National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee

More than a Paycheck:News from the War Tax Resistance Movement

National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee

October 2004 Contents

Subscriptions are $15/year, for your own complete illustrated paper copies.

Editor: Ruth Benn
Layout: Ajay Advani/Susan Quinlan

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.

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What If We All Stopped Paying Taxes?

Performed By Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings I was talking to a friend of mine
Said he don't want no wars no more
They're building bombs while our schools are falling
Tell me what in the hell we're paying taxes for

What if we all stopped paying taxes?
Now, what if we all stopped paying taxes?
Stop paying taxes y'all

Now tell me who's gonna buy their bombs
Their tanks, their planes and all their guns
Well, tell me who's gonna pay for their wars
If we all get together and cut their funds

Hey, listen people, listen to what I've got to say
What if we all stopped paying taxes?
(excerpt from the song)

"We believe that our country has been hijacked by oil moguls, war profiteers, overfed corporations, and other assorted a-moral billionaires. We refuse to believe the stories that they feed us through corporate owned and run media sources in their efforts to keep us in a state of fear and hate. We will resist the endemic apathy that allows them to use our hard earned tax dollars to fund illegal wars with dubious intent while here at home our education system is going bankrupt, and our healthcare and social services are virtually nonexistent. We oppose the recruitment of our brothers and sisters from the poorest neighborhoods in the country to fight a badly planned and managed war that will only benefit the extremely wealthy. Though we are proud to be citizens of this country, we consider us first and foremost to be citizens of the world. We believe that this land is our land, and that this land is your land."
      -Statement from Sharon Jones, the Dap-Kings, and the entire Daptone family

Daptone Records made the song, "What If We all Stopped Paying Taxes?" available on the internet, and you can link to it on the NWTRCC website or purchase it from the company. The flip side of the 45 is a funk version of "This Land Is Your Land," and both will definitely get your feet tapping. The group's concert and tour information is also available on the website, www.daptonerecords.com, or daptone@earthlink.net, (718) 366-3849.

On the grapevine: NWTRCC has also heard that at least one member of the group Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, www.antibalas.com, speaks out on stage against paying taxes for war, and that Patti Smith has waved a copy of the WRL book War Tax Resistance on stage encouraging the audience to read it, so be sure to support these musicians! Be sure to support these and other anti-war musicians!

Additionally, in a short NY Times Magazine interview with the film director Mira Nair ("Monsoon Wedding," "Vanity Fair"), the interviewer asks if she pays taxes, and she replies, "I pay taxes. It offends me to pay taxes to support a war." She also discusses how poorly informed Americans are about Islam and the world in general.

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Alternative Fund Survey: We Choose Butter!

While the U.S. government makes its spending choice between "Guns or Butter" obvious, the efforts of war tax resisters to redirect their taxes away from violence are lesser known but consistent. NWTRCC's annual survey of alternative funds indicates about $3,000 more redirected in 2004 than 2003: approximately $36,000 was reported to us from a dozen funds. Each year the funds who replied to our survey represented about half those shown on our mailing list, so we can assume the redirection figure is significantly higher. Plus, there is no question that many war tax resisters are not using alternative funds, but are redirecting their war taxes on their own.

One of the most satisfying aspects of war tax resistance is giving the money to people and groups who help to make the world a better place. Some of those who benefited from this redirection are: Veterans for Peace (Asheville, Bangor, and Northwest), Stop the Wall Campaign, Pastors for Peace, Justice for Janitors, Project Hip Hop, Dorchester People for Peace, Eviction Free Zone, Pro Mujer (Nicaragua), Health Ministries Clinic (Kansas), AFSC Material Aid Program, Albuquerque Public Schools Title 1 Homeless Project, support group for torture survivors, medical aid for civilians in Iraq, legal service for immigrants, support for prisoners' families, a Bio-diesel project, and help for AIDS patients.

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Counseling Notes:

Tax Protesters and WTRs

Every now and then it's interesting to type "war tax resistance" into a web search engine and see what comes up. Happily, NWTRCC's site tops the list in Google, and other such worthy ones follow, including Northern California WTR's site. One of the other links near the top of the list is the article on AlterNet by Matt Wheeland, "War Tax Resistance Made Simple"- a good article except for the references to filing a blank or "zero" return. The latter even links to Irwin Schiff's website, a name that becomes familiar when you've done a workshop or have your phone number listed for WTR calls. Someone will say, "I hear you don't have to pay taxes. I read a book by this guy Irwin Schiff."

