Who is paying the price of war?
Mr. Tackaberry advocated a war tax (Daily Mail, Feb. 22), noting a “deep indifference” in the U.S., that this exists because the war costs us nothing, that war is waged on borrowed money. All true. Our lives largely go on as before, with the price of this war paid by dead, wounded and maimed soldiers, and their families. Monetary costs will be paid by future generations, in many ways, including the selling of public resources in the American West: Imagine traveling to your favorite place on public land, meeting a fence with a sign saying “Bin Laden Estate, Trespassers Will Be Shot” – given Bush family association with Middle East oil money, this is not far-fetched. During WWII, the burden of war was shared, in that nearly all Americans experienced the impacts of our involvement, from the monetary costs to rationing of nearly all goods and services (either mandated or simply in short supply). Likewise, men and women from all economic classes contributed to the Allied effort; the draft left few families unaffected. This changed during the Vietnam War, in that many of the privileged did not serve. Now those same few make war, conveniently offering up the bodies and lives and souls of others. This is social inequity.In 2003, I wrote a letter about the pending war in Iraq, predicting that Bush would wage a high-tech war to avenge his father’s failure, “with high civilian casualties, mass destruction of Iraqi infrastructure which we, of course, will be obligated to replace. A puppet regime will be installed, one that will serve corporate interests, especially Bush’s favorite contributors, Big Oil. Some American military personnel (mothers, fathers, daughters, and sons) will die.” I was mostly correct, but failed to foresee the “privatization of war” – the outsourcing of military support services and the use of mercenaries. Profiteering from the war is an epic transfer of wealth from common Americans to the wealthy ruling class, (albeit a small percentage of the wealthy), the owners of the corporations profiting from death and destruction. Current effective tax rates on the richest Americans are about 27 percent, with tax on dividends and capital gains (no sweat on the brow or dirt on the hands here) is 15 percent, less than middle-income earners pay on wages. The tax rate on highest incomes during World War II was 91 percent; in effect into the 1960s (From Kevin Phillips “Wealth and Democracy”). In the U.S. the richest 5 percent possess 59 percent of all wealth (all assets minus debt), while the richest 20 percent possess 83 percent of wealth. Put another way, 80 percent of us share 17 percent of all wealth in the nation (Edward Wolff, multinationalmonitor.org). That gives readers an idea of how rich the rich are – and the very rich are getting richer. Regarding tax cuts made law in 2003, 31 percent of taxpayers nationally got nothing; 4 of 5 taxpayers got zero benefit from cutting taxes on dividends. In extending the 2003 tax cuts as Bush wants Congress to do, 40 percent of Colorado workers ($28,500 and less) would receive under $40 total in 2009-10. The next 20 percent of us (income of $48,500 or less) will get less than $100 in each of these two years. Meanwhile, the top 1 percent net $14,000 and $16,000 in 2009-10 (Citizens for Tax Justice). Economic inequities cause political and social inequities, given that public policy is for sale in America, e.g. waging a war fought not by those profiting from it, and tax cuts for latter. I believe Americans should demand the draft be reestablished, with no deferments; everyone eligible (say all those under 30) must serve in some way, with only those with significant physical disabilities rejected from actual combat duty; all others serve, no exceptions. Had Bush’s twin daughters and the sons and daughters of all segments of the population been included in a draft established before this war, do you think there would have more hesitation on the part of Congress to allow it to happen?I also believe that war should be paid for by those most able to pay, especially since a portion of that group (Bush cronies) are also profiting, hugely, from it. If we establish a 91 percent war tax on the top 5 percent of American incomes, I believe this war would end soon (it will end, in any case, in civil war). Indeed, the war never would have happened, or at least would have been designed and planned to be far more successful than present reality. This level of taxation would be consistent with history, and in the future would reduce our willingness to wage costly elective (or “preemptive”) war, a rational and beneficial social and economic policy.
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