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Friday, March 30, 2012

Real Tax Protestors... and Chess

You might know, from my other blog, that I am interested in chess. Well, just for the heck of it, I searched on the Internet for "tax protester AND chess" (yes, yes, I know the "AND" operation here is unnecessary) -- and, quite surprisingly, found something quite enlightening.

I was referred to the Wikipedia page about Ralph Ginzburg. Turns out he conducted a famous 1962 interview with Robert "Bobby" Fischer, who later won the world chess championship, ending Russian domination of the field since the Russian emigre Alexander Alekhine won the title in 1927, or, less dramatically, since the Soviet master Mikhail Botvinnik won the world championship in 1948.

The late Ginzburg, most famous for publishing Eros magazine (link NSFW as it contain some nudity, but is not a porn site), was also a tax protester. Surprising, you say? Well, he was a real tax protester. He protested the war in the Writers and Editors War Tax Protest (scroll down for details, but the web site is well worth reading).

Some major differences between the two groups -- the real tax protesters and the fake ones, the tax deniers who call themselves "protesters":

1). The real protesters didn't deny they have a legal obligation to pay income tax. They knew they were breaking the law and expected to be punished for it. Unlike the tax deniers, who think they aren't legally bound to pay taxes.

2). The real protesters didn't think they shouldn't pay any tax. They specifically limited their protest to refuse the particular share of their taxes that went directly to a purpose -- the Vietnam war -- they thought they cannot morally support. This unlike the tax deniers, who don't actually "protest" anything the government does with the taxes, but simply the fact that they pay tax at all.

3). The real tax protesters didn't think people should get some sort of special veto power and only pay taxes for purposes they like. The correct way to deal with a tax that goes towards a purpose you think is wrong is, they would surely agree, almost always to elect as legislator someone who would repeal that tax. It is only in what they consider a very extreme case (in their view) that the duty to pay taxes is overruled. This as opposed to tax deniers who latch to any annoying or stupid government use of tax money as "proof" one should not pay taxes.

One need not agree with their anti-Vietnam war views to agree that their "yes, we need to pay taxes, but in this particular case we won't and break the law since it's morally important" is quite different than the "don't wanna, don't hafta, not gonna" attitude of the tax deniers.

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