In this Issue
1) WTR's Celebrate a Day Without the Pentagon, by Carol Moore
2) NWTRCC Seeks New Coordinator
3) Counseling Notes (Phone Service Temporarily Cut Off; Court Finds for Tax Protester; IRS Taxpayer Services)
4) Resources (The Illegality of Nuclear Weapons; The Wars Within; More on Latin America; Interfaith Directory)
5) Penalty Fund Looks to the Future
6) WTR Ideas and Actions (Request for Support of Non-Cooperation with Military Taxation, by Judith Felker; Minuteman III Plowshares Arraigned; WTR Nurse Goes to Court)
7) WTR Profile: War Tax Resisters Grow Harmony, by Susan Van Haitsma
8) Local Group Reports (Milwaukee, WI)
9) War Resisters League Conference, by David Waters
10) Perspective: The Bombs Are Falling Now, by Clare Hanrahan
WTR's Celebrate a Day Without the Pentagon By Carol Moore
War tax resisters were well represented at the Peace Concert October 18th in the District of Columbia and the Day Without the Pentagon action on the following day. Several of us sat at the NWTRCC table on the 18th and distributed literature to the crowd of a couple hundred who passed through throughout the day. We were entertained by excellent local music groups.
Despite rain, gray skies, and a lower than predicted turnout of 300 - 500 people, I considered the Pentagon action to be a success. The day started at 7:00 a.m. with civil disobedience at the escalator entrance to the Pentagon from the metro. Twenty-one activists were arrested. The march from Arlington Cemetery to the Pentagon started around 10:30 a.m. Big cloth birds of peace from Bread and Puppet Theater led the sign-carrying marchers, who ranged in age from young children to the elderly.
There was a great line up of speakers and musicians including Odetta, Jaleo, David Dellinger, Hala Maksoud, Allan Nairn, Mandy Carter, Daniel Ellsberg, Pam Africa, Alyn Ware, Barbara Smith, Luis Nieves-Falcon, David McReynolds, Greg Payton, Dick Gregory et al. War tax resister Clare Hanrahan gave an excellent speech (see Perspective, page 8). Army and media helicopters conveniently buzzed overhead, disrupting the live feed to C-SPAN.
War tax resisters were quite popular since we paid for part of and supervised the free food and water table. It was decorated with a sign declaring, "If you work for peace stop paying for war," and one informing people the goodies were paid for with "resisted tax monies." (I got the impression that members of Food Not Bombs, which also supplied food, were resisters.)
Because of our small numbers, the afternoon civil disobdience focused only on the River entrance to the Pentagon which faced the stage. Several dozen protesters tried to cross the shoulder-to-shoulder police line, but were held back. The police were on "Threat Condition Alpha" due to "terrorism." (No irony was intended apparently on the government's part!) I and several others attempted to take one of the official Pentagon tours, which were cancelled due to the demonstrators.
However, chanting and singing protesters did their best to educate the lines of police, who had been told to keep arrests to a minimum and arrested only 15. Try as they could, 93 year-old Louise Ramirez and activist Daniel Ellsberg could not get arrested. Austin Conscientious Objectors to Military Taxation member Andy McKenna also risked arrest. He was person-handled and threatened with bodily harm if he attempted to cross the cordon again. He gave an impromptu speech announcing that, while he took exception to this threat, he retained his intention to be peaceful and in solidarity with the oppressed (predominantly black and working class) guards. He got applause from the crowd and interest from some media.
It was a great solidarity building event. We reminded the Pentagon that there are people who oppose the United States using military force to impose its priorities on the world.
NWTRCC Seeks New Coordinator
Despite the fact that the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee is made up of some of the most thoughtful, interesting, dedicated, and fun people anyone could ever want to work with, NWTRCC Coordinator Karen Marysdaughter has given her notice and expects to leave her position at the end of next May in order to do more local organizing work.
The Coordinating Committee established a hiring committee at its meeting in Berkeley. A job description and information on the pay and hours are available from the NWTRCC office. Please note: the new person will not be required to move to Monroe, Maine! The office will move to wherever the new Coordinator lives. Anyone interested in the position should submit a resumé to the NWTRCC office by January 15th, 1999.
