonoma County (CA) Taxes for Peace. His assessment is that
there are no new provisions that target war tax resisters in
particular, but, of course, we are affected by the general erosion
of civil liberties. The broad definition for domestic terrorism
that is part of the PATRIOT Act could lead to applications against
a wide array of groups that the government doesn't like; however,
at this time there is no indication that wtr's are at increased
risk. The IRS and government have long had the power to pursue
war tax resisters.
Bingham advised us all to support local resolutions against
implementing provisions of the PATRIOT Act that now have been
passed by over 157 cities, and to support libraries that have
set policies of noncooperation with government agents who ask
for their book-borrowing records. It's critical for us to be
aware of what's happening to immigrants in our communities and
to support the lawyers and groups who do their best to assure
civil rights and legal aid to persons whose rights are violated,
whether by arrest or by questionable stops and searches.
In terms of the war tax resistance network, Bingham recommended
that we keep better records of IRS activity, tracking the types
and numbers of everything from letters to court cases so that
we can identify trends and patterns more quickly. He also suggested
that we intensify our organized support for war tax resisters.
He noted that we seem to be dealing a lot more individually
than we ought to and that everyone feels more powerful when
they are surrounded by support. With new resisters coming into
our circles, we should all be asking if our groups are visible
enough and offering enough support at all stages of resistance.
(Thanks to Paula Rogge and Jenny M. for notes)
[Return to List of Headlines]
In the last issue we reported on the many wtr's
who received letters from the IRS in the last few months warning
that they should file again or face the $500 frivolous fine
from the IRS. At this point we know that some who filed normally
but refused to pay have been told that their original form would
be accepted with no late filing fee.
One wtr wrote of her experience with the IRS in getting them
to accept her original form: "The main thing I learned from
my experience was to be persistent in making the IRS representative
actually review my originally filed form and tell me why it
was declared frivolous. The first person I had spoken to at
IRS, who had an unsympathetic attitude, urged me to just refile.
That didn't make sense to me, since the letter seems to threaten
an additional $500 fine. 'If...you file another return taking
the same or any other frivolous position, we will assess the
frivolous return penalty on each frivolous return filed.'" Ask
for a supervisor if the first person you talk with is unhelpful.
Longtime war tax resister Robin Harper sent NWTRCC a list
of "talking points" he gleaned from legal advisor Peter Goldberger
to help in conversations with the IRS. We print that here, along
with the IRS regulations on the frivolous fine for background.
We will try to add updated information on the NWTRCC website
as the pattern and IRS response become clearer.
- Observe that my self assessment is correct. My computation
is in no way misleading.
- Perhaps the examiner was confused by reading my (attached)
letter of conscience.
- If you look at my return again, you will see that it does
not contain information on which the substantial correctness
of the self-assessment can be challenged.
- Please correct this error.
- I suggest the person who wrote this letter should be retrained
(so they fully understand the DUAL requirements which must
be fulfilled in order for a return to be deemed "frivolous.")
Here are the IRS regulations, which show the above mentioned
Sec. 6702. Frivolous income tax return
(a) Civil penalty, If (1) any individual files what purports
to be a return of the tax imposed by subtitle A but which (A)
does not contain information on which the substantial correctness
of the self-assessment may be judged, or (B) contains information
that on its face indicates that the self-assessment is substantially
(2) the conduct referred to in paragraph (1) is due to (A)
a position which is frivolous, or (B) a desire (which appears
on the purported return) to delay or impede the administration
of Federal income tax laws,
then such individual shall pay a penalty of $500.
IRS "Experts" Lacking but Improving
To emphasize the value of persistence when calling the IRS about
problems such as the frivolous fine letters, we note a recent
study that showed that Taxpayer Assistance Center employees incorrectly
answered 25% of tax law questions from taxpayers in March and
April of 2003. The study is conducted by the Treasury Inspector
General for Tax Administration as required by an amendment to
the FY 2002 federal spending bill to find out if taxpayers are
provided correct and prompt answers to their questions. The auditors
also determined that IRS employees did not follow referral procedures
for 62% of questions asked that were beyond the employee's training
level. However, the 2-year study is showing that the IRS is improving
on its accuracy. The New York Times ran a brief report on September
4, 2003, that said the results of the study from July to December
2002 showed IRS help centers gave correct answers to just 57%
of questions asked.
