US TAX DAY: Americans Send Average of $2K to Military

More than $900 of that amount goes to corporate military contractors such as Lockheed Martin, writes Lindsay Koshgarian.

IRS building in Washington. Inscription along bottom reads “Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society – Oliver Wendell Holmes.” (Jonathan, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

By Lindsay Koshgarian

Most of us want our tax dollars to be wisely used — especially around tax time.

You’ve probably heard a lot about corporations not paying taxes. Last year, individual Americans contributed six times more in income tax than corporations did.

But have you heard about how many of citizens’ tax dollars then end up in corporate pockets? It’s a lot — especially for corporations that contract with the Pentagon. They collect nearly half of all military spending.

The average U.S. taxpayer contributed about $2,000 to the military last year, according to a breakdown my colleagues and I prepared for the Institute for Policy Studies. More than $900 of that went to corporate military contractors.

In 2020, the largest Pentagon contractor, Lockheed Martin, took in $75 billion from taxpayers — and paid its CEO more than $23 million.

Unfortunately, this spending isn’t buying us a more secure world.

Last year, Congress added $25 billion the Pentagon didn’t ask for to its already gargantuan budget. Lawmakers even refused to let military leaders retire weapons systems they couldn’t use anymore. The extra money favored top military contractors that gave campaign money to a group of lawmakers, who refused to comment on it.

Then there’s simple price-gouging.

There’s the infamous case of TransDigm, a Pentagon contractor that charged the government $4,361 for a metal pin that should’ve cost $46 — and then refused to share cost data. Congress recently asked TransDigm to repay some of its misbegotten profits, but the Pentagon hasn’t cut off its business.

Somewhere between price-gouging and incompetence lies the F-35 jet fighter, an embarrassment the late Sen. John McCain, a Pentagon booster, called “a scandal and a tragedy.”

Pilot in F-35 Lightning II during a hot refuel on Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, 2013. (U.S. Air Force, Christopher Callaway)

Among the most expensive weapons systems ever, the F-35 has numerous failings. It’s spontaneously caught fire at least three times — hardly the outcome you’d expect for the top Pentagon contractor’s flagship program. The Pentagon has reduced its request for new F-35s this year by about a third, but Congress may reject that too.

Feeding Conflicts

Most serious of all, there’s the problem of U.S. weapons feeding conflicts in ways the Pentagon didn’t foresee, but probably should have.

When U.S. ground troops left Afghanistan, they left behind a huge array of military equipment, from armored vehicles to aircraft, that could now be in Taliban hands. The U.S. also left weapons in Iraq that fell into the hands of ISIS, including guns and an anti-tank missile.

Even weapons we sold to so-called allies like Saudi Arabia have ended up going to people affiliated with groups like Al Qaeda.

Military weapons also end up on city streets at home. Over the years, civilian law agencies have received guns, armored vehicles and even grenade launchers from the military, turning local police into near-military organizations.

Records also show that the Pentagon has lost hundreds of weapons which may have been stolen, including grenade launchers and rocket launchers. Some of these weapons have been used in crimes.

Taxpayers shouldn’t be spending $900 apiece for these outcomes. My team at the Institute for Policy Studies and others have demonstrated ways to cut up to $350 billion per year from the Pentagon budget, including what we spend on weapons contractors, without compromising our safety.

Even better, we could then put some of that money elsewhere.

Compared to the $900 for Pentagon contractors, the average taxpayer contributed only about $27 to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, $171 to K-12 education and barely $5 to renewable energy.

How much more could we get if we invested even a fraction of what we spend on military contractors for these dire needs?

Most Americans support shifting Pentagon funds to pay for domestic needs. Instead of making Americans fork over another $900 to corporate military contractors this year, Congress should put our dollars to better use.

Lindsay Koshgarian directs the National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies.

This article is from OtherWords

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

7 comments for “US TAX DAY: Americans Send Average of $2K to Military

  1. Bernie
    April 23, 2022 at 00:17

    War is good business. Invest your son.

  2. Em
    April 18, 2022 at 16:25

    Letter to a friend in deed:

    No heed necessary, my five cents worth does not command much attention.

    You asked me; something along the line of: Aren’t you grateful to the government for the money they pay you in Social Security benefits?
    My response was: Why do I have to be grateful to the government for something I have earned, and is my right as a citizen to receive. By paying into the system, as it is currently set up, everyone is entitled to that which was promised by their government?

    On the other hand, I am very grateful to those who have ‘made it’ within that same system; which has afforded them the unique opportunity to make good, financially and educationally, and who have somehow managed to retain some of the innate human dignity that every person is equally entitled to – more of the humane quality of bountiful material sharing, with those, perhaps not as equal in the “getting ahead” attributes necessary; in the stressful and demanding, constantly competitive process of material success alone.

    One does not have to bow down; government is NOT supposed to be an overlord.

    As the concepts in the American Constitution are interpreted, the government is supposed to serve the people – “of the people, by the people, for (all of) the people, without preselected ‘exceptions’ which, most regrettably, since its founding has always been the American example to the world.

