In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

It’s April 15: Time to Pay for War, Killing and Oppression Once Again

Posted by seumasach on April 17, 2009


This Can’t Be Happening

15th April, 2009

As you’re mailing out that tax return again this year, it’s time to remember once again how much of your hard-earned bucks are being devoted to destruction, imperialist domination, slaughter and war, to funding ridiculous programs like the failed anti-missile system, and also to supporting a massively bureaucratic and overstaffed military.

Even with the current US budget predicted to hit a record $3.5 trillion, thanks to a whopping $800 billion, two-year economic stimulus package, and with several hundred billion being poured into a group of banks and the bottomless pit called AIG, the $800 billion budgeted for the military to date (a figure that includes an $85 billion “supplemental” request for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan) represents 22% of total US spending.

That means that more than one in every five of the dollars you are paying to the IRS will be going to the Pentagon.

For a typical family of four with taxable income of $60,000 and a tax bill of $8201.00, that would mean a “war tax” of $1804.00. For a wealthier two-income family of four with a taxable income of $100,000.00, with a tax bill of $17681.00, that would mean a “war tax” of $3890.00.

Of course, it’s never that simple. Actually, the government’s tax collections this year, because of the deepening recession which has been with us since December 2007, means that tax collections will be way down, not to mention the cuts that were part of the above-mentioned stimulus package. That is to say, tax revenues this year could be below $2.4 trillion, meaning the government will have to borrow at least $1 trillion to pay its bills.

At least a fifth of that debt, or $200 billion, will be for war and general military spending, and it will have to be paid off at interest rates that mean by the time that debt is retired, it will have cost us perhaps triple that amount, or $600 billion.

In fiscal 2008, the government spent $408 billion just on interest on the national debt. At least one quarter of that amount, or $102 billion, was for military-related debt. While this might be a little low, since our military budgets and military debt are rising year after year, what that tells us is that we’re also spending perhaps an extra $40-50 billion a year of our collective tax bill on interest on war debt. That works out to another 15% of your taxes for war.

So make that $60,000-income family’s war tax $2075.00, while the $100,000-income family’s war tax goes to $4474.00.

The reporting on America’s military budget in the mainstream corporate media (some of which is actually owned, like NBC, by conglomerates that are themselves beneficiaries of military spending, and all of which are beneficiaries of considerable ad revenue from military contractors and from the Pentagon itself), has been atrocious, with a lot of talk about “cuts” in pointless hugely expensive weapons systems like the F-22 Raptor, a fighter jet designed to combat an advanced enemy that simply doesn’t exist. The truth is that the proposed 2009 military budget put out by the Obama administration is the largest in history in actual dollars, continuing the trend of the last 11 years in which each year’s military budget has been larger than the prior year’s. It is also the largest military budget, after adjusting for inflation, since WWII.

If that disgusts you, consider what just 25% of that budget, or about $175 billion—the amount that House Finance Committee Chair Barney Frank (D-MA) has proposed cutting—could do, if spent on things this country needs, instead of on killing and preparing to kill. Total federal spending on education for 2009: $46 billion. Total spending on welfare for families with dependent children for 2009: $60 billion. Total federal spending on unemployment compensation for 2009: $43 billion. Total federal transportation spending in 2009: $84 billion. Looked at another way, cutting the military budget by 25% (which is really a modest amount, considering that the US is spending as much on its military machine as the rest of the entire world combined!), would allow the government to increase all those other budgets by 50% and still have $58 billion left over for other useful spending goals like the environment, energy and medical research, etc.

Just a thought for tax day.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Tim Hardin had it right.

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