Friday, February 12, 2010

Tax resistance season?

A recent email from Dear Friend reminds RantWoman of an important traditional form of Quaker witness, war tax resistance, lately written up in an article RantWoman is unlikely to read in the print issue of Western Friend and generating a topical letter in response from Dear Friend.

RantWoman finds herself thinking a few, typically for RantWoman contradictory thoughts.

First, RantWoman is all for the power and integrity of individual witness. RantWoman is proud to know a number of individuals who have managed to structure their livelihoods in ways that keep them present to the necessary extent in economic life but also allow them to live this powerful witness. RantWoman extends her heartfelt gratitude for such witness--and RantWoman thinks the numbers of dollars actually diverted from the war efforts in this way are miniscule compared both to the level of personal aggravation sometimes involved and to the vast sums the average steely-eyed tax-minimizing corporate accountant will be keeping from the federal treasury as a matter of course. This causes RantWoman to call upon all conscientious stewards of our nation's wealth to re-examine all the fully legal, entirely within the bounds of sensible mainstream culture options for re-orienting our national priorities!

Second, RantWoman bets almost every Friends Meeting on the planet or at least every one in the US has some kind of minute on war tax resistance. RantWoman predicts that these minutes give explanations of various length in florid Quakerese of the xxx-hundreds of years of Friends tradition about opposition to war followed perhaps by exhortations to query ourselves as to what our taxes are doing, what is our right relationship to the government. If we are lucky, such minutes might also address approaches to fair taxation and stewardship of resources. There will then follow some statement of corporate support for all individuals to act as led on this subject.

There might be other elements. The minutes migt be addressed in various ways. Most to the point, there is an excellent chance that any such minute is lying in a drawer or stuck on a shelf somewhere with numbers of other historical minutes of exercise. Well, perhaps RantWoman is generalizing inappropriately from her own Meeting.

RantWoman is highly certain, given what she knows of the cantankerous testimonies of previous generations of members, that her Meeting has exactly this sort of minute; it has probably been missing in action for a good long time. RantWoman has also taken note of a number of new faces in Meeting. RantWoman suspects many of the new faces may never even have thought of the issue or not thought of it since membership discussion might have bumped past it during the full disclosure, beware what you are getting into part of the membership talk. RantWoman already took steps urging that we dig the minute out of the drawer, perhaps reprint it in our newsletter during tax season, and begin dialogue about this subject.

Next, RantWoman got a headache on behalf of her own Meeting and some months ago who apparently thought RantWoman too much of a tiresome political activist to be effective on a certain committee. One vexatious and so far poorly articulated aspect of RantWoman's Compost melodrama has been some absolutely appalling individual and corporate process screw-ups. RantWoman has, alas, been a party to several though definitely not all of them.

Here Rantwoman finds herself in a bit of a quandary. She has no problem writing in extravagant detail of her own failings, but has not quite come to a centered framework for writing frankly of some kinds of matters in her own meeting including for instance the exact details of the screwups. RantWoman thinks she should speak of her concerns to someone in person before writing them in detail in her blog. However, RantWoman is a night owl, many in her Meeting are early-to-bed, early-to-rise sorts who are not available by phone at the moment. RantWoman has rediscovered that she sometimes writes a lot while organizing her thoughts, seasoning what needs to go further, and letting matters ripen. RantWoman thinks that sometimes getting matters into community discussion from several directions can enrich any resulting community process. All of this is how RantWoman rationalizes going further.

The point: if RantWoman's Meeting is being flabby and wishy-washy and sloppy, sloppy, sloppy about process around comparatively mundane matters like a simple nomination, it will be completely at sea when it is time to season matters involving more profound witness, potential support for civil disobedience, or other more controversial and confrontational forms of witness! In other words, another dang topic where there is even more work ahead than RantWoman initially understood.

For now, for the information of Friends who have not thought of the topic lately and do not read Western Friend in print, a number of sources of information:
including a link in Spanish

That old faithful secular standby
War Resisters' League

an article from 2003

another article from 2004

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