COUNSELING NOTES Phone Service Temporarily Cut Off
Phone tax resister Bill Hagel of New York had his outgoing phone service cut off for a few hours in mid-October by Bell Atlantic and AT&T. The local phone company had been sending him notices for awhile, but, despite Bill's discussions with them and clarification of their role in reporting refused phone taxes to the IRS, they went ahead and blocked his service.
Bill managed to reach a person at Bell Atlantic who was sympathetic and understood what he was saying about phone tax resistance. She agreed that the refused amount was tax money, not phone bill money. Bill told her, "This is a bookkeeping problem, not my problem." At first she referred him to AT&T to resolve things with them directly; however, they just told Bill to write a letter to a particular address about the situation. Not wanting to take days to resolve things, Bill called the friendly woman at Bell Atlantic back who said she would see what she could do. A few hours later he discovered his service had been restored. The Bell Atlantic person told him to send his notes about the phone taxes directly to her from now on and she would take care of it.
Court Finds for Tax Protester
A federal district court recently held that a taxpayer writing the words, "under protest" beneath his signature on a 1040 form did not render it a frivolous return. The court found that the taxpayer had properly exercised his First Amendment right to protest to the IRS while still complying with his obligation to file. The IRS subsequently agreed with the court. It said that in order to render a document frivolous, a taxpayer's added statements must reasonably cast doubt on the validity of the return and be more than a mere expression of grievance. (McCormick, Lawrence v. Shirley Peterson)
IRS Taxpayer Services
As part of its ongoing restructuring efforts, the IRS plans to begin round the clock, seven days a week, taxpayer telephone service in January 1999 to answer consumer questions. IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti reaffirmed his commitment to provide their customer service representatives with the necessary training to do the job.
RESOURCES The Illegality of Nuclear Weapons
In July of 1996 the International Court of Justice declared nuclear weapons illegal. Nuclear Weapons are Illegal: The Historic Opinion of the World Court and How it Will Be Enforced, edited by Ann Fagan Ginger, contains the complete decision of the Court, including the separate opinions and dissents of the individual judges, an introduction, an account of how the decision came about, questions for discussion, texts of relevant documents, tables of cases and treaties, and a complete index. To order, call/fax 1/800-316-2739 or write The Apex Press, 777 United Nations Plaza, Ste. 3C, New York, NY, 10017.
The Wars Within
The North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA) recently published a special report, "The Wars Within: Counterinsurgency in Chiapas and Colombia." The report is for anyone who is "interested in what is happening in Chiapas or Colombia and the role of the U.S. government in both countries." It is available for $5.75 from NACLA, PO Box 77, Hopewell, PA, 16650-0077.
More on Latin America
Just the Facts, A civilian's guide to U.S. defense and security assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean is an overview of the U.S.'s complex military relationship with the region. It looks at arms transfers, training programs, exercies, deployments, counternarcotics operations, and military bases. It is available for $16.95 plus shipping and handling from the Latin America Working Group, 110 Maryland Ave NE - Box 15, Washington, DC, 20002, (202)546-7010, web: www.ciponline.org/facts/.
Interfaith Voices for Peace and Justice is about to publish a directory of faith-based groups working for social change. For more information, IFVoices, PO Box 270214, St. Louis, MO, 63127, (314)892-1192; toll-free (888)454-8296; email: IFVoices@aol.com; web: www.origin.org/ifv.htm.
Penalty Fund Looks to the Future
The War Tax Resisters Penalty Fund, a penalty-sharing effort which reimburses war tax resisters for penalties and interest seized by the IRS, issued Appeal #35 in September. The total amount requested by war tax resisters, $7,374 for this appeal, was divided up among the active supporters, currently 277 of them, for an appeal of $26.93 per supporter.
In addition to the usual appeal, the WTRPF Steering Committee asked for input about the future of the Fund. They said, "Nearly the same committee has been caring for the fund since its inception in 1982. We continually wonder whether another group should take a turn operating the Fund, whether it should be disbanded in favor of local support groups, whether we need representation from other communities on the steering committee, and if so, how we would meet regularly. We're a little weary. Give us your counsel."
