Friday, December 15, 2006

Imperial shelf life: paying the cost to be the boss

David Seaton's News Links
The window of American imperialism, militarism and hegemony is closing for the simplest of reasons. After the Second World War the returning American soldiers fathered many children. This phenomenon was known as the "war baby boom" and its children have come to be know as the "boomers". This massive generation whose consumer habits have driven the US economy since they were teenagers will, thanks to that frantic consumption, soon reach retirement age practically without savings. If defense spending continues as at present or, as will probably be the case, rises and Bush's tax cuts for the super rich are maintained, there will be no money for pensions and health care for the doddering (but voting) boomers. At that point something will have to give. As another name for the boomers is the "ME generation", it is very easy to imagine their passive enthusiasm for living in abject poverty in order to finance America's military hegemony. DS
E.J. Dionne Jr: A War Bush Wouldn't Pay For - Washington Post
Abstract: Until recently President Bush's refusal to scale back any of his tax cuts was discussed as the question of shared sacrifice: How could we ask so much from a courageous group of Americans fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan but not ask even the wealthiest of their fellow citizens to part with a few extra dollars to support an endeavor supposedly central to our nation's security? On the contrary, even after we committed to war in Iraq, the administration pushed for yet more tax cuts in dividends and capital gains. Now we know that the decision to put the war on a credit card is not simply a moral question. The administration's failure to acknowledge the real costs of the war -- and to pay them -- has put it in a corner. The president's options in Iraq are severely constrained because our military is too small for the foreign policy he is pursuing. Sending more troops would place even more excruciating burdens on members of our armed forces and their families. And the brass fears that an extended new commitment could, quite simply, break the Army. Yet, instead of building up our military for a long engagement and levying the taxes to pay for such an enterprise, the administration kept issuing merry reports of progress in Iraq. Right through Election Day this year, the president continued to condemn anyone who dared suggest that maybe, just maybe, we should raise taxes to pay for this war.(...) By my back-of-the-envelope calculations, since 2001 we've offered $2 in tax cuts for every $1 we have spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And conservatives wonder why we have deficits. At least the libertarians, who are against both high taxes and an interventionist foreign policy, have their philosophical story (and their numbers) straight. It has always been true that the administration and its allies couldn't have it both ways. Their illogic has finally caught up with them. They claimed to be against big government so they could justify big tax cuts. But they were also for a big, activist foreign policy, especially after Sept. 11, 2001, which required a big military, and -- sorry to break it to you, guys -- a big military is a big part of big government. They were not willing to pay for a large enough military, and so now we, and especially our armed forces, are paying for their deficit in logic and courage. READ IT ALL

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