    The foundations of American history are based on a sham. Responding with “love it or leave it” is an unpatriotic, simplistic, and stale response of the more ignorant “deplorables” in which Hilary (elitist) Clinton lumped us together; as the majority of the ‘lower’ working-class people.

    The author writes, forty-five percent of the average $2000 that each tax paying American pays into the system, goes to corporate military contractors, such as to the private corporation of Lockheed Martin, on whose behalf the government acts as its global promotor and sales director – taking no account of the wishes and real needs of the majority of the people. (Psst! What about the massive speaking fees paid to those of the revolving door ‘corporatocracy’?)

    If ‘our’ government would focus the same efforts it does on behalf of promoting the private interests of the war making military contractors; on promoting a universal health care system, for example, the country as a whole would not be burdened with the austerity measures demanded and imposed by these contractors. We, the people, would not unnecessarily be subjected to paying into the most exorbitant and fraudulent big pharma based ‘healthcare’ system in the world; and we’d all be far better off, financially, just for starters.

    Does this make me an anarchist? Depends on the individual asking’s conception of the one word. If you mean by opposing some of what my government does, in my name, this makes me an anarchist, then we are on different pages as to what ‘democracy’ stands for. Coerced patriotism is not true patriotism. It is but a manifestation of the conform, or be cancelled tyranny, under which we are living today.

    Because I care about humanity, I don’t control my mouth. Democracy, which contains any elements of autocracy cannot regard itself as a functioning democracy. A government that does not heed the will of the diversity of all of its people; not only those who own the corporate structures, is in essence, an autocracy!
    I am proof of, and witness to, the generous nature of your spirit, and the way in which you share your bounty with others!

    For this, I am sincerely grateful!

  3. renate
    April 18, 2022 at 12:02

    Our taxes fund the MIC and all the killings and destructions of nations, we are funding war crimes against humanity.
    When it comes to social services we are denigrated and call it socialism which has become a four-letter word.
    Politicians like our current president are proud to tell us, making it a point to be sure, that a socialist he is not.
    They don’t even debate the military budget, never ask for accountability, or who will pay for it.
    Even the little they contribute to charities is used for tax deductions and PR.
    The wealthiest are also the most morally bankrupt people.
    We do need socially just tax laws, but that would be socialism, that is a no, no if there ever was one.

  4. April 18, 2022 at 10:35

    How about just more tax relief for middle income earners. They’ll do a better job of using the money wisely, Pay for inflation, for instance.

    • renate
      April 18, 2022 at 12:30

      We have a corrupt, dysfunctioning government, a corporate MSM that is serving the corrupt government because they and the MIC are all part of it. All of them profit from the system they made to serve them.
      They make sure the voter’s attention is on human sexuality, gender and abortion are the issues and more. Health and education, no way, book burnings are more important.

    • Tim N
      April 19, 2022 at 08:14

      “Tax relief?” You sound like a politician. The euphemism “tax relief” is a favorite of libertarians as well. That invariably means less taxes on the rich. How about less taxes paid by ordinary people and WAY more paid by the rich and corporations? Not to pay for the military either, but to keep the power and influence out of the hands of those people and institutions that have shown their lunacy and recklessness over the last 50 years. In other words, the tax isn’t levied to pay for anything (though of course it can be used to pay for things) but rather to keep that money power out of the hands of the fools who currently wield it.

  5. Prue Plumridge
    April 18, 2022 at 05:09

    We have failed to heed President Eisenhower’s warning in 1961 when he said we must  “guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.”

    The killing industry sucks out ever larger amounts of public money for private profit causing huge destruction and loss of life as a result. When public and social infrastructure is in a state of decay,  poverty and inequality is rising it is a shameful comment on the policies of many nations around the world including the US who warmonger and pour vast sums of money into the pockets of arms dealers at the expense of public purpose.

    However I would have to take issue with the idea that Americans or in my case UK citizens are paying their taxes to fund the industrial military complex. Governments spend to tax. They don’t tax to spend.  Meaning they have to spend first in order to tax. Taxes actually have quite another function.

    That is the monetary reality of the post 1971abandonment of Bretton Woods even though we are daily treated to the myths about how government spends.

    When government spends, even though it is couched in the false household budget narrative of scarcity of money or unafforability, that spending is based on a political choice which has nothing to do with the state of the public accounts. So it’s worse than we think. Politicians are making political decisions based on the political ideology they espouse to cut spending on welfare or the nation’s public and social infrastructure whilst at the same time pouring huge amounts of newly created money on arms and killing people.

    Stephanie Kelton who is a professor of economics and public policy at Stony Brook University and a former Chief Economist on the U.S. Senate Budget Committee wrote a book entitled The Deficit Myth which  has become a bestseller. Understanding how governments actually spend is vital for those of us who want to see a change in government priorities to serve the public purpose instead of a blood sucking corporate body whose power and influence on governments and politicians is actually killing us in more ways than one.

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