On January 2nd, I spoke at the rally after our Occupy the Rose Parade protest. There were at least 2,000 activists who formed a contingent at the end of the Rose Parade to protest an alphabet soup of outrages. I was there to represent the antiwar element.
I am not just an antiwar activist, I am a peacemonger–being a peacemonger goes far beyond just being “against” wars. Being a peacemonger means connecting an almost infinite number of dots to try and figure out why it seems this nation is in almost constant war because it’s so difficult to stop wars once the 1% start them. It’s so hard to try and put all of the pieces together and to make sense out of the hodgepodge of crimes and behind the scenes hanky-panky, but one thing I do know–wars can’t be fought without an almost bottomless reserve of cash.
During my speech at the OTRP protest, I stated that I did not pay my income taxes and the response from some rightwing knee-jerkers was swift, divorced from reality (as always) and boorish.
A video of my speech, entitled something like, “Cindy Sheehan admits that she doesn’t pay her taxes” was even posted at the “leftwing” (I can’t type that with a straight face) Huffington Post and the comments were also divorced from reality and boorish and can be summarized thusly:
“Other people have lost their sons in the wars, what gives her the right to evade her taxes?” (Tax resistance is a moral principle that should be decided by each and every individual–and I would dare to say that most bereaved parents support the wars, anyway. For example, even though he opposes the wars, Casey’s father has chosen to pay his taxes, that’s not my problem or my business).
“I used to support Cindy Sheehan, but this is stealing.” (I would steal to feed my grand-babies without a second thought, but I feel that not paying for the mega-crimes of my government is a far lesser crime and that this Empire murders, tortures and/or economically oppresses millions of people each and every day).
“Cindy Sheehan sounds like a Tea-Bagger.” (This accusation amuses me. I think most “Tea-Baggers” are tax-paying, gun-toting, law-abiding citizens who like to whine about “big government” without actually doing anything about it. I am not against all forms of government, but I am certainly against this one we have today. I don’t tote a gun and I think it’s a moral imperative to “break” laws that hurt people. I have a higher law, and that’s Peace).
“Taxes pay for good things like roads, bridges, libraries, Social Security and Medicare.” (First of all, let’s say that our roads and bridges aren’t falling apart; and that libraries, schools, Social Security and Medicare are not being robbed of funding–when I do drive, I pay gas taxes and bridge tolls. I also pay sales tax, park fees, and many other varieties of taxes and fees for things I actually do use. At least 54% of federal expenditures are to pay for current wars or to service debt on past wars. If my tax money would go to single-payer health care, fully-funded schools and other social programs, etc–I would gladly pay. However, even if I decided to pay 46% of my taxes, would I be guaranteed that not one thin dime of mine would be going to kill someone? I think war profiteering has first claim on any money here in the dis-United Empire of the Earth).
“The IRS should put her in prison.” (The IRS is not a law enforcement or adjudication agency. They are a collection agency–collecting for the most gargantuan crime syndicate in history).
To be sure, interspersed amongst the ignorance and hate, there were some comments in support of my protest, but I would like to iterate here, that I am not a “tax evader” and I have been very open and honest about my tax protest every since I embarked upon it. How can this Empire be put on trial? Obama has blocked prosecution of Bush administration officials as his DOJ is targeting activists, whistle blowers, and, worst of all, his CIA is bombing children with his hell-fire missiles.
So, today I had meeting numero dos with a low-level bureaucratic functionary at the local IRS office and the next step for me may be court to try and force me to produce my financial statement, which I did not do today.
I found it very instructive that, even though I was sitting right there in the room next to my attorney, the revenue officer referred to me often as, “The Taxpayer.” I had to bite almost clean through my tongue to ask him if he calls every person, “The Taxpayer.” Here in the good ol’ USA, we have been reduced to either, “Taxpayers,” or “consumers,” never, “citizens.” We are conditioned from birth to feed our masters, toil for them, and care about them before we care for our own flesh and blood. We pay, they profit. We go into debt, they horde. We work, they benefit. We lose, they win. And “They” are not accustomed to any questioning or resistance to their orders or ordered ways of life. What is now referred to as the “1%” feel entitled to our money and our labor and the problem is that 99% of the 99% also feel that the 1% is entitled to THEIR money and THEIR labor.
Today, the revenue officer admitted that they are just looking for assets to confiscate from me. Even in the years that they are trying to collect 105k in back taxes, fines, and interest, I re-invested most of the money I ever made by speaker’s fees, donations, or book sales right back into the movement. Now, I intentionally live simply and don’t own anything the establishment considers of value. If the IRS goes looking for my assets, they will not find anything. If I had some kind of secret trust fund, I certainly wouldn’t be scraping by for rent money every month.
I followed the advice of my new attorney (who is not a tax attorney, but he is working with one who is and who is an adviser from the National War Tax Resister’s Coordinating Committee), I didn’t speak during the entire meeting, but when the revenue officer said that the tax lien that has been recorded with the county clerk is going to “hurt my credit,” I had to stifle a guffaw.
As stated, I don’t own anything and I don’t want or even need to own anything that the 1% tells me that I need to own to make my life “worthwhile.” I have had to pare my life down to one that is oriented, not around things, but around ideas, people, activism, peace and mostly, love. These are things that can’t be purchased with a predatory credit card charging high fees, exorbitant over-limit penalties, and usurious interest rates–but they are things that really give my life meaning and which are indispensable to me.
My son, who was killed in just one of this nation’s illegal and immoral wars had priceless value to me, too–and you know what? So does everyone else killed, maimed, tortured, beaten, or otherwise oppressed by the country I was born in and choose to stay in because the people I love the most live here.
Just as The Troops ® (Registered Trademark exploited to justify war expenditures and crass/false patriotism), who have moral opposition to any imperial war of choice, should not have to choose to be imprisoned in a Gray Bar Hotel or be trapped in a war zone–I (in answer to my kneejerker critics) should not have to “love it, or leave it.” I choose to “loathe it and stay” and by the example of my actions try and make this nation a place to be proud of where the national priority is to enhance life not to destroy it.