Saturday, August 11, 2012

Taxes and War

I just watched a documentary entitled, "An Inconvenient Tax." It opens with callers calling the Internal Revenue Service and asking a simple question:

"How many pages are there in the Tax Code."

The answers will amaze you, piss you off, and hopefully, encourage you to learn.

An Inconvenient Tax examines the Federal Income Tax and how Congress uses the complex tax code to achieve political goals that are unrelated to raising revenue. The result of 95 years of additions, subtractions, deductions, and exclusions, the 62,000 page tax code is so complex that many are voicing their desire to greatly simplify it or to even completely remove it. Currently, tax revenue cannot even pay for government spending.

I work for the State of Washington in the winter at the Dept of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW). I have watched the state cut jobs, resources, pensions, and lives.  All WDFW employees received an email from Joe Stohr, deputy director of the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, which read something like this:

"All state employees will not receive an annual cost of living increase until further notice (except legislature)."

You mean to tell me, all workers will not get a cost of living increase (to date, it's been four years) except the people who decided this - THEY will still get pay increases?

So much for "leadership."

Washington state is broke. How? I mean, they get money every which way. Why don't they stop providing so many handouts? Why don't they stop buying up land? Why do they need so many deputy assistants?

Federal Government Taxation and Spending


Now here's a thought:  What if we stopped every war we are currently waging. What if we closed down every single military base around the world. How much money would we save? 
Personnel Only (source)
For the personnel question, we turned to a Sept. 30, 2010, Pentagon document titled, "Active Duty Military Personnel Strengths by Regional Area and by Country."

We tallied up all the countries with at least one member of the U.S. military, excluding those with personnel deemed to be "afloat." We found U.S. military personnel on the ground in a whopping 148 countries -- even more than Paul had said. (There are varying standards for what constitutes a "country," so that may explain the divergence from Paul’s number.)

However, we should add a caveat. In 56 of these 148 countries, the U.S. has less than 10 active-duty personnel present. These include such obscure locales as Mongolia, Nepal, Gabon, Togo and Suriname.

By contrast, the U.S. has disclosed only 13 countries outside the United States and its possessions that are host to more than 1,000 personnel. They are: Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Japan, Bahrain, Djibouti, South Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait.

In addition, this is a snapshot of the global military footprint, so it may not include all temporary training missions and humanitarian assistance activities. "Such activities are so pervasive you almost have to wonder how the other 70 countries manage to avoid hosting such operations," said John Pike, the director of, a national security think tank.

Military Bases
For this question, we turned to an official Pentagon accounting of U.S. military bases around the nation and the world, the "Base Structure Report, Fiscal 2010 Baseline."

According to this report, the U.S. has 662 overseas bases in 38 foreign countries, which is a smaller number than the 900 bases Paul cited. But here again, the list omits several nations integral to active operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, so it’s conceivable that the actual number of sites approaches 900.

The Pentagon "is very reluctant to label anything a ‘base’ because of the negative political connotations associated with it," said Alexander Cooley, a political scientist at Barnard College and Columbia University who studies overseas bases. "Some of these facilities, such as the Manas Transit Center in Kyrgyzstan, may not be officially counted as ‘bases,’ but it is the most important U.S. facility in central Asia, staging every U.S. soldier transiting in and out of Afghanistan and conducting refueling operations."

Still, caveats are in order here, too. Of the 662 overseas sites listed -- that is, those outside the active war zones -- all but 32 of them are either small sites (with a replacement value of less than $915 million) or sites essentially owned on paper only.

For instance, the sole site listed for Canada is 144 square feet of leased space -- equal to a 12-foot-by-12-foot room. That’s an extreme case, but other nations on the list -- such as Aruba, Iceland, Indonesia, Kenya, Norway and Peru -- have just a few U.S. military buildings, many of them leased. Some of the sites are unmanned radio relay towers or other minor facilities. "Most of them are a couple of acres with a cyclone fence and no troops," Pike said.

Cooley said that the "true figure is tough to determine and involves judgment calls about the nature and purpose" of the activities involved. "The fact that host countries often choose not to disclose a U.S. military presence adds to perceptions of a ‘secret network’ " that is larger than the officially disclosed number of bases.

Keep a Clear Prespective
If we believe the media (owned by corporations who make ka-billions off of war), then we need all this military power because the world hates us and wants to kill us. 

I remember being in grade school in the 1960s. I was told to hate Russia because they want to kill us. I was also told to hate Vietnam, Korea, and maybe still Japan (but they had been nuked by us, so we might like them now).

After the Sept 11th attacks, we were to like Vietnam, South Korea, Japan and Russia; but, now we are to hate all Arabs (except the Saudi's - who are good friends with the Bush family; yet are the family of Osama who apparently WAS responsible for 9.11 - how the hell does that work?)

So, now I'm hating the whole Arab nation because the rich greedy bastards in charge tell me to. They tell me, "The hate peace." HA! Are you kidding me? Do you really want to tell me the families living in Afghanistan hate peace? Oh, c'mon!  Looking at America's behavior - the ONLY people that hate peace are US! As in US of A!

We are in wars all over the world. We are a military-complex country. And I am giving my little bit of contribution with every vote and every dollar I am forced to give them in taxes.

How can I quit? Where can I go?

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