How About a War Rebate?

Dropped into the local cellular phone store the other day to check out the newest line of cell phones. Every phone came with a mail-in cash back rebate. Who can recall getting even one dime back from a manufacturer? It makes one think about the whole notion of rebates, and whether taxpayers, in this age of consumerism, are also entitled to a rebate whenever a commander-in-chief, and the Pentagon, decide to commit troops to war.

Forget about the worthiness of combat, forget about the stunning, but not surprising, announcement last week from Defense Secretary Gates Robert Gates that, after eight years of a combat operation whose mission was to capture Osama bin Laden, there is no “reliable information” about bin Laden’s whereabouts, and hasn’t been in years. Let’s factor out who trained and armed the Taliban in Pakistan, and sent them off to fight in Afghanistan, and instead focus solely on dollars spent.

So, for the sake of argument, let’s say that the American taxpayer were to request his small slice of the billions made in profits, and demand a rebate on:

more than $1 trillion government analysts are willing to admit has been spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002, though a Nobel laureate in Economics puts that figure closer to three times that amount

the nearly $700 billion allocated for the Department of Defense in 2010 federal budget as of February, 2009, or roughly half the total budget, of which $130 billion is targeted for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan with an additional $50 billion held in reserve for DOD discretionary spending

And, let’s just say that, as a precondition for giving even another penny to the masters of war, taxpayers asked for rebates of anywhere from 2 to 8% in the form of a tax refund by the end of 2011; what would that come to? Any math majors out there? How much would that be when divided by approximately 111 million American households?

Yes, that’s right, let’s forget about the $5,000 tax credit to cover the cost of private health care, and instead provide a rebate to each and every American for each and every dollar spent on war. We can even think of it as another kind of deterrence. And, in the interest of fairness, why start with the 2010 federal budget through the date the president projects U.S. troops will begin withdrawal from Afghanistan–July, 2011, with the rebate made payable at year end in December 2011?

Of course, there can be no rebate to mothers, fathers, wives, brothers, husbands, and children of service men and women killed, maimed, or wounded in battle nor are we any closer to a time when high school graduates must no longer risk their lives because that is their only opportunity for higher education.

When one considers the egregious inequity when nearly three times as much money is being budgeted for the Department of Defense as for the Department of Education, and four times as much recovery money, what a statement about national priorities.

While it is true that U.S. budget deficits have reached new highs approaching $1.5 trillion for 2010, is it a coincidence that this is a conservative estimate of what has been spent on war since 2002?

Some, like Lawrence Wilkerson, contend that the bill for repairing military equipment, tanks, carriers, bombers and the like could be as much as $100 billion.

No one would suggest we send young people to battle inadequately protected, or prepared, but given the alacrity with which the banks are returning some of their bailout money, it’s not unreasonable to ask the government to let people know when we. too, may expect to be bailed out, as well as when that rebate check will be in the mail.

JAYNE LYN STAHL is a widely published poet, essayist, playwright, and screenwriter, member of PEN American Center, and PEN USA.



More articles by:

JAYNE LYN STAHL is a widely published poet, essayist, playwright, and screenwriter, member of PEN American Center, and PEN USA.

March 19, 2018
Henry Heller
The Moment of Trump
John Davis
Pristine Buildings, Tarnished Architect
Uri Avnery
The Fake Enemy
Patrick Cockburn
The Fall of Afrin and the Next Phase of the Syrian War
Nick Pemberton
The Democrats Can’t Save Us
Nomi Prins 
Jared Kushner, RIP: a Political Obituary for the President’s Son-in-Law
Georgina Downs
The Double Standards and Hypocrisy of the UK Government Over the ‘Nerve Agent’ Spy Poisoning
Dean Baker
Trump and the Federal Reserve
Colin Todhunter
The Strategy of Tension Towards Russia and the Push to Nuclear War
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
US Empire on Decline
Ralph Nader
Ahoy America, Give Trump a Taste of His Own Medicine Starting on Trump Imitation Day
Robert Dodge
Eliminate Nuclear Weapons by Divesting from Them
Laura Finley
Shame on You, Katy Perry
Weekend Edition
March 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Michael Uhl
The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On
Bruce E. Levine
School Shootings: Who to Listen to Instead of Mainstream Shrinks
Mel Goodman
Caveat Emptor: MSNBC and CNN Use CIA Apologists for False Commentary
Paul Street
The Obama Presidency Gets Some Early High Historiography
Kathy Deacon
Me, My Parents and Red Scares Long Gone
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Rexless Abandon
Andrew Levine
Good Enemies Are Hard To Find: Therefore Worry
Jim Kavanagh
What to Expect From a Trump / Kim Summit
Ron Jacobs
Trump and His Tariffs
Joshua Frank
Drenched in Crude: It’s an Oil Free For All, But That’s Not a New Thing
Gary Leupp
What If There Was No Collusion?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Bernard Fall Dies on the Street Without Joy
Robert Fantina
Bad to Worse: Tillerson, Pompeo and Haspel
Brian Cloughley
Be Prepared, Iran, Because They Want to Destroy You
Richard Moser
What is Organizing?
Scott McLarty
Working Americans Need Independent Politics
Rohullah Naderi
American Gun Violence From an Afghan Perspective
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Why Trump’s Tariff Travesty Will Not Re-Industrialize the US
Ted Rall
Democrats Should Run on Impeachment
Robert Fisk
Will We Ever See Al Jazeera’s Investigation Into the Israel Lobby?
Kristine Mattis
Superunknown: Scientific Integrity Within the Academic and Media Industrial Complexes
John W. Whitehead
Say No to “Hardening” the Schools with Zero Tolerance Policies and Gun-Toting Cops
Edward Hunt
UN: US Attack On Syrian Civilians Violated International Law
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraq Outside History
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Long Hard Road
Victor Grossman
Germany: New Faces, Old Policies
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
The Iraq Death Toll 15 Years After the US Invasion
Binoy Kampmark
Amazon’s Initiative: Digital Assistants, Home Surveillance and Data
Chuck Collins
Business Leaders Agree: Inequality Hurts The Bottom Line
Jill Richardson
What We Talk About When We Talk About “Free Trade”
Eric Lerner – Jay Arena
A Spark to a Wider Fire: Movement Against Immigrant Detention in New Jersey
Negin Owliaei
Teachers Deserve a Raise: Here’s How to Fund It