Late Filing Fees
A clarification from Robert Randall:
I should point out to folk that the penalty for filing late
is not one that is only connected to the recent spate of unjustified
frivolous filing penalty warnings. It is a problem that I have
encountered year after year. I am dealing with it again on my
2002 return, for which I did not receive a warning about frivolity.
On this one an agent in Kansas City admitted to me that there
has been a big problem with this. Apparently entry clerks are
coding the dates when they open the envelope instead of the
postmark date. Resisters should pay attention to what your penalties
are for when you get that first dun.
Attn: Midwest Verizon Wireless Customers
From Cathy Luebbering, St. Louis:
I have resisted payment of federal taxes as a customer of Verizon
Wireless for more than two years now, and it has been quite
a wild ride! Each month I inform the company that I am conscientiously
refusing to pay the federal taxes, the amount, and why. Until
recently, the company refused to acknowledge war tax resisting,
and charged late fees and even disconnected my service temporarily.
I am so grateful for the NWTRCC newsletter - because one month
it carried a piece written by another Verizon customer, indicating
she had spoken with a company representative, and there had
been some conversation with them about war tax resisting. The
good news is that here in the Midwest region, Verizon is now
recognizing customers who choose to resist payment of federal
taxes as a statement of opposing payment for our country's war-making.
I was asked to write a letter to the Verizon office at 777 Big
Timber Rd. Elgin, IL 60123. Once they have written notification
of a customer's war-tax resistance status, they will code the
account and make adjustments on the monthly bill. A Verizon
(Midwest region) contact name and telephone number can be obtained
by contacting Ruth Benn in the NWTRCC office.
[Return to List of Headlines]
Thank you to all the groups who have given since our last
issue. Your support helps keep us going!
Michiana War Tax Refusers
Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane
[Return to List of Headlines]
From Voices in the Wilderness
"The U.S. Justice Department has sued Voices
in the Wilderness (VitW) to try to collect a fine of $20,000
from VitW for bringing medicines to the people of Iraq. Over
the past seven years, Voices in the Wilderness has organized
more than 65 delegations to Iraq made up of teachers, veterans,
social workers, artists, health care professionals, trades people
and people of faith. Many of these delegates carried symbolic
amounts of medicine as an act of civil disobedience against
the injustice of the economic sanctions; they then returned
to the United States to tell about the brutalizing effects of
the sanctions, magnified by the U.S. bombing of the Iraqi civilian
infrastructure during the Gulf War.
"Voices in the Wilderness will not pay this fine. All funds
received by Voices in the Wilderness were given to us for the
purposes of providing humanitarian aid to Iraqi civilians and
educating the world community about the deadly effects of the
U.S. bombing and embargo of Iraq. The Justice Department is
choosing to spend its resources to launch an attack on Voices
in the Wilderness at a time when Iraqi people and U.S. soldiers
are being killed daily, and the U.S. occupying forces have failed
to provide for the security and basic humanitarian needs of
Iraqi people. Meanwhile, the U.S. has not found any of the Iraqi
weapons of mass destruction that supposedly were the reason
for the economic sanctions, bombing, and recent military invasion.
This lawsuit offers an extraordinary opportunity for people
of conscience everywhere to denounce the U.S. Administration
for its role in the illegal bombing and invasion of Iraq and
for imposing a 13-year sanctions campaign on Iraq, which contributed
to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children and
thousands of people.
"VitW calls for 20,000 or more citizens of the world to raise
their voices in outrage against the injustice and hypocrisy
of this lawsuit. Join your voices with ours as we call upon
the Justice Department to drop their lawsuit against Voices
in the Wilderness and instead direct their money towards the
humanitarian efforts of NGOs (nongovernmental organizations)
working in Iraq, the clean-up of the hundreds of tons of depleted
uranium now polluting Iraq from U.S. weaponry, and the payment
of reparations to the families of Iraqi victims of the U.S.
invasion and occupation."
What you can do:
- Write to: Attorney General John Ashcroft, 950 Pennsylvania
Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20530 or fax to (202) 307-6777
- Sign the Voices letter/petition to Attorney General Ashcroft
on the Voices website: www.vitw.org.
- VitW also pledges to raise $20,000 in donations for the
humanitarian needs of Iraqis. Checks made out to Voices in
the Wilderness with "20,000 voices" written in the memo line
will go directly to NGOs serving the humanitarian needs of
Iraqis. We will never use any of your donations to pay U.S.
penalties for performing works of mercy. Please mail checks
to Voices in the Wilderness, 5315 N. Clark, PMB #634, Chicago,
- See www.vitw.org for other ways to raise your voice.
[Return to List of Headlines]
REGISTER NOW FOR NWTRCC MEETING
If you plan to come to Chicago for the November
7-9 meetings and gathering and you haven't let the office know
yet, please do fill out the registration form on the NWTRCC
ask for a brochure). Help us with our planning by registering
by October 17.
SOA, November 22-23
NWTRCC will have a table at the 12th annual
Vigil and Nonviolent Direct Action to close the School of the
Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia, and some wtr folks are staying
at the Econolodge. If you would like to coordinate with war
tax resisters there, please contact the NTWRCC office, and we'll
hook you up. For information on the action see www.soaw.org
or call SOA Watch at (202) 234-3440.
War Tax Resisters Penalty Fund Turns 20!
Congratulations to our friends at the War Tax
Resisters Penalty Fund. Since it was founded in 1983 the fund
has collected almost $220,000 to help resisters keep up their
protest. The WTRPF is based in North Manchester, Indiana, and
carries out its mission of helping cover some or all of the
interest and penalties that the IRS may collect from a war tax
resister. The fund accepts requests for help from those on its
mailing list, and then divides the dollar amount of all requests
by the number of people on the mailing list. Thus, the most
recent contribution requested is for $18.03 from 837 people
to cover $16,971 in support requests (plus a little bit for
printing and postage of the mailing). It's a great system that
has worked pretty darn well for over 20 years. Thanks to the
Indiana folks for keeping it going!
WTRPF can be reached at Box 25, N. Manchester, IN 46962
[Return to List of Headlines]
Two calls from people new to war tax resistance
came into the NWTRCC office within a week of each other. In
each case when the caller was asked how they had heard about
us they replied, "I saw a bumpersticker." So congratulations
to two people out there in Minnesota and Wisconsin who are advertising
NWTRCC on their cars, bicycles, or backpacks. Get your bumpersticker
today! Only $1 from the NWTRCC office.
Buried in the far reaches of the storage space
in a former NWTRCC Coordinator's home, lo and behold there recently
appeared 20 copies of the slide show, "More Than A Paycheck."
While the finder suggested the dump was a good option, the editor
decided to make these available to readers one last time before
that suggestion is taken. Created in 1985, the slide show is
dated in terms of politics and appearances; on the other hand
it still is a good basic introduction to war tax resistance.
If you would like a copy (slides and cassette tape) for
the price of postage ($2.26 media mail), contact the NWTRCC
office. And then, if you have suggestions for producing a
new audio-visual wtr presentation please be in touch with
the NWTRCC office.
[Return to List of Headlines]
Report from New England Gathering
The 19th Annual New England Regional Gathering
of War Tax Resisters, September 12 - 14 in Amherst, Massachusetts,
brought sixty people together for a weekend of sharing stories
and talking organizing. The setting for the meeting was in the
beautiful common house of Pioneer Valley Cohousing, a community
of 32 households who live on 25 acres, owning their living spaces
but sharing the land and communal spirit.
The weekend's theme was "Confronting Our Fears,"
as regards refusing to pay for the military in particular. Long-time
war tax resisters Ed Hedemann and NWTRCC's Coordinator Ruth
Benn gave the opening talk, offering some analysis of why people
committed to peace are not war tax resisters and, in particular,
offering organizers some arguments for breaking through the
myths about war tax resistance, such as "I'll go to jail," or
"I'll have to completely change my lifestyle." Ed has written
a new brochure, available from the NWTRCC office, called "Why
Isn't Everyone Who's for Peace a War Tax Resister," that gives
short answers to many such questions.
Small group discussions allowed individuals to talk about
their own fears as potential or long-time resisters. In one
small group someone came with two sealed letters from the IRS,
seeking support from others as she opened them. An afternoon
panel of four talked about their individuals travels in war
tax resistance, their fears in getting started, and the support
along the way that has been helpful. Among the attendees traveling
all the way from Boston was 96-year-old Cynthia Foster, who
is now facing down the IRS over their efforts to collect from
her social security and pension checks.
