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Tax Resisters Say: Coloring Is Fun! This kind of quality illustration assures that the tax resistance movement will appeal to kindergarteners everywhere.

Nüz

Resistance Is Futile ...

April is Car Care month--no surprise to those who suspect the war is really about securing that most central of car accessories: Iraqi crude.

It's also Suppress Dissent month, judging from the behavior of Clear Channel Entertainment, which owns 1,233 radio stations, sponsors pro-war rallies and recently pulled the Dixie Chicks from its playlists after lead singer Natalie Maines told a London crowd, "Just so you know, we're ashamed the president's from Texas."

And then there's the decision of NBC and National Geographic to "sever their relationship" with veteran war correspondent Peter Arnett for saying--on Iraqi state TV no less--that the United States war plan "failed because of Iraqi resistance." Guess Arnett wasn't in bed, er, embedded enough.

Nüz suggests fighting back by not driving whenever possible, buying the Dixie Chicks' latest album Home, even if you think they suck, and tuning out U.S.-owned TV.

Which brings us to another sick joke. As the Bush administration puts U.S. tax dollars to work in Iraq, the Bush Baby is asking you to bankroll the $459 billion U.S. military budget for 2004--which, by the way, does not include the $74.7 billion he has asked the Republican-controlled Congress to OK for the war on Iraq and foreign aid to Israel, Jordan, Turkey and Egypt, as well as "anti-terrorism efforts at home."

Not amused? Local tax resisters say that with the April 15 tax deadline looming, it's still not too late to bypass the IRS.

"We are proud to publicly refuse to support the war plans of this administration run amok and instead redirect our tax dollars to our local public schools," said Betsy Fairbanks in a letter that Schools Not Bombs presented to the local IRS office on March 11.

Though the IRS seized her bank accounts twice, Fairbanks, who has been a tax resister since the 1970s, says some years she has not heard from the IRS at all. And while she has chosen not to pay any taxes some years, she usually withholds about 23 percent--the amount of the federal budget typically designated for military expenses.

Lest people worry that withholding taxes jeopardizes social services, tax resisters point out that 50 percent of the federal budget is already locked into Social Security and Medicare, whereas the military budget comprises about 50 percent of federal income tax--money that Congress spends at its discretion.

Fairbanks claims that the war on Iraq and the budget deficit in California (which is causing huge cuts for schools and social services) is triggering a new wave of tax resistance from folks like Alexander Gaguine.

"I don't look forward to messing around with the IRS, but it was still an action I needed to take," says Gaguine, who this year will withhold $1,000 and give it to public schools, instead. "I think the world has made an historic statement, an unprecedented statement, in opposition to war as a solution to problems, and I hope our action is one small part of that."

While Schools Not Bombs is coordinating a community tax-resistance movement, untold numbers of Santa Cruzans--including City Councilmember Scott Kennedy--are taking individual action.

"I don't know how anybody could voluntarily give money to this government's war department," says Kennedy, who has been a tax resister since 1971."I think everybody should find some way to resist even if it is just a token amount."

But token statements may not be enough. As former Secretary of State Alexander Haig put it in 1982, "Let them march all they want, as long as they continue to pay their taxes."

... Or Is It?

Lance Cpl. Stephen Eagle Funk, a 20-year-old Marine reservist, who has been AWOL since mid-February, plans (as of presstime) to file as a conscientious objector on April 1, which will make him one of the first members of the armed forces to seek a discharge on these grounds since the war began two weeks ago.

While some think conscientious objection is a throwback to the draft, the law also allows those who voluntarily join the armed forces to seek a discharge, if they have deeply held moral or ethical objections to war.

But while the Resource Center for Nonviolence says there's been an upsurge in interest since the United States began mobilizing, military officials say the procedure is little used (there were 28 cases last year) and that most Marines are more dedicated since Sept. 11, 2001.

Either way, discharges don't come easy. Applicants must submit a detailed explanation of how their feelings have changed since enlisting and must be interviewed by a military chaplain, a psychiatrist and an investigating officer, with top military brass making the final decision.

Funk, who did not report for duty when his unit received orders to deploy for war, says he's prepared to serve time in a military prison.

Meanwhile, the Santa Cruz City School Board unanimously approved a student-led initiative last week that stands up for the rights of privacy and truth in military recruitment practices targeting high school students.

Proposed by the Santa Cruz High Youth Alliance, the measure came in direct response to Bush's 2001 No Child Left Behind Act, which requires high school principals to turn over contact information for juniors and seniors to the military--unless parents opt out in writing.

By contrast, the Santa Cruz measure requires that student contact information be released to military recruiters only when parents opt in, by giving written consent to the school for such contacts.

Santa Cruz High senior Josh Sonnenfeld, who was recently profiled in these pages and is one of the main organizers of the initiative, says that Rochester, N.Y., and Maplewood, N.J., were the first cities in the country to adopt policies responding to the NCLB Act, but theirs were created by administrators.

Sonnenfeld said he was "pleasantly surprised" by the outcome of the school board's vote, and while the school district theoretically risks losing half a million dollars in federal funding for failing to go along with Bush's policy, Sonnenfeld is chilling out.

And now the Youth Alliance, along with the Youth Action Coalition, a group of students from high schools all over the Monterey Bay, is working on spreading the "privacy and truth" movement, while Sonnenfeld says he's receiving requests from peace groups in the Bay Area and on the East Coast asking how they can create similar policies

Email the Youth Action Coalition at yacsantacruz@yahoo.com.

Casualty Count

To date, 1,722 people reportedly have been killed; 123 have been wounded and 3,541 are missing or have been classified as POWs in the war on Iraq, according to the U.S. Military, the Red Cross and Iraqi reports.

And Takoma, the mine-sweeping bottle-nosed dolphin is MIA. The good news?

Takoma's trainer thinks "he may have met a local female."


Nüz just loves juicy tips: Drop a line to 115 Cooper St, Santa Cruz, 95060, email us at , or call our hotline at 457.9000, ext 214.

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From the April 2-8, 2003 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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