Schiff is the author of The Federal Mafia: How the Federal Government Illegally Imposes and Unlawfully Collects Federal Income Taxes, and one of the best known "tax protesters" in the country. Schiff has done a couple turns in prison related to tax offenses and has consistently lost in court, in part because his materials tell people they can successfully avoid paying taxes by using his methods. He was in the news again recently because in June a judge ruled that Schiff must stop promoting his "zero tax return" and stop selling his book. There is certainly a question about whether the courts can stop someone from selling such a book, but wtr's must be wary when someone comes to a workshop and tells others they don't have to pay taxes. The courts just plain do not accept these arguments, and many of Schiff's followers have found themselves stuck with huge tax bills. Even if he's correct in the details of his arguments it is wrong to tell taxpayers "they don't have to pay" when there is no legal back-up for his case. Schiff is among those featured on a website about tax scams and fraud, www.quatloos.com-an entertaining and interesting site and worth a look if you want to investigate a particular "too good to be true" idea related to taxes.

Many people who live on a taxable income and approach us about war tax resistance hope that there is a legal way to refuse to pay for war. While we believe that what we are doing is right and can cite international law or moral arguments to back up our actions, acknowledgment of war tax resistance as an act of civil disobedience and of the risks involved-given the current legal practices-is an important part of our counseling.

Inspecting the IRS

For those interested in the details of independent reviews of IRS procedures, the website for the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, www.treas.gov/tigta, offers hours of details and statistics. TIGTA was established under the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 to provide independent oversight of IRS activities. They audit IRS customer service representatives' performances annually, and during the 2004 filing season TIGTA found that responses to taxpayer questions proved "less than satisfactory." Taxpayers received accurate answers to tax law questions for only 62% of the calls monitored, a drop from the 2003 rate of 73%. A separate TIGTA review of IRS's seizure of taxpayer's property found that the agency did not always comply with legal provisions and internal procedures when conducting the seizures. A number of these problems involved taxpayers not receiving the notice of intent to levy 30 days in advance. TIGTA also reports on the decline in property seizures since the Reform Act, from 10,090 in 1997 to a low of 74 seizures in 2000 and 399 in 2003. This kind of information can be useful to many of us in determining levels of risk and also in reminding us to pay careful attention to information provided by the IRS.

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MANY THANKS

Heartfelt appreciation to all the groups who have given to NWTRCC since the last newsletter. Your support maked a difference!

Philadelphia War Resisters League
Taxes for Peace! (Eugene, OR)
Friends Meeting of Cambridge (MA)

In addition,
we thank the estate of Joni Ross for a generous bequest

If your group is delinquest in its financial support of NWTRCC, we hope that you will send it in before the end of our fiscal year, November 30, 2004.

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Network List Updates

This is the time of year when our newly updated network list becomes available, and there are too many changes to list in this space. Current listings for those with email or office phone numbers appear on NWTRCC's website under Network List. If you would like a printed list for your region (or for the whole country) please contact the NWTRCC office.

Noted here are a few of the websites that we have not listed here before:

Conscience, Militarism, and War Tax Concerns
(Philadelphia)
www.pym.org/peace-and-concerns/tax/index.html

Iowa Peace Network
www.iowpeacenetwork.org

Philadelphia WTR/WRL is now
Philadelphia War Resisters League
www.phillywrl.net

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International News

Tax Collector Drops In

On August 4, 2004, a tax collector from Inland Revenue visited the office of War Resisters' International and collected the withheld war tax for the financial year 2002-03. WRI staff, volunteers, and the WRI Treasurer were present. The money had been attached to a poster reading "War Resisters' International's war taxes," flanked by nuclear missiles.

While the outstanding taxes for the financial year 2002/03 have now been taken by the Inland Revenue, a similar process can be expected for the financial year 2003-04, and for future years, as War Resisters' International is continuing to withhold the proportion of its staff's income tax that is used to pay for war (at present 7%).

"We are prepared to go to court again, to fight our case against war and militarism, against the conscription of our taxes for the purpose of war and aggression, as presently in Iraq," declares Andreas Speck, office coordinator of War Resisters' International. "It will take a while until this gets recognized, but when this organization was founded, back in 1921, only four countries recognized conscientious objection to military service. We don't want to wait 80 years for our right to refuse to pay for war, but we are convinced that sooner or later we will get this right."

