David and Jan Hartsough (2011)

| Letters

March 30, 2011

Dear Friends at the IRS:

As we approach April 15 and are again asked to contribute close to half of our tax dollars for the military and wars – past, present and future – we have to ask ourselves whether this is really how we want to spend our hard earned money. Our government is fighting an immoral and illegal war in Iraq where over one million Iraqi people, and over 4000 American soldiers, have died and an additional five million Iraqis have been forced to flee their homes. Our government seems prepared to continue killing Iraqis and having American soldiers killed for several more years. This is TRAGIC and HORRENDOUS! The United States should end the war and occupation of Iraq NOW before we spend billions more dollars and cause the deaths of thousands more precious Iraqi lives.

The US is also escalating the war in Afghanistan and will squander many more billions (perhaps trillions) of dollars and cause immense suffering and death to the people of Afghanistan and our own soldiers.

On the other hand, our government skimps on funding for schools for our children and grandchildren, closes public libraries, and says we cannot afford decent healthcare for our people. The government still has not given adequate support to the thousands of victims of Hurricane Katrina who lost their homes. It has been estimated that the Iraq war will end up costing over three trillion dollars – which means that our children and grandchildren (and their children and grandchildren) will have to pay for this war for generations to come.

That is three trillion dollars we will NOT have to spend on things which could improve the lives of the American people and people all over the world, making the world a better and safer place for ALL children. This boggles our minds and hearts. The US has over 300,000 troops at military bases in more than 100 countries around the world. This does not make us more secure.

It has been said that to fight wars, governments need young people to be soldiers, the money to pay for them, and money to buy the planes, bombs, guns, tanks and ammunition to fight the wars. Many of us are too old to be soldiers, but we do each have to decide whether we can, in good conscience, pay for the killing of other human beings, all children of God, who happen to have been born in Iraq or Afghanistan and are paying the tragic cost of the American wars in their countries with their livelihoods, loss of their homes, and their very lives.

We would like for all our taxes to go for healing, health, and meeting human needs, but unfortunately our government does not yet allow US citizens to listen to their consciences when it comes to paying war taxes. We enclose a check for half the taxes we owe for 2010 or $586.50 to the Department of Health and Human Services. On the basis of conscience, we request that all this $586.50 go to social security and medicare and meeting the needs of people, not for killing our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world. We are refusing the remaining $586.50 or the proportion of our taxes which would go for wars and the military.

We cannot in good conscience pay for the killing and preparation for killing God’s children. We hope you will understand and honor our consciences. In lieu of paying the war portion of our taxes, we have contributed the $586.50 we owe in war taxes to nonprofit organizations working for peace and justice that are trying to meet the needs of God’s children who are hungry, without medical care or decent homes in which to live and to helping helping remove the causes of war. We deeply believe this will add much more to our security as a nation than buying more bombs, ammunition and fighter planes.

Sincerely in Peace,
David and Jan Hartsough
San Francisco, CA

cc Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senator Barbara Boxer, Senator Diane Feinstein, SF Chronicle