Truth in Spending: The Case for a War Tax

A Guest Blog by Aaron Alghawi

Adam Smith, author of The Wealth of Nations, is widely regarded as the father of capitalism, as well as a strong influence on the founding fathers of the United States. He believed in a war tax and once said that the willingness of citizens to be taxed is the greatest test of public support for war. I agree with such a philosophy. In a time of record deficits and debt, everything must be on the table in terms of cuts. But with a sluggish economy, we do need to raise revenues. Some 50% of Americans pay little or no income taxes. This must change. But could we have a more democratic tax system–for semantics I mean one based on political opinion at the individual level?

According to this USA today article,  the FY 2010 cost of our failed nationbuilding in Afghanistan was approximately $105 billion.According to a March 2011 ABC/Washington Post poll, which was quoted in this National Review post by Katrina Trinko:

“Nearly two-thirds of Americans think the war in Afghanistan is not worth fighting, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll released today. Sixty-four percent think the war hasn’t been worth it, with 49 percent agreeing strongly.” And only “Thirty-one percent remain convinced that the war was worth fighting.”

For simplicity’s sake, lets just assume 2/3 of Americans oppose the war. If we had a balanced budget amendment and were required to use such a tax to continue operations in Afghanistan the coffers would dry up pretty quick unless it was a significant tax. If the 1/3 or so of Americans that support the Afghan war each donated $1000 extra to the IRS this year, we’d still be a few billion short of the cost necessary to pay. Based on our current population it’d be about $102,915,179,333.33

So, lets up it to $1100 each. That way we’d have a few billion extra to help with making sure the troops were well protected, or to pay off various war debts we have.

I’m against our continued involvement, but if I was rich, I’d make the donation for fiscal sanity’s sake!

I’m guessing not all of these pro-war people are wealthy. Since its 1/3 of Americans, let’s assume a normal distribution meaning a per capita income of around $47,000. That $1100 tax would hit pretty hard at your pocketbook on such an income. My father makes more than that and he feels the difference in such a tax hike or cut.

The Dems want tax hikes, but only on the “rich”. I say instead hike taxes with a fee-for-service concept. If you support the war, you pay an extra $1100 regardless of income. If you don’t want the government to cut your entitlement programs, be prepared to pay more money! Somebody else can do the math on those and then get back to you!

I bet when faced with such tax hikes, that 1/3 of Americans would start to shift toward opposing the war and all those people saying “don’t touch my [insert imperial federal government program here]” would start to reconsider the benefits of those programs vs. the cost. Americans lately seem pretty opposed to the national debt and like to call for cuts, until it touches something that personally affects them. There should be no sacred cows!

You can find Aaron on Facebook at

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