To give the Committee some input and/or to join the Fund, write: War Tax Resister's Penalty Fund, c/o Manchester Fellowship of Reconciliation, Box 25, North Manchester, IN, 46962.
Request for Support of Non-Cooperation with Military Taxation By Judith Felker
Below is my request to the Minneapolis Friends Meeting for support of my non-cooperation with military conscription through taxation. I encourage everyone to help make this witness as public as possible. I think that in order for government to acknowledge that this is the same issue of conscientious objection to bodily conscription, it is necessary that many of us make public witness. I believe government will change when it sees that change to be in its own best interest. If we conscientious objectors don't make that clear to government, who will? So, use the information in this text in anyway you can to let the "light of non-cooperation with military taxation shine in the darkness ". Send it, duplicate it, distribute it. I am being as public about my non-cooperation as I know how. Dear Friends,
The Ministry and Council Committee has recommended that I let you know about my non-cooperation with military taxation and what it is I am asking of Minneapolis Meeting.
When I was a foster parent I was able to live according to my conscience without the struggle I have now. Since foster parent payments are not taxable, my non cooperation in the payment of Federal military taxes was legal (and easy). Now I work part time fundraising for progressive political organizations and, for the first time in 15 years, I have taxable income.
Believing that "there is that of God in everyone", I cannot in conscience torture or kill anyone, and it follows that I also cannot pay anyone to do those things in my name. I cannot in conscience pay taxes to the Federal government with full knowledge that about 50% of it goes to the military.
In order to follow my leading on this concern, I claimed 8 allowances on my W4 form so there would be no Federal taxes withheld from my paycheck. I mailed in my 1997 income tax forms and enclosed a letter of explanation but no check.
Relevant to my concern is the fact that there is current legislation before Congress for a "Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund" (RFPTF) which would allow people to channel their money to areas other than the military. Brochures about this bill are on the literature table. I am asking you to call or write to your elected officials urging them to support this bill. Please send a copy of your letter to the National RFPTF Campaign, and, if you would, put a copy in the envelope on the table to be later placed in a binder for the Meeting. Your letter will carry more weight if you state how you are affected in spirit by government's requirement that you support the military through your taxes. I know that many of you suffer when you do this, and some of you withhold a portion of your taxes in protest.
Typically, the IRS levis a non-payer's bank account or their wages to recover the unpaid amount, attaching interest and penalties.
Peter Goldberger, attorney for war tax resisters in Eastern States, believes these actions on the part of the IRS are illegal under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) which states, in part, that the government must use the least restrictive means possible when its interests conflict with religious freedoms. (Passage of the RFPTF bill would, of course, be a less restrictive means than levying and attaching interest and penalties). Peter is currently representing two of four Quakers who are appealing decisions of the IRS as not complying with RFRA.
I feel led by the Holy Spirit to follow these four Friends, and have had a clearness committee to affirm this leading. I would like to help open a way for people of conscience to pay their fair share of Federal taxes while being true to their deeply held (religious) beliefs.
I need your support in order to follow this path. Litigation costs are high. I would like people to help me think about this and plan. Priscilla and her meeting have fundraising events, for example. A special "Fund for Sufferings" could be opened. I am open to and eager for ideas.
I welcome any communication. My phone number is: 612/822-9714. M-Th 9:00 am to 2:00pm Central time, and weekends are times when you are most likely to reach me.
Our e-mail address is: email@example.com. Send snail-mail to Judith Felker, 3215 Columbus Ave. S. Minneapolis, MN, 55407-2030.
Minuteman III Plowshares Arraigned
WTRs Daniel Sicken and Sachio Ko-Yin were arraigned and indicted in federal court on a single charge of "destruction of government property." They will likely be indicted later on a further charge of sabotage, i.e. "destruction of national defense materials and premises." This charge carries a mandatory sentence of between 63 and 78 months. Daniel says, "The federal court system has high conviction rates as compared to state courts, but the food is much better in federal prisons."
