What If Every Person Paid An Equal Share Of The Military Budget?

Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute,

Government employees and their apologists like to lecture Americans about how "freedom isn't free." And indeed it isn't. In recent years, the US military establishment has cost the American taxpayer around $700 billion per year. Thanks to the hard work of the American taxpayer, the US military - and other "defense" agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security - the US government is the most well-funded in the world. In spite of numerous ongoing interventions worldwide, casualties in the US military are low thanks to highly-advanced technology funded by - you guessed it - the American taxpayer. 

Now, for the sake of argument in this article, we'll just assume that the full $700 billion per year has something to do with actual defense. This is a highly debatable notion, of course. As more astute observers have noted in the past decade, it is not at all clear that the trillions of dollars spent in Iraq and Afghanistan have done anything at all to augment security in the United States.

We'll also conveniently ignore the catastrophic failures of our extremely-well-heeled American security states, such as those on September 11, 2001. 


Source: Office of Management and Budget, Table 4.1

All of that aside, we still find that American taxpayers are toiling mightily for their alleged freedom.

For this, reason, I've noted in the past that rather than the taxpayers thanking military personnel for their service, things should be the other way around: 

The taxpayers should be regularly approached on the street by soldiers and other government agents saying things like: 

There is no doubt that $700 billion is a lot of taxpayer money. But just how does this total break down on a per-person basis?

Well, if we divide $700 billion by the 320 million people in the United States, the per-person total comes out to $2,187 dollars. That's for each man, woman, and child. 

But that's not the real total. We also need to add in the substantial amounts paid in interest to service a debt that has largely been run up to finance military spending. To be conservative, let's say that one-fifth of the interest goes toward servicing war debts.

That brings us up to $2,300 per person, per year.

Now, of course, these costs are not spread out evenly among all taxpayers. The relatively high-income households pay more than low-income people when it comes to federal taxes. 

So, military personnel should especially be thanking higher-income taxpayers for their service. 

But, if American were taxed evenly for military costs, that would mean that a family of four would be paying $9,200 per year for "defense." After all, children need military defense, too, and somebody has to pay for it. Why not their parents? 

A large family, say one with four children, would be paying $13,800. 

Given that the median household income in the United States is $52,000, this is no small amount. 

If we're so concerned about Americans knowing that "freedom isn't free" it might be best to move toward a fee-for-service model. In that case, Americans would be acutely aware of how much they're shelling out for the military. On the other hand, were households faced with a $9,000 "defense" bill every year, they might be less inclined to thank someone else for spending all that money. 

Taxation Via Regulation

None of this includes the many non-monetary ways that Americans are taxed to support the military establishment and its employees. We could also include as “taxation” the destruction of privacy in the name of “fighting terrorism.” Thanks to the USA PATRIOT Act, among other pieces of legislation, Americans are subject to many violations of their Fourth Amendment rights in the name of “protecting” freedom. 

The many abuses and excesses of American airport security under the TSA are a form of taxation as well. Every time an American taxpayer is forced to miss a flight, has property confiscated, or is generally treated like garbage by the TSA, this is an additional cost imposed.

Border controls impose many costs as well. Americans are now routinely subjected to extensive searches and seizures at the border, as border agents rifle through personal effects, seize phones, and subject taxpayers to hours of questioning upon re-entry.

Moreover, in the name of security, the US can close off Americans from access to foreign resources. This occurs when the US imposes trade embargoes or other trade restrictions in the name of security. When an American wishes to buy goods from a person in a “restricted” country, or wishes to sell goods to a person in the same country, that cuts the American off from using her or her private property in a peaceful manner.

A similar problem occurs when the US denies entry to persons who have been invited into the US by American taxpayers. When a taxpayer invites a friend or colleague into the US — but then that friend or colleague is denied entry — this imposes yet another cost on American taxpayers.

None of these costs show up in tax bills, of course. But they exist.

All the while, we’re being told that these restrictions, embargoes, searches, domestic spy operations, and bans are all necessary to protect freedom and security. That may or may not be true. But even if they are true in some cases, let’s stop pretending that they’re not imposing a significant cost on those who are supposedly receiving a gift from government agents who are “serving” the American public.

This isn’t to say that defense of property — including human persons — is something that need not be done. Of course security is an essential service in any society. This is true even when monopolistic government agencies co-opt security services.

But, this doesn’t make security services special. Food production, energy production, and home construction are all essential services. Nevertheless, we’re not told to run up to farmers and oil workers and roofers and thank them for their “service.” But, we’d notice a lack of food, housing, and energy immediately, were those workers to disappear. Moreover, try running a military without food and gasoline. You’ll quickly find it’s rather difficult.


stacking12321 Deathrips Tue, 09/12/2017 - 18:45 Permalink

from the article:"In spite of numerous ongoing interventions worldwide, casualties in the US military are low thanks to highly-advanced technology funded by - you guessed it - the American taxpayer. " most casualties are self-inflicted, as in suicide.i'd want to kill myself too, if i were wracked with the guilt of knowing that i was part of an organization that committed war crimes and acts of mass-murder around the world so that an elite few could profit. 

In reply to by Deathrips

Deathrips stacking12321 Tue, 09/12/2017 - 18:51 Permalink

The new PC term for remorse and guilt is PTSD.The MIC is how they hid the theft to fund their pet projects.Those fighting for american freedom actually helped hide the looting from main stream view. They were your neighbors..the alphas that would normally fight off a threat. They were misguided by those that bore false witness and attacked the wrong target for the wrong reasons. Its a mistake till you ignore reality then its evil. RIPS

In reply to by stacking12321

Bes Shemp 4 Victory Tue, 09/12/2017 - 19:22 Permalink

it's a good thing we didn't elect a guy surrounded by generalsor a guy who promises to expand the sad, underfunded, miserable militaryor a guy who thinks the military is so great the police should be military tooor a guy who wants to inject more trillions into the pentagonor a guy who loves terrorist Israel and Saudi Arabiahahahafuck the MIC and anyone in bed with them#maga

In reply to by Shemp 4 Victory

Muddy1 SHsparx Tue, 09/12/2017 - 17:56 Permalink

What if every illegal had to pay "their fair share" instead of getting a bunch of freebies? What if every illegal had to thank tax paying Americans for going to work, earning money, and paying taxes so they get all of their freebies? What if every illegal getting said frebies had to go home?  Talk about saving money!!!

In reply to by SHsparx

Autonomous Tue, 09/12/2017 - 17:53 Permalink

"...Thanks to the hard work of the American taxpayer, the US military - and other "defense" agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security - the US government is the most well-funded in the world...." US taxpayers are only funding a tiny fraction of the defense budget, the rest is funded via fiat currency expansion. Everybody who uses the dollar is actually funding US military budget and wars not just "taxpayers."

Mr. Universe bluez Wed, 09/13/2017 - 01:44 Permalink

US business men supported the US take over of the Hawaiian monarchy. They wanted to control the islands rather than the British who were next in line. Those missionaries who came to do good did very well indeed. The western based land ownership dealeo was far different from the Hawaiian one that worked for the all the people. The However the elites Kapu system was fubared beyond belief. If you were tagged for an offense the penalty was usualy death, with one exception. If you could make it to a City of Refuge before they killed you, you were free.  Did they ruin paradise? Yes, but it what really killed the Hawaiian culture was westerners teaching their kings how to really profit off the serfs. They sold them out, built palaces and had scones at tea time only to be thrown in prison with the support of the USS Boston. Life is hard, it's even harder when your a stupid Hawaiian king duped by bankers.

In reply to by bluez

cherry picker Tue, 09/12/2017 - 17:53 Permalink

Why not dissolve the government in total and start a democratic government where taxpayers are only allowed a vote and all .gov employees are denied a vote.

Lert Tue, 09/12/2017 - 17:57 Permalink

The cost is not worth the effort put forth. We don't even protect our borders with all of that cost, so how could it be worth any cost at all?

Rebelrebel7 (not verified) Tue, 09/12/2017 - 18:01 Permalink

Made me laugh! I would prefer to let the war mongers enlist their friends and family to fight their own battles with them, rather than dragging all of us innocent by standers  into It! We fought the Vietnam war for French control of tea and cobalt! That's completely insane!