On Facelifts and Strategizing

| International,National,News

I started to write about something else until I ran into the new website for the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund (NCPTF). It looks great! Maybe this facelift will give new life to the decades old legislative campaign to allow conscientious objectors to war redirect their federal income taxes to a special fund for non-military purposes alone.

NCPTF is a NWTRCC affiliate, and many people in our network actively lobby for the bill. It’s remarkable how often new people suggest to the NWTRCC office the idea of a legislative campaign and are surprised to hear that such a campaign already exists. More widely, a flurry of articles on this topic appeared when the Supreme Court made the health care provider allowance for Hobby Lobby in 2014. Why not an allowance for those who don’t want to pay for war?

As in any coalition, not everyone in the war tax resistance network supports the bill, sometimes because of their lack of faith in the legislative process, sometimes because of the specifics of the bill, and also because there is a strong anarchist trend in our network. NWTRCC encompasses a range of a range of opinions and approaches but unites us in our refusal to voluntarily turn our money over to the war machine.

When people ask me if there is any hope of success for this kind of legislative campaign, I usually respond that I think the chances are higher in Europe, where there are similar campaigns in various countries. If one of them managed to pass such a bill, it would give a boost to the efforts in other countries.

Bill supporters outside Parliament.
Photo courtesy of Conscience UK

Lately I’ve been interested to read the news of Conscience: Taxes for Peace in Britain. They have not won but they have had, per their reports, a “fantastic year”: the Peace Tax Bill was read in Parliament; Oscar-winning actors Sir Mark Rylance and Emma Thompson publicly endorsed the campaign; they have strong collaborations with other organizations like the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Campaign Against The Arms Trade, the Stop the War Coalition; and (maybe most amazing) a longtime Conscience supporter, Jeremy Corbyn MP, has had a surge in popularity that gives him a chance at being prime minister one day. Corbyn has called for a Minister for Peace and promises a government that would focus on peace and diplomacy over military intervention.

Like NCPTF, Conscience UK has been around for decades. There’s a similar group in Norway, The Peace Alliance, which is a network of seven organizations working for a law to give citizens the right to redirect their taxes from supporting a military defense to a nonviolent solution. In a June report to a meeting of Conscience and Peace Tax International, they said, “Recently we have taken a good hard look at the way we work and have to admit that we are not much nearer out goal than we were 20 – 30 years ago. We needed to rethink our strategy.”

We’ll look forward to watching how things develop with facelifts and strategizing — and continue to do the same ourselves. The world desperately needs more peace, diplomacy, and success in dismantling the war machine.

— Post by Ruth Benn, NWTRCC Coordinator

3 thoughts on “On Facelifts and Strategizing”

  1. Apparently even NWTRCC staff is not convinced that intensifying the resistance will make a difference in the results. I continue to question the determination of people to say no to any government if they eventually agree to support the war effort. Benjamin Franklin understood the urgency of refusing to comply:
    “If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things
    worth writing.”

    Donald D. Kaufman (donelkaufman@gmail.com)

    1. Ruth Benn says:

      Not sure what Don means about NWTRCC staff not believing in “intensifying the resistance.” Of course I believe in resistance and the more intense the better. Are you saying that lobbying Congress is resistance? It’s a tactic that can bring some changes for the better, but I guess I don’t call it resistance. The problem that many war tax resisters have with legislative work is that it can give people an excuse to not resist paying for war today. In our network there are many who do both – resist and work for the peace tax fund bill, and the legislative work would be nowhere without active resisters.

  2. Larry Bassett says:

    The NCPTF has been struggling at least since the death of Marian Franz their dynamic and dedicated director. And the limited participation of founder David Bassett has also been a struggle to overcome. As the overall peace movement has become more and more white-haired, the NCPTF has struggled to attract young supporters. The move to use the religious freedom tact to attract more congressional support has failed and possibly even backfired. The NCPTF needs more than a facelift.

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