No More Taxpayer Support for Veterans

For 2011, President Obama’s budget for the Veterans Administration came to $125 billion, mostly all but about $1 billion was to go to health care and disability compensation and pensions.Being a federal budget, the funds are to come from the taxpayers.

But it shouldn’t in this case. Except for any administrative and personnel costs, I would suggest that the US taxpayer foot not a dime for our veterans. Instead, nearly all of it should come from the industries that profit from war and keep us on a perpetual war footing.

Our servicemen and women may believe to have altruistic reasons for being in the armed services. However, what we cannot escape from is the fact that these everyday Americans serve an empire, built on capitalist principles.  They’re not in Iraq protecting the farmlands of Iowa from imaginary terrorists. They’re not in over 800-1000 military bases (outposts) all over the world to keep the peace and bring Jeffersonian Democracy to the world. And they’re not in our laboratories developing our own WMDs or spyware to protect the homeland.  Their very actions do not serve the average US citizen.  Many would argue that we create more enemies just by our very presence abroad (e.g. Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula).

To quote General Butler, “war is a racket”. There is nothing new to war profiteering. During the US Civil War war profiteering flourished under Secretary of War Cameron. Hearst sold newspapers by faking Spanish atrocities before the Spanish-American War of 1898. The Nye Committee of 1934 clearly established that the war industries helped to manipulate public opinion in order for the US to enter WW1. Today all we have to say is Halliburton and we know we’re talking about no-bid contracts in Iraq, reconstruction corruption, not to mention gang rape of servicewomen, and everything else that ties lobbying for war in order to reap tremendous profits.

The Center for Corporate Policy has listed the top 10 war profiteers of 2004:

1.        Aegis Defence Services
2.        BearingPoint, Inc.
3.        Bechtel
4.        BKSH and Associates
5.        CACI International and Titan Corporation
6.        Custer Battles
7.        Halliburton
8.        Lockheed Martin
9.        Loral Satellite
10.      QUALCOMM

Obviously, there is a lot of money to be made in war. What these industries need are the warm bodies to keep their profit margins high. Therefore, in the spirit of sharing the sacrifices needed to pay down our national debt, I would suggest that a hefty tax be place on all war industries and products to pay for the needs and welfare of those whose jobs it is to guarantee their profits.  Think of these soldiers as shareholders for our largest industries and let these industries give back something to show how valued they are.

Myles Hoenig is a veteran of the Prince George's County Public School system in Maryland, USA. He's a long time activist for social justice. He lives in Baltimore. Read other articles by Myles.