If there must be war, pay for it

Following the recent explosion of numerous crises in different corners of the world, from eastern Ukraine to the messy Middle East, it appears as if the United States of America is going to have a war or at least a proxy conflict every year. Needless to say, these events will cost money for they are very expensive. So the question is: how to pay for the inevitable?

"Ring it Again. Buy a United States Government Bond of the Second Liberty Loan of 1917. Help Your Country and Yourself." - NARA - 512677
Poster advertising 2nd Liberty loans
First of all, peace is definitely not something profitable. No one has ever ‘earned’ money by pursuing a peaceful conclusion to a conflict, so the concept of a world without war seems just a dream or an ill-conceived wish for Romantics. In the history of human government and society, lower taxes have been all the rage, and despite the fact that wars lessen the revenue a government has to work with, countries usually go to war in a drop of a hat. To pay for a conflict in these days of dwindling revenues there is only one way, namely cut funding/spending on domestic plans, so that the main sacrificial victims of armed conflicts are social programs (such as education, to name just one).

Is it possible to fund a war without harming the fragility of our society? Yes, indeed there is. The problem is that most Americans will not like that answer.

Here is where history provides readers with a lesson. In 1917, Washington D.C. decided to discontinue its isolationism by taking direct action in the Great War alongside the Allied Nations and against the Central Powers (mainly the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the German Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Bulgaria). Of course, the White House needed to pay for this action, and the answer was Liberty Bonds.

Such bonds were first utilized during the First World War to support the Allied cause, as subscribing to the bonds became a symbol of patriotic duty in the United States and introduced the idea of financial securities to many citizens for the first time. This allowed private citizens to purchase them to help support the military effort. After the war, the bond could be redeemed for its purchase price plus interest.

Weapons for Liberty
World War I Third Liberty Bond poster
However, this was not yet the end of it. Then along came World War II and the selling of US War Bonds. Issued by the U.S. Government, they were first called Defense Bonds, but the name was then changed to War Bonds after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, on December 7, 1941. Known as debt securities for the purpose of financing military operations during war time, the bonds yielded a mere 2.9 percent return after a 10-year maturity.

The first Series ‘E’ U.S. Savings Bond was sold to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt by Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau. The bonds sold at 75 percent of their face value in denominations of $25 up to $10,000, with some limitations. The war bonds actually were a loan to the government to help finance the war effort. The War Finance Committee was in charge of supervising the sale of all bonds, and the War Advertising Council promoted voluntary compliance with bond buying. The work of those two organizations produced the greatest volume of advertising in U.S. history. In the name of defense of American liberty and democracy, and as safe havens for investment, the public was continually urged to buy bonds.

Liberty-shall-not-perish-Pennell
Poster showing the Statue of Liberty in ruins, and the New York skyline in flames
U.S. citizens have been asked to pay for the wars that the country has fought in the past, why not today? This would fund the war and help fund the benefits and needs of veterans. If there must be military adventurism, then it must pay for itself. This will also show how patriotic the American people are and how much support they truly have for our military. Sell the war and pay for it!

If such a plan is not attractive to someone, then how about a surcharge of 1% on every defense contract? That would mean for every $1 billion in contracts the U.S. would get $10 million in taxes. After all, this is the industry that profits the most from the wars we fight.

My guess is that if this were the case, then the anti-war movement would be a whole lot more popular than it is today. In these days of senseless chest-thumping, how far would it go if there were a bill to actually pay for all the action that the neocons and their advocates are demanding?

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6 Comments Add yours

  1. lobotero says:

    Reblogged this on In Saner Thought and commented:
    This is an op-ed that I wrote for my friend at Legationes….if you are interested in international affairs then his site is an excellent source of information…..

    Since the US is dead bent on interventions then maybe we should find a new way to fund such situations….

    Like

  2. lobotero says:

    I apologize for the time it took me to answer……while I may agree with you unfortunately the citizens do not…..I just meant that we should ask the citizens to pay for stupid wars and maybe there would be second thoughts before jumping into our interventionism……

    Like

    1. Lobotero,
      Certainly no need to apologize. Your reasons and mine for ending war coincide, in the same church just different pews, and there are so many other reasons for ending war for real. How’s “(Late Show’s) Top Ten Reasons for Ending War – Now” sound for a potentially viral essay? Now that he’s retired, the essay could ask David Letterman to read and tape it. I fully agree with your assertion wars waste resources; trillions of dollars of which the average taxpayer ends up paying since every corporation uses tax havens. For example, the $500 million spent on “moderate” opposition, the “four or five” the black Army general testified about in Congress, could have instead been sent in one million checks of $500 each to America’s most needy – or to a Syrian reparation/rebuilding fund.

      “.I just meant that we should ask the citizens to pay for stupid wars and maybe there would be second thoughts before jumping into our interventionism…”

      It’s certainly possible for a law to become passed that prohibits military action/expenditure but for the amount raised from war bonds, so your creative idea is a damn good one worthy of serious consideration. It’s an idea that would effectively and to a great extent diminish spending towards war, and is just as potent as re-instituting the draft. Such kinds of outside-the-box, creative-solution ideas are exactly what’s necessary today but unfortunately too rare, so I applaud your effort.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. lobotero says:

        THanx….and say the war does not start then use that cash for vets and their needs….have a great day….chuq

        Like

  3. As much as I agree that American wars should become paid for, the proposal suggests it’s impossible to choose the superior option: making war – mass murder – the highest international crime.

    Like

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