Monday, January 9, 2017

A taste of resistance

I'm at my parents' for a few days. I guess strictly speaking it's now my mom's, but essentially it's still my parents', even with Dad gone.

I'm here to spend time with Mom and to help her with going through stuff. When you've lived in the same house for 52 years, there's quite a lot of stuff.

Today I cleaned out a file cabinet that mostly had completely unnecessary stuff: check books and bank statements and insurance payments, for decades.

And manila envelopes and hanging file folders with tax filings. Every year since 1958. Pretty expendable at this point.

But when you flip open the file for 1969, there's a type-written letter:

April 14, 1970

Randolph W. Thrower
Commissioner of Internal Revenue

Dear Mr. Thrower:

I pay my tax this year with the greatest reluctance and misgiving. I do not object to the amount; I would be willing to pay twice as much if it were well spent.

But I cannot voluntarily support the war in Vietnam (and elsewhere); it seems to me that both sides in Vietnam are essentially gangsters fighting for turf. If there were any effective way to withdraw my support of this, I would do it.


Robert T. Seeley
Charlotte B. Seeley

The rest of that year's folder is meticulous documentation: pay stubs, notice of royalty payments for a successful textbook, explanation  of subletting income from the apartment attached to the house they rented in Seattle in 1969-1970, deductions for Dad's travel to math conferences, etc.

The folder for 1970 includes a type-written memo:

Notice to the Internal Revenue Service:

We have computed our tax, buthhave not included the surtax in our payment. This seems to us to be a special war tax; the war seems to us to be illegal, immoral, and shameful; and we can not voluntarily support it by paying this tax.

Charlotte B. Seeley
Robert T. Seeley

April 14, 1971

Below the date there's a notation written in Mom's hand:

  Balance due   5104.43
- Surtax              171.42
                         4933 09 paid

The folders for 1971 and 1972 have nothing indicating any objection to the way the government was spending the money taxpayers were sending in.

But 1973 was a more interesting year.

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