Tax day, April 15th, is a day of celebration in the United States. On this day we citizens of the great republic take pride in the fact that we can come together in a democratic society and make decisions cooperatively with one another. The fruits of our labor, beholden to the IRS, will now be spread throughout society to build our collective vision of a more perfect union – one tax dollar at a time.
OK, OK — nothing could be further from the truth.
The sad fact about April 15th is that the overwhelming majority of tax dollars are collected for past, current and projected military spending. The War Resisters League has spent a lot of time researching federal tax revenue and the results are rather sobering.
Revenue collected for military spending includes the grossly bloated $584 billion budget for the Department of Defense. Additional military revenue, about $202 billion worth, is collected outside the DoD. This totals $786 billion for current military operations. Adding the Obama era “Overseas Contingency Operations” (a continuation of the Bush era “War on Terror”), roughly another $47 billion dollars, brings total revenue raised for ongoing operations up to $833 billion. Further tax revenue, $521 billion worth, is used to cover past military spending. This payment for war debt puts us over $1.4 trillion.
The tally doesn’t really stop there either. The Department of Homeland Security, made (in)famous for airport security, has militarized police departments around the nation since its inception. The war on drugs shows little sign of slowing down (though promising pockets of resistance are flourishing). Weapons production, drones, prisons, manufacturing the machines of war and upholding a nuclear payload that could end human civilization multiple times over (because destroying the Earth once isn’t mighty enough) … the list goes on and on.
Roughly 47% of tax revenue is spent on human resources — we finally get a place at the table! But don’t forget, when “too big to fail” big shots in the corporate/financial world get in trouble this revenue is sure to go to them instead of the general populace. Main street will shut down and families will lose their homes while the economic elite are bailed out. Instead of redistributing revenue back to individuals, taxpayer dollars are used to protect the economic interests of the state. The initial bailouts of the Bush Administration cost the American taxpayer $700 billion — and we’re still counting.
What most Americans hold as priority — clean, safe communities, a healthy environment, infrastructure, education, research, etc — all pale in importance to the military and economic strength of the United State’s empire.
Tax day is not a day of cooperation; it is a day of disappointment. It is a day that reminds us that the state cripples human potential. It is a reminder that the state is a constant hurdle to the resurgent market. It is a day that reminds us of the horrors and costs of central planning.
Libertarianism offers a solution. Imagine a socio-economic system crafted by liberated human beings — alternative institutions created by self governance and free association. What are the possibilities of humanity? How would the products of self-directed, inclined labor progress and build society?
One thing is certain: It is not in the interests of liberated human beings to die for governments — the stateless society would not be wasting countless resources on war.
Grant Mincy is a fellow at the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org). He is from the temperate forests of East Tennessee and blogs at appalachianson.wordpress.com.