With Our Taxes

Sudhama Ranganathan 01.10.2012 07:00 Themen: Globalisierung
So much good happens by way of the tax dollars the people of my home country, America, pay. We pay for emergency services that can keep us and our love ones safe, secure and healthy. We pay for our military which is there to protect the nation and guard against attack, invasion and military aggression against our nation and they also help out in emergency situations. We have social safety nets set up that ensure people still have the ability to get on their feet when and if they fall.
What would we do without the ability to maintain our infrastructure? We need bridges to cross things and tunnels to go under others. We need new roads constructed to get where we are going and old ones repaired so we can drive safely from here to there. We need electricity and energy to be supplied unabated and free from hindrance. We need airports and hospitals to remain functioning, safe and always open. We need broadband and telecommunications functioning and accessible.

There is so much we pay taxes for that we would not want to do without. Let's be honest, it enables a certain level of comfort. It's partly what makes our nation so great, the wealth of government services that keep us safe from harm, healthy and able to live our daily lives free from things that might impede us were they not there. In so many ways we are the envy of the world due to what our tax dollars enable. However, all is not well in Denmark - not all the time.

We have watched our tax dollars go to huge corporations repeatedly since 2008 and not all of it was meant to be paid back. In fact much of it is believed to be gone forever. We were told this was because there was an imminent crisis and our economy would crash if banks stopped loaning to each other and to businesses. It was our elected leaders telling us this, and so of course we believed them. It happened so fast and where were the numbers to calculate? How many among us could make those calculations, figure out what they meant and then have access to media to spread the word?

It was like with anything else, we elect and appoint certain people to do many things including making critical decisions in times when immediacy is required. We expect them to not only be competent themselves, but to surround themselves with competent people that can be relied upon to collect, process and give the information needed to aid those elected and appointed with decision making.

When 911 is dialed, we expect the appropriate services to arrive in a timely fashion and do what they are supposed to in order to keep the public safe, secure and healthy. When government officials are in situations where they need to make critical decisions, we expect that they will not only make them, but make informed decisions. After all we are paying them to do this. It's a service they are providing for us and it's their job.

They keep that job because we pay them and there are no private corporations that will pay those salaries. It's all us.

When the financial crisis hit they were told large funds - taxpayer funds - needed to be distributed to wealthy financial firms to ensure our system didn't collapse and it needed to be done right away. Those officials tasked with processing that information were supposed to be competent enough and have competent enough people on staff and that they had access to that could help them determine whether or not it was in fact necessary and what amounts would be enough.

It was told to us banks would stop lending if they did not get this money, and if banks did not lend our economy would collapse. This is what they came to after weighing all our options. So we injected trillions into the banking system with some recent estimates put it as high as $29 trillion. ( http://www.levyinstitute.org/publications/?docid=1462) This was to ensure banks did not freeze.

But, that's just what they did. Banks essentially took the bailout money and stopped lending. They stopped lending through all the slow down and recession, yet we did not collapse. Never even entered into a depression. The very reason they said we needed to inject the funds was proven wrong. Yet, all that money has gone out and ordinary taxpayers are on the hook for it.

The pullout from Iraq is a farce as we will still be spending billions annually there, keeping troops for "diplomatic" purposes and paying large amounts of private security forces to remain. ( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/16/us-embassy-iraq-state-departmen) The private security forces have been fighting much of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and at times have made up a larger compliment than actual US military forces. They are expensive and can cost two to three times what normal military personnel cost for the exact same jobs and at times for lesser jobs. ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/30/AR200709) That's our dollars spent nation building and protecting oil fields for wealthy corporations that won't do anything for all that welfare we spent on them, but will turn a tidy profit for themselves for it. Remember, those are huge private corporations and can easily afford to pay for their own private security, yet we are forced to foot the bill for them.

Those private forces have repeatedly engaged in criminal behavior an example of which being one of the biggest firms, DynCorp, that has repeatedly been involved in human trafficking. They were caught in Iraq using armored vehicles we pay for with our dollars to smuggle prostitutes into the country. ( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/04/29/us-military-contractor-us_n_991) Remember we pay for their services in the war zones in most cases - everything they do - so when they are driving prostitutes we pay for their costs and the fuel on top of the vehicles.

Worse, they have also been involved in child prostitution on more than one occasion. ( http://dir.salon.com/story/news/feature/2002/06/26/bosnia/index.html)( http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/213720) When asked about it the State Department refuses to talk about it as though they have something to hide. ( http://www.lawsuitagainstuconn.com/statedepartment.html) We don't pay them to cover their tracks. As our employees they should be accountable and responsible for things that fall under their purview. Their job is not to hide what is already a matter of public record from us.

The spending of tax dollars enriching defense firms and paying for protection for private US corporation's overseas interests via our military, has gotten way out of hand. There are huge bases in places like Germany, where we really have no need for bases of that size. Is Angela Merkel going to attack us? Likewise, bases protecting the locations of large US corporation's businesses overseas is not what our military is for. That's our tax dollars and they can afford their own security, and if not they can't they shouldn't be there. The corporations aren't hiring Americans there so how is it our interest?

An example of how out of control the spending has gotten can be seen in certain "recreational" components of our overseas bases. By this I mean golf courses. Now some people might say that it's for our service members and they deserve a break. They do deserve a break, but don't try and tell me that golf courses (plural) that in some cases cost upwards of a million dollars a year in maintenance fees alone are there for your average grunts. If that were the case they all would be that expensive. ( http://www.lawsuitagainstuconn.com/golfcourses.html)

In the middle of a recession that kind of money could be better spent at home, and that does not imply a temporary installation we expect to leave when the danger's past. That implies permanence. This is an industry where people use public service to rotate into lucrative private sector contracts once they have gained enough experience, skills and contacts that we paid for. ( http://www.democracynow.org/2010/12/27/from_the_pentagon_to_the_private)( http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=14963) ( http://www.harpers.org/archive/2006/09/sb-revolving-door-blackwater-1158) ( http://articles.latimes.com/2006/sep/17/nation/na-contractors17)

That's our dollars and it should be spent on the things that benefit all Americans - especially ordinary Americans as we make up the lionshare of tax revenue - and serve the needs of everyone concerned, not go to serve the interests of wealthy private corporations that can afford to do those things themselves. It's not fair as surely we can find better ways to spend those dollars. Think of how much we could not have to spend at all were it not for those uses of our dollars.

To read about my inspiration for this article go to www.lawsuitagainstuconn.com.
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