Response from the Postcards to the Legislators

It's been almost exactly a year since I posted about sending postcards to the legislators. To briefly recap, I sent a postcard to every member of the House of Representatives, the Senate, to the President, Vice President, Governor of New York, and to my New York Assemblymember and Senator that said simply, "Killing people is always wrong."

Well in that time I got exactly one response: from Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. He responded to my letter "regarding intervention by the United States in conflicts across the globe." He goes on to write about what I interpret as a largely isolationist policy. You can read the whole thing here. I'm mixed on my agreement with his policies: I agree with him in his strong belief in personal freedom and liberty, but I disagree with his fierce belief in the dog-eat-dog Capitalism.

My opposition to killing led me to attend a War Tax Resistance Workshop at the Flying Squirrel on February 7. There is a National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC) which advises four methods of war tax resistance: file and refuse to pay your taxes, don't file your taxes, earn less than taxable income, or resist the local telephone excise tax. All the methods advised are forms of civil disobedience in that they are all illegal. While I support those methods entirely, at this time, I didn't feel willing to put everything at risk.

So as a workaround, I decided to donate the percentage of my income for active war—27%—to organizations that accept tax-deductible donations (The War Resisters League cites that 27% of taxes collected go to active wars and another 20% goes to pay for past wars). I mentioned this to my accountant who found it legal (some deductible donations are limited to 30% of income, and most are limited to 50%).

One of the ways war tax resisters use their civil disobedience is by keeping all their actions public. To reflect that, I'll try to make updates throughout the year, and certainly do at least one summary each year.

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Postcards for the Legislators

After the previous fiasco with trying to slow the juggernaut of war, I decided to go with a simpler message. A much simpler message.

I decided I'd simply say, "killing people is always wrong."

And then I decided I'd put the message on postcards to every member of the House of Representatives, the Senate, to the President, Vice President, Governor of New York, and to my New York Assemblymember and Senator.

So I went to the Post Office website and found four-up sheets of postcards preprinted with "Forever" postage — pretty much the cheapest option for a physical letter with each postcard costing barely more than postage. I figured fourteen 10-packs would be enough to have a few spare after printing up all 540 I'd need. I set up a mail-merge in OpenOffice (which is annoyingly difficult but I did get it to work.) (I made the template 4x normal size then printed it four-up to fit the postcard pages.) I collected the names and addresses from various government websites and made a spreadsheet (here's a tab-separated file that includes the vacancies in the House notated pretty well). Then I made a PDF and went back several times to fix errors before performing the final four-up output.

Then the fun began. It took a couple hours to split the sheets into individual postcards, and then another hour to sign each one in a 5-inch-tall stack. I did find two errors that I had to correct.

I could have simply sent a mass e-mail, but in the end I found it rather rewarding to read every person's name. Just people … like a graduation roster or a phone book … and me sending a thought to each one of them.

I don't know if my message will be read as I intend it, but I know for sure that by doing nothing and saying nothing, that nothing will change.

(If you want to follow progress of this, I set up a tag that's an acronym for the central message: KPiAW which I'll tag on any posts detailing any response I get.)

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