Bija Milagro — “Source of Miracles” in America: We the People!

Taxation for what, for whom, for them, for gutted and eviscerated communities via nihilism vis-a-vis the entire casino capitalism and its banksters …?  

NPR rarely hits it right, but while working at my “other” job with developmentally disabled adults, I heard this piece on a singer-doctor-multilingual social justice thinker. It was okay, for NPR, but the interview accidentally culled a piece around new urbanism, the poor, the greenie weenie, Coder creeps I rail against ALL the time.

Note that Rupa Marya is one of those special individuals who sees the world from a generous view. Something apropos now since it is war tax-drone tax-Coder Tax-Special Operations Tax-Gutting Education Tax-Killing Communities Tax TIME, today, in Amerika. Here, her words (a bit scrolled down), and the interview on NPR.

Also note that Rupa in this piece brings up the macrocosm of Amerika, the  world — Coders, IT, software and hardware Nazis and their bosses, destroying the world for 80 percent of us — see below. Also note, that Matt Taibbi was also on Democracy Now today, not always a sharp show, to be sure … rough around the edges, still steeping in Capitalism, and, if you saw the show on that crappy new TV series on Climate Change, with One Percenter actors blathering their Reality TV fakedom:

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We turn now to a new Showtime series where renowned actors battle torrential rainfall, raging wildfires and prolonged droughts. The series is called Years of Living Dangerously, and it has all the drama and suspense of a Hollywood blockbuster. In one episode, Harrison Ford travels to Indonesia to investigate the palm oil industry and its impacts on greenhouse gases through deforestation. In another, Don Cheadle visits Plainview, Texas, after a huge meat-packing plant closes down because of a drought. And in another episode, Arnold Schwarzenegger joins an elite team of wildland firefighters as they battle infernos.

AMY GOODMAN: The series tackles fact, not fiction. It tells the stories of real people from across the planet affected by climate change. Hollywood luminaries such as Matt Damon and James Cameron and Jerry Weintraub have teamed up with leading climate scientists, like Drs. Heidi Cullen, Joe Romm and Jim Hansen, to bring the story of climate change to life for those yet to feel its impacts. This is a clip from the trailer of Years of Living Dangerously.

This is what makes Democracy Now really BAD at times — east coast mumbo jumbo, cult of the celebrity, and their lost world on climate change and the implications of ANYTHING to do with multimillionaires and Showtime and the rest of the hydrocarbon burners doing anything around this serious subject. The very existence of Cameron, Damon, Ford, Cheadle,  Schwarzenegger et al in this field, well, TERRIBLE. When will these elites like Weintraub and Cameron and even James Hansen and Romm see the world from OUR point of view? Can you imagine a real show with real people, activists and in the trenches folk, on the street, poor but smart, giving them jobs to do this show, to do the reporting, to do the real work, instead of hyper-directed and angsty bullshit from Hollywood multimillionaires? Do we need Terminator, Indiana Jones and the other Hollywood quadruple dippers raking in more attention, more money, more propaganda? I will write a piece on this soon, since Earth Day is coming up, and I WILL NOT be doing any earth (sic) day (sic-sic) celebrating (and I have been an earth day organizer in several cities in a major way!) via the normal rah-rah consumerist route, you know, where Whole Foods, CocaCola, Boeing, GE, Wells Fargo, Amazon and the rest of the Fortune 500 schmucks celebrate their felonies and crimes against humanity with green washing, AKA, eco-pornography. Later.

Am I too harsh? Hell no. Shame on Democracy Now for being so elitist and so tied to the cult of celebration, celebrity. This show is pure pap, on Showtime’s hot new climate hot show, Year of Living Dangerously, opps, make that, YEARS (ripped off a movie title starring Mel Zionist Racist Gibson and Sigourney Weaver) of Living Dangerously!

