Sunday, February 1, 2015

That Costs Extra
     I own two seat licenses at Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers.  On the open market they are worth about twenty thousand dollars.  That fact alone does not gain admission to a single game for me.  The Steelers say that if I want to attend games for a single season I have to send them several thousand dollars more.  That costs extra.  Thus, I have "skin in the game"financially as I watch my favorite team live.
     Many people believe that the complex American defense budget is too large.  In fact, it is larger than that of the next fourteen countries in the world COMBINED.  Many of those same people are also concerned with a widening civil-military gap and rising US militarism.  Two elements of the proposed 2016 US defense budget are the $534 billion base budget and the additional $50 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO); totaling $585 billion.  The OCO budget funds the war in Afghanistan and other counter terrorism operations.  So we have a Pentagon seat license costing $534 billion per year.  If we want the Pentagon to actually do something they tell Congress that's going to cost you another $50 billion.  That costs extra.  Congress usually approves (aka, buys the season tickets) with taxpayer dollars.  Most taxpayers are unaware of the fact that they have been charged extra.
     In order to address the concern of the widening civil-military gap and rising militarism, we might consider a small change in the way we fund the OCO budget.  We could add the proportionate cost of the OCO to every American's individual tax return as a separate war surtax.  This would amount to approximately $1,000 per year for each taxpayer.....creating "skin in the game" for both the average citizen and Congress. 

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