This Year’s War Supplemental: $1,000 per U.S. Taxpayer

The US Congress has approved the $87.5 billion supplemental war budget. That’s $1,000 per US taxpayer.*

* The Tax Policy Center estimates that there are 138,959,000 “estimated nondependent tax units” of which 87,284,000 actually pay taxes. The $87,500,000,000 supplemental war budget, divided over each of these tax payers, comes to a little over $1,000. The ordinary war spending that was already part of the budget comes to about $804 billion (more or less, depending on what parts of the budget you consider to be war spending), or about $9,210 per tax payer. Although the federal government gets most of its money to spend on these programs from the federal income tax, it also uses money it gets from corporate income taxes and some excise taxes, and also borrows money that future taxpayers have to pay. Also, different tax payers pay different amounts of taxes so these numbers of $1,000 and $9,210 are mostly rhetorical and do not indicate that any particular tax payer can be considered to have contributed these amounts to these causes. Batteries not included.

And, having little of my own to say today, I turn over most of the rest of today’s entry to quoting other people. First, this bit from Allen Ginsberg, being interviewed in by Gregory Corso, in which he has a prescient vision of the world of blogs, and makes a less-uncanny prediction for their liberatory potential:

AG Yes, if anybody gets up and tries to lead armies of other people in the direction of his “Solution,” they ought to tell him publicly to go fuck himself. If every person who reads these notes immediately starts applying this simple Zen technique energetically to his environment it would start a chain reaction in front and annihilate East and West. I think a real revolution of interpersonal relations is at hand — individuals must seize control over the means of communication. That’s my solution. The techniques applied by poets for altering the world of literature can be easily applied over telephone lines, radio stations, TV control rooms, wire services, newspaper desks, movie sets and projectors, all the way down to the minutest ramification of the vast electronic spiderweb network that controls all civilized portions of the globe — which are exactly the portions of the globe covered by infection with cold war. The war’s a byproduct of universal mass communication centralized direction of madmen. It is likely that this dialogue will be read mainly by people involved in subservient positions in that network, I therefore summon them this moment to seize the means of communication by revolution at their desks, microphones, cameras and typewriters. Otherwise I warn them they will be destroyed.

GC But exactly what should they revolt for? What should they say when they take over the means of communication?

AG They should say anything that comes into their head at the instant, whatever it is — in other words, if a radio announcer has got to read a story about the Russians refusing to agree on A Bomb testing, he might as well immediately interrupt his story to announce that he personally doesn’t know a fucking thing about the facts of the story except what came thru over the teletype, and if the guy at the other end of the teletype did the same thing it would reduce mass communication to a chaos of decentralized personal messages which is exactly what it should be. And that would end the cold war. And if anybody tried to organize this chaos so that Society could keep running, cut him off the line and give him his own personal ham station.

GC I hold that Communism seems only bad in America, I mean that a simple economic theory has been monsterized into Boogieman that seems to have driven America to Birch Societies, Neo-Nazis, etc. — so, in other words, America is really suffering by Communism more than if it was Communist — what say you?

AG Yes, the curse of Communism is universal centralized control over the psyches of participating individualities, and America intuits that if itself became Communist it would be the rottenest, sneakiest, smuggest, nastiest, finkiest, most materialistic Communism the world has ever seen, because all these characteristics have been built into it already by Capitalism. To avoid this all the reader has to do is apply the simple technique I just suggested. In the words of the Father of our country, “Father, I cannot tell a lie!” Next time in front of a microphone, absolutely not one conformist uncontroversial safe white lie, even if it means no more loot for delivering commercials. You, high school teacher, teach your own American history. You, newspaper reporter from these States, stop being yellow and express yourself, stop rewriting somebody else’s bad poetry. You, Hollywood producer, walk out on the banks and distributors. Everybody go on strike against the Government and institutions that run our government — universal strike on purely personal basis in your own area of activity without waiting for any central orders or program other than the promptings of your own conscience faced with total truthfulness or annihilation.

GC What will happen if America does this and Russia doesn’t?

AG You kidding? Like if that ever happened in America the world would hear five hundred million liberated squawks of ecstasy in Central China.

All this talk of Communism (which “seems only bad in America” according to Mr. Corso) made me want to double-check my position on The Political Compass. I was kind of surprised to find myself to be a slightly right-of-center libertarian.

“It is one of those things not easily accounted for, that men who would scorn to do an injustice to a fellow man, in a private transaction, — who would scorn to usurp any arbitrary dominion over him, or his property, — who would be in the highest degree indignant, if charged with any private injustice, — and who, at a moment’s warning, would take their lives in their hands, to defend their own rights, and redress their own wrongs, — will, the moment they become members of what they call a government, assume that they are absolved from all principles and all obligations that were imperative upon them, as individuals; will assume that they are invested with a right of arbitrary and irresponsible dominion over other men, and other men’s property.” ―Lysander Spooner