This is the letter I sent to newspapers about my refusal to pay federal income tax in 1999.

April 8, 2000

To the editor:

"Where will we ever find the money?" is the usual refrain from elected officials when it is suggested that we increase funding for needed social programs. We never seem to have enough money for housing, education, job training, environmental protection and restoration, medical care or other vital needs. Yet, when it comes time for the military--no request is too large or too absurd to fund.

This situation continues over a decade after the end of the Cold War. Today, our government alone accounts for over one-third of global military expenditures. Russia, China and the seven most frequently cited potential "enemies" (Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria) together spend less than 35% of the official proposed U.S. military budget for 2001.

And each year as citizens prepare their federal income tax returns our government tries to hide this criminal misuse of resources. Instead of clearly telling us that nearly half of what is paid in income tax will fund current and past military expenses, we are presented with a pie chart that shows "National defense, veterans, and foreign affairs" accounting for only 18% of the budget. This sleight of hand is accomplished by including Social Security in the mix and not attributing the vast majority of our national debt to past military costs.

Federal spending priorities condemn millions of people in our country to lives of poverty and despair. At the same time, they result in death, devastation and stunted opportunities for many millions more the world over.

As a conscientious objector to war I choose to redirect my federal income tax money to the kinds of programs which work to empower people, provide for their needs and create a society based on principles of justice and equality for all.



Andy Mager