Notice that this NPR show (aired Sunday, April 13)  is about music and Rupa’s multi-diverse-ethnic-lingual background but turns to the hard reality that NPR and CBS and Democracy Now and the rest of them fail-fail-fail at — gentrification of places at the expense of the masses, the majority. We have heard about San Francisco and Google and everyone (89.999 % of us) being priced out because of spoiled, libertarian, coders and computer engineers (sic) coming to town and living their bullshit consumer-driven, Art of War lives, a la Ayn Rand and cultural and economic eugenics lives. They develop software and robotics and unmanned aerial vehicles  and data collection-mining-IEDs to kill jobs, kill work, kill education, kill public space-health-welfare, kill privacy, kill our dignity and Universal Rights as Human Beings. I will highlight that allusion in the NPR piece on Rupa here below in bold:

The San Francisco Bay Area band Rupa & the April Fishes took its name from an old French joke that involves slapping unsuspecting friends on the back with paper fishes. The group’s music can be just as wacky and inscrutable — but it can also be very serious.

Lead singer Rupa Marya grew up in California, France and India, the daughter of Punjabi immigrants. “There were about four or five languages being spoken at the dinner table all the time,” she says. “That ended up affecting my sensitivity to sounds and languages.

“A very interesting part of our work as a band, ” she says, “is just going to these places around the world and bearing witness. What’s happening here in Chiapas, it’s happening also in Cairo and it’s happening in Madrid, and it’s happening in Montreal, and it’s happening in Oakland.”

Something is also happening in San Francisco: The influence of the region’s tech industry has made the city unaffordable for many people. Marya says she put her things in storage for two years during an extended period of touring; when she returned, things had changed.

“The rent where I used to live was increased by 300 percent — so my entire musical community has been smashed, completely destroyed, in that everyone has scattered,” she says, “It was not so long ago that we had a scene that was vibrant. It does not exist anymore. We miss the weirdos and the ragtag misfits and the eco-libertarians and the wacky San Francisco people.”

These days, Mayra lives in Moss Beach, in a house with a gorgeous view of the Pacific and a recording studio. Instead of commuting to the hospital on her bicycle, she drives 25 miles North to San Francisco, passing busloads of workers in the city’s tech industry. She says that trip will be a theme on her next album — but right now she and her partner, an activist farmer, are busy raising their baby boy.

“His name is Bija Milagro,” she says, cooing to her son, “which means seed or source of miracles.”

Yes, gentrifying SF, a la Christy Rodgers, DV 2/16/14:

The cleansed, aestheticized paradise that money seeks to create – the “hollow city,” the San Francisco writer Rebecca Solnit called it – is thus filled with ghosts, swarming unseen on every corner. As San Francisco turns itself into an alluring illusion for each new generation that gets drawn here like Scottie’s moth to Madeleine’s flame – it is (and they become) haunted by the ghosts of what it is always destroying in order to remake itself. And the “freedom” promised by capital’s utopia turns out to be another kind of determinism for the mass of people who cannot be its beneficiaries. It is a never-ending cycle of return, the proliferation of ghostly, disconnected existences, the impossible longing for an ideal of union (for a true home is psychologically akin to the individual beloved), overshadowed by a more vibrant past that is being erased – imperfectly, but with ever-greater rapidity.

Continue your research on SF gentrification, here, at the Bay Guardian:

The city is getting richer and less diverse, and the unaddressed displacement of longtime residents has fueled populist outrage. Now, politicians are finally getting the message, but some are offering solutions that may reopen old civic wounds.

They say that the answer to the housing affordability crisis is to build massive amounts of new housing, and to build it higher and more densely than city codes and processes currently allow.

Sup. Scott Wiener wrote a scathing indictment of the city’s alleged aversion to housing production in the San Francisco Chronicle on Jan. 13, slamming a planning process that he says slows necessary construction.

“This disconnect — saying that we need more housing while arbitrarily finding reasons to kill or water down projects that provide that housing — is having profound effects on our city and its beautiful diversity, economic and otherwise,” Wiener wrote.

Though he mentioned affordable housing, the need to build all kinds of housing was the crux of his argument. It’s the same kind of developer-friendly rhetoric that whips people into a frenzy with faux common sense: build more, and the market will take care of everyone.

But there are flaws to that simplistic argument. Housing advocates (and Guardian editorials) have long argued that market rate units — the median price of which just surpassed $1 million — don’t trickle down to maintain the city’s economic diversity. More supply may help, but with insatiable demand for housing here, it won’t help much with affordability for the working class.

