Call me Coyote… I am a fictional character. I am not real. I am fake news. Do not believe me when I tell you about the revolution. It is an imaginary revolution. It is not real.
Believe it or not, when I first began my imaginary revolution way back in December of 1994, I wanted to get arrested as a tax protester. I was… hoping to get arrested as a tax protester. I was a more enthusiastic revolutionary then and I had (and still have) a very strong constitutional case based on the First Amendment that I wanted to bring all the way to the Supreme Court in order to shake the foundations of the economic system. I would only have legal standing to bring such a case if I was arrested or otherwise harassed by the government for non-payment of taxes so that was what I wanted to happen. Indeed, now that the Supreme Court has passed “Citizens United,” my case is even stronger. But I really don’t want to get arrested anymore. It would be annoying. Jail would not be pleasant. Freedom is fun and I have a family to support now. I would hate to have to go through the steps of filling out the paperwork and filing it all in federal court. I still think the case is a winner. I still think I’m right. They can’t logically say yes to “Citizen’s United” and no to my valid legal constitutional claim. But I can’t be bothered to get involved so I hope they continue to leave me alone. I don’t want to return to the practice of law. I just want to build stone walls.
The legal argument is a simple one. What you spend money on is a form of free expression or free speech (Citizens United; Abood; Buckley v. Vallejo). The First Amendment prohibits the government from passing laws that inhibit free speech. Therefore, whenever the government collects a tax from you and spends it on something that you are morally or spiritually or ethically opposed to… something that violates your conscience…. the government violates your First Amendment rights. Since the US tax code does not specify the services provided for the payment collected, the entire tax code violates the First Amendment.
My personal circumstance illustrates the issue. I believe in paying taxes to a legitimate government that serves the interest of the community or state that I belong to. I would happily give a portion of my “income” to an administrative body that provides guaranteed access to food, shelter and basic healthcare for all humans who live within my community or state. I would happily pay taxes to support infrastructure projects for public transportation or public access to water or electricity. I would happily pay taxes to help provide for the education of the children in my community or state. I would even reluctantly go along with paying a tax to support some system of community or state defense in case our community or state should be attacked. But I am morally opposed at a deep, profound, spiritual and ethical level to the concept of an “offensive military.” Presently, the US government has hundreds of military bases and military personnel and weapons of war stationed all over the world on other people’s or neutral territory. The maintenance of this “offensive military” is a large portion of the federal budget. They kill thousands every year in places like Iraq and Syria and Libya and Somalia and Afghanistan and…. This truth violates my conscience and offends my ethics. I cannot and will not support it in any way with my words, actions, deeds or money. The US government seeks money from me through the tax code. The government intends a portion of that money to pay for the “offensive military” that offends my conscience. Since the tax code does not differentiate between things that I support and the thing that violates my conscience, I have no ethical choice but to boycott the entire tax code. Therefore, if the federal government attempts to enforce the tax code against me, I will consider it a violation of my First Amendment rights and I will sue the government for punitive damages.
If the federal government wants to re-write the tax code and differentiate between money for the “offensive military” and money for useful things so that I can target my spending more specifically, I will gladly start filling out tax forms again. But my conscience will not allow it under its present format. Go ahead and sue me or arrest me or attempt to punish me in any way for my refusal to pay any federal income tax and I will sue you right back under the First Amendment. Maybe we can publicize the battle to entertain the masses. I really should be able to bring it all the way to the Supreme Court. I have solid caselaw to back me up.
But the reality is; the Federal Government will probably never come after me for not filling out tax forms because I would not owe any money if I did fill out the forms. I work for myself and only make maybe 20 grand or so in dollars in a season (plus another 10 grand or so of value in barter). My life is my business so… if I did deductions for business pretty much everything could be a deduction. I wouldn’t owe anything if I did fill out the forms so why bother with the paper work? Well, yes, there is social security… and that is supposed to be separate. Believe you me, there is a part of me that would really like to pay into social security. A little retirement plan… But it is not distinct from the tax system and the government did borrow from the social security fund to finance the Iraq war. So it is the same damn shit. The same damn problem. I just can’t willingly participate in an offensive military. It’s against my principles. I oppose imperialism so I can’t give money voluntarily (taxes) to the federal government.
