Tax dollars: How is your money spent?
April 15th is one of the most dreadful days of the year second only to the anniversary of 9/11. It’s a day when millions of hardworking Americans give up the money they’ve worked for to supposedly pay the price of living in a civilized society. Until recently, people did not question where their tax dollars went. They believed tax dollars were funding good causes (or they should be). Recently, the rise of groups like The War Tax Resistance and the Tax Revolution Institute have been gaining attention from people on the left and the right. The premise of one group is to stop funding wars with taxpayer money. The other is to create “voluntary tax solutions to promote transparency, accountability & integrity in the delivery of public services in the U.S.” These groups remind us of what our tax money is spent on and how we should think critically about what we are funding.
The question that everyone should ask is, does the government earn your money? If the answer is no, welcome to the club. If yes? Give me a minute.
Taxes are used to fund the salaries of politicians that too often create laws that restrict freedoms, benefit corporations and often fund activities used against the people. An example of this is the NDAA of 2013. In section 1021 it states anyone, even American citizens can be detained without a trial if they are suspected of terrorism.The Occupy Wall St movement is an example where funding from tax dollars paid for the physical force used against the people. This type of power relationship is nothing new. Kings and Queens often took forced donations from their subjects as the price of living in a civilized society. They also often used force against the very people that upheld the ruling class’ lifestyle. The United States is no different.
Many Americans don’t believe in the wars of aggression which the US has been participating in for some time now, including myself. “According to our friends at the National Priorities Project, 27.4 percent of our income taxes will go to pay for the Afghanistan War and other military spending. Already the taxpayer is on the hook for $107.3 billion just for this year, and just for the hugely expensive Afghanistan War. Those billions of dollars are supposed to help us build up our community and lay the groundwork for a brighter future for our children but, instead, they’re being used to fight a war the American people don’t support.” (Huffington Post). Taxpayers own a piece of every drone strike or invasion that has killed well over 500,000 Afghan, Iraqi, and Yemeni civilians between 2002-2015. That number does not include deaths from targeted assaults on hospitals, water purification plants and from sanctions placed on those countries.
Domestically, US tax dollars are also used on technology and programs dedicated to spying on the empire’s own citizens. Examples of this include the spying programs revealed by Edward Snowden and the Vault 7 leak. These leaks showed that American citizens are being spied on through email, phone, laptop, mobile and smart tv cameras. Some argue that people who aren’t doing anything wrong don’t have anything to hide; but they are willfully ignoring the violation of rights and freedoms. This relaxed attitude to the restriction of freedoms leads to more freedoms being taken away when greater authoritarian power is needed.
No one wants to talk about what their tax dollars are being used for. The funding of wars that kill thousands of people and the expansion of police state powers are uncomfortable topics. However, by not speaking out, the people are tying the noose wrapped around their own neck. People don’t speak out because they don’t make the connection of their tax dollars supporting the very issues that they are against. Or they worry if they don’t pay their taxes they will be locked in a cage by the empire. People work hard for their money and they should have a say in how their money is used. Organizations like The War Tax Resistance and the Tax Revolution Institute give us solutions and options for improving our tax system and for holding government accountable for the use of our money. We need a tax system that compels the government to act on behalf of the people and that promotes transparency, accountability & integrity in the delivery of public services in the U.S. As tax-paying citizens it is time we start talking publicly about how our money is used. It is time we start getting loud and start voicing objections to the use of our funds.