For more information, see the WRI website or write Andreas Speck, War Resisters' International, 5 Caledonian Road, London N1 9DX, Britain, info@wri-irg.org, http://wri-irg.org.

WRI Newsletter on Resisting War Taxes

Issue 62, September 2004, of WRI's newsletter The Broken Rifle is devoted to "Resisting War Taxes." Copies are available on the web at http://wri-irg.org/pubs/br62-en.htm (or from WRI at address above). The newsletter is available in English, Spanish, French, and German, and includes an article about WRI's resistance, Spanish resistance, and tax refusal in the context of human rights.

Statement from the Peace Tax Seven, U.K.

We are a group of seven taxpaying citizens. We want to make a positive contribution to society by paying our tax in full. We object in conscience to paying others to kill on our behalf, but current tax policy forces us to do just that.

We have each tried to direct our income taxes to be used for peaceful and non-military purposes. In each case we were denied the right, and each of us has faced a dilemma: either to pay our taxes and so become complicit in killing; or to follow our conscience and break the law by withholding payment of a portion of our taxes.

Following our consciences has lead us to court or the threat of prosecution. We object in conscience to this financial conscription and believe that its legal basis is questionable. We are seeking a judicial review of current UK tax policy on this issue.

The right of conscientious objection to conscription to military service has been recognized in most democracies, including in the UK in the Military Service Act (1916). The right not to pay taxes for military purposes is a logical extension of the right to refuse to take part in active military service.

Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) recognizes freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. The ECHR is part of UK law under the terms of the Human Rights Act 1998, which came into force in October 2000. Since that date it has been unlawful for a public authority to act in a way which is incompatible with the ECHR.

Compelling conscientious objectors to contribute to military expenditure constitutes a disproportionate interference with these basic human rights and is therefore unlawful.

If we win, the law will not change immediately, but the British government would be under obligation to consider the incompatibility between UK tax law and human rights law. We hope that the outcome of such a review would be to allow conscientious objectors the right to redirect the military proportion of their taxes to a peaceful purpose. The case is likely to take up to 12 months to go through the courts and may entail costs of up to 50,000. We, the seven war tax resisters, are personally liable for these costs.

As well as pursuing this landmark case, we want to make the maximum possible use of this opportunity to spread awareness of peace tax and peace issues generally, and to contribute to cultures and processes of peace, in the UK and beyond. We are interested in on-the-record messages of support from individuals, groups and organizations; coverage in newsletters and other media; website links; and donations.

The Peace Tax Seven are Brenda Boughton, retired teacher; Robin Brookes, toy designer; Sin Cwper, Buddhist; Simon Heywood, university lecturer, Joe Jenkins, author/filmmaker; Roy Prockter, accountant; Dr. Brigit Vllm, psychiatrist and lecturer. Their website gives more details, updates, and includes statements from each of the seven about their WTR history. For more information see www.peacetaxseven.com, or if you would like to send a statement of support or a contribution address them to: Peace Tax Seven, Woodlands, Ledge Hill, Market Lavington, Wiltshire SN10 4NW, England.

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NWTRCC Business

Come to Swarthmore and Meet WTRs!

Register now for the NWTRCC gathering and meetings November 5-7, 2004, at Swarthmore College, near Philadelphia, PA. The weekend gathering starts with dinner on Friday and ends at noon on Sunday, after the Coordinating Committee meeting. Come for all or part of the weekend. Registration materials are available on the NWTRCC website, www.nwtrcc.org, or call or email the office for a brochure, (800) 269-7464, nwtrcc@nwtrcc.org.

Campaign Update

The Activism is Patriotism Campaign that includes NWTRCC as one of its web links placed full page ads during September and October in Rolling Stone, Organic Style, Business Week, and Newsweek. NWTRCC affiliates with websites or newsletters might considering using one of the campaign ads, available from the website, www.activismispatriotism.org/media. In addition, the campaign will distribute a PSA featuring Julia Butterfly Hill to various music and activism festivals around the country and highlighting the Activism is Patriotism theme and partners at fall events.

While hits on the NWTRCC website are coming through searches on Google or Yahoo, referrals from the Activism is Patriotism website are showing up. Many of these will be people completely new to war tax resistance.

Commentary
Editor's Note: Letters to the editor of MTAP are most welcome, a fact we should state since none have been received of late. However, a stray comment or two did come in about the above campaign, some positive and some to the effect of the note below. Let us know what you think about this topic or others!

