What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
As the war in Iraq surges forward, and the administration ponders military action against Iran, it’s important to ask ourselves an overlooked question: Can we really afford it? If every American taxpayer had to submit an extra five or ten thousand dollars to the IRS this April to pay for the war, I’m quite certain it would end very quickly. The problem is that government finances war by borrowing and printing money, rather than presenting a bill directly in the form of higher taxes. When the costs are obscured, the question of whether any war is worth it becomes distorted.
Congress and the Federal Reserve Bank have a cozy, unspoken arrangement that makes war easier to finance [editor’s note: cozy, unspoken arrangement = conspiracy]. Congress has an insatiable appetite for new spending, but raising taxes is politically unpopular. The Federal Reserve, however, is happy to accommodate deficit spending by creating new money through the Treasury Department. In exchange, Congress leaves the Fed alone to operate free of pesky oversight and free of political scrutiny. Monetary policy is utterly ignored in Washington, even though the Federal Reserve system is a creation of Congress.
The result of this arrangement is inflation. And inflation finances war.
Economist Lawrence Parks has explained how the creation of the Federal Reserve Bank in 1913 made possible our involvement in World War I. Without the ability to create new money, the federal government never could have afforded the enormous mobilization of men and material. Prior to that, American wars were financed through taxes and borrowing, both of which have limits. But government printing presses, at least in theory, have no limits. That’s why the money supply has nearly tripled just since 1990.
We are in a dire situation that is only going further down the crapper. The dollar is being rapidly diluted in its spending power as a result of Fed-created inflation because of an administration writing itself blank checks in the “war on terror”. Congress needs to cut the purse strings of war now. We must demand fiscal accountability of our government with audited transparency so that the average taxpayer can see just where his/her money is being spent.
As we build permanent military bases and a $1 billion embassy in Iraq, we need to keep asking whether it’s really worth it. Congress should at least fund the war in an honest way so the American people can judge for themselves.
Is it worth it?