The prosecution is expected to submit, and the judge to grant, a "motion in limine" which prevents defendents from bringing in issues related to the dangers of weapons of mass destruction. "However," Daniel and Sachio say, "our consciences will not be conveniently silenced."
WTR Nurse Goes to Court
Ed Martizsus of Vernonia, OR was scheduled for trial on September 28 for trespass at Good Samaritan Hospital in Portland, OR, where he formerly worked as a nurse. For a number of years now Ed has been demanding the hospital reimburse him for wages they turned over to the IRS. He has cited violations of human and civil rights, crimes against humantiy, the July 8, 1996 World Court decision against nuclear weapons, the US Constitution's Supremacy Clause, the Nurse Practices Act, and the right of anyone to resist nuclear genocide under the Nuremburg Tribunal decisions.
In a pre-trail meeting with the judge, an agreement was reached to allow a cooling off period of 90 days, during which Ed would agree to stay off the grounds of the Episcopal owned and chaired Good Samaritan Hospital while they work to resolve the civil and human rights abuses involved in taking Ed's pay and sending it to the IRS.
Ed is clear that, if no resolution is worked out by the end of 90 days, he will be back on the hospital grounds on day 91.
WTR Profile War Tax Resisters Grow Harmony By Susan Van Haitsma
Imagine that you are sitting on a lawn chair atop a straw stack bordering a beautiful organic garden in the heart of Iowa. You are watching a golden harvest moon rise above the rows of corn that stretch out in front of you rustling like a sea of applause. The straw stack is a mulch supply for the beautiful garden which is named Growing Harmony Farm. You are seven miles east of Ames and seven miles west of the small town of Nevada, and the lights from these two communities glow slightly on either horizon. In between are fields of corn and soybeans, modest farm houses and the stretch of roadway where Twister was filmed. Your heart is full of gratitude for the lovely heavens and earth, and particularly for this small plot of heaven, tended with so much integrity by your moon-viewing companions, Nancy and Gary T. Guthrie.
The T.Guthries are among several war tax resisters whose stories are included in the NWTRCC pamphlet, Low Income/Simple Living as War Tax Resistance. At the time of that writing, Gary and Nancy were living in Des Moines, doing job sharing as co-coordinators of the Iowa Peace Network. Plans for moving to Gary's parents' farm and boyhood home were already in the works, and their story in the pamphlet concluded: "We feel that we are in the process of discovering what these changes will mean for our lives." What hasn't changed is their desire to continue living below the taxable level and the solidarity they feel with campesinos with whom they lived and worked as Mennonite volunteers in Bolivia and El Salvador in their younger days.
Growing Harmony Farm lives up to its name in every way. From approximately one acre of cultivated earth enough produce is grown to deliver weekly to twenty families, sell at two farmers' markets per week and feed the T. Guthries well into the winter. Growing Harmony is a venture in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), a concept that is gaining support across the country. Gary estimates 1,000 CSA's exist nation-wide, with some 24 in Iowa. CSA's bring growers and consumers together to share the risks and rewards of small-scale farming. Growing Harmony's 20 subscribers pay approximately $50 per month during the half-year growing season for weekly deliveries of 5 - 10 pounds of fresh, mostly organic produce. Imagine that you look out your front window and see Gary, smiling, coming up the walk with a box stocked with freshly harvested carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic, green beans, peppers, lettuce and a fragrant bunch of basil. You eat the green beans raw because you just can't help it.
Nancy and Gary demonstrate that it is possible to cultivate wisely and respectfully not only their measure of land, but also their spiritual lives, their relationships with extended family, friends and neighbors, and daily family life with their 10-year old son, Eric, and Gary' s parents, who live just across the driveway. Nancy works 3/4 time as Program Assistant with the Office of International Students and Scholars at Iowa State University in Ames. Gary does most of the farming, cooking and housework. He also participates in a Spiritual Direction class that involves taking time for reflection, reading and writing. Parenting is shared equally and generously. The T.Guthries' decision to move to the farm was a thoughtful process that included family meetings with Gary's 4 siblings and parents, who supported the move and shifted the property into a family trust.
