It’s that time of year again–I’ve gotten a bunch of e-mails from my peacenik friends asking me to join them on the steps of the Post Office (or wherever things are happening) to remind hapless individuals paying the IRS on Monday exactly what their money is going for.
The go-to source for me is the annual ‘Where your income taxes really go” chart from the venerable old War Resisters League. I’ve posted a graphic of their famous flyer. Here’s how this works: as I’ve posted before, the current federal budget depiction of how money is spent includes the trust funds for Social Security. But in fact, Social Security is covered by the FICA that applies to every penny the 99% earn. The thing you’re paying for on Monday is the Discretionary budget. In the 1960’s, it got embarrassing when military expenditures showed that about 50% of all IRS proceeds were going for things like building nuclear arsenals and dropping napalm on Vietnamese kids. So in a PR move engineered by President Johnson, we suddenly had a ‘unified’ budget that lumped Social Security in with the discretionary budget (thus making the pie bigger, and the slice for the Pentagon smaller. Except that it isn’t unified. What you’ll pay for on Monday is the yearly budget, including the yearly WAR BUDGET.
Please don’t take my word for it–I am the simple artist. Go to the War Resisters webpage that allows you to download the chart. There are links to the applicable figures from the federal agencies that put the budget together. Did you know the US Department of Defense is the world’s largest employer? Second is the Chinese Military. Third is Walmart.
Now the question is–what do you want to do about this? We’ve had Republican Presidents and Democrat Presidents and the one constant is there’s always money for war. And as I’ve pointed out in my play about our nuclear arsenal, all around the world, when it’s time to sit down to dinner, the masters of war eat first–if you’re a child, you eat last. And it’s clear that mere protest doesn’t impress the Masters of War. Back in the 1980’s, when millions of people were marching against nuclear war and the bellicose posture of Ronald Reagan, his chief of staff, Alexander Haig, laid it out. The protesters could march all they wanted, he said, as long as they continue to pay their taxes. Aha.
This is the time to introduce you to the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee, which has some nifty ideas about how you can go about stopping the feeding of the dogs of war. This is not a trick for the faint of heart. If you want to take this on, give it a great deal of thought. But if you aren’t brave enough to do it yourself, you can get in touch with the support groups for the people who are willing to risk confiscation of their property and prison to try and stop the military machine.
Also, in closing, I’d like to remind everybody that I have a play I perform that addresses this very subject and if you want to talk about how to stop the empire, you might ask me to come by. I work for Pizza and reasonably good beer. In the meantime, see you Monday!