Thought Experiment: Gasoline Tax

A group called Northern California War Tax Resistance is starting up. A flyer outlines easy, low-risk ways to symbolically resist paying war taxes. Symbolic speech is important, and if enough of us would just take up the practices, it just might make a difference. However, I admit to wondering whether this counts as resistance, or merely marketing. I can't knock the intentions of my F/friends who are part of the group, but I just have to ask.

So, here's a thought experiment along somewhat similar lines, that also echoes Robin M.'s post, Does Sugar Equal Oil?

Scenario: The federal government has instituted a 50-cent-per gallon gasoline tax to cover expenses related to the war in Iraq.

For embellishment, imagine it's 2009 and an entirely new Presidential administration that you voted for in November 2008 has just assumed office (I don't care which party as long as you think it was a good choice). We could imagine the new administration is being fiscally responsible and making up for past as well as ongoing deficits, and is exhibiting integrity by tying the tax directly to its use.

Question: What would Quakers do?

Would they continue to behave the same as usual?

Would they always pay in cash and withhold the extra charge for the war tax? If so, would they submit to being arrested for nonpayment of taxes -- or maybe even theft -- if the station owner called the police? How long would they stay in jail before paying the tax and any accumulated fines?

Would they pay by credit card but modify the receipt to withhold payment of the tax before signing?

Would they carpool? Or join carsharing groups?

Would they sell their cars?

Would they refuse rides in privately owned vehicles?

Would they move to the country and buy a horse?

Would they just buy a Prius?

Before doing any of the above, would they consent to wait expectantly together in meeting for business, to ask the Inward Teacher what on earth they should do?

Extra Credit: How would your answers change if the 50-cent tax was to fund conservation measures and alternative energy research and not war? (Would Quakers drive more? ;)


Anonymous said...

We'd convert to biodiesel.

Zach Alexander said...

By symbolic war tax resistance, were you (or they) referring to the phone tax thing? I'm not sure that counts as real resistance either.

Hopefully, more Friends would go carless and start biking...