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Paying for War

David Hartsough
On Power (March 2013)

Dear Friends,

Can we continue praying for peace while paying for war? My wife Jan and I have been war tax resisters since the Vietnam War. We cannot in conscience pay for killing people in other parts of the world. We believe all people are children of God and we see all people as our brothers and sisters.

In order to fight wars, governments need young men and women willing to fight and kill, and for the rest of us to pay our taxes so that our government can spend 50% of all our tax dollars to cover the cost of soldiers, bombs, guns, ammunition, war planes and air craft carriers to enable our government to fight their wars.

As our government uses drones that kill thousands of innocent people, we create ever more “enemies,” thus assuring that we will have enemies and wars to fight in perpetuity. The war against communism used to be the rationale for all our military expenditures. Now it is the “war against terrorism.”  But the “war against terrorism” is creating more and more “terrorists.”

We need to say “Enough! We will no longer cooperate with these immoral, illegal, and senseless wars. You cannot fight these wars with our tax dollars. We feel compelled by conscience to refuse to pay for wars and killing other human beings. We will instead contribute these funds to programs to help end hunger, fight injustice and save the environment.”

Many people argue that the Internal Revenue Service is so powerful that they will get the money anyway by attaching our paychecks or bank accounts, so it does no good to refuse to pay the 50% of our taxes that go for war.  My response is that if the Pentagon sent people out door to door to ask us to contribute to their wars, most of us would not contribute. But if the Pentagon then broke into our homes to take the money we had planned to contribute for schools and organizations working for peace and justice, at least we would not have paid for their wars voluntarily (and would have caused them to spend lots of dollars to get their money from us).

If millions of us refused to pay our war taxes, the government would have a real crisis on their hands and perhaps would have to listen to the American people who are saying, “End the wars and military occupation of foreign countries, close US military bases around the world, abolish ALL nuclear weapons and bring our tax dollars home!”

The question is whether we can in conscience continue to pay for the killing of other human beings or whether we withdraw our cooperation from the senseless killing of our brothers and sisters around the world. The choice is ours.

See the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC) website www.nwtrcc.org for further information.

In peace,

David Hartsough, San Francisco Friends Meeting

War Tax Resistance Refusal Economics Social activism

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