Georgia Still On My Mind

As the spectacle of the departure of the 45th president unfolds, the unraveling of the U.S. Empire is witnessed by many watching under stay at home orders the world over. As the events unfold, my mind returns to Georgia and the incredible work of grassroots organizers to push for change in what became a linchpin in the balance of government. The accomplishments of largely women of color would become overshadowed by white men with guns. My own journey towards justice began in Georgia and the grassroots organizing efforts of the School of the America Watch. Founder Fr. Roy Bourgeois’s words often come to mind that most  of the problems of the world boil down to “men with guns.”  It was […]

Don’t Pay for What You Don’t Want

Nelson Homestead

“I don’t want to pay for what I don’t want. I won’t buy what I don’t want. I’m that way with everything. So, why not war? I don’t want it either…” — Juanita Nelson on Democracy Now! During this season of Black Fridays, Cyber Mondays, big online retailer vans and trucks crowding streets and highways, advertisements for all manner of plastic stuff, etc., it’s a great time to remember Wally and Juanita Nelson. They lived lives centered around their belief in nonviolence as a way of life, a belief that led Wally to prison for refusing to fight in WWII. A belief that led the couple to refuse to pay taxes for war. A belief that evolved to an exemplary […]

Tax Resistance, Self-Employment and Health Insurance

DECISIONS, DECISIONS It’s a thorny problem when the complications of obtaining health insurance intersect with the desire to remain a nonfiling tax resister. This is exactly where I found myself when my luck ran out on the premium tax credit. As a self-employed freelancer, I have to purchase my own health insurance. For the past few years I was able to prove to the state’s insurance marketplace that my income was low enough to qualify by sending copies of my properly filled out but not filed tax forms. I knew it was a risky move when I started, and after the first year I thought I was in the clear. But now they’ve caught up with me and it’s not […]

All or Nothing Syndrome

Over these decades of doing war tax resistance, being in meetings about war tax resistance, counseling current or new resisters, etc., I’ve tried to argue against something I will call the “all or nothing syndrome.” “I can’t live below taxable income so I can’t resist.” “We’re having a baby so I have to stop resisting.” “I’m applying for a loan so I have to stop resisting.” “The IRS just took my bank account so I have to stop resisting.” “I like the idea but I can’t risk my job by becoming a war tax resister.” I don’t want to be snooty and judgmental about it. People hit a wall and feel there is no way around it for all kinds […]

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 […]