FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Real Death Tax

Now that the rush to file our income tax returns has come and gone for another year, it’s only natural to wonder what all that money’s paying for.

These days, the money we’re sending to Washington is buying a lot more war and a lot less economic security.
In the current White House budget request, Pentagon spending would rocket upward, with a $29 billion increase. If you include military portions of the budgets of Homeland Security, Energy, and other departments, US taxpayers would fork over $563 billion for military spending in the coming fiscal year.

But wait! (as they say on infomercials) There’s more! That $563 billion doesn’t even include the cost of the war in Iraq! President Bush has submitted a supplemental budget request for $74 billion, of which $61 billion will fund that continuing military occupation.

The Iraq war has cost $273 billion so far. But to account for the total cost of the war, according to Nobel-prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, we should project the future costs of fighting and withdrawal, added veterans’ costs, the cost of lifetime care for brain-injured troops, the added interest on the national debt, and other expenses.

Do that, says Stiglitz, and the price tag of the Iraq war will be between $750 billion and $1.3 trillion. That’s trillion with a ‘t’, and even that figure, says Stiglitz, is “highly conservative”.

To pay off an extra $1.3 trillion would require every dollar of federal individual income taxes paid by every working American for a period of one year and seven months! That’s impossible, so much of it will be borrowed money.

Then there are the costs of the war that can’t be counted in dollars. There are the lost lives of 2364 US troops, 208 other foreign troops, 314 private contractors, 4435 US-backed Iraqi police and military, and 86 journalists.

And of course, there are the 34,000 to 38,000 Iraqi civilians who have died as the direct result of military violence. Respected estimates put indirect civilian deaths–caused by war-related environmental hazards, declining sanitation, child nutrition, etc.–in the hundreds of thousands.

The number of Iraqi civilians wounded during initial US invasion in March-April 2003 has been estimated at 20,000. The number wounded by fighting in the three years since is unknown but huge.

The Pentagon reports that about 17,500 US troops have been wounded in Iraq. However, that counts only those wounded in combat, not the many thousands injured by war-related accidents or other causes.

By any reckoning, the numbers of American wounded are not declining. In the February-March period of 2004, there were 473 troops officially wounded in combat. In 2005, it was 785 for the same period. This year, 829.

An estimated 6000 US troops have suffered serious physical brain injuries so far. Psychological trauma is even more widespread. Of the 500,000-plus men and women who have served in Iraq to date, the Pentagon estimates that 175,000 have required psychological treatment.

Largely because of the hunger for more military spending, the President’s budget request for fiscal year 2007 would eliminate or slash 141 domestic programs, many of them crucial to the economic survival of many Americans.

Non-military domestic programs (not including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid) stand to lose $15 billion. That’s a 4.4% cut in real dollars.

War spending has hurt us. But has it helped the citizens of Iraq? Hardly.

For a second year running, Baghdad has been named the worst city in the world to live in, doing only about half as well as the next worse city, Brazzaville of the Congo Republic.

Almost 5 million fewer Iraqis than before the invasion have access to clean drinking water, and 1.3 million no longer have working sewer connections.

The US Embassy rates only 3 of Iraq’s 18 provinces as militarily “stable”, with 7 in “serious” or “critical” condition. Largely as a result, Bush’s latest Iraq war funding request cuts almost all construction money for rebuilding in the war-ravaged nation, leaving only $100 million, and that’s for building more prisons.

Paying taxes has never been anyone’s idea of an enjoyable activity. But does it have to be so deadly and destructive?

STAN COX is a plant breeder and writer in Salina, Kansas. He can be reached at: t.stan@cox.net

 

 

More articles by:

Stan Cox (@CoxStan) is an editor at Green Social Thought, where this article first ran. He is author of Any Way You Slice It: The Past, Present, and Future of Rationing and, with Paul Cox, of How the World Breaks: Life in Catastrophe’s Path, From the Caribbean to Siberia

February 18, 2019
Elliot Sperber
Greater Than Food
Weekend Edition
February 15, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Matthew Hoh
Time for Peace in Afghanistan and an End to the Lies
Chris Floyd
Pence and the Benjamins: An Eternity of Anti-Semitism
Rob Urie
The Green New Deal, Capitalism and the State
Jim Kavanagh
The Siege of Venezuela and the Travails of Empire
Paul Street
Someone Needs to Teach These As$#oles a Lesson
Andrew Levine
World Historical Donald: Unwitting and Unwilling Author of The Green New Deal
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Third Rail-Roaded
Eric Draitser
Impacts of Exploding US Oil Production on Climate and Foreign Policy
Ron Jacobs
Maduro, Guaidó and American Exceptionalism
John Laforge
Nuclear Power Can’t Survive, Much Less Slow Climate Disruption
Joyce Nelson
Venezuela & The Mighty Wurlitzer
Jonathan Cook
In Hebron, Israel Removes the Last Restraint on Its Settlers’ Reign of Terror
Ramzy Baroud
Enough Western Meddling and Interventions: Let the Venezuelan People Decide
Robert Fantina
Congress, Israel and the Politics of “Righteous Indignation”
Dave Lindorff
Using Students, Teachers, Journalists and other Professionals as Spies Puts Everyone in Jeopardy
Kathy Kelly
What it Really Takes to Secure Peace in Afghanistan
Brian Cloughley
In Libya, “We Came, We Saw, He Died.” Now, Maduro?
Nicky Reid
The Councils Before Maduro!
Gary Leupp
“It’s All About the Benjamins, Baby”
Jon Rynn
What a Green New Deal Should Look Like: Filling in the Details
David Swanson
Will the U.S. Senate Let the People of Yemen Live?
Dana E. Abizaid
On Candace Owens’s Praise of Hitler
Raouf Halaby
‘Tiz Kosher for Elected Jewish U.S. Officials to Malign
Rev. William Alberts
Trump’s Deceitful God-Talk at the Annual National Prayer Breakfast
W. T. Whitney
Caribbean Crosswinds: Revolutionary Turmoil and Social Change 
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
Avoiding Authoritarian Socialism
Howard Lisnoff
Anti-Semitism, Racism, and Anti-immigrant Hate
Ralph Nader
The Realized Temptations of NPR and PBS
Cindy Garcia
Trump Pledged to Protect Families, Then He Deported My Husband
Thomas Knapp
Judicial Secrecy: Where Justice Goes to Die
Louis Proyect
The Revolutionary Films of Raymundo Gleyzer
Sarah Anderson
If You Hate Campaign Season, Blame Money in Politics
Victor Grossman
Contrary Creatures
Tamara Pearson
Children Battling Unhealthy Body Images Need a Different Narrative About Beauty
Peter Knutson
The Salmon Wars in the Pacific Northwest: Banning the Rough Customer
Binoy Kampmark
Means of Control: Russia’s Attempt to Hive Off the Internet
Robert Koehler
The Music That’s in All of Us
Norah Vawter
The Kids Might Save Us
Tracey L. Rogers
Freedom for All Begins With Freedom for the Most Marginalized
Paul Armentano
Marijuana Can Help Fight Opioid Abuse
Tom Clifford
Britain’s Return to the South China Sea
Graham Peebles
Young People Lead the Charge to Change the World
Matthew Stevenson
A Pacific Odyssey: Around General MacArthur’s Manila Stage Set
B. R. Gowani
Starbucks Guy Comes Out to Preserve Billionaire Species
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail