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Voices / Letters from readers

Why must our tax dollars be devoted to perpetual war?

At this time of year, people are concerned about how their tax dollars are being spent.

Vermont teachers are struggling to keep their contracts and jobs in the face of mounting opposition from school supervisory unions that are reluctant to meet the teachers’ demands. Undoubtedly, teacher salaries are at the heart of the problem. There is not enough money available to educate our children and provide for the many social services that people require.

So where is the money going or not going?

For an answer, I went to the website of the National Priorities Project. I discovered that, from 2001 to the present, Vermont taxpayers paid $1.9 billion to the federal government to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This money is above and beyond the costs of maintaining peacetime soldiers. It is war money only: it does not include soldiers’ regular pay or the costs of medical care for wounded soldiers.

This $1.9 billion of war-tax dollars paid by Vermont taxpayers would have paid the salaries of Vermont’s 4,100 elementary school teachers for seven years.

The United States is engaged in constant war and has an economy that depends on war and war preparations. President Eisenhower warned us about the military-industrial complex, and we are now immersed in its consequences.

There are many paths to justice and peace. One of the paths is to refuse to pay war taxes and redirecting that money to our teachers or homeless shelters or any number of vital and underfunded nonprofit organizations.

I usually wear a button, “Ask me about resisting war taxes.” It’s a good conversation starter.

These buttons and a large variety of war-tax resistance literature are available at the Pioneer Valley War Tax Resisters literature table.

We will be in front of the Brattleboro Post Office on Tax Day, Tuesday, April 17, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Please stop by, ask questions, and feel free to browse through the books and pamphlets.

Daniel Sicken

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Originally published in The Commons issue #147 (Wednesday, April 11, 2012).

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