If you visit Growing Harmony Farm, you will be treated to one of Gary's delicious signature pies (rhubarb and apple are favorites). If you happen to visit during one of the family's field days, you will tour the gardens, learn about organic pest control, eat home made ice cream and meet the neighbors. If your visit falls on a work day, and you are weeding or pitching hay, you are likely to hear Gary and Nancy begin to sing together, recalling the music they learned in Bolivia and El Salvador. And if your visit occurs during a full moon, you may be inclined to set out your lawn chair, feel the peacefulness gathering around the place, and listen for the harmony that grows from word and deed, and from every small seed.
LOCAL GROUPS Milwaukee, WI
Don Timmerman and Roberta Thurstin of the Milwaukee War Tax Resistance group went to court on September 25, but the case was thrown out due to the lack of witnesses showing up for court. They were arrested on Tax Day, April 15, for trespassing when they passed out leaflets at the IRS office in Milwaukee.
In a letter to the editor of the Miwaukee Journal Sentinel, Don commented on the additional $16 billion requested by the military from the federal budget. "We fail to understand how taxpayers can agree to continue to pump billions of dollars each year into an industry of violence that is the most wasteful industry of all in the U.S. If any other organization wasted taxpayer money like this there would be hell to pay, and they would not dare to ask for any more money until the money given was accounted for by the organization. With the money wasted on the Pentagon we could lift out of paverty and destitution the 1.9 billion people in the world who are dying because of a lack of the basics of life. We must heed and repeat the words of Dwight D. Eisenhower who said that money given to the military industrial complex is basically a theft from the poor."
War Resisters League Conference >From a report by David Waters
The recent 75th anniversary War Resisters League conference, at a YMCA camp near Annapolis, Maryland, was a huge success, with approximately 250 participants from all over the country.
Saturday and Sunday mornings were devoted to working groups. Too many to mention all, but a sample includes: Nation-State and International Activism, Criminal Justice, and Militarism and the Economy. Saturday afternoon included two workshop periods with subjects such as the Future of War Tax Resistance in the Peace and Justice Movement, Anarchism: the Flower of Nonviolence, and Reclaiming the Airwaves: Do it Yourself Media as Direct Action. Initially only a small group of the usual suspects showed up for the WTR workshop, but eventually a few new folks turned up and were treated to an introduction to WTR from a mightily experienced group.
War tax resisters were well represented at the conference. We all stood at an early plenary session when various categories of folks were singled out for recognition and identification. It seemed to me that WTR's were quite a large percentage of the assembled crowd. There was plenty of literature from different groups, philosophies and concerns. Thanks to Carol Moore and Andy McKenna, WTR buttons, handouts, and the practical series were available.
The Bombs Are Falling Now The following is the text of the speech given by Clare Hanrahan of the Taxes for Life! group in Asheville, NC, at the Day Without a Pentagon action in Washington, DC on October 19, 1998.
Greetings from the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee and the Appalachian bioregion, my homeplace, in Asheville, North Carolina. It's an honor to be here. As I speak, I am mindful of my older brothers, Daniel and Thomas, whose lives as teen-age soldiers in Viet Nam were utterly changed. Their youthful idealism was distorted by the military into the service of death. They returned, wounded in body and spirit, with Agent Orange toxins coursing through their systems. Then, one after the other, they died.
I have refused to pay war taxes since 1981. That's the year I took the pledge. That ís when I decided to break the deadly habit of paying for war. Since then my life has been an experiment in revolutionary poverty.
It is not just our federal taxes that fuel war, but our lifestyles of waste and habitual consumption -- this privilege that we maintain on the backs of the destitute of the world is upheld by the pentagon and its deadly force.
I live on the economic edge, not with the destitution of the oppressed, but as a liberating choice. I've survived half a century, I've raised a fine daughter, I'm a writer and a gardener, and I get around town on my bicycle. I'm self-propelled and self-employed. And in the spirit of Emma Goldman, I dance at every chance.
I'm one of over 10, 000 people around this country who identify themselves openly as war tax resisters. Some file and refuse to pay. Some refuse to file or cooperate in any way. Some refuse a portion of federal taxes, some refuse to pay any at all.
Most war tax resisters are also Peace Taxpayers, we redirect war tax dollars to fund community need. Thirty-two local alternative Funds each year deliver more than $50,000 in refused war taxes to support constructive projects. This is money lost to weapons making and war.
Many other peace workers support the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund in an effort to gain legal recognition for the right of conscience in matters of paying for war. I am glad so many are working so hard to keep this issue alive in the halls of Congress .
But we cannot wait until Congress says it is ok not to pay for war. The time to break the addiction to militarism is now. The bombs are falling now.
We know that as much as fifty percent of each tax dollar extracted from the wages of working people is spent here by the Pentagon, either to pay the debts caused by past wars, or to prepare for future ones.
This militarism, according to the writer Dorothee Sollé, is an inevitable by-product of the economic system in which we live, and "the bombs are falling now."
"We are already waging war against true life," she has written. "We are waging war against the natural world that we exploit. We are waging war against our own need to live a simpler life. We live in a state of cold war between the rich and the poor, and the poor are perishing in it. The bombs are falling now."
Militarism is killing us. What then shall we do?
As we gather here today to block the doors to the Pentagon, to declare a day without out the pentagon, to say NO to business as usual, to shut it down, we must remember that there are people working inside this building who truthfully feel they are laboring in service of peace, ensuring our freedom to gather here together and register our dissent.
As we attempt to block the doors to their workplace, the source of their livelihood, as we ask that they stop participating in this business of death, I must ask: Are we also willing to take on the risks of peace. Are we willing to risk our economic security and privilege to obstruct this business of death?
Who will block the doors to the post office on April 15 when we voluntarily submit our taxes on the demand of the IRS? The taxes that fuel the Pentagon? How long will we continue paying homage to Caesar when it is Truth that must be served.?
And the truth is: We are all responsible for the militarism that is crushing the world, defiling the good earth, raining death on countless innocents, targeting not the dangerous leaders whom we fear, but the women and children, the old and infirm, as well as the teen soldiers. All fall victims to our weapons of mass and indiscriminate destruction.
It is our duty to withdraw our cooperation, to withhold our support. As global citizens we are complicit in these crimes against humanity, these war crimes. We cannot say we didn't know.
How long, I ask, will it take those of us who know the futility of the pentagon's wars, how they rob us of our highest and best, how they kill and rape and maim, tear apart families, lay desolate the land, leave orphans and widows and broken and discarded veterans wandering our streets, filling our jails, or bombing our own communities.
How long, war tax payers, will you persist in this deadly submission?
Leo Tolstoy, has said, "The freeing of people from servitude, from ignorance, cannot be obtained by revolution, syndicates, peace congresses ...but simply by the conscience of each one of us forbidding us to participate in violence and asking in amazement: Why are you doing that?"
We peace seekers show more fear of the IRS and its threat to our property and privilege than a willingness to take even a modest financial risk in support of peace. And many of us who find employment within our own movement are faced with the dilemma of having our peace organizations deduct war taxes from our pay and submit them to the IRS. Why are you doing that?
Dorothy Day understood that "...the war, the racism, the poverty in the world ... is not going to be changed just by words or demonstrations. It's a question of living your life in drastically different ways."
Our gathering here is a powerful way to make visible our dissent. And it is important that we show ourselves to each other and to the world. But this is not enough. We must help each other break our deadly addiction to a consumer lifestyle that fuels the devastation, and to paying the war taxes that uphold this "filthy rotten system."
Juanita Nelson, a war tax refuser for over fifty years, has said, "I was in pursuit of a life that holds up to the light practically every breath that one breathes in terms of nonviolence, in terms of how the practice matches the preachment."
If we are determined to bring an end to war, we need to make the decision now to take one more risk for peace. Look at the power of this assembly. We are the hope. Take a deep breath, claim your freedom, seize your power. Look your fear in the eye. Step a little closer to the edge.
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