City of Berkeley 2180 Milvia St. Berkeley, CA 94704
April 8, 2008
Dear members of the Berkeley City Council,
I have been following with some interest your protest of US Government foreign policy in Iraq and, in particular, your actions regarding the United States Marine Corps, to include your initial vote and subsequent retraction. While I am sympathetic with your overall aim, I believe the strategy you pursued in this case was less than optimal and fell short of its potential of actually affecting US foreign policy.
The main problem lies in the target of your protest. The US federal government and its foreign policy are the real problems, not the USMC. The Marines are merely one of many tools in the executive branch's toolbox for prosecuting its interventionist policies. The USMC does not create policy; it follows that which it is given. Even if your actions were to reduce recruitment, you could not change that fact. Additionally, protests at USMC recruiting stations only served to inflame public opinion everywhere outside of the Berkeley city limits, further marginalizing your efforts.
If you are truly serious about asserting your beliefs by taking a stand, as a duly elected local government body, against federal government actions that are grievously injurious to international relations and to the concept of federalism itself, I offer the following practical suggestions:
1. Issue a formal statement to the effect that, while the Berkeley City Council remains adamantly opposed to US government foreign policy in Iraq, protests against the USMC were misdirected and counterproductive. Effective immediately, the City Council of Berkeley will no longer target the USMC exclusively. It will now support protests against the IRS, the Social Security Administration, the Departments of State, Energy, Education, Commerce, Agriculture, Transportation, Health and Human Services, all branches of the Armed Forces, and any other federal entity maintaining an office within the city limits.
2. Issue another formal statement to the effect that, because the City of Berkeley is adamantly opposed to US foreign policy in Iraq, the following actions are intended to deprive the federal government of the resources necessary to prosecute its foreign and will remain in effect until all US forces are withdrawn:
- Effective immediately, the City of Berkeley will stop withholding federal income taxes on city employees. (Note: this is not supporting the individual non-payment of federal income taxes, but rather the non-withholding of same by the city. Non-payment is illegal; failure to withhold can be fought in the courts.)
- The City Council will not object if private corporations within the city limits fail to withhold federal income taxes on their employees.
- The City Council will not enforce collection of federal corporate income tax within the city limits nor will it enforce the collection of any federal tariffs, excise taxes or any other federal fees on goods and services traded within Berkeley.
- To show resolve in this issue, the City of Berkeley will return all unspent federal payments, including subsidies, grants, and other monies received from any federal agency. In addition, the city will accept no further federal grants, subsidies, or other payments.
This is not a long list but, by implementing these suggestions, your city council would clearly demonstrate to the federal government and the rest of the world that a local government can understand and practice the principles of federalism and that Berkeley is doing its part to rein in the excesses of a presidential administration run amok.
Will you actually implement any of these recommendations? My guess is no, but I'd like to be proven wrong. If you did, Berkeley could lead the way for other American communities and become the very nexus of a new freedom movement that recognizes an ever-growing groundswell of public opinion across the entire nation, a groundswell consisting of individuals and organizations that are fed up with the expansion of federal power, influence and intrusion into every aspect of our lives and the lives of others across the globe.
If you don't implement any of these suggestions, then your protest is revealed for what it truly is; namely, an empty gesture that appeals only to a small anti-military fringe, having perhaps cathartic value, but no lasting impact.
I will continue to watch with interest and remain,
Sincerely, Randall Bentz
April 11, 2008