I disagree with NWTRCC getting together with Circle of Life for patriotism. I say that activism is anti-patriotism. It is a mistake to be "getting more deeply involved in 'our' democracy," not only because it is not mine, but it cannot belong to any stateless person. We should be getting more deeply involved in anarchism as the basis of war tax resistance. With anarchist consciousness you might have the sensitivity to use inclusive language and not write "our country" as you do (MTAP, August 2004).
      -Joffre Stewart, Chicago

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War Tax Resistance Ideas & Actions

Petitioning Tax Court

By Daniel Jenkins

Editor's note: To our knowledge WTR-related petitions to tax court have not met any success and, as Daniel mentions, there is the possibility of a hefty frivolous fine. That said, we think it useful to share his thoughts, research, and arguments with our readers. A date has not been set for the hearing, which will probably be held in New York City.

The New York State Constitution of 1777 acknowledged "scruples of conscience" on the part of Quakers, and this was expanded to other religious groups in the revised constitution of 1821. These residents were exempted from service in the state militia, the "army" of that time. However, the payment of an "equivalent" was required. This "commutation" tax was used for militia expenses, and apparently many Quakers resisted paying it. This resulted in forced confiscation of their personal property and "distress" sales. However, the state assembly eventually passed laws directing that the militia "commutation" taxes be used instead for the "support of common schools," and then for the "use of the poor."

I am currently in tax court, having escrowed a portion of my 2001 federal income tax pending the opportunity to direct these dollars to nonmilitary expenditures. I have pursued all available IRS review procedures. I have no expectation of winning in tax court. But I am nevertheless trying to bring forward a "new issue" as carefully as I can.

I will attempt to use the 9th Amendment and will identify the accommodation of religious conscience in the New York state constitution of 1777 as a right "retained by the people." This right is clearly expressed in a state constitution, which was in full force and effect when the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution were ratified. I will also reference the relevant New York statutes that were enacted while the state constitutions of 1777 and 1821 were in place.

These established rights have been "denied and disparaged" by later federal income tax laws and regulations that do not acknowledge objections of conscience; do not provide alternative service for tax dollars; and lump such expressions of individual religious freedom in with all other types of "frivolous and groundless" tax disputes.

This is a tall order, but the attempt will provide me with some peace of mind. I realize that I proceed under the threat of a possible $25,000 fine, but I am prepared to deal with that consequence.

I have no legal counsel at present, although I am receiving some excellent unofficial advice and support. The threat of a court sanction for involvement with a "frivolous" tax resister case has spooked the legal professionals that I have approached thus far. For me this is an opportunity to link present day issues of personal conscience back with the tenor of the post-revolutionary times and to invoke the original "founders" intent to safeguard the freedom of individual conscience. It may make a good story. It may also generate some positive publicity for HR 2037, the Peace Tax Fund Bill before Congress.

Excerpts from Daniel Jenkins' amended petition to United States Tax Court:

"The relief requested is for federal income tax payments to remain sequestered in an escrow account until they can be directed to nonmilitary expenditures. This request is grounded on the phrase transfixed above Judges presiding in courtrooms throughout our country. "In God We Trust" acknowledges an eternal authority which transcends manmade laws. The Bill of Rights protects individuals from constructs of the State. This covenant requires our government to give precedence to matters of personal conscience. American citizens were once compelled to serve in the armed forces until the right of conscientious objection was affirmed by the Judiciary, and then conscription laws were revised. I ask this Court to envision an amended tax code; a statute providing honest taxpayers the opportunity to pay for federal services without violating their deeply held convictions of conscience.

"Petitioner's additional position is that conscientious objection to military service and military funding is an established right "retained by the people" which is protected by the Ninth Amendment to the United States Constitution which provides: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

Such rights were established, maintained, and expanded by various state constitutions and statutes when militias were manned and funded at that level of government. These rights of conscience were not extinguished simply because the armed forces became federalized. The national income tax was instituted soon after the turn of the last century, and it became the primary source of military funding very incrementally. It was only after the Second World War that taxes collected from the general population became the primary revenue source for "defense" expenditures. It was also at this time that conscientious tax objection cases began to appear in the Courts.

"This case is grounded on a documented historical basis. The Ninth Amendment was expressly designed so that rights such as the liberty of individual conscience would not be "denied or disparaged" by the federal government. The "retained rights" invoked by the Petitioner are not just common law, nor even just natural rights that were self-proclaimed by revolutionaries. They are rights included in statutes passed by democratically elected representatives "of the people," and they are rights incorporated into state constitutions that were ratified "by the people," both before and after the U.S. Constitution was adopted.

