War costs money*

*and it’s OUR money.

During the past month, Engaging Peace has offered a number of perspectives on the financial aspects of war.  Some highlights:

  • The true costs of war are difficult to determine because of the intricacies of federal budgeting and accounting, as well as the use of deficit spending
  • Some of the financial impacts of war will occur in the future, due to veterans’ benefits and social costs to families of returning service people
  • Aside from the direct costs, war has a generalized negative effect on the economy, as seen in fewer jobs, increased debt, diversion of money from health care, education, environment, and other domestic needs
  • War tax resistance is a method that some have used to protest the funding of war by tax dollars

Despite the challenges of determining the accurate costs of war, totals for the Iraq war alone are estimated to be as high as $4-6 trillion.

To learn more specifics about the costs to the U.S., check out the Costs of War project.  For perspective from the U.K., watch a video on the economic impact of Britain’s involvement in U.S.-led wars.

You might wonder who is paying the taxes that support the war machine. It’s ordinary people like you and me–and not the most wealthy or the corporations that often profit from war efforts.

As an outgrowth of the Occupy Wall Street movement, a number of groups across the U.S. are calling attention to inequities in our tax structure–specifically the low tax rates paid by the 1%. For example, in Boston, a Tax Day march and rally on April 17 will be based on the message “Corporations and the 1%: Pay your taxes! Fund our communities!” Minneapolis, San Francisco, and other communities have also focused attention on these disparities.

The world economy is hurting. The pocketbooks and bank accounts of ordinary citizens are hurting. We feel it especially during tax season in the midst of what feels like a never-ending recession.

How to ease the pain and start the money flowing again?  The answer is clear:  Stop the wars.

Pat Daniel, Ph.D., Managing Editor of Engaging Peace

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2 Responses to War costs money*

  1. Gold Dust Twin says:

    The figures, 4 to 6 trillion dollars, stagger the imagination. Also staggering in the fact
    that ordinary tax payers like me are financing these wars we are pulled into willy nilly.
    What wonders could be accomplished for our nation with even half that horrendous amount! How can we make the hawks in Washington hear our objections? Protest over and over until they listen.

  2. Anna S says:

    When a country engages in war, the consequences are profound. The soldiers may be the most directly affected, but they are certainly not the only ones. The trillions of dollars spent on war hurts the economy and thus the lives of its citizens—especially those with low socioeconomic statuses. Time and time again, poverty has been shown to be the largest contributor to child neglect in the United States (H&MM, Ch. 4, p.100). According to researchers (Crittenden, 1999; Hamburg, 1992), the elimination of poverty is imperative to the elimination of child neglect (as cited in H&MM, Ch.4, p.101). Not only will an improved economy help prevent neglect, but it will also allow for the creation of intervention programs to help families in recovery. According to DePanfilis (1999), successful intervention programs for cases of neglect should include some or all of the following treatments depending on the needs of the family: a provision of concrete resources and social support networks; developmental remediation for the entire family; cognitive behavioral theory; individual-focused therapy; and family systems therapy (as cited in H&MM, Ch. 4, p. 107). While it would be ideal to provide these services to all families in need, the reality is that our current economic state limits the amount of these services dramatically, and in doing so has created what some researchers (Black & Krishnakumar, 1999) call “societal neglect” (as cited in H&MM, Ch. 4, p. 101). Societal neglect essentially refers to how research and social services have failed to attend to the issue of neglect. As stated by Dubowitz (1999), the United States is suffering from a severe case of “neglect of neglect” (as cited in H&MM, Ch.4, p.101). Through the combination of a struggling economy, the cyclical nature of poverty, and the United States’ diagnosis of societal neglect, there is little that can be done to facilitate the creation of neglect prevention and intervention programs until we either end the war, re-assess our government budget, or experience a rise in our country’s general economic stability.

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