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Groups Challenge National Tax Priorities with Princeton Protest

On Tax Day 2012, 25 protesters gathered in front of the Princeton Post Office to educate taxpayers about how tax dollars are spent, the impact on the economy, and what the public can do about it.

The Coalition for Peace Action and MoveOn.org want local taxpayers to ask a simple question: How do you think your taxes should be spent?

The groups joined together this afternoon (April 17) during a lunchtime protest tarteged at people foling their 2011 taxes at the .

Peace Action has been asking taxpayers the same question for nearly 20 years. Participants are each given 10 pennies and asked to put them in tubes labeled education, health, environment, housing and military, according to how they want their tax dollars distributed. The Rev. Robert Moore, executive directory for the Princeton-based peace group, the results are almost always the same.

“Military comes in dead last and education often comes in on top.”

This year was no different. Between noon and 1:30 p.m., 66 people voted with their pennies, with the following results:

Category

Number of  Pennies

Percent

Health Care

227

34

Education

138

21

Environment

136

21

Housing

104

16

Military

54

8

This differs greatly from how Congress allocated federal money 2011, according to the coalition. Congress spent $699 billion, or 51.9 percent of U.S. discretionary spending, on the military and only 5 percent on health care and 7 percent on education.

"By spending so much on wars and military, we drain our long-term human security because we are taking money away from education and job training," Moore said. "We are not investing in human capital and [as a result we are] sliding into becoming a second-rate nation. We need to have a holistic view of security for our nation.”

This year MoveOn.org joined the Coalition for Peace Action to spread the message.

"We want the 1 percent to pay their fair share of taxes," said Cheri Dzubak, of MoveOn.org. "We want corporations to pay their fair share, too.”

MoveOn.org distributed literature citing the 2011 report “Corporate Tax Payers and Corporate Tax Dodgers," which says that 30 of the Fortune 500 companies are not paying any tax. This includes companies such as Wells Fargo and Verizon. In addition, these companies received subsidies from the government.

“We’re here today to express our outrage that the rich and corporations like Verizon have been allowed to play by a different set of rules than the rest of us and aren't paying their fair share to help rebuild the economy,” said Debra Lambo, Mid-Jersey MoveOn.org  coordinator. “Taxing the 1 percent is the quickest way to rebuild our economy so that it works for everyone. We pay our fair share of taxes. Verizon should too."

Today’s protest came on the heels of a training program called the 99% Spring. Inspired by the Occupy Wall Street Movement, MoveOn.org held classes around the country to train people in the ways of non-violent direct action. According to Mary Clurman, 70 people turned out for Saturday’s program which included learning about the history of non-violent direct action, its successes, and how to apply it to today’s issues. The protest at the Princeton Post Office was the first opportunity for the newly trained protesters to put their teachings into action.

"You are not alone and by working with other people," Clurman said. "You can be heard.”

As a first step, she encourages everyone “to write our own story as to why we think this is important.” Once people understand what is important to themselves, they can better articulate the message to others.

Princeton’s event was just one of hundreds planned around the country to protest taxes. The event drew about 25 protesters, many of whom spent their lunch hour supporting MoveOn.org and the Coalition for Peace Action. At least a hundred people were educated about the issues and how they can make a difference.

Jacquelyn Pillsbury April 18, 2012 at 04:48 PM
It was my pleasure. I hope your voice is feeling stronger today.

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