A fiscal policy for peace

Picasso’s depiction of the scene on the ground at the first aerial bombardment in human history, at Guernica

Pay for war(s) with tax(es) on the material(s) profited from.

Implementing this universalizable principle would end ongoing imperial wars in the Middle East, and prevent similar wars from happening in the future, or at least limit their duration, and would therefore also reduce terrorism in the United States. Even promoting the principle should be enough to change the conversation to the root cause of this war, profit from oil.

Paying for the Persian Gulf wars with a tax on oil instead of income, debt, or other taxes, would dramatically increase the consumer price of oil while the war is being waged. This would result in decreased consumption of that material while the war is being waged, through carpooling, public transit, and general reduction of consumption as a result of the price shock. This reduced consumption would decrease the profit motive for the war for oil companies selling in domestic markets (about 25% of the oil currently exported from the Persian Gulf by American, British, and British/Dutch oil companies is currently sold by these companies in their domestic markets). The consumer price change would also have the effect of tying the war directly to the extraction of the world’s most profitable resource in people’s minds, reducing popular support for war in this way and by associating the war with a dramatically higher oil price as long as it lasts.

Paying for all armed operations in the Middle East region with a levy on petroleum would thus end American military involvement in the Middle East. The tax initially would pay for ongoing operations, and then, if necessary to further reduce profit and public support, the amount of the tax can be backdated to cover costs dating back to Middle East war turning points such as 2014, 2007, 2003, and 1990. However, if the ongoing human toll of the war is valued and included in the tax along with the financial cost rather than ignored, then it should be unnecessary to backdate the total amount of the tax to earlier turning points in order to end the war.

Once war costs decrease and end, the tax could decrease and end, or else a carbon tax could be phased in to maintain relatively high material prices to continue to discourage consumption of a resource with huge negative externalities. Domestic public use, e.g. public transportation and public services, should be tax exempt. Revenue sources currently distributed to war may be distributed to domestic national security interests and/or as seen fit. Production and distribution of food, heating oil, and other necessities should be exempt; thus, prices of food and other essentials will not increase as a result of this policy. Rural use may also be tax exempt.

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