While millions of Americans are out of work or struggling to pay their bills, our government is spending billions of dollars a week on a war we don't support in Afghanistan. At no time is this more apparent than on Tax Day, which is coming up on April 18.
Oliver Wendell Holmes once famously said, "Taxes are what we pay for civilized society." But unfortunately, they're also what we pay when our elected officials make huge, expensive mistakes, and in this case, use lots of expensive weapons to kill people. According to our friends at the National Priorities Project, 27.4 percent of our income taxes will go to pay for the Afghanistan War and other military spending. Already the taxpayer is on the hook for $107.3 billion just for this year, and just for the hugely expensive Afghanistan War. Those billions of dollars are supposed to help us build up our community and lay the groundwork for a brighter future for our children but, instead, they're being used to fight a war the American people don"t support.
President Obama likes to talk about "winning the future" these days, but the U.S. is in a losing situation in Afghanistan. We're bleeding wealth and lives at an unacceptable rate, and things are only expected to get worse this year as fighting season resumes in the spring. Meanwhile, the Pentagon and their political allies want the president to ignore the clear will of the American people, who want troops out within a year. The military reportedly is pushing the president to pull out only an "insignificant" number of troops, despite the fact that it will cost us $1 million per troop to keep forces in Afghanistan this year. Bleeding that many resources on a war that's not making us safer all the way until 2014 is losing, regardless of what General Petraeus' spin shop tells us. We're losing the future in Afghanistan.
So what would "winning the future" look like in Afghanistan?
At bare minimum, winning the future would mean recapturing the resources meant to be spent on war and putting them to use rebuilding our battered communities. Winning the future would mean unhooking our country from a decade-long war and being more free to pursue objectives that are actually in our national interest, instead of going with the inertia of a 10-year-long mistake. In short, winning the future means getting our troops out of Afghanistan.
Many of us are about to write checks to the IRS, and we're about to do it at a time when, frankly, we don't have a lot of money to spare. That's why it's important that we take a good, hard look at where our dollars are going and make sure our elected officials hear from us when they make bad decisions that waste scarce resources. Please take a minute to use the new Afghanistan War Tax Calculator to find out how much you paid in taxes for war, and use our tool to forward it on to your member of Congress. It's time Congress got the message that we want this wasteful war stopped, now.
If you're tired of this war that's not worth the costs, join Rethink Afghanistan on Facebook and Twitter, and find others in your hometown who oppose this war at your local Rethink the Afghanistan War Meetup.
Follow Robert Greenwald on Twitter.