Having a supportive community nearby is ideal, but having one
fellow-traveler go along on an IRS visit can be all that is
Group reports reflected lots of war tax resistance organizing
activity throughout the region, with workshops being offered
regularly. In Boston quite a few people have received levies,
and one held a party when her salary got levied to help her
deal with it. Juanita Nelson reported on offering "salons" at
her home on Woolman Hill. She advertised three open-house type
evenings to talk about war tax resistance and planned her evening
to adjust for no visitors or 10. In the end, 21 people participated,
and she never had to leave home!
Many gathering participants expressed an interest in having
a meeting spot at national anti-war demonstrations for a wtr
contingent. If there's a demonstration in your city, send the
coordinates for a meeting spot to the NTWRCC office and we'll
try to get the word out and have a presence together.
[Return to List of Headlines]
CMTC Announces Grants
On September 1, the Nonviolent Action Community of Cascadia announced
$6,794 in grants to seven peace and justice organizations. The
grant money is primarily interest from the Conscience and Military
Tax Campaign, the largest escrow account of resisted war taxes
in the U.S. This was NACC's third round of grant-making, and our
process for soliciting and awarding the grants went very well.
We received grant applications from twenty-two organizations around
the country, asking for a total of $38,400. Through several rounds
of evaluation and discussion, we made our awards as follows:
Non-Military Options of Youth in Austin, Tx, $300. NOY is a
volunteer group providing counter-recruitment literature and
speakers in Austin high schools. Their grant will fund an entire
Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane, WA, $1,000. PJALS,
long an activist center in Spokane, will use their grant for
work on a living wage project, and education programs related
to white/hetero privilege and nonviolence.
Community Alliance for Global Justice in Seattle, WA, $1,000.
CAGJ is working on a fall media and action campaign to build
resistance to the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) proposal.
Appalachian Peace and Justice Network in Athens, OH, $994.
APJN is initiating an education and direct action campaign called
"Liberating Ourselves: Working to Bring War Dollars Home" in
four Appalachian counties.
Student Environmental Action Coalition, Philadelphia, PA, $1,000.
SEAC, a national coalition of campus activists is starting a
new campaign on "Militarism and the Environment."
East Timor Action Network, Madison, WI, $1,500. The Madison
ETAN chapter has established a sister-city relationship with
Ainaro, East Timor. The NACC grant will be used to purchase
agricultural kits for 50 farmers in the area, including sets
of tools, seed packets and a four-language poster on making
organic compost and fertilizer.
Peace of Social Justice Center of South Central Kansas, Topeka,
Kansas, $1,000. The Center is greatly expanding its Close the
SOA solidarity work, with the goal of sending twenty-five people
to this November's demonstrations, and increasing local awareness
NACC will conduct another round of grant-making in 2004, and
there's information about the program on our web site: www.nacc.info.
Those of us involved in the process find it inspiring to read
about all the good work going on, and feel that it's a privilege
to help out with our funds. We always welcome new escrow account
depositors, so if you like what we're doing and want to participate
with your resisted tax dollars, please get it touch.
Editor's note: More redirection reports will be coming in
the next issue. The recent survey sent to alternative funds
is being analyzed, and we hope to add in some accounts of individual
redirection to begin to show just how much money is being diverted
from the military to life and peace. Please contact the NWTRCC
office by email or phone with your redirection report.
S.O.S.-Save Our Site!
One Million Taxpayers for Peace is in urgent need of a new home.
A number of people at the May NWTRCC Conference wanted to renew
the campaign to make OMTFP truly national. Now is the time to
come forward! Or, more appropriately, to email us, pronto. If
you don't, the site and the campaign may fade into hyperspace.
Right now, we are paid up through November 2003, and the cost
is $63 quarterly.
Sonoma County Taxes for Peace is unable to carry the campaign.
The energy is just not here, although a few individuals may
contribute time to it. And Sara, who's been hosting the site
itself, handling the mail and much of the writing, is moving
away-i.e. changing email servers as well as post offices-and
needs to put her time/energy elsewhere.
So, people are needed to minimally: 1) Host the site and email,
get domain name pointed correctly to new site, and change link
to email on site, as well as post an update about the changes;
2) Collect mail, changing address on site, if necessary; 3)
Handle email; and, 4) post updates as necessary. This will keep
the site up as a resource on symbolic resistance that has attracted
the participation of many new resisters.
