U.S. Tax History- It Doesn’t Repeat Itself, But It Often Rhymes

women holding signs above their heads while gathered outside

Like many of you, I found it easy to get lost in the Trump tax troves published in the New York Times last Sunday. I felt a feverish attempt to scour through it to find some of the starker elements and decipher how it relates to war tax resistance. Some of the long anticipated information that had been shrouded in secrecy was available to all. I was curious about the details of how the supposed “leader of the free world” was able to game the U.S. tax system, but I was also curious as to how the general public would respond to this new information. It seemed many realized that those with money bent the tax laws to benefit themselves.  […]

Note to Self: Change Can Come

Yesterday I had a lovely swim in the ocean with friends who had rented a beach house for a couple weeks. What a privilege to float on my back looking up at the blue sky or to watch the sanderlings skittering along the perfect sand beach. Nature is awe-inspiring. Today I’m back at the computer, starting the day off with a dose of a different reality from Democracy Now and other news sources. In the face of all that… …I’m thinking about the courage of so many nonviolent activists who are out there in the streets, across the country, day after day demanding change in the face of many dangers — now including the guns of white supremacists. …I’m looking […]

Doomsday 2020

At the start of 2020, the Doomsday Clock was moved to 100 Seconds to Midnight. This is the closest the clock has been to a nuclear catastrophe (midnight) since its inception in 1947 as a project of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. When the hands were moved in January, three reasons were cited: (1) decrease in regulation of nuclear weapons, (2) climate change, and (3) increase in cyber-based disinformation. It appears that concerns in these areas have only increased as the year has progressed.  It was 75 years ago at 8:15 in the morning on August 6th, when the U.S. warplane Enola Gay released “Little Boy,” the first atomic weapon, on the people of  Hiroshima. Three days later Nagaski was […]

Loving the Hell out of People

John Lewis biography cover

Congressman and peace, justice and civil rights activist John Lewis was a longtime sponsor in the House of the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Bill. With his death on July 17 tributes abound and interviews with him can be found online (Democracy Now has a good one). Short of personal stories about Lewis (please add yours in comments!), I was glad to find this essay by longtime Peace Tax Fund director Marian Franz. It was originally written for the organization’s newsletter in 1998 and is included in A Persistent Voice: Marian Franz and Conscientious Objection to Military Taxation, edited by David R. Bassett, Steve Ratzlaff & Tim Godshall. Consider this post as offering two tips for summer reading also. — […]

Origins of Mother’s Day

Image of a peace sign drawn in white sand

150 years ago, Julia Ward Howe wrote what later came to be known as the “Mother’s Day Proclamation.” Ward wrote this proclamation as her push to establish a Mother’s Day for Peace following the  US Civil War. Arise, all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or of tears! Say firmly: “We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies, our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. “Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to […]

May Day

Several men hold hands around a globe that has a banner reading solidarity of labour

There is a call for a General Strike beginning on May 1, 2020. ‘We are the Shutdown’ is a network of organizations calling for an ongoing strike against the increasingly lethal economy. The general strike encourages the use of various tactics like sick outs, rent strikes and certain workers not fulfilling part of their job responsibilities.New worker collectives have emerged including Amazonians United, Whole Worker and Gig Workers Collective to raise awareness of the working conditions at retail outlets and delivery services. Vanessa Bain, co-founder of the 17,000 member Gig Worker Collective, shared with the Intercept “May Day is not just a one-time symbolic action, but also about building real, vast, and broad sweeping networks of power.”  From We Are […]

Virtually Conflicted

tax day 2020

There’s something to be said for holding a meeting online. Our NYC War Resisters League group usually meets in Manhattan every month or so. We’re a small group with meetings ranging from 6 to 12 people, but at our virtual meeting to plan a virtual April 15th action, 15 people joined, most by video and a few by phone. It was quite a successful meeting with a lot of enthusiasm for virtual tax day protests — and a good deal of hope that we could be out in the streets by July 15. Post-April 15 I’m thinking about the value of virtual protest and having trouble coming up with anything more than: it was something to do better than nothing […]

Protest in the Time of Coronavirus

march 19 Brooklyn NY

On March 19 — just last week before the state really shut down — our NYC War Resisters League group held vigils in three areas of the city. A few of us walked to the busy traffic circle at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn and stood with our signs to mark the 17th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq and demand an end to endless war. Because there wasn’t much else going on, drivers zipping by and people walking in and out of the park turned their heads to see what we were up to. Despite some controversy in our group about whether protesting in a time of pandemic was a good idea, we got plenty of supportive honks and […]

The Work That Reconnects and WTR

A few weeks ago I co-facilitated a weekend workshop on the Work That Reconnects. The program was started by Joanna Macy and comes out of her work that spans over 4 decades as an activist largely on anti-nuclear activities. For weeks I had to remind myself that WTR was not War Tax Resistance but rather the Work That Reconnects. We journeyed to the small town of New Harmony, Indiana which had once been a part of a wave of Utopian communities that sprung up in the early 1800s to create a new world here in the US largely by German immigrants. The people envisioned a world in which all would be welcomed.  They were experimenting with the needs of their […]

A Freelancer’s Quandary

Freelance worker

Who doesn’t want to protect workers against uncaring, exploitative, profit-hungry employers? But…. there’s always a but….I’m just waking up to the fact that a wave of state laws intending to protect workers may also slam the door on freelance opportunities. The California law AB5 that just took effect pushes employers to categorize more workers as W-2 employees. Freelancers are scrambling, and articles indicate that many have lost good, paying work. Now I see a similar law is proposed in New York, where I live. There’s a Freelancers New York campaign against it, and their website announces, “Freelancers in New York watched in horror as AB5 passed hastily in California, destroying the livelihoods of thousands of independent contractors in one vague, […]

Georgia on My Mind

Close the School of the Americas banner with woman and man on both sides

A rare event occurred in my life that I found myself traveling to Georgia for two important events in peacemaking recently. The first event was for the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 trial in Brunswick and the second was the 30th Anniversary Commemorative Gathering at Fort Benning with the School of the Americas Watch. Both events were heavily populated with War Tax Resisters as well as potential War Tax Resisters.  The Kings Bay Plowshares 7 (KBP7) action took place in the home of long time War Tax Resister (WTR) Robert Randall who helped organize many of the events around the trial as well as bringing attention to the Trident nuclear weapons for many decades. Like many WTRs, he had focused on […]

Lien Times: Resisters, Regulations, and Rackets

why-me brochure for tax help

A friend came to dinner recently and brought along her folder of letters demanding payment of her war tax resisted taxes. She’s an activist with a list a mile long about why she’s glad to not be paying for the nefarious activities of the U.S. government. She’s determined to resist, but wanted to make sure the latest mailings did not signal some critical advance in IRS enforcement. For the first time in her 15 years of resistance, the IRS placed a lien against her property in local county offices last August. Others on the war tax resistance listserve have written about receiving liens in 2019, perhaps signaling some new flurry of “lien-ing” coming out of the IRS. WTR David Gross […]