"We cannot justify paying taxes when 50 percent of the budget goes towards paying for war," said Elizabeth Atley, a representative for the Oregon Community for War Tax Resistance (OCWTR).
Atley and other OCWTR members have been resisting war taxes for nine years; every year, they pay a portion of their taxes, but withhold the percentage that goes towards military spending. They then donate the withheld percentage to a cause they find more humanitarian. Last year, they redirected the money to Dignity Village.
After an hour of public speaking and sign-carrying, the group marched to the Federal Building, local home of the IRS. They carried signs with pie charts explaining military spending, which read, "U.S. Government, Stop Supporting Ethnic Cleansing" and "One More Missile--One Less School."
According to Karen Coulter, who is a principal activist for Program on Corporations, Law, and Democracy (POCLAD), expenditures by the U.S. federal government represent 40 percent of the world's total military spending. "The military is a business," Coulter explained. POCALD argues that America's enormous military budget is used more for America's capital gain than for the protection of American people. "The government makes weapons, and therefore has to make more to sell more weapons," she explained. According to Coulter, in 1999, the federal government gave $7.6 billion in subsidies to corporations that support and contribute to the manufacture and sale of military weapons overseas.
Coulter and POCLAD argue that the U.S.'s current investment in the war against Afghanistan is a perfect example of tax dollars earmarked for military spending, that are instead being used for capitalist gain. While the Bush Administration argues it's a war against terrorism, Coulter and POCLAD believe it's merely a war that furthers the preservation of economic interests in oil.
In particular, POCALD cites examples as early as 1997, when major oil corporations--such as UNICAL--have argued in front of Congress for the establishments of a transcontinental oil line. This line would consolidate and coordinate U.S. efforts to obtain oil in Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Ubekistan, Kazkahstan, and Russia. According to Coulter, the war in Afghanistan has more to do with the establishment of this oil line than terrorism. "They're looking at civilizations in the third world as barbarians, and they want to keep them from coming together to help each other," she explained. "This is a war being fought to secure oil reserves and establish transnational operation."
"They [the government] look at this war like a football team, but in reality, we are just one nation," Coulter explained. "In America, there's a very blurred line between the government and corporate interests."
This year, OCWTR will be redirecting their tax money to "groups that provide aid to the victims of our wars and to others actively engaged in nonviolent resistance to the U.S. war machine." Though Atley and other activists have been subject to fines imposed by the IRS on their salary and checking accounts, in the last nine years no one has yet served any prison time.