And, more than minimally: do whatever to get the word out
there, and the numbers of contributors geometrically climbing!
Someone who knows marketing would be an ideal addition!
If you are willing to help, please email email@example.com
or phone 707-823-9203. Thank you so much!
-The Folks at OMTFP
[Return to List of Headlines]
Dear NWTRCC Folks - I've been resisting taxes for a number of
years now. I've often wondered about using April 15 as Tax Day
because by then people have already decided what to do. Have you
ever considered choosing an earlier date - like late January when
people receive their tax info from employers - as, say, Tax Education
Day? That's the time for letters to the editors to hit the newspapers,
it seems to me, giving people some time to consider what they
are doing paying taxes and to learn the alternatives. (It might,
for instance, encourage someone like me to send my IRS tax refusal
letter to a paper - or at least show it to more friends. I'm surprisingly
reticent about this. Maybe there are others like me who would
come out too if it might encourage others.)
Jem Mara, Oregon
I…hope NWTRCC will consider mounting a strong push to organize
WTR education/actions on "anti-tax" or "untax" day, i.e., October
15--six months before/after April 15. More than once at 4/15
events I've had sympathetic taxpayers tell me they wish they
had known about WTR well BEFORE their taxes were due.
[Return to List of Headlines]
Other Things You Might Do with $87 Billion
By Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman
(Excerpt here. The complete article is available
You can actually get a few things done with $87 billion, the
amount that President Bush has asked Congress to appropriate
for expenditures related to the military occupation and reconstruction
The World Health Organization (WHO) and other UN bodies estimate
the cost of providing treatment and prevention services in developing
countries for tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria at $12 billion
The WHO Commission on Macroeconomics and Health estimated
that donor investment of $27 billion a year, including expenditures
on TB, AIDS and malaria, as well as to eliminate death and suffering
from other infectious diseases and nutritional deficiencies,
could save 8 million lives a year. That's eight million lives.
The UN Development Program estimated in 1998 that the annual
additional cost of achieving basic education for all was $6
Prefer to spend some or all of the money at home? Even in
the United States, where the dollar doesn't go as far, $87 billion
can perform some pretty impressive feats.
For example, according to Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities,
it would only cost $6 billion a year to provide health insurance
to all uninsured children in the United States. You can provide
Head Start and Early Head Start to all eligible children for
$8 billion annually. You can reduce class size to 15 students
per teacher in all first-, second- and third-grade classrooms
for $11 billion a year.
For $87 billion, you could eliminate the backlog of maintenance
needs at national parks nearly 15 times over. You could cover
more than half the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-estimated
20-year investment needs to ensure safe drinking water throughout
the United States. You could more than double the annual capital
expenditures needed to improve public transportation in the
United States, according to estimates of the American Association
of State Highway and Transportation Officials. You could provide
almost half of the overall funding EPA says is needed to provide
clean watersheds in the United States, including through wastewater
treatment, sewer upgrades and nonpoint source pollution control.
It just so happens, as the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities
points out, that $87 billion is almost exactly what all departments
in the federal government combined spend annually on education,
training, employment and social services. So you could fund
that for a year.
If you looked at the $87 billion as found money, and wanted
to do something unorthodox, you could eliminate California's
state budget deficit two times over.
And, you would still have enough left over to enable the Detroit
Tigers (baseball's worst team) next year to field a team full
of Alex Rodriguez's. (Rodriguez, at $25 million a year, is baseball's
highest-paid player. A full roster - 25 players - of Rodriguez's
would cost $625 million.)
... A strange circumstance has evolved in the United States.
Military expenditures can be justified at almost any level.
("Whatever it takes to defend freedom.") Politicians don't say,
"Whatever it takes to make sure every child in this country
has a decent education." Or, "Whatever it takes to deal with
the worst health pandemic in the history of the world (HIV/AIDS)."
When it comes to the military, there is neither a sense of proportion,
nor of trade offs. . . .
Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based
Corporate Crime Reporter,
http://www.corporatecrimereporter.com. Robert Weissman is
editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor,
They are co-authors of Corporate Predators: The Hunt for
MegaProfits and The Attack on Democracy (Monroe, Maine:
Common Courage Press;
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