FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

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

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
July 17, 2019
Manuel García, Jr.
Ye Cannot Swerve Me: Moby-Dick and Climate Change
Charles Pierson
Sofi’s Choice
Gary Leupp
Epstein, Jane Doe, and Trump
Rebecca Gordon
I Had an Abortion and Now I’m Not Ashamed
Peter Bolton
In the US and Brazil, Two Trends Underline the Creeping Fascism of Both Governments
Michael Kidder
“Go Back Where You Came From:” an Episode From Canada
Steve Early - Rand Wilson
How Big Strike 30 Years Ago Aided Fight for Single Payer
John W. Whitehead
Sexual Predators in the Power Elite
Michael Welton
Teach the Children Well: the Unrealized Vision In Teaching and Learning in the Residential Schools
Khury Petersen-Smith
Iran’s Not the Aggressor, the US Is
Russell Mokhiber
Kip Sullivan and Dr. Matthew Hahn on How Value Based Programs Are Undermining Medicare and Single Payer
George Ochenski
A Fearless and Free Press is Essential to Our Democracy
Lawrence Wittner
Billionaires and American Politics
Dean Baker
Cheap Shots at the Trump Economy
July 16, 2019
Conn Hallinan
The World Needs a Water Treaty
Kenneth Surin
Britain Grovels: the Betrayal of the British Ambassador
Christopher Ketcham
This Land Was Your Land
Gary Leupp
What Right Has Britain to Seize an Iranian Tanker Off Spain?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Democratic Virtues in Electing a President
Thomas Knapp
Free Speech Just isn’t That Complicated
Binoy Kampmark
The Resigning Ambassador
Howard Lisnoff
Everybody Must Get Stoned
Nicky Reid
Nukes For Peace?
Matt Johnson
The United States of Overreaction
Cesar Chelala
Children’s Trafficking and Exploitation is a Persistent, Dreary Phenomenon
Martin Billheimer
Sylvan Shock Theater
July 15, 2019
David Altheide
The Fear Party
Roger Harris
UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Bachelet’s Gift to the US: Justifying Regime Change in Venezuela
John Feffer
Pyongyang on the Potomac
Vincent Kelley
Jeffrey Epstein and the Collapse of Europe
Robert Fisk
Trump’s Hissy-Fit Over Darroch Will Blow a Chill Wind Across Britain’s Embassies in the Middle East
Binoy Kampmark
Juggling with the Authoritarians: Donald Trump’s Diplomatic Fake Book
Dean Baker
The June Jobs Report and the State of the Economy
Michael Hudson – Bonnie Faulkner
De-Dollarizing the American Financial Empire
Kathy Kelly
Remnants of War
B. Nimri Aziz
The Power of Our Human Voice: From Marconi to Woods Hole
Elliot Sperber
Christianity Demands a Corpse 
Weekend Edition
July 12, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Skull of Death: Mass Media, Inauthentic Opposition, and Eco-Existential Reality in a Pre-Fascist Age of Appeasement
T.J. Coles
“Strategic Extremism”: How Republicans and Establishment Democrats Use Identity Politics to Divide and Rule
Rob Urie
Toward an Eco-Socialist Revolution
Gregory Elich
How Real is the Trump Administration’s New Flexibility with North Korea?
Jason Hirthler
The Journalists Do The Shouting
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Pâté Politics in the Time of Trump and Pelosi
Andrew Levine
The Electoral Circus as the End of Its Initial Phase Looms
David Swanson
Earth Over the Brink
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail