Is a war tax a good idea?

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by anakinfansince1983, Aug 17, 2011.

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  1. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    Article in the Washington Post

    My answer would be yes. The history of every nation in the world has demonstrated that war is one of the worst drains on a national budget. Which is fine, if war is unavoidable. Once we were attacked at Pearl Harbor, war was unavoidable for the US--and as the article mentions, few people protested the institution of a war tax to cover that war. In more recent history, I fully believe that Americans would have supported a 1% tax to fund the pursuit of Bin Laden. (I would have, and I'm as anti-war as they come.)

    I am very opposed to pre-emptive war, but setting that aside for a minute, let's say that pre-emptive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Libya, are absolutely necessary for national defense. Why not institute the tax instead of borrowing money for them?
  2. Gonk Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1998
    star 6
    Heh well see, here's the thing: this idea has been tried before.

    It was a tax that was introduced to help pay for the Great War. Over time this tax became known as... income tax.

    We now approach the 100 year anniversary of 1914. Income tax hasn't left the stage juuuuust yet. Although I can be in favor of taxes given necessary expenditure, I'm not one to deny that taxes have this way of... sticking around after their supposed purpose has been fulfilled.
  3. FatBurt Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 21, 2003
    star 5
    Why is a war tax any different from any other named tax?

    In the UK we have road tax, National insurance (Health care/Pension) and various other named taxes none of which are spent on what they were put in place for as it all goes into one coffer for use however the government sees fit.
  4. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    The problem that either the article or the sponsor, McGovern, also doesn't mention is how modern wars are conducted. This sort of "war tax" would immediately blur the lines within the military-industrial complex even more. Let's say a government was allowed to assess a 1% value tax to specifically pay for a conflict. Right away, that same government would look for ways to save money in order to come out ahead, and all sorts of equipment would be bought on the cheap. The contemporary public requires that troops be equipped with the best equipment possible, and so this choice would be morally distasteful.

    Or as an alternative, a savy government would take the opposite approach, and keep up a steady stream of wars and conflicts just to keep the resources flowing in and the assembly lines churning out. Such a proposal could be taken directly from the movie Starship Troopers, or more accurately, from author Joe Haldeman's The Forever War.

    (in Haldeman's book, due to vast distances and time dilation, entire planetary resources are devoted to, and entire populations are employed by, the military in order to keep the forever wars going, despite the fact that so much time has passed, that the populations themselves have forgotten the reasons behind the wars.)
  5. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    Maybe it would have worked back in 2001. But we were afraid of a recession then, and Bush had just passed through some big tax cuts, the president's message after 9/11 wasn't to sacrifice but to buy more stuff. It's too late for that now. Hopefully the wars will end soon anyways.
  6. MasterDillon Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 28, 2010
    star 2
    Yes we should have a war tax in times of nationial crisis to when it's actually necessary. In this instance however we shouldn't we need to start pulling out of Afghanistan becasue there is no helping a Civilization that is at least 300 years behind us considering they are still tribal, and their economy thrives on drugs. We've taken care of Osama Bin Laden so there is really no need to remain in Afghanistan though we should help train the native population to defend themselves if the Taliban resurgency tries once again to take over to which I believe they actually are doing today. We've taken care of Iraq, and we are slowly starting to pull out of there I doubt Al Quadea will attempt to take it over again. We also shouldn't by any means be involved in Libya this is not our fight what so ever if the Country wants to give arms, and suplies that's fine but considering Al Quadea is infiltrating the Rebel army I'm a bit heasitant on that. For now we should cut taxes, and not increase them on hardworking Americans due to the shape of the economy. What this country needs to focus on thus far is taking down Al Quadea as we originally planned, and Yemen might possibly be the next target.
  7. Game3525 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 25, 2008
    star 4
    No, the country needs to focus on getting people back to work and ending corporate welfare.

    Bringing down Al Qaeda is nice, but it shouldn't be the country number one focus.
  8. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    I think she means more in a general sense, not necessarily specifically now.

    I think it's a good idea myself. Debt in and of itself is not necessarily bad, but it's not like any other government agency sees literally 150% growth in their budgets when faced with their jobs.
  9. MasterDillon Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 28, 2010
    star 2
    Unfortunately I think these wars are just beginning. We'll just move someplace else in order to combat Al Quadea. Also things in the Middle East are bound to get worse if Iran has it's way, and if Al Quadea ever took over Pakistan.
  10. MasterDillon Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 28, 2010
    star 2
    I get what you mean, but do we want to take the chance that they will attack us again?
  11. Game3525 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 25, 2008
    star 4
    I am not saying we lower our guard, but we shouldn't have some mass terror hysteria like we did in the mid 2000's.
  12. MasterDillon Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 28, 2010
    star 2
    I agree with you totally on this security now is much better then it was eleven years ago.
  13. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    Bin Laden was in Pakistan, but as far as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan--the former was never about Al Qaeda, and the latter stopped being about Al Qaeda a long time ago. Which is why we have no business either place, and certainly not on borrowed money. Pretty sure Al Qaeda has moved into East Africa now, at least last I heard.

    We should obviously secure ourselves against another attack, that's the basic definition of national defense, which the Constitution relegates to the federal government. I could support efforts to bring down Al Qaeda, I think that would also fall under national defense, but our troops are scattered in other areas.

    Anyway, good points everyone. It seems that Congress should be able to declare war (which, per the Constitution, we aren't supposed to go to war unless Congress declares it, but last time they declared war was after Pearl Harbor) and institute the tax, which would be lifted/have a sunset clause upon the modern equivalent of V-E Day or V-J Day. I know that government mandates intended to be temporary can end up permanent. Besides the income tax, another example would be the corn subsidies set during the Depression because people were hungry. We hardly need them 70 years later, in fact, they've become harmful (high fructose corn syrup). But nobody will dare suggest lifting them as long as the Presidential election cycle starts in Iowa.

    But I would also say that a bigger issue is that we are going to war with countries that have not threatened or attacked us, and we are going to war without a declaration of war from Congress--and the fact that we're doing it on credit is an additional negative.
  14. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    Yes. We can spend all our time killing people already angry at us, or we can accept limited risks, build a stronger, better nation, and work on having better relations with the rest of the world so that there isn't a constant source of people angry enough at the U.S. to create a sizable threat to our safety.


    As to war taxes, I rather agree with Gonk. In 1898, a tax was placed on phones to help pay for the costs of the Spanish-American War. That tax has gone back and forth since then, but near as I can tell, is still in place on limited phone usage after partial repeal in 2006. I don't like the idea of itemizing taxes in the sense of "this tax goes to this cost" in an unconnected sense. Which is what makes it different, imo, from something like gas taxes that are intended to go into the costs of maintaining roads by linking gas consumption to road usage.
  15. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    Certainly, why not?

    Every time we consider engaging in a conflict, taxes should be raised to at least pay for the war. That way, the next time Americans are watching cruise missiles bombarding some third world country, they'll choke a little bit each time one of those million-dollar fireworks goes off. War's so much fun when you're winning or when someone else is making the sacrifice. Maybe once Americans see a 5-9% rise in their taxes each time war happens, they'd be a little less inclined to have one.
  16. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    Except that even when American citizens aren't inclined to be at war, their personal opinions on the matter are broadly irrelevant. Johnson's reelection chances were scuttled by Vietnam, but the war still continued. Bush's popularity sank and sank through his second term, and the war isn't quite over yet. Don't really see how raising a tax would really prevent wars from happening; we are long since divorced from public opinion genuinely influencing politics.

    Would keep us from going broke during them, however.
  17. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    And yet here we are, at least a trillion or more in debt because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Has there really been much sacrifice made by the average American as a direct result of the war? It's almost as if life just went on like normal with absolutely no change brought about by the fact there was a war in progress. It's a drastic change from the times of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, where everyone was influenced by these wars... whether they were fighting or not.
  18. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    I think you're misattributing why people aren't effected. For a big start to it, in a decade the war on terror has resulted in about 5500 deaths, which is around 0.002% of the population.

    In contrast, look at the other wars you mentioned. WWII was over 400,000 and about 0.3% of the population, Vietnam was nearly 60,000 or 0.03% of the population. Korea was over 35,000 or 0.02% of the population. In shorter periods, the cost in human lives for those wars was higher by orders of magnitude. People were effected more because there were more deaths. You want to make Americans feel the 'real cost' of war? Kill some soldiers.
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