Stiffing SBC as civil disobedience

News & Politics

According to the National Priorities Project, the war on Iraq has already cost us over $225 billion. That's a fair sight more than the $50 to 60 billion predicted by the White House in January 2003.

Given that there seems to be no end in sight to how much we'll be paying for this little expedition, it's no surprise that people are protesting the war in a great variety of ways. Waaaaay back in April of 2003 AlterNet ran a pair of stories about war tax resistance.

Simply put, war tax resisters refuse to pay some or all of their federal taxes through a conviction that war is wrong, and that yanking funding for an illegal war is the one of the more effective methods of protesting that war. Hit 'em in the pocketbook, as it were.

Last weekend, David Lazarus, the San Francisco Chronicle's roving business/outrage reporter, wrote about how people are increasingly refusing to pay part of their phone bills as a war protest. The federal excise tax on phone service, which dates back to 1898 and began as a way to increase funds for the Spanish-American War, is currently 3 percent of your monthly phone bill. Pretty small change, really, but it adds up as more people refuse to pay it.

What's most interesting about Lazarus' article is that he found more than a few phone companies are on the same page with refusing to pay the excise tax. And it's not just Working Assets:

As it turns out, most phone companies aren't shedding any tears over missed federal excise tax payments. It's not that they sympathize with protesters' feelings about the war. They just don't like the tax.
"We think it's antiquated and has no place in a modern economy," said Joe Farren, a spokesman for telecom industry group CTIA (formerly the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association, but now just a meaningless acronym).
"We think this tax is outrageous and shouldn't be assessed," he said.
So let's hear it for corporate right-doing, even if it's inadvertent!

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In other, sadder news, Donald Watson, the founder of the Vegan Society and originator of the word veganism (I prefer "veganity," though it hasn't caught on as well...), died in November. The Times of London ran a nice obituary yesterday, and I will herewith take an opportunity to note, with more than a dab of vegan smugness, that Mr. Watson lived to be 95 years old, and, per the Times, "When interviewed at 92 he was pleased to report that he had lived thus far without resort to medication "either orthodox or fringe", and with hardly a day's illness."

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