We are having a struggle in this country about what lesson we should have learned from The Greatest Generation. As millions of us have learned while watching Ken Burn’s The War, Americans came together in WWII and collectively sacrificed to be victorious.

In the Bush administration’s view, we were willing to sacrifice because Americans didn’t question the war. They rallied around what the President ordered and that is why we flourished. The key is in the lack of questioning. To get us to support their wars, they must come up with reasons that are good enough to make it embarrassing to question.

The other view is that we were willing to sacrifice because the war was worth it and American’s didn’t need to be told why. We felt it. The United States, as a country, thrived afterwards and was able to help rebuild the world because she had sacrificed during the war and had money to spare.

That brings me to the “surtax”. The “surtax” is an idea being proposed by 3 House Democrats (David Obey, Jack Murtha, and Jim McGovern) as a way to raise between $140 and $150 billion a year to pay for the Iraq War. The tax rate will range between 2% for low income Americans and 15% for the rich

There are a few ways to look at this.

First, what I’ll call the patriotic way. We are a country at war. Other than those people who have dealt with the prolonged anxiety associated with having a loved one leave for long stretches of time to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, who other than the actual military guys can honestly say that their lives have changed one bit because of these wars? If we want to be patriots, and support our military by sharing their sacrifice, then we must all be willing to give up a bit of money for the common good.

Too preachy of a reason? Fine.

Let’s look at economics. Every year since these wars started, we’ve heard about the huge cost. The numbers thrown around, like the $190 billion for next year, are so large that they are incomprehensible. Simultaneously, for the most part, our lifestyles are exactly the same today as they were 5 years ago. Because we haven’t felt it, we haven’t really bothered to try to comprehend that debt.

We need to comprehend that debt. These huge dollar numbers are being borrowed. We are paying for this war with a credit card, and the paycheck we give ourselves hasn’t gotten any larger to pay back that debt. In fact, rich people (and I mean the really rich people, like the CEO’s profiting from this war) have made our collective paycheck even smaller because the Bush administration gave them tax cuts.

At some point, the bill collectors are going to come knocking on the door.

Unless we start paying off some of that debt now, or at least stop the bleeding and start paying as we go, after these rich white guys live their insanely rich lifestyles and die, the people left in this country will have to sacrifice a lot to pay off the debt, which will just get even larger.

The people who will have to pay for this war are in our 20’s and 30’s today. Do we really want to spend our whole lives paying off our greedy parent’s debts?

And to the baby boomers that are pissed about my last statement, whether you choose to admit it now or not, your generation is taking the blame for the Bush years. He’s one of you. Our Congressional representatives, who allowed the Bush administration to rule with no oversight, are in your generation. At no time in American history have politicians so blatantly put their own paychecks and jobs over their oaths of office. Your generation has funded their campaigns. You are currently in power. You can stop this. Whether you choose to admit it now or not, your generation is failing your kids.

Enacting the “surtax”, and beginning to pay for Iraq as we go from here, is a fair way to stop the bleeding. The 20 and 30 somethings need to protect our futures. The baby boomers owe it to us to fix this mess.

The patriotic and economic reasons are more than enough to warrant supporting this tax. But there is one possible consequence of paying a “surtax” that will make about 70% of us happy.

It could end the war.

The truth is that Americans are questioning this war because most of us fear that this war isn’t worth it. We feel it. So far, with most American’s having made no sacrifice, we have been willing to just go along and live our daily lives. But when Americans feel the war in their wallets, and their lives get a little worse, they will probably be more willing to stand up and pressure their Congressional representatives to shut down the Bush administration’s war.

It’s not a flattering statement about Americans, that we won’t stand up for what’s right until it affects us personally, but it is a truth we have learned about ourselves in the past few years.

Hopefully, the first two reasons will be enough for everyone to support the surtax. After all, the best reason for the surtax is that it is fair. But I for one, will not be upset if the surtax leads to the required American rage needed to end this war. I want my friends to come home for good. I want the anxiety to go away. That’s just me. Support the surtax for whatever reason you choose. But support it. It’s the right thing to do.

Jen Clark 

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