Thursday, July 12, 2007

what you can do... and one thing you can't

Read this editorial from last Friday's Tribune. No, wait. Let me post it for you in its entirety.
If paying taxes was like ordering off a menu, most people wouldn't eat their veggies. Retirees whose kids are grown could opt out of spending to educate the current generation of kids, and young workers could choose not to contribute to Social Security. Don't want to pay for emergency health care for illegal immigrants? Leave it off your plate. Hate the idea of building a fence along the Mexican border? Just say "no, thank you."

As many as 10,000 Americans withhold all or part of their federal income taxes because they object to U.S. military policy, especially the war in Iraq, according to the New York-based National War Tax Resistance Coordination Committee. This is typically framed as an act of civil disobedience, not unlike Henry David Thoreau's one-night stand in the Walden jail for refusing to pay a poll tax because of his opposition to the Mexican-American War.

Thoreau got a lot of mileage out of his brief incarceration, which inspired an essay later embraced by the likes of Martin Luther King Jr. and Indian independence leader Mohandas Gandhi. But today's tax protesters rarely go to jail -- the Internal Revenue Service prefers to quietly garnish their earnings instead. So the public relations payoff is negligible, as is the actual effect on the Pentagon's budget. There are effective ways to oppose the war as a matter of conscience without stiffing your fellow taxpayers.

You can vote. You can run for office. You can march up and down Michigan Avenue wearing a sandwich board and barking into a megaphone. You can cover your car with anti-war bumper stickers, write your congressman, impeach the president, start a blog or bury your local newspaper in letters to the editor.

But pay up.

Last I heard, only members of Congress can "impeach the president." Us common folk can't.

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