Do Americans Have Any Idea How Much They’re Paying for War?

A site called “Rethink Afghanistan” is featuring a cost-of-war calculator that purports to tell the American taxpayer how much he or she paid to keep the U.S. fighting there.

The group is not advocating war tax resistance, but merely using the cost of war as a pragmatic prompting for additional outrage:

Many of us are about to write checks to the IRS, and we’re about to do it at a time when, frankly, we don’t have a lot of money to spare. That’s why it’s important that we take a good, hard look at where our dollars are going and make sure our elected officials hear from us when they make bad decisions that waste scare resources.

Anything that helps connect in the minds of taxpayers the money they pay and the consequences of the resulting spending is a good thing, and I like to think that the anti-war activists who came up with this campaign (and those who find it persuasive) might be receptive to a war tax resistance message.

Meanwhile, some folks from the Global Day of Action on Military Spending went on to the campus of American University and asked some students there to fill out a blank pie chart with their best guess as to what percentage of the federal discretionary budget goes to various budget categories. Most people know that the U.S. government spends a lot on its military, but even so they can be shocked when they see just how much, and how it crowds out other spending that they prefer:

“How baffling it is that the anti-war movement is silent on this,” says Greg Bishop of the new war in Libya on his radio show Saturday Session with Bishop. One person who isn’t silent is war tax resister Bill Ramsey whom Bishop interviews on his show:

From the issue of the Kentucky New Era:

Joan Baez

Singer Joan Baez will refuse to pay part of her federal income taxes again to protest military spending even though American troops have left Vietnam, her business manager says.

“She’s a pacifist and she’s always protested the amount spent on arms,” Roy Kepler of Menlo Park, Calif., said in a telephone interview.

He said Miss Baez has refused for to pay the percentage of her income tax she figures corresponds to the amount of military spending in the federal budget.

In past years, the Internal Revenue Service has collected the amount it figures is owed by Miss Baez, usually by attaching her bank account, he said.

The singer is due to return from a European tour and will help him write a letter to the IRS explaining her refusal to pay all her income tax, Kepler said.