Interesting that on Democracy Now today we get a few minutes from a tax dodger, or war tax resister — another story that needs telling on ALL the major fuck-up networks –

“Lida Shao is  a premed student at Columbia University and because of family history and her own September 11, 2001 experience watching people leap from the Trade Center buildings where she lived, well, she has been a war tax resister for three years with support from the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee. Shao joined DN to discuss why Tax Day for her is a day of resistance.”

LIDA SHAO: I’m most inspired by my father. He was born the year before Nanjing Massacre and lived through it, and he was kind of haunted his whole life about what the war did to his city. And kind of, I guess—I guess I think of my war tax resistance as a practice that I can cultivate throughout my life.

[ ... ]  Mm-hmm. I mean, I think that that’s—that could be viable, too. You know, I think that war has touched all of us in so many ways, that it might be—it might make sense for somebody to arrive at that decision. But, for me, I just thought about how war has marked my life. I was a graduating class of Stuyvesant. It was in the shadow of the Twin Towers during 9/11. I saw people jump out of the towers from my early morning biology class. And I guess at that moment I realized that the U.S. would retaliate, you know, and I didn’t want more people to die, and so just really thinking about how to cultivate peace in your life and end violence and end war. And that’s really a hard skill and, I think, something very courageous, and so—learning how to do that, because I don’t think we learn how to do that. So then I discovered war tax through NWTRCC, the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee. And it was a really responsive and creative group of people, and it was a lovely community. Ruth took me out to tea personally and explained things to me about taxes that I had no idea when I was just barely legal to drink alcohol.

[ ... ] That’s important. I think—for me, I think of it in the broader context of debt resistance and how in the U.S. I think a lot of the doctors have become very fearful because of the debt that they come out of med school with. And I would love to see a system that creates doctors that can be courageous along with their patients and their—and the victims of this healthcare system. And so, I guess I think of it in terms of a larger economic control over people and how they help one another.

So, that award-winning journalist Matt Taibbi’s new book  asks why white-collar criminals have avoided prison since the financial crisis began … contrasted with an unequal justice system imprisoning the poor and people of color on a mass scale. The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gapis Taibbi’s exploration of the huge income gap and justice gap and imprisonment gap we talk about at DV all the time: “It is much more grotesque to consider the non-enforcement of white-collar criminals when you do consider how incredibly aggressive law enforcement is with regard to everybody else,” Taibbi says.

LANNY BREUER: I personally feel that it’s my duty to consider whether individual employees, with no responsibility for or knowledge of misconduct committed by others in the same company, are going to lose their livelihood if we indict the corporation. In large multinational companies, the jobs of tens of thousands of employees can literally be at stake. And in some cases, the health of an industry or the markets are a very real factor. Those are the kinds of considerations in white-collar cases that literally keep me up at night, and which must, must play a role in responsible enforcement.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Lanny Breuer in 2012, who was like number two in the Justice Department.

MATT TAIBBI: He was the head of the Criminal Division, so he’s basically the top cop in America at the time.

AMY GOODMAN: He was at the Justice Department; of course, Eric Holder is the attorney general—both from the same company. Respond to what he said, and then talk about Covington & Burling.

MATT TAIBBI: Well, first of all, his—that whole thing about the innocent white-collar employees perhaps losing their livelihoods keeping him up at night, I want to know what his response is to, you know, the idea that maybe a single mother on welfare is going to lose her kids because she’s going to lose custody in an $800 welfare fraud case. You know, I saw so many of these cases that it was—that is was just overwhelming to me. Those are the kinds of things that would keep me up at night if I were the attorney general, thinking about the consequences that ordinary people feel—suffer when they are caught up in the criminal justice system.

People—for instance, again, going back to welfare fraud, your relatives can lose their Section 8 housing. So, you know, if you’re—again, if you’re on welfare and you get caught in a fraud case, that may just involve checking the wrong box or having somebody, one of your neighbors, say that you have a boyfriend living in your house, when you really don’t, your mother or your grandmother can lose their housing because of something like that. That would be the stuff that would keep me up at night. I mean, I wouldn’t be worried about millionaire and billionaire executives, you know, who are working at these banks, if I were Lanny Breuer. So that tells you a lot about the priorities of somebody like him.