I read somewhere, that 30 million American citizens don’t fill out tax forms. That is something like 15% of the population that is supposed to pay taxes but refuses to even acknowledge taxes. I have no idea if that number is accurate. Indeed, it is probably much higher. It seems like a number the government would like to downplay. I, of course, can’t help but wonder how many of those 30 million are tax protesters opposed to empire and imperialism and how many are really poor people who have no income to report or really greedy people who just want to “keep all their money for themselves.” I am an optimist, of course, so I imagine they are all tax protesters on the same team as me.
Additionally, less than 50% of eligible voters actually took the time to vote in the last election. The media would have us believe that those 100 million people are lazy good-for-nothing bums who wasted an opportunity to participate in a thriving democracy. I, however, like to believe that those 100 million non-voters are the real resistance. They are the ones who recognize federal elections in the US to be a charade. They are the ones that waste not time or energy on the absurdity of national elections and instead spend their time and energy elsewhere. Am I wrong? If that is the case, why should any of those 100 million people pay taxes to the federal government? Why should they have to fill out tax forms? There shall be no taxation without representation… 100 million people don’t have representation because they know federal elections are a scam so why should they pay taxes? Because they have to! Because it’s the law. Why are elections optional and income taxes mandatory? If the payment of money is a form of speech as the Supreme Court has clearly stated in Buckley vs. Vallejo; Abood; Citizens United; how can that be legal and constitutional?
It is a thought that occurs to me frequently as I do my bi-weekly perusal of the internet to keep myself abreast of world affairs and political developments. I generally read the radical websites… left wing socialist and right wing libertarian… because such sites have authors and commentators who agree with my opposition to imperialism and global corporate conquest. There are so many commentators out there who seem to agree with me about America, inc., and the threat it poses to the world. I can’t help but wonder internally if each and every one of those commentators pays taxes (fills out the forms) to the federal government. Because really, if you rant and rave about the evils of American imperialism in your “day job” but voluntarily pay a portion of your income to support that same imperialism aren’t you being just a little bit ridiculous and hypocritical? It is my profound wish, dream, and hope that one or more of the famous public intellectuals out there with substantial incomes and national visibility will take up the cause of the imaginary revolution. All he/she or they would have to do is stop filling out federal income tax forms and publicly claim the legal right under the First Amendment to do so.
The problem is, of course, the catch-22. All those good tax-paying anti-imperialist anti-war public intellectuals, don’t want to believe that spending money is speech. They disagree with the Supreme Court decisions in the above described cases. They believe that money is a thing. They are attached to the illusion or metaphor of ownership. They want to accumulate “assets” to provide for a secure future. The money they give to the Feds as taxes is their legal obligation as citizens… not their free expression of support for imperialism and world conquest… Their words on paper and out loud recorded in opposition to Empire are what counts as the free expression of their souls.. . not the money they legally have to give to keep from getting arrested. More importantly, not the money they have to give so that they are allowed to accumulate more money and more assets. In other words, they need their “jobs” to sustain their lifestyle. They can’t keep their esteemed positions and public platforms if they really and truly stand up for their principles.
It really is the fundamental issue and I completely understand the dilemma. I have faced this dilemma head on for the last twenty four years with my business/art and I am faced with it once again as I am about to self-publish my newest literary endeavor. I really think this is my best and most important book ever. It is the incredible story of my own personal journey into the very heart of the Middle East and I want everyone I know…. and everyone in America to read it. What is the best way to make that happen? Sell it to a professional publisher who knows how to get books out into the world? But then I would have to fill out tax forms. So I have no choice but to self-publish it again… like I did with my other books. But still, the dilemma does not go away. The federal government only leaves me alone and allows me to not pay taxes because I have nothing. If I start selling lots of books I will make more money and the federal government will have a reason to come after me. And then I will have to sue them for violating my First Amendment rights.
So there you have it. The money is speech conundrum in a nutshell. My soon to be self-published “literary masterpiece” is smack dab at the center of the philosophical dynamic. Although it is basically a travel story, the perspective of the narrator and a primary theme of the book is opposition to economic imperialism, cultural colonialism, and military occupation. But if the book sells and makes profits, the federal government will want to tax those profits and use the taxes collected in support of economic imperialism, cultural colonialism and military occupation. If that intended taxation does not violate the First Amendment, then we really should stop pretending like we have any First Amendment at all.
And the coyote howls…. Owooooo Owooooo!
You can buy my new e-book here.Buy my new e-book.
The paperback will be available soon… eventually. Actually, a few special promotional advance copy paperbacks are available now for free… A Journey to the Middle of the East
See you somewhere…