"There has been no court case addressing how the protections and guarantees of the Ninth Amendment are to be applied to rights of conscientious objection, particularly in light of the rich colonial and state tradition of recognition and accommodation of such rights for conscientious objection to military participation and taxation.

"Petitioner therefore respectfully requests:

"(a) An Order issued by this Court directing that the escrowed funds be transferred and bonded in a manner consistent with Tax Court Rule 192, or otherwise sequestered as the Court may determine, pending the final outcome of this case.

"(b) A Decision issued by this Court finding that Title 26 of the U.S. Code, or any particular sections which compel persons to violate their protected liberties and rights of individual conscience, is an unconstitutional statute as written or as currently administered by the Internal Revenue Service."

Daniel Jenkins lives in upstate New York. Contact him about the tax court case or military tax inquiries at: comt@adelphia.net.

New England Gathering 2004

Spreading the Word; Practicing Mutual Aid is the theme for the New England WTR gathering, November 12-14, at The New School in Kennebunk, Maine. The focus is on outreach to potential new resisters, making our resistance more visible, and two aspects of "mutual aid," support and redirection. Attendees can expect a stimulating weekend. The building is wheelchair accessible, and there is plenty of room on floors and couches for sleeping, along with beds in nearby homes. Six vegetarian meals will be provided from Friday supper through Sunday lunch. Cost for the full weekend is $0-50 per adult with adjusted rates for attending part of the time; children are free. If you would like a brochure or registration information contact Stephen Soucy, PO Box 5510, Ellsworth, ME 04605, sjsoucy@downeast.net or Larry Dansinger, invert@acadia.net or (207) 525-7776.

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Perspective

Living Sanely During Insane Times

By Geoff Huggins

For many of us, these are insane times. With the invasion of Iraq, the abuses of our constitutional rights by the Patriot Act, ever-expanding U.S. imperialism, and government-corporate collaboration, it seems as if our world has gone mad. Our federal government is engaged in actions that are causing great harm, both at home and abroad. It is unresponsive to most of its citizens - belying its claim to be a democracy. Most federal and even state elected officials are far more accountable to big business than their ordinary constituents. As a result, we are facing an epidemic of worldwide crises - from loss of rights at home to widespread genocide and environmental devastation around the world.

While I am horrified by the actions of the Bush administration for aggravating many of these crises and adding to the insanity, I feel that the problems go much deeper than George W. Bush. He and his cohorts may be doing some dreadful things, but he is not the devil incarnate. We will not end the problems if we drive him from office. He is just the worst of a long line of American administrations that have carried on imperialistic and harmful policies, for many decades.

The problem is also deeper than campaigning and voting for Kerry - in hopes that his election would end the insanity. Even if Kerry is our next president, much of the insanity will go on - though at a reduced level. Campaigning with the motivation of "anyone but Bush" is, I think, falling into the trap of dualistic thinking that just contributes to the polarized atmosphere. I am concerned that activists will invest much of their energy into trying to beat Bush, and then either give up in defeat if he wins, or celebrate and go home if Kerry wins. Either way, they have just reacted to the current elections, rather than get involved over the long haul. What is needed is a basic transformation of the "American Way" - the way of violence, nonsustainability, world domination, and shallow lifestyles.

Taking Action

What can we do, to turn this out-of-control train around, before it causes even more harm or leads to a catastrophic worldwide wreck? There are several things we theoretically could do to stop it, if enough of us took action. We WTR folks know, for example, that if enough citizens quit paying war taxes, we could stop the train overnight. Alternatively, if enough of us quit going along with consumerism, we could end America's leadership in plundering other peoples and the environment. If enough of us voted for "None of the Above," our nondemocratic government would be swept away in one grand step and could be replaced with a president who actually listens to the citizens. If many of us turned off our TV, the frivolous entertainment industry would evaporate instantaneously.

Unfortunately, none of these actions - which require large numbers of people to act - will be happening any time soon. Instead, far too many Americans have been lulled asleep. If no change is likely any time soon (most Americans will likely remain in a torpor for some time yet), is there anything that we can do - those of us who are concerned and ready to take action? Many of us have already been fighting the battle, but it can be a lonely and frustrating fight. It can lead to anger and violent forms of reaction (such as militant protests), which do little to bring lasting change. It can lead to burnout or turning our backs on the mess, and heading for the deep woods. Are there positive steps that can we take to oppose the insanity, without becoming swept up into it, burning out, or turning our backs on it? There is no single answer for everyone, since we are all in different situations. I will try to suggest a few possibilities.

An overriding guideline that I think is crucial is: do not cooperate with the insanity. Our complicity is the fuel that keeps the train going. I'm trying here to look at the bigger picture, at the situation that has gone on for much of our country's history. What can we do to fight that bigger battle? What can we do, now, to live a sane life, in the midst of all this craziness? I'll offer a few suggestions for taking action - at first the federal level and then the local level.

Action at the Federal Level

Our federal government is the cause of most of the craziness. If we can't stop the federal train, we can at least refuse to cooperate with it. We can refuse to add fuel to the fire. A very direct way we WTRs take a stand is to stop paying a portion of our federal taxes (or pay no federal taxes at all, if we keep our income low enough). But what more may we do (recognizing that every one of us is complicit to some degree and thus can do more)? Here are a few possibilities:

  • Don't allow federal officials to define or frame the issues. They have done this successfully in the so-called war on terrorism. It has convinced most Americans that our only effective response to the 9/11 attacks was armed retaliation, and getting many of us to argue over whether we should have invaded Iraq and sought out WMDs; rather than seeking creative and compassionate responses that deal with the causes of terrorism.
  • Defy the secrecy and one-way communication policies of the feds. Too many decisions are made behind closed doors by powerful interest groups, as the government feeds us disinformation through a complicit media.
  • Don't be drawn into a fearful worldview. The feds would have us believe that this is a threatening world in which we must mistrust and oppose strangers, rather than try to understand them.
  • Don't buy into consumerism and the culture of greed. Live simply. Don't contribute to the nonsustainable American way, as it disproportionately gobbles up nonrenewable resources and suppresses poorer peoples.
  • Don't fall for dualistic thinking. It has helped polarize this country and divide it into opposing camps, which makes people believe that they must choose one side and be hateful towards the other.
  • Don't play into harsh, retributive thinking. Our judicial system does not really act to prevent problems, but waits until someone has broken a law and then severely punishes them.
  • Ignore TV, the mass media, and popular entertainment - the real "opiate of the masses."

Action at the Local Level

Local government differs from the federal government in a couple of significant ways. First, it is not causing anywhere near the harm. Second, it can be responsive to our efforts. By getting involved in our local community, we can wield significant influence. Gandhi was an advocate for creating strong local communities that can do much to provide for the health and welfare of their inhabitants - far better than distant government. We can do a lot to bring to ourselves and to our neighbors many of the services that distant government is largely failing to provide; e.g., education, welfare, a democratic environment, and health. (Several states, for example, are divesting themselves of federal education assistance, because of the directives that come tied to the No Child Left Behind policies.)

Individually, there is much we can do to help our local communities be rewarding places in which to live. Here are just a few suggestions:

  • Start by governing ourselves. Practice self-discipline, act responsibly, work hard, be fair and honest in our dealings. These actions go a long way towards building healthy community.
  • Promote sensible education. Tutor and/or mentor a neighbor. Help provide an alternative to public schools, which put high priority on training people to become cooperative cogs in the corporate machine. (The home schooling movement has largely come about in response to the failings of public education.)
  • Volunteer in various ways in your community - to help provide less privileged people some of their basic needs and rights.
  • Get involved in local government. Go to town meetings. Get your voice heard. Insist that your local government be open, responsive, and democratic.
  • Support local merchants and buy in-season local food. Grow some of your own food. Think twice about buying something at the mall, that was trucked in from some distant sweatshop. There are alternatives that are fair to people in developing countries.

One of the major contributing factors to the insanity in the world is a lack of feeling connected to others and caring about them. When we feel threatened by strangers, it's difficult to feel concerned about their happiness. We can counter that alienation, to some degree, by practicing love and caring at the local level. We can start locally, send out ripples of love, and find that it can be very powerful in impacting the global scene. Yes, regime change does start at home right in our hearts.

Geoff Huggins is a former engineer, living simply in the Shenandoah Valley, and avoiding paying federal taxes by keeping a low income.

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National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee
PO Box 150553, Brooklyn, NY 11215 • Email: nwtrcc@nwtrcc.org
www.nwtrcc.org