What does it mean to resist? To throw the entire mess overboard this ship of fools?

NOTE: All federally collected taxes contribute to military spending. The largest such tax is the individual income tax, which makes up almost three-quarters of collections for the general fund. Other taxes that contribute to military spending are corporate income taxes, some excise taxes (e.g., tobacco, alcohol, local telephone), estate and gift taxes, customs duties, and so forth. Savings bonds, formerly known as war bonds, though not a tax, are a means by which the government borrows money from people for federal programs such as the military.

Wally Nelson in 2002

What would you do if someone came to your door with a cup in hand asking for a contri­bution to help buy guns and kill a group of people they didn’t like? – Wally Nelson (pictured in 2002)

It is impossible to conduct modern warfare without soldiers and weapons. But before governments can buy weapons and hire soldiers, they must first raise the necessary money. That’s where our taxes come in. “The two decisive powers of the government with respect war are the power to conscript and the power to tax,” A.J. Muste once observed. In this era of high-priced weapons systems and military aid to regional wars, taxation is the closest war-making link between the government and most citizens. War tax resistance is a direct way to say “No!” to military programs, which cost U.S. taxpayers about a trillion dollars every year. War tax resistance is a powerful way to say “no!” to wars and occupation, nuclear weapons and weapons testing, military aid and arms sales, covert CIA violence and torture — to say no to the militarization of the U.S. federal budget. Through war tax resistance you take control over how your money is spent.

What is War Tax Resistance?

Very simply, it is refusal to pay some or all of the federal taxes that pay for war. While it is possible to legally refuse the income tax by lowering your taxable income, war tax resistance often involves an act of civil disobedience. In the U.S. war tax resisters choose to refuse some or all of their federal income tax and/or other taxes, like the federal excise tax on local telephone service. Income taxes and excise taxes are destined for the government’s general fund and about half of that money helps to pay for the military budget, including all types of weapons of war and weapons of mass destruction.

People take many roads to war tax resistance:

  • some are protesting a particular war;
  • some find it against their religious convictions to knowingly support war;
  • some are horrified by massive U.S. military spending while human needs go unmet;
  • some are or would be conscientious objectors if called to military service and, therefore, feel they cannot in good conscience pay for something they would refuse to do themselves.

Most war tax resisters are motivated by a combination of reasons like these, and actively work for peace in many other ways too.

Refusing to pay federal income taxes is an act of civil disobedience with a long history in the U.S. America’s most well-known war tax resister was Henry David Thoreau, whose refusal to pay his poll tax because of the Mexican-American War earned him an night in jail and the experience that led him to write his influential essay, Civil Disobedience. During the Vietnam War authors and artists including James Baldwin, Joan Baez, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Philip K. Dick, Allen Ginsberg, Norman Mailer, Grace Paley, Kurt Vonnegut, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, and Gloria Steinem signed public statements refusing to pay some or all of their taxes because of the war. In 1981 Roman Catholic Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen of Seattle urged citizens to refuse to pay 50% of their income taxes to protest spending on nuclear weapons.

While those of us who refuse to pay war taxes believe this refusal is just and imperative — and some cite international law to back up this belief — the federal government through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) considers the refusal to pay these taxes to be illegal, and there are potential consequences through the IRS collection system. For most of us who resist, the dire consequences of voluntarily paying for war are far worse that what the IRS and government can do to us.

War tax resisters are not out to enrich themselves by evading taxes. Some live below the taxable income to avoid as fully as possible participating in war-making. Others who refuse to pay taxes to the federal government give that money instead to groups that use it for human needs here in the U.S., aid and relief work in war-torn regions, peacemaking, or international cooperation.

Paul Kirk has been a journalist since 1977. He's covered police, environment, planning and zoning, county and city politics, as well as working in true small town/community journalism situations in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Mexico and beyond. He's been a part-time faculty since 1983, and as such has worked in prisons, gang-influenced programs, universities, colleges, alternative high schools, language schools, as a private contractor-writing instructor for US military in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Washington Read other articles by Paul.