Yesterday was Veterans Day, in some places, Armistice Day; a day when we are supposed to remember and honor the men and women in uniform who serve, and who have died serving, our nation in times of war and peace. And today, the day after Veterans Day, we can then return to forgetting those sacrifices and ignoring the unequal price they pay to ensure the comforts we enjoy.
Since the Conservatives recently regained their section of Capitol Hill turf the news media has been awash in championing their agenda; which is to cut government and reduce taxes (aka: foster unfettered expansion of moneyed interests). Example: CBS news anchor Katie Couric (who I believe has no more stature as a journalist than the kid who delivers the daily paper) touted all the ways in which the Conservatives plan to reign in government and runaway spending. With no fact checking or journalistic inquiry, she parroted the “facts” about the Social Security System being in “red ink” and on the brink of collapse and being a major cause for the burgeoning deficit. That fact is, that is NOT true!
So now the new prevailing and perceived shining path toward restoring America’s Greatness reads as follows: Ending tax cuts for the wealthiest 1% of our elite is off the table. Targeted instead are the costs of supporting the poorest of our citizens; Social Security, Medicare, Welfare. It will be an ironic twist of fate if any Tea Baggers on unemployment voted Republican – unlikely UC benefits will be further extended, these folks might be the first to realize how they just voted to cut their own economic throats.
But among all the gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands over concern for our increasing national debt, the absence of the cost of our unnecessary and fruitless war in Afghanistan is the overlooked Elephant in the Room. We are borrowing close to One Billion dollars A DAY from China to maintain this war which has no expectation of any positive outcome whatsoever. Instead, we will continue to pay for it off the backs of people perceived as too lazy to go out and get jobs… which, incidentally, don’t exist. Large segments of our nation are apparently thirstily drinking the Kool Aid being served up by our political leaders.
The cost to our country for this war, and the Iraq war, have been deftly shielded and sanitized for our consumption. This has not always been true in our history. During World War II our nation sold bonds to finance the war. Everyone paid taxes to fund the war and few complained. It was necessary for all citizens to participate in one way or another in the defense of freedom. Everyone felt the pinch; consumer items such as sugar, coffee and materials like rubber and gasoline were rationed. No one was exempt, if you were not serving in uniform you were, in some way, supporting the soldiers who were. We were pulling together.
Again taxes were increased during the Vietnam War. In some sense, the cost to the taxpayer for Vietnam was but one of many pressures the public felt, in addition to the photos of caskets being shipped back home, which forced the government to yield to the growing outcries to bring that war to a close.
That is not the case today. Only recently the Obama administration has lifted the prohibition of pictures being released of flag-draped caskets being returned from the Middle East. But these images seldom make it into the consciousness of the news media; apparently more newsworthy: a Tea Bagger in a three-cornered hat with a misspelled sign calling the president a Socialist is the media’s primary focus.
Those in power have taken great pains to insure that this war costs the American taxpayer nothing; unless, of course, it happens to be YOUR child or loved one who has chosen to serve in the active military. I have not heard one public official suggest taxes be increased to pay for the War on Terrorism. And now it is quite clear that they neither want to factor in the cost of the war anywhere into the incendiary discussions about the rise of our national deficit.
I find it tragic that every day men and women go out on patrol in desolate places of the world based on pointless strategies, facing death and/or injury; while at home, Americans stop but one day a year to honor their commitment with parades and plastic flags made in China. Well hey… they volunteered to be in the service, didn’t they? I wonder who’s on “Dancing with the Stars” tonight?
1. "Bush-Era Tax Cuts Depart From History of America War Finance" Urban Institute
2. “The history of America’s tax system can be written largely as a history of America’s wars.” and Taxes, by Steven A. Bank, Kirk J. Stark, Joseph J. Thorndike.