Conscription of our money for war (Don’t wanna pay for war no more, Part 2)

[Second in a series by guest author Ed Agro.]

Anti-war protest

Photo by Bill Hackwell

Thinking about the conscription of our money for war led me to recognize that modern America’s wars are waged mostly in behalf of an addiction to well-nigh mindless consumption without concern for true costs, the “externalities” beloved by those economists who labor to convince us that we live in a world of infinite plenty; that is, in heaven.

The earth is small, and what it has to give is limited. The more it’s depleted, the more fiercely nations and corporations compete to be the ones to gouge it.

We don’t have to be the gluttons amongst the 1% in order to take part in the fouling of our nest. All we have to be are ordinary folk, accepting the ordinarily assumed right to take and to have without the burden of considering the consequences to anything beyond our wallets.

Over time these thoughts led me to a life of less stuff, less interest in leaping to buy whatever was offered. There was no struggle or heroism about this clearing of the decks, it just seemed to be a part of sensible living.

Yet diligent downward mobility was accompanied by a continual reduction in my tax liability. I was still a fan of paying for public good while refusing to pay for public evil, and still wanted to savor the contradiction of doing both at once.

Awhile ago it reached the point that the only war tax available to me was the phone tax. It’s gone up and down since it was first imposed, most often going up to meet the financing requirements of this or that war. There’s more than a little justification for calling it a dedicated war tax.

[Note from Kathie Malley-Morrison: Ed has provided us with an example of how one anti-war activist decided to signal and continue signaling his resistance to war. What is your view of his decision? To what extent do you think he can promote public good while refusing to pay for public evil? Have you found other ways to express your distress over war?]

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2 Responses to Conscription of our money for war (Don’t wanna pay for war no more, Part 2)

  1. Gold Dust Twin says:

    I had a friend who also expressed her opposition to “dedicated war taxes” by refusing to
    pay them. A government official let her know she would be in serious trouble if she persisted. If Ed Agro hasn’t received such a threat, more power to him!

  2. Ed Agro says:

    Well. Gold Dust, what did your friend expect? That official’s job was to utter such threats. What’s important is to then differentiate the real from the bluster, and decide if the principles one is working out of warrant risking the real sanctions. The decision is of course different for different people, and I’ve valued the decisions of many who decided that the principles didn’t warrant the risk. Today, with automatic levy being the norm, interactions with officials is rare unless, as in Cindy Sheehan’s current situation, one forces the issue. One of the reasons the WTR movement of the 1960s-90s hasn’t grown is that folks approached it in a too-heroic mode, with ringing declarations their life situations made untenable, and then withdrew in totally unnecessary shame. It’s much better to be modest about this, and one who is able to refuse war taxes only until the first levy has done a much greater antiwar act than one who at the first growl of an official doesn’t resist at all. It’s also prudent to ask for the lay of the land from groups such as nwtrcc.org that Dahlia mentioned before sallying forth without any idea of what to expect.

    The extracts of my article didn’t quite make my points that the expression as well as conception of one’s WTR changes over time, and that it may not be an entirely quixotic endeavor even in these much more confused times. Those who want to follow up can read the original article: It’s a bit too sentimental, I now think, but some might enjoy the comic irony if not the practical suggestions:

    http://boston.indymedia.org/newswire/display/214646/index.php

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