With 47% of federal discretionary spending going into the cost of war preparations and wars in 2013, it is time once and for all that we forbid the common American practice of opposing taxes and supporting wars.*
Veterans For Peace is joining with many other organizations to create a Global Day of Action on Military Spending this April 15th. See: http://demilitarize.org
Taxes are a byproduct of wars. "War has been the most important catalyst for long-term, structural change in the nation's fiscal system. Indeed, the history of America's tax system can be written largely as a history of America's wars," write Steven Bank, Kirk Stark, and Joseph Thorndike inWar and Taxes.
Alexander Hamilton argued in Federalist No. 30, as he and his allies argued elsewhere, for the federal power to tax precisely because the federal government might need to fight wars. Between 1789 and 1815, tariffs produced 90 percent of government revenue. But taxes were needed for wars, including wars against protests of the taxes -- such as President Washington's quashing of the Whiskey Rebellion. A property tax was put in place in 1789 in order to build up a Navy. But taxation really got going with the War of 1812, and the income tax was created for the Civil War, by both sides.
Only World War I, however, and a public relations campaign promoting wartime sacrifice allowed a full scale shift from heavy reliance on customs duties to reliance on the income tax and other taxes. Heavy taxation survived the outbreak of peace and was then expanded for World War II long before Pearl Harbor. And with World War II, taxation shifted from being a burden primarily imposed on the wealthy to seeing over 90% of Americans filing income tax returns in 1945. "It takes taxes to beat the Axis!" sang Donald Duck.
Since World War II the taxes and the military spending haven't gone away. But the burden has shifted ever more heavily onto the shoulders of working people. Corporations and billionaires and multi-millionaires are paying less and less. And in the absence of a major enemy, the U.S. government is spending more on war preparations than during the Cold War or the war on Vietnam.
April 15th should be a day to move the conversation from cutting Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid to cutting reckless preparations for war and foreign weapons sales that are driving the militarization of the globe and making more wars more likely.
Veterans For Peace is a national organization, founded in 1985 with approximately 5,000 members in 150 chapters located in every U.S. state and several countries. It is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) by the United Nations, and is the only national veterans' organization calling for the abolishment of war.
* Statistics taken from this study:
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