Paying for Policies We Protest?

I carried my “Refuse to Pay Taxes” sign at a march to “welcome” the president to NYC and the UN the other day. The sign listed various reasons to refuse: family separation, ICE, border wall, hate, war. Can’t say anyone asked me about it. Maybe one of them wrote down the NWTRCC website? Maybe they searched the internet about refusing to pay taxes? Maybe they resist?

Not sure there were any other signs about what people’s taxes are up to during this time when so many are out in the streets protesting pretty much everything that the current administration is doing.  I was thinking back to that period after the election, through the inauguration, and the first months of this administration when war tax resisters were getting all kinds of inquiries about how to resist.  Do we have any way to know how many acted on that initial interest?

Signs at Climate Strike Sept 2019

Photo by Ed Hedemann, 9/20/19.

At minimum I like to think that there are lots of people finding ways to lower their taxable income on the 1040. Maybe there are lots of younger folks who are turning away from big salaries and living simply, owing little or nothing in taxes. On the other hand, I just looked at a chart of federal revenues, and it shows income tax revenue steadily increasing year-to-year.

I gave out war tax resistance information at the Anarchist Bookfair here in NYC a few weeks ago, and a number of people did ask what to do about taxes taken directly from their paychecks through withholding. They left with Practical #1, so I hope they follow through.

Signs at Climate Strike Sept 2019

Photo by Ed Hedemann, 9/20/19.

Nevertheless, the millions around the world who turned out for the Climate Strike on September 20 was encouraging, and there were signs like the ones on this page — held by people our War Resisters League group doesn’t know! The number of signs connecting war and climate change were few, but they were there and, like our group’s, they were well received.

We also handed out a flyer to passersby or anyone who asked (and a lot of people asked). The text is based on an excellent article on The Intercept website by Murtaza Hussain, “War on the World Industrialized Militaries Are a Bigger Part of the Climate Emergency Than You Know.” That article references a recent study by the Cost of War project and the Pentagon’s fuel use and climate change.

Signs at Climate Strike Sept 2019

Photo by Ed Hedemann, 9/20/19

One other useful source is the National Priorities Project, which has good facts and figures regarding military spending and the shifts that could be made to fund programs to slow climate change.

I guess there is resistance at some level of the climate change movement to connect these issues, perhaps fearing that talking about ending war will throw a wrench into the whole thing, but I think we have to go with the slogan that encompasses it all:

Signs at Climate Strike Sept 2019

Signs at Climate Strike Sept 2019
Photo by Ed Hedemann, 9/20/19.


— Post by Ruth Benn

6 thoughts on “Paying for Policies We Protest?”

  1. josh trost says:

    Is “the slogan that encompasses it all” “change the system, not the climate”?

  2. Ruth says:

    Yes, more or less anyway. I did mean it to point to that photo and sign. Perhaps “a more encompassing slogan” for what we might want is a better way to put it. Probably if there was an effort to end war or a serious effort to save the planet it would indicate the system is experiencing major changes — and that would be good!

  3. Susan Van Haitsma says:

    Your observations in NYC echo some of mine in Austin, Ruth. At the Austin Climate Strike, Paula (wtr visiting from Madison) and I carried signs saying “War is Not Green” and “Peace is Green,” and these had more interest than when a friend and I had carried these signs a couple of years ago at an Earth Day march. Quite a few people wanted to take pictures of themselves with these signs this time. I didn’t see any other signage linking militarism and war with environmental degradation, though, and I think it is a connection we just have to keep trying to emphasize. I’m glad that you saw the message being carried by people you didn’t even know! Nice photos by Ed.

  4. Ed Hedemann says:

    In the early stages of the anti-nuclear power movement (of the 1970s) some anti-nuclear weapons activists were reluctant to make connections — and vise versa — for fear of diluting their message. Perhaps some climate activists similarly fear bringing other issues to this hot, so to speak, topic? However, the climate strike march and rally in NYC certainly had all kinds of connecting issues besides war and militarism, such as plastics, oil, trees, oceans, capitalism, veganism, anarchism, ageism, socialism, Creationism, racism, Trumpism,

  5. Shirley Whiteside says:

    I can say Climate Strike march in Denver also made linkages to all of it. Thanks for sharing the Intercept article.

  6. Ruth says:

    Hi Susan and Shirley – I’m glad to think of us all out in the streets “sharing” our connections thru time and space! Now if only we could see the policies changing….

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