Terrible Taxes in History

Tax Day in the United States is Monday April 15 in most states (April 17 in Maine & Massachusetts). So I thought a post on terrible taxes in history would be appropriate. Back in December, HistoryExtra.com published an article about ten terrible taxes. (HistoryExtra is the official website for BBC History Magazine and BBC World Histories Magazine.) One downside of the article from an American perspective is that all of the taxes listed were English-enforced, but it’s still interesting and has some parallels with American taxes today. Here are a few of the unpopular taxes from their list: (1) The poll tax became more common in England at the end of the fourteenth century. It charged a flat tax per […]

RIP Joffre: A tireless resister — who could try patience

Joffre Stewart died in his hometown Chicago at age 93 on March 12. He became a dedicated nonviolent resister to war and injustice out of a short stint in the military during WWII when he went to prison for going AWOL. Early on he found his political home with the revolutionary pacifism and direct action of Peacemakers, a group founded in the late 1940s by Ernest and Marion Bromley and Juanita and Wally Nelson. He carried his anarchist-pacifist politics with him for the rest of his life, although Joffre was not someone who fit easily into a group. He was a poet and might have known every open mic poetry night in Chicago; he had a great voice for recitation, […]

Increasing “Lethality” of Drones

There have been a couple news stories in March about American military drones. On 6 March 2019, Trump signed an executive order ending the requirement that CIA officials “report civilian deaths in drone attacks outside active war zones.” Trump referred to the requirement as a distraction. Obama put the requirement in place in 2016, during the last year of his presidency. (The Pentagon is still required to report civilian deaths to Congress, but the CIA program is responsible for covert drone strikes outside of war zones.) According the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, there were 1,878 drone strikes during Obama’s eight years in office, which was a dramatic increase compared to the drone use by George W. Bush. During Trump’s first […]

Why I am a Cop Watcher… for the same reasons I resist war taxes.

Sunday, Feb 24 – Since Cat was nowhere in sight, and not responding to texts, Julie and I headed over to check out the nearby AJA Project while we waited. Located in the City Heights neighborhood, the young artists at AJA Project use art as the medium for young people dealing with systemic oppression to express the inexpressible. This San Diego neighborhood is known for its diversity, large refugee populations, and tense police-community interactions. The notorious local Curfew sweeps ignited complaints about racially motivated stops as more and more young people were swept up, handcuffed, and in some cases “documented” for being brown and black. No surprise that Cat was busy filming police in a nearby parking lot. Cat and […]

WTRs in the Era of IRS Budget Cuts

The poor, underfunded IRS has been ignoring me lately. I get the usual two or three letters a year asking for payment or threatening levies, but I’m not getting enough personal attention to write about my own case in a monthly blog. However, I do know some others who have the long arm of the government reaching into their pockets. On the one hand there’s less to fear from the IRS; on the other hand potential resisters still have to know about the risks. A longtime resister who lives on a low income but has tax debt is suffering with a salary levy now. Although she works very part-time as a therapist, the levy is taking something from each check, […]

Trump’s State of Emergency Lies Like a Loaded Weapon

A poster issued on April 1, 1942 detailing requirements of Japanese Americans

77 years ago on February 19th 1942, Executive Order 9066 was issued. The Order directed the army to create military zones and to remove all residents of Japanese ancestry during  World War II. It also created the War Relocation Authority which forcibly relocated over 110,000 citizens to internment camps. Last week,, the president declared a State of Emergency in order to get funding for the wall along the Southern US border with Mexico. Although there are over 30 emergency declarations in place at present, Trump’s action  is unprecedented. There were only two times that the Executive branch has taken money from the military under a State of Emergency. The first was when George H W Bush began the Gulf War […]

Gambling with our Future

Image of nuclear weapons explosion on horizon with orange glow

A recent headline, Cost to taxpayers to clean up nuke waste jumps $100 billion in a year brought home the tragedy of the nuclear weapons legacy. NBC reported that 80% of the increase was related to the Hanford site in Washington state where the plutonium was processed for nuclear weapons during the Cold War. David Trimble, director of the Government Accountability Office’s Natural Resources and Environmental team stated “We believe the number is growing and is understated.”  The projected timeline for clean up at this site is at least 50 years. Hanford is one of 75 sites in 35 states contaminated with nuclear weapons waste throughout the country. It was just a few days before that the Bulletin of Atomic […]

Chinese Tariffs for War Continue…

The trade war with China continues to fund real wars. Back in September, I wrote a blog post about the tariffs the United States has imposed on Chinese-imported goods. I have been reticent to write about this in the newsletter because the situation is in constant flux, which could make a newsletter article obsolete by the time it reaches your hands. But I do not want it to fall off our radar, so I thought I better compose a blog update for it. Last week, Trump met with Chinese representatives to reach a new trade agreement. The current tariff list is almost 200 pages long, consisting of over 4,000 items. If an agreement is not reached by March 1st, the […]

To Owe or Not to Owe: Tax Time 2019

For the first time in decades I find myself in danger of not owing federal income tax. As a resister/protester, this is unacceptable! I am self-employed, so I usually do a rough run-through on my taxes before the January 15 deadline for sending in last quarter estimated taxes. As a war tax resister I have chosen to file and openly refuse to pay the federal income tax portion. By the time I was working in the peace movement and learned about war tax resistance I was already in the system, and I liked the protest angle of openly refusing to pay so I just continued filing. For some years Social Security/Medicare (“self-employment tax”) were withheld from my paycheck, and when […]

U.S. Troop Withdrawal from the Middle East

In the latter half of December, President Trump announced the withdrawal of all 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria along with an additional withdrawal of 7,000 troops (a 50% reduction) from Afghanistan. Originally, Trump gave the military thirty days to remove troops from Syria, but now has extended the deadline to four months. One would think this news would have brought a tremendous amount of holiday cheer, but folks of blue and red persuasions have been lambasting Trump over the decision. I do not pretend to have an expert grasp the political situation in Syria. (Here is a brief synopsis of the current situation in Syria). But along with groups like World Beyond War, I want to pressure President Trump to […]

Military Operations on the U.S./Mexico Border

a line of military police with riot shields practicing a formation in a parking lot

I never had enough time in 2018 to write the post I wanted to write about escalating militarism on the U.S./Mexico border. Now I’m shifting out of my role as NWTRCC blog curator. While I don’t have much time to cover the issue, I want to at least bring it up again to our WTR and potential WTR audience! Tear gas and military deployment on the border The mobilization of the U.S. military to the border, of course, is itself quite striking. Militarization is not just a factor overseas, but right here within our own borders. We have soldiers patrolling against the perceived harm of migrants seeking personal safety and shelter, painted by the government as violent criminals. When the […]

How Much Do You Make?

  A story from Finland jumped out of the paper at me recently: “In Finland, Every Citizen’s Taxable Income Is Revealed” (NY Times, 11/2/2018). The article describes a surprising tradition in that country. Many in Finland feel that this transparency helps to control the gap between high and low incomes and to control disparities in pay for the same work. Executives seem to think twice before raising their own salaries. One interviewee said Finns tend to be humble; “If you show it around, no one likes you,” he said. Such an idea must make that guy in the White House cringe. The rest of us can certainly see advantages to